I Found the “Porpoise”

Posted On November 30, 2009

Filed under Miles W.

Comments Dropped 2 responses

After seeing Jenna’s post “What’s the “Porpoise?”” , I was determined to find the purpose of Chapter 10 of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

And I found the porpoise. Drumroll please…..The porpoise is treading on the whiting’s tail as it clearly states on page 102 of The Definitive Edition of The Annotated Alice.

Haha, I’m completely joking. I did find the true purpose to this chapter and If what I said earlier turned you off I’m sorry, but if you care about the purpose of the chapter keep reading.

In the post, she “looked through it over and over again and can’t find anything symbolic, no deeper meaning, no hidden lesson, nothing that hints towards drugs and sex, nothing that makes fun of politics”. I also reread the chapter many times, reading the annotations over and over again. I tried to find some secret meaning to The Spider and the Fly, and although I found no hidden meaning, I did find a pretty interesting Disney interpretation on YouTube which you can see by clicking here.

To find the true answer though, I had to go back in time. Not to some weird 19th Century city and meeting Lewis Carroll or anything like that. I went back in time in my mind and read the chapter over again. Instead of reading the chapter through the eyes of an analytical Honors Survey of British Literature and Rhetoric student, I read it through the eyes of a young child looking to find something new. This worked because I noticed a sharp contrast between the characters in this chapter and the previous chapters.

As I mentioned in my post I Wish I was a Kid Again, the White Rabbit was really a jerk to Alice. Like many of the other characters within the story, they are very quick to attack Alice when she makes her strange claims of nothing making any sense to her and not knowing where she has come from. No of them believe her and just think she is a crazy girl getting in the way of the flow of Wonderland. But in this chapter there isn’t the same sarcasm from the Gryphon and the Mock-Turtle. The feeling this two give off is more of empathy. Even though the Mock-Turtle may seem like he’s always sad and the Gryphon a little haughty, the diction that Carroll gave the characters makes them different from the others.  They use words like “curious”, “solemnly”, and “thoughtfully” that convey a new tone of empathy with Alice.

And that ladies and gentlemen, is the purpose of Chapter 10, The Lobster-Quadrille.

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2 Responses to “I Found the “Porpoise””

  1. Connor S.

    Wow, I never actually noticed that. I knew there was something… off about the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon, but I wasn’t ever able to truly figure out what it was. Now that you mention it, it seems so obvious that these two characters aren’t as agressive as the others in the book. The sarcasm still keeps them in character with the other characters, but it doesn’t have a mean feeling behind it like the other scenes. I’m glad you pointed this out, I would have ran straight over this empathy idea without noticing it if you hadn’t.

  2. Rivu D.

    Previously I was under the impression that chapter ten really didn’t have a purpose. I mean come on, it’s a children’s book, does there really need to be a reference to drugs, sex, and politics every ten pages? Sure the book was written for two different audiences but the primary audience was the children, which I can safely assume because he wrote it for Alice Liddell. Children don’t care about drugs, sex, and politics, or hidden meanings and symbolism for that matter, they just want to be entertained and have fun, and if I may so myself, the Gryphon and Mock Turtle provide plenty of entertainment.

    I wont necessarily say I’m wrong with my idea but you do bring up some interesting points about those two characters being empathetic. It’s almost as if they are like comic relief in a horror film, they feel somewhat empathetic towards Alice while the rest of the world is somewhat mean to her.

    Very interesting observation Mr.Wilson.

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