Back In Ye Olde Days…

Today I was commenting on Hagen F.’s post when I came to the conclusion that many of my fellow students and numerous others all over the world are unable to understand many parts of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

How many times have we heard our parents or grandparents talk about how hard life was way back when?

“Back in ye olde days…blah, blah, blah”.

Way too many if you ask me. They always say they had to walk uphill both ways to school in a foot of snow with wooden shoes. Why do we resent their commentary on how “easy” we have it? The answer is simple:

We just can’t connect.

The reason for this is because of the major time gap between Carroll writing the story and us having to analyze it today. The story was published 144 years ago. That is a very long time my friend. So much has changed from then to now. The trouble comes from Carroll trying to make jokes and comment on parts of society that have long since been forgotten. Thankfully, our version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland comes with annotations. They can seem obvious and boring at times, but the do help us pick up on some of the jokes that Carroll threw into his novel.

Carroll’s jokes and hidden messages lead us to another problem. Even if we are given the context of the joke, we still don’t understand it that well. What was funny hundreds of years ago isn’t necessarily funny now. Take the Mock Turtle for example. The Mock Turtle was meant to be a joke about turtle and mock turtle (which is made from veal) soup. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it probably has been a long time since any of us have had mock turtle soup. Carroll is slowly losing his connections with his audience as society keeps moving into the future. What are high school students 100 years from now going to think about Alice? Will they have the same opinions as us or those of students past? Of course not! It is the sad truth. The more time passes, the less of a connection Carroll is going to maintain with his audience.

One Response to “Back In Ye Olde Days…”

  1. I completely agree. The idiosyncrasies of the population and the popluar parts of society have changed drastically since the 1800’s. What was funny then, is not neccessarily funny now. The only tangential evidence I can see between the jokes in Carroll’s work, are the inneuendos and jokes that he is implying with every line.

    In the modern day world, jokes are mostly made up of inappropriate or derogatory terms, whereas back then, political and more well mannered jokes were common. As our posterity continues, I wonder if we will stay on this destructive path. Thank you for bringing up this subject.

    Carroll’s connection may never be lost because of his subjects in the story. The characters are too easily represented in society. The madness and insanity will continue, just as Carroll’s book will continue to gain popularity because we are a society who likes to find the ‘wrongdoings’ of authors. Carroll has plenty of jokes to satisfy anyone’s need, if they analyze it correctly.

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