Alice in Wonderland

Archetypes of Englishness in The Hobbit and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland College

Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland are children’s novels which share a number of key similarities. Both are ‘quest’ narratives, whose main protagonists (Bilbo and Alice) begin their journeys in tranquil pastoral idylls: Bilbo in his quiet home at Bag End, and Alice reading with her sister by a riverbank. Both main characters are portrayed as inquisitive, honest, unfailing, polite, trustworthy and innocent – qualities which distinguish them in key ways from other characters they encounter on their journeys. In other words, both protagonists embody similar cultural attributes that are placed in juxtaposition to the peoples and environments they meet on their journeys. Therefore, a key aspect of both texts is the didacticism of this clash between the cultural tropes embodied in each protagonist and the differing natural environments they encounter. My main argument is that the protagonists’ similarities are rooted in similar idealized (archetypal) constructions of ‘Englishness’ and that both novels comment upon these cultural attributes by contrasting them with radically different natural worlds operating under quite different logics. This ‘Englishness’ is not to be understood in an essentialized...

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