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Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors
used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
Nearly every object in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland functions as
a symbol, but nothing clearly represents one particular thing. The symbolic
resonances of Wonderland objects are generally contained to the
individual episode in which they appear. Often the symbols work
together to convey a particular meaning. The garden may symbolize
the Garden of Eden, an idyllic space of beauty and innocence that
Alice is not permitted to access. On a more abstract level, the
garden may simply represent the experience of desire, in that Alice
focuses her energy and emotion on trying to attain it. The two symbolic
meanings work together to underscore Alice’s desire to hold onto
her feelings of childlike innocence that she must relinquish as
Like the garden, the Caterpillar’s mushroom also has multiple
symbolic meanings. Some readers and critics view the Caterpillar
as a sexual threat, its phallic shape a symbol of sexual virility.
The Caterpillar’s mushroom connects to this symbolic meaning. Alice
must master the properties of the mushroom to gain control over
her fluctuating size, which represents the bodily frustrations that
accompany puberty. Others view the mushroom as a psychedelic hallucinogen
that compounds Alice’s surreal and distorted perception of Wonderland.