Alice in Wonderland | Study Guide

Lewis Carroll

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Alice in Wonderland | Chapter 12 : Alice's Evidence | Summary

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Summary

Alice jumps to her feet, knocking over the jury box in her hurry. Hastily, she replaces all the creatures who have fallen out onto the floor. The King tells her that "Rule Forty-two" bans from court anyone more than a mile high, but Alice refuses to leave.

The King subjects the Knave to a meaningless grilling and then sums up the evidence with hilarious ineptness. The Queen announces that the Knave should be sentenced before the verdict is reached. Alice blares out, "Stuff and nonsense!" Shocked, the Queen shouts, "Off with her head!" Alice, now her full size, says, "You're nothing but a pack of cards!" Immediately, the whole pack soars into the air and rains down on her head.

Alice wakes to find herself back on the riverbank, with her older sister brushing fallen leaves off Alice's face.

Analysis

Even in the comic chaos of the trial, readers can see that Alice has come a long way since she first fell into Wonderland. She's no longer inhibited by timidity or politeness; she's able to speak up for the Knave in open court. She may have fallen into Wonderland, but she's standing on her own two feet when she makes her exit. As seen from her reaction to "Rule Forty-two," she has also learned to differentiate between rules that make sense and rules that make no sense at all, and she is ready to apply reason to defend herself against nonsensical rules.

The dream motif is present again in the way the cards throwing themselves at Alice turn out to be leaves drifting onto her face. This is typical of how dreams can incorporate and reinterpret things that are sensed in reality just before the dreamer awakens.

After Alice wakes up, the tone changes, becoming soft and sentimental—in typical Victorian manner—as Carroll neatly winds up the story. As Alice heads home to take her tea, her sister stays by the river, daydreaming about the younger girl's adventures.

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