Alice in Wonderland

The Layers Under the Wordplay of The Mouse's Tale

Lewis Carroll has a lot of fun playing with language in Alice in Wonderland. He points out its flexibility, inadequacies, and the confusion that it can produce when taken at face value without common sense and interpretation. His playfulness is certainly entertaining and raises points about some interesting quirks of language, but there is often more to the wordplay than the simple jest that Alice and the creatures of Wonderland find in it. There are often multiple levels of meaning. A fun and playful surface layer often uses lighthearted distracting lights and colors to mask a deeper, darker layer which lies beneath it. Since this type of multi-layered wordplay parallels the multiple layers of meaning running throughout the book, deconstructing and examining the mouse's tale, an example of the wordplay, offers a portal through which to view the more serious, darker and subversive messages of the story.

There are many puns and busy, colorful images before, after and within the mouse's tale (25) that work to produce the cheery and entertaining mood we are in when we come across the enigmatic poem. Just prior to the telling of the tale, a motley crew of creatures had been running in crazed circles in the...

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