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Edge Between Fiction and Reality

The vast majority of readers consider children’s literature to be a genre, which is suitable for children’s simple minds and is characterized by simple contents that are easy for perception by those, who have little reading experience (Zagler 1). Although such generally accepted view is often right, this genre has attracted numerous literature scholars to analyze its thematic and structural peculiarities. Therefore, it is essential to highlight that children’s literature is complex and simple at the same time. The novels Through the Looking Glass and Alice Adventure in Wonderland deserve attention as outstanding examples of the genre. Among the authors, who have referred to the above mentioned tales, one should point out Adrian Zagler, Elizabeth Sewell, Bridget Mahoney, who studied various aspects of Lewis Carroll’s novels about Alice. Numerous ideas from their essays together with historical background of Lewis Carroll’s work become evidences that the fantastical situations are not merely fictional events, which are aimed to entertain children, but symbolic description of some real human qualities and problems, which make life interesting and full of different events and surprises.

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Adrian Zagler has found much in common between Carroll’s fictional events and reality. In his The Reality-Fiction Opposition in Children Literature, Zagler provides an analysis of Through the Looking Glass and Alice Adventure in Wonderland. He states that the novel Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland is more than mere stories published for children literature; it reveals many sides of reality, and for this reason most adults are also fond of reading this book (Zagler 10). In addition, Zagler provides analysis of the book Through the Looking Glass and states that, though its main audience should be children, the plot of the tale is also suitable in providing a literary satisfaction to teenagers and adults as well (Zagler 66). This is why this novel should be regarded as one of the most contradictory pieces of the children’s literature. It is essential to point out that Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a fictional tale that revolves around a protagonist named Alice, who is a young and very curious girl. Her outstanding curiosity pushed her to leave the house as she was bored, and made her find the entrance to the Wonderland. As it is known, during her adventures in the Wonderland, Alice encountered some creatures, many of whom are fictional and, from the first sight, seem to be figments of the author’s mind. However, taking into account Zagler’s view, while exploring the difference between fiction and reality it is important to highlight that fiction may be divided into fictio and fictum (Zagler 5). Fictio refers to the creation of one’s creative mind to represent something real, the latter is a representative of something made, which is often unreal. Consequently, Zagler analyzes and compares various aspects of two novels in order to expose the opposition and the contrasting sides between fiction and reality. Hence the framing, the structural depiction alongside with the problems that arise because of the differences between fiction and reality in the novels are important. According to Zagler, another evidence of the connection between tales and real life is that the capacity to creatively develop fiction is an ability, which is unique to human beings. He demonstrates this assertion by saying that it is in human nature to be curious, and human children from their early years learn to develop creativity and to draw the line between reality and any fiction, which they encounter in the course of their interactions with nature and its components (Zagler 15). Moreover, Zagler demonstrates the unique human capacity to create fictional characters, which resemble humans or animals. For instance, one can only dream of meeting a Cheshire Cat or White talking Rabbit as they do not exist. Nevertheless, such qualities as being in a hurry all the time, philosophic talks, constant smile, which are characteristics of the fictional characters, are common for human individuals in real life. Furthermore, as the characters manage to inform about something important in the form of games, the parallel with teaching children in real life can be traced. Therefore, some actions and features of the heroes appear to be a link between the fictional stories and reality. However, the further exploration proves that the fiction also ruins the provisions of the real world. Despite the fact that the entire Alice’s adventures and experiences in Wonderland are apparently based on numerous facts of the real world, there are weaker boundaries between both realms. For instance, Alice’s moves, which have occurred between wakefulness and dream, make the story trigger one’s imagination and separate the event from reality (Zagler 10). Similarly, in the analysis of the other Carroll’s novel Through the Looking Glass, Zagler reveals that there is no sure point when Alice’s actually entered Wonderland, since the readers acquire the knowledge only after the event has occurred (Zagler 11). Moreover, through the perspectives of space, time, and owing to the fact that its setting occurs in the same dreaming experiences of Alice Andrian Zagler considers the story Through the Looking Glass to be a fictional piece of literature.

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Another author, who refers to the elements of reality and fiction in the children’s literature, is Elizabeth Sewell. In the article Revisiting Wonderland, she offers an incoherent analysis of Alice’s adventures and experiences in Wonderland. Owing to the unique circumstances, under which Lewis Carroll’s stories are often set, Sewell in her analysis states that the fictional stories including Through the Looking Glass and Alice Adventure in Wonderland bear major unfamiliarity with the real life experiences. According to her point of view, Lewis Carroll’s stories are basically strange and built on fiction (Sewell 10). Sewell supports this point of view by tracing the nature of the characters that appear to have mysterious identities. One can hardly acquire a full comprehension of the Dormouse, the Cheshire Cat, the March Hare, the White Rabbit and many others or become able to predict their characteristics. The characters change their shapes, sizes, disappear and reappear. In addition, they can also appear in pieces, as one whole or a combination of both features, which, according to Sewell, is mysterious and declares a complete absence of casual obligation in Lewis Carroll’s works (Sewell 12). Similarly, the further analysis attempts to disregard the reality that one may find in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass and Alice Adventure in Wonderland. She shows that the events in the books are a mere storytelling work with no reality in them (Sewell 14). For instance, the tales do not show any elements of events that depict reality such as love, conflict, death or even religion. In order to qualify her assertions in the texts, Sewell makes strong reference to specific events from the novel. Moreover, she regards the fact that all the events depicted by Carroll are only in Alice’s dreams as evidence of its impossibility to be a symbol of something more (Sewell 32). Although such view denies the previous one, it also deserves attention as one, which is more likely to regard the fictional tales as entertainment for children.

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An interesting thought was offered by Bridget Mahoney, who regarded the peculiarities of Lewis Carroll’s fiction not only in usage of reality and fiction in different contexts, but also in following four psychological steps of creativity. In the thesis Photography’s Creative Influence on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, she offers an interesting idea about the importance of photography for the creation of Lewis Carroll’s fictional tales. Mahoney analyses the portraits by Carroll and states that they reveal more of a dream, which moves the audience beyond the real world into the imaginary one (Mahoney 1). In such way, fiction becomes a better part of the story than the reality as it reveals the existence of a major creative link between the novels themselves and the photographs used by Lewis Carroll. According to Mahoney’s views, Lewis Carroll produced photographs, upon which he creatively authored the novels Through the Looking Glass and Alice Adventure in Wonderland, taking into consideration the same four steps of the creative process accepted by the psychologists. Therefore, in this domain, the modern readers of different levels and interest in Through the Looking Glass and Alice Adventure in Wonderland would easily acquire a comprehension of the creative process that Lewis Carroll used while developing the stories. Moreover, a reader would easily provide a distinction between the existing fictional events in the novels and the extent of reality involved in the story. Consequently, the use of photographs alongside with the texts should serve to enhance the message, which Lewis Carroll’s novels bring, by associating them with psychology (Mahoney 32). According to Mahoney, one can associate the distinction between real and fictional events in the novels with an individuals’ creativity. Such idea deserves attention as there exists a valid argument on the critical and creative relationship between fiction and reality. This argument is the use of photographs alongside texts by Lewis Carroll’s novels and a technique of Science of Human Innovation, which Carroll used (Mahoney 33). Mahoney refers to Sawyer’s text, which outlines the process of the Science of Human Innovation, as a process that entails preparation, incubation of the concept, which is followed by the relevant insights and a final verification of the ideas. In such way, one can perceive that Carroll’s novels depict creativity of literature, through the usage fiction and reality in different contexts.

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To sum it up, curiosity is a common trait for every individual, be it a child or an adult; and fictional stories as well as real, can often settle it. The analysis of two tales give evidences that literature works can not be based only on fictional or only on real events but include both in different contexts, depending on its message. Lewis Carroll’s novels Through the Looking Glass and Alice Adventure in Wonderland reveal the nature of life and its real aspects. It portrays life as full of unending news and surprises at every stage of growth and development, which often answers life questions based on prior curiosity built. For instance, Alice is an example of curiosity, hence ends up following the White Rabbit, and falls into its hole, where she eventually asks herself many questions. Such questions represent different activities and reactions that human beings give in response to curiosity. Zagler, Sewell and Bridget all point out the significant relationship between fiction and reality and curiosity in human beings.

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