“Give your evidence,” said the King; “and don’t be nervous, or I’ll have you executed on the spot.”

The Mad Hatter is not even on trial for a crime in this scene – he’s simply providing evidence to the court for the Knave’s trial – and yet he’s in danger of execution. His anxious demeanor is enough for the King and Queen to threaten him with death, showing how unjust and nonsensical the justice system of Wonderland is. There seems to be no rhyme or reason behind the King and Queen’s calls for execution, which means no one is truly safe from being sentenced to death, no matter how they behave.

Alice dodged behind a great thistle, to keep herself from being run over, and, the moment she appeared on the other side, the puppy made another rush at the stick…then Alice, thinking it was very like having a game of play with a carthorse, and expecting every moment to be trampled under its feet, ran round the thistle again.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Alice’s journey through Wonderland is the change in her perception due to her smaller size. Alice begins to see the world as small creatures might: a place where animals we’d normally consider sweet and harmless become threatening and dangerous, either due to their size or their predatory natures. Alice adores puppies and cats, but in the world of Wonderland, she’s not safe around them. She makes several faux pas by expressing her love of these animals to several mice and birds, who are horrified by just a mention of their deadly predators.

“I wish I hadn’t cried so much!” said Alice, as she swam about, trying to find her way out. “I shall be punished for it now, I suppose, by being drowned in my own tears!”

When Alice is at one of her largest sizes, she begins crying because she can’t fit through a door, and her tears are so large that they create a puddle. When she shrinks to a tiny size, that puddle becomes a lake in which she must swim. Unable to reach the bottom, she worries that she might drown. While Alice’s conundrum is that she might literally drown in her own tears, there’s also a metaphorical association here that suggests a person can die from their own sadness. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is often considered a coming-of-age story, so Alice drowning in her own tears might symbolize her first experience with the deeper and more painful sadness that adulthood can bring.

They’re dreadfully fond of beheading people here: the great wonder is, that there’s any one left alive!

In both Wonderland and the real world, violent and unreasonable monarchs pose a genuine threat to their subjects, and, as is the case with many of England’s historical monarchs, can commit atrocities with impunity. In the case of Wonderland, Alice is shocked that the royals seem to want to murder all their subjects. Carroll’s portrayal of the King and Queen of Hearts is likely meant to poke a bit of fun at England’s history of insane and bloodthirsty royals, but the fact is that, while Wonderland’s royals and England’s royals often seem ridiculous and completely unworthy of their power, it doesn’t matter how they’re perceived – they still have the power to put to death any one of their subjects, with no need to justify the reason.

She was now about two feet high, and was going on shrinking rapidly: she soon found out that the cause of this was the fan she was holding, and she dropped it hastily, just in time to save herself from shrinking away altogether. “That was a narrow escape!” said Alice, a good deal frightened at the sudden change, but very glad to find herself still in existence.

At first, Wonderland’s assortment of bottles and foods that can make someone grow or shrink seems whimsical and fun, but it soon becomes a source of much frustration and fear for Alice. She can’t figure out how to control her size and finds herself in some concerning situations because of it. When she begins fanning herself with a seemingly innocuous fan, she realizes in the nick of time that it’s causing her to shrink. She almost shrinks herself out of existence, which, out of all the dangers in Wonderland, seems most frightening and strange. That it’s even possible to shrink yourself entirely away shows that Wonderland isn’t simply a childish place of fun and games – it’s a world with real dangers like our own.