The Element of Metamorphosis in Alice in Wonderland

Alice and the Door Knob

Alice and the Door Knob

The issue of metamorphosis in Alice in Wonderland operates on a double level. The ordinary world’s metamorphosis, in order to become the dreamy Wonderland, reveals the hidden unrationalism of the adults’ world and points out the hypocricy and the comformism of a corrupted society, which although it is realistic, it has stopped being true. Within this bound, the necessity of the metamorphosis of Alice herself is being introduced, in order to be released from the bonds of the figure and shape and search for her true identity, avoiding in this way, her enslavement to a social constructed identity. Metamorphosis composes a radical change, that is why it causes the conflict with the self. It divides Alice, disrupts her and introduces her – broken into pieces as she is – to the unrational, to the admission ‘I don’t know who I am’.1The metamorphosis manifests and reveals in Wonderland, whatever the ordinary world of the Victorian England hides,the fragmented identities and fragmented lives. Lewis Carroll, through her adventures in Wonderland, gave Alice a gift, the redemption from a destiny like the one that William Wilson had · You have conquered, and I yield. Yet, henceforward art thou also dead — dead to the World, to Heaven and to Hope! In me didst thou exist — and, in my death, see by this image, which is thine own, how utterly thou hast murdered thyself,2the division of a person to the Ego and the Alien and his final self-catastroph, through a constant, unrational battle of dominance and survival between the genuine and the imperative.

According to Adorno,

the non-genuineness of the genuine rests on the fact that it must pretend, in the society ruled by exchange, to be what it stands for, without ever being truly able to be such. The apostles of genuineness of power, who dress down circulation, perform the dance of the money-veil at this latter’s wake’.3

Therefore, in a world, where even the words and the meanings pretend, the end of Alice’s journey in Disney’s film seems a more realistic and safe approach. Her adventures in Wonderland compose a quest journey, on which the holy grail is the identity, the metamorphosis revealed the hidden things, but the heroine either by deluding herself, or by having a stronger consciousness for the world and herself than the one she is recognisef for, she chooses to return to the real world of her sister, accepting, at the end, every construction and limitation.

1Alice in Wonderland, dir. by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske (Walt Disney Productions, 1951).

2Umberto Ecco, On Ugliness, trans. Dimitra Dotsi, Andaios Chrisostomidis, (Athens: Kastaniotis Publishings, 2007), p. 324.

3TheodorAdorno, MinimaMoralia, trans. Lefteris Anagnostou, (Athens: Alexandria, 2000), pp. 247 – 248.


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