Posted by: Brendon O-L. | November 10, 2009

Freudian Psychoanalysis

In my very first post called “In Her Dreams?,” I argued that Alice was dreaming. Carroll never directly stated that she was dreaming or she ever went to sleep, but he did provide a detailed description of her.

She was very bored as she sat on the bank next to her sister. The “hot” day made her feel “very sleepy.”  All of a sudden, she noticed a white rabbit with pink eyes run by. She thought this was ”natural” at the time. She did not question seeing a rabbit running with a pocket watch and a coat. This suggests that she was in irrational state of mind. A state of mind that occurs in dreams. 

I also inserted a poll on the very same post mentioned above. The poll asked people whether or not Alice was dreaming. A majority of the people who voted said she was indeed dreaming.

When I think of dreams, I think of psychology, specifically Sigmund Freud. He is one of the greatest figures in psychology who is renowned for his revolutionary postulates. His works included theories on the unconscious and dreams.

According to About.com,  Freud believed the conscious mind  included everything that we are aware of, while conversely the unconscious mind contained all the thoughts, feelings, urges,  and memories not included in the conscious mind. He also theorized that although we are unaware of our unconscious, they continue to influence our behavior.

Do you remember when you called someone by the wrong name? Maybe you heard a different word than was spoken. These are examples of Freudian slips. You may dismiss these mistakes as ‘accidents,’ although these are really just expressions of your subconscious. To a psychologist. these ‘slips’ are the key to your subconscious and its contents.

With Freudian slips in mind, I would like to point out all of the scenes in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland where Alice continues to offend the characters and her tongue continues to ‘slip.’ There are many directions one could take using Freudian slips and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Someone could take this story as strictly fiction and analyze Alice’s thoughts and emotions from a fictional and hypothetical standpoint. One could also consider the fact that Carroll wrote this story for Alice Liddell and uses many of the characters as symbols for real people in her life. If you analyze the book using this approach, you could understand Alice Liddell’s feelings toward people in her life.

In chapters two and three, Alice continues to offend the mouse by mentioning Dinah, her cat. Each time she apologizes to the mouse and the other animals, but this scene seems to occur time after time. She constantly brings up Dinah. One could simply say that Alice does not like the mouse subconsciously. One could also take into account Carroll’s use of symbolism to represent real people in Alice Liddell’s life. For example, Carroll uses the mouse to represents Alice Liddell’s governess, Ms. Pritchett. Using this approach, one could come to the conclusion that Alice Liddell did not like Ms. Pritchett.

This is just my interpretation, although I would also like to point out that she does not just offend the mouse. She offends many more of the characters in the book, which Carroll uses to represent real people.

Now,  I would like to take the time to ask you, the reader, a couple of questions:

  • What do these mistakes mean to you?
  • What do they reveal about Alice, both the fictional character and the real life person?

Keep these questions in mind as we continue through Wonderland. I would love to hear what you think.


Responses

  1. Thanks for making the connection between the story and psychology; it gives me something interesting to chew on, as psychology fascinates me. I agree with Gabriella’s comment in that I think the likelihood of Freudian slips playing a part in Alice’s multitude of “slips” would be greater if Alice Liddell herself had written the story. If Freudian slips occur because of your subconscious feelings and thoughts, it would be difficult for anyone other than Alice Liddell, no matter how close to her the person may have been, to be able to portray an honest depiction of her subconscious mind, because she only shows her conscious self and conscious thoughts. Although this is mere speculation, I doubt that Carroll was aware enough of the idea of Freudian slips to intentionally incorporate them into his story (although I could be entirely wrong). Rather, I find it more likely that Alice kept offending the characters of Wonderland simply because she is a young child in a new place. Children often speak their mind without regard for the consequences of their words or whom they may offend. Add this to being put in such a completely new environment in which the rules are much different than those which they are used to, and it is even easier to slip up and cause offense.

  2. I enjoy your linking Alice’s rather whimsical actions to the rather precarious science of psychology. They seem to go hand in hand, no? The unpredictable actions of a child explained by the inexact and often mistaken science. (No offence intended to all you psychologists out there) Now, I have never been one for psychology, but this post certainly provides an interesting perspective on Alice’s “slip ups” in wonderland. I would however question whether Carroll, the author and therefore the “true” mindset Alice embodies was aware of such Freudian theories. While I would without question accept such assumptions had the true Alice Liddell been speaking. I feel that since we must take into account that the Alice in the story is not actually Alice, perhaps Carroll is merely inserting his own opinion. Or more likely as Carroll in all likelihood didn’t understand the true significance of his Freudian slip ups was merely reinserting the reality of Alice’s childishly forgetful mindset, and her yearning for the real world.


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