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English Identity as Expressed by Alice in Wonderland and The Hobbit


Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Carroll’s Alice’s Journeys in Heaven are children’s stories which share a number of key similarities. Both are ‘mission’ narratives, whose primary protagonists (Bilbo and also Alice) start their journeys in peaceful pastoral idylls: Bilbo in his peaceful house at Bag End, and Alice reading with her sis by a riverbank. Both primary personalities are depicted as curious, sincere, , respectful, reliable and also innocent– high qualities which differentiate them in crucial methods from various other personalities they come across on their trips. Simply put, both lead characters personify similar cultural features that are placed in juxtaposition to the peoples as well as environments they meet on their trips. Consequently, an essential aspect of both texts is the didacticism of this clash in between the social tropes embodied in each protagonist as well as the varying natural environments they encounter. My major argument is that the protagonists’ resemblances are rooted in similar idealized (archetypal) building and constructions of ‘Englishness’ and that both books comment upon these cultural characteristics by contrasting them with significantly various environments running under fairly various logics. This ‘Englishness’ is not to be recognized in an essentialized sense, rather it can be checked out as showing both authors’ attempts at seriously commenting upon what is being shed– and at what cost– as England transitions from a largely pre-industrial, pre-imperial past, to a drastically different future.

The commentary which emerges from this reading of both messages is that they are essentially Charming in their perfects and also thus aggressive to these radical socio-economic changes happening throughout 19th and also very early twentieth century England– a nation wracked by war and also royal development, and also the social dislocations and also environmental destructions of automation, and also urbanization. The Charming movement in English literary works started in the late 18th century as well as was inspired by the very same revolutionary idea which brought down the old regime of Bourbon France, in 1789. The movement is complex, but can be instead crudely decreased to a couple of basic ideas and also perfects. Initially, the Romantics asserted the relevance of perception as an energetic creative act, forming the globes we inhabit (Clubbe and also Ernest, 1983: 2). This perception of viewing the globe as an energetic type of imaginative company additionally had a moral element, specifically an idea in the redemptive capability of a humankind tainted by sin as well as the power of literary works to aid because redemption (Clubbe and also Ernest, 1983: 7). An additional element of Romanticism is its pastoral high quality– essentially personified in a veneration of nature in juxtaposition to the viewed corruption of urban life. The moral element of the creative/perceptive act is to be found in easy communion with nature– like Wordsworth at Tinturn Abbey (Clubbe and also Ernest, 1983: 36). More importantly, English Romanticism played a crucial duty fit the advancement of English society in the 19th century as it welcomed a conception of the innovative act preferably suited to critically commenting on the social injustices as well as corruptions of the period (Johnson, 2008: 50-51).

While it could appear incredulous to say that 2 youngsters’s books have such soaring goals as to symbolize Romantic suitables, such literary works has a lengthy background of important social commentary and also must not be dismissed a priori (Brockman, 1982: 4). The Romantic perfect as expressed above is arguably obvious in both The Hobbit and Alice in Wonderland. Both books start in serene idylls in which both lead characters exist in some action of communion. The globe of Bilbo is set “long back in the quiet of the globe, when there was much less sound as well as even more eco-friendly …” (Tolkien, 4). The globe Carroll defines is warm and also sleepy, with Alice as well as her older sibling lounging by a creek and with dullness being Alice’s only bypassing worry (2005: 1). These are essentially pastoral setups– silent and also green, and perhaps rather dull for both protagonists interested in experience. Furthermore, both areas mirror lifeways which remain in the process of being lost; Tolkien’s operate in certain attracts heavily upon the English far-off past in its building of Bilbo, his ‘Englishness’ and also the nature of his trip (Kuusela, 2014: 27).

What is additionally promptly noticeable is the cultural buildings at work in both texts; Alice is fastidiously courteous as well as insatiably curious, top qualities echoed in the building of Bilbo. Both characters exist in ‘static’ environments– places where power structure and also order dominate, the environment is uncorrupted by human (as well as Hobbit) firm, as well as nothing much ever adjustments through time. The beginning of both their journeys, as a result, echoes the start of modernity in that both characters understandings of fact are tested by the new natural surroundings they experience– where their ideas in self and other were as soon as strong, they now become revealed as frighteningly contingent. There are other possible means of perceiving the world, and also a vital obstacle of the story for both lead characters is just how they bargain their personal senses of propriety and also decency in relation to peoples and places aggressive to those beliefs. The certain constructions of Bilbo and Alice can therefore be read as personifying details idealized archetypal perceptions of Englishness.

Showing the Enchanting facets of both books, these buildings of Englishness are pastoral in nature as well as are confused and tested by the firm shown up by both characters in connection with their new environments. Daniel Bivona suggests that Alice’s journey is a ‘game’ constructed by Carroll to illustrate what may take place when an agent of English society is positioned in an unknown, international land (144 ). This reading is apt, given that Alice’s accurate English, politeness and also understanding is of little use to her in her travels– certainly it actively works against her. As an example, Alice’s experiences in Wonderland rescind her understandings of reasoning, reason and social propriety. Alice locates herself unable of remembering standard realities ‘correctly’ and also her efforts to enforce her ‘will certainly’ in this brand-new globe are totally futile (Carroll, 19). In addition, Alice’s meticulous politeness and eagerness to share her viewpoints– mirroring a rather swaggering sense of opportunity echoing the British royal attitude– to the various citizens of Heaven usually lead to her own complication, stress as well as seclusion (Carroll, 41). When Alice shares her desire that she had actually taken her feline Dinah with her on her trip to ensure that she can obtain the Computer mouse, she describes to the different animals that her pet cat is terrific and also would “consume a little bird as soon as consider it!” (Carroll, 39). Alice is oblivious to the opportunity that her instant audience might find her point of views frightening (given that a lot of them are birds). This additional suggests the level to which Alice’s social ideas are ill-suited to this brand-new foreign setting. Likewise, Biblo’s honesty as well as bravery contribute in leading Thorin Oakenshield’s band of dwarves to Smaug’s layer as well as the seizure of his prize (Tolkien, 242), however are of little usage in protecting against the arrogance and also acquisitiveness of the dwarves, fairies as well as orcs leading to the fight of the 5 militaries (Tolkien, 321). Hence regardless of his best purposes, Bilbo’s trip in different lands just confirms his prejudgments of the good life he appreciated in the Shire– life without tools, intrigue, citadels, dragons and also the violence that features pressing greed as well as lust for power and wide range. Bilbo clarifies as he watches the horror of the critical battle unravel that “… it is enough to make one weep, besides one has undergone … I have actually constantly recognized that loss may be glorious … I desire I was well out of it” (Tolkien, 327). The lesson it appears is that the worths of these brand-new peoples lead just to destruction, power-lust and also violence; Bilbo– and also his pastoral Englishness are both morally premium however virtually powerless in this new natural context.

While both books are divided by virtually a century, they were both written throughout the British imperial age in which that country was the most urbanized and industrialized in the world. In Carroll’s time, Britain had simply ended up the brutal Crimean War versus Tsarist Russia as well as had actually barely kept its control over its Indian possession in the 1857 Sepoy mutiny (a mutiny triggered by the British army obliviously firmly insisting that Muslim soldiers grease their muskets with pork fat). In addition, Tolkien’s Hobbit was released throughout the Great Clinical depression as the political situation in Europe and also Asia inched ever before closer to an additional complete battle. While both stories can be read as reactionary in defending what is being shed culturally and also environmentally for England by its commitment to industry and empire, they both likewise suggest in subtle manner ins which there are unanticipated dangers in wishing for change for its very own purpose (to relieve boredom) or as a means to enhance one’s wealth as well as power, regardless of the consequences.

This essay has argued that J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and also Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland each have actually narratives focused upon lead characters personifying a similar pastoral archetype of ‘Englishness’. It has actually also suggested that both messages are essentially Romantic in their suitables as well as consequently aggressive to these radical socio-economic makeovers taking place throughout 19th and also early the twentieth century England– a nation wrecked by war and royal growth, as well as the social dislocations as well as environmental devastations of automation, and urbanization. The trips of Alice and also Bilbo function as sign of things to come versus the repercussions of expansionism an industrialization. In this feeling, the connection in between society as well as nature in both novels is one which advantages a pre-industrial, parochial state of mind in which the particular perceptions of quintessential ‘Englishness’– honesty, generosity, politeness and closeness to an unspoilt landscape, mirror an even more honest lifestyle. Additionally, both novels suggest the constraints of this ‘Englishness’ when placed in varying environments– indicating that the recommended connection between society as well as nature can be shed through certain forms of human agency. This last factor additionally emphasizes the Charming elements of both books as the vicarious experience of viewing the world via Bilbo’s and Alice’s experiences uses viewers an opportunity at redemption, validating the perfect of innovative perception as the greatest kind of moral firm.

Works Pointed out

Bivona, Daniel. “Alice and the Child-Imperialist and the Gamings of Wonderland.” Nineteenth- Century Literary works, 41.2 (1986 ): 143-171. Print.

Brockman, Bennett A. “Altruistic and also the Creation of Kid’s Literary works.” Children’s Literature, 10 (1982 ): 1-17. Publish.

Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Experiences in Heaven. San Diego: Icon Group International, Inc. 2005. Publish.

Clubbe, John and Lovell, Ernest J. English Romanticism: The Premises of Idea. London: Macmillan Press, Ltd. 1983. Print.

Johnson, Matthew. H. “Making a Home: Archaeologies of the Medieval English Town.” Reviewing Numerous Stories: Beyond Nationalist, Colonialist, Imperialist Archaeologies. Eds.

Junko Habu, Clare Fawcett and John M. Matsunaga. New York City: Springer, 2008. 45-55. Print.

Kortenhouse, Carol M. and Demarest, Jack. “Gender Function Stereotyping in Children’s Literary works: An Update.” Sex Roles, 28.3 (1993 ): 220-232. Print.

Kuusela, Tommy. “Searching for a National Epic: The Use of Old Norse Myths in Tolkien’s Vision of Middle-Earth.” Approaching Religion, 4.1 (2014 ): 25-36. Print.

Marshall, Elizabeth. “Removing for the Wolf: Reassessing Depictions of Gender in Kid’s Literature.” Reading Research Study Quarterly, 39.3 (2004 ): 256-270. Publish.

Tolkien, J.R.R. . The Hobbit. New York: HarperCollins, 2009. Publish.

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