Katherine Carroll 's Alice 's Adventures, Wonderland And Through The Looking Glass ( And What Alice Found There
1482 Words6 Pages
In most Victorian literature, curious women are severely punished because Victorian society prohibited women from indulging themselves in curiosity; this idea originates from the fear that female knowledge would jeopardize patriarchal security (Aikens 29). In contrast, the protagonist of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (and What Alice Found There) does not receive punishment for her curiosity, despite living under Victorian conditions. Instead, Carroll replaces this prohibitive standard with a standard of freedom entitled to both genders. Most literary critics, therefore, accept Carroll as a feminist and praise him for challenging gender stereotypes. Others, however, are hesitant to do the…show more content… in Cohen 16)
These gender roles are derived from “natural” characteristics of men and women: a woman’s “natural” gentleness provides the best environment for a developing child, and a man’s “natural” intellectual and fighting superiority make them best suited for the field (Cohen 16). Thus, while men commuted to their place of work, women stayed home to oversee domestic duties because “all Victorians, even those who idolized women, saw [women] as the weaker sex, requiring protection and support”; they believed that to subject the female body to any “manly tasks would be to abuse it” (Cohen 18). Also, Victorian women strived for motherhood since marriage and reproduction were of utmost importance to them; they devoted their pre-marital lives to obtaining knowledge ranging from music and singing to modern languages, solely for the purpose of attracting a husband (Corbett 22).
Though based on general characteristics, these standards do not account for every man or woman. Who is to say that a man cannot be as nurturing or supportive as a woman, or that a woman cannot excel intellectually or fight adeptly? Is a woman automatically incapable of living up to her male counterpart, or is the capability to succeed in a field dependent upon the individual and not the gender? These are the questions Carroll addresses through his depiction of Alice, the empowering protagonist who inadvertently challenges gender stereotypes.
Unbeknownst to Alice, her most prominent