Alice in Wonderland Vs Midsummer Nights Dream
According to the Oxford dictionary, dreams are a series of thoughts, images and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep. A person can experience many different types of dreams, whether it is nightmares, daydreams, or fantasies. In fantasy texts there has been one commonality, the characters indulge in dreams in order to achieve something they have greatly desired. In William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, he constructs a sort of dream world where characters get mixed up through their dream states which is conceived through the love potion.
Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass allow the protagonist, Alice, to journey through her chaotic dream world in order to achieve what she ultimately desires. Both novels question how strongly the characters want to achieve their ultimate desires by risking what is unknown. In Shakespeare’s Woods and Carroll’s Wonderland, they create an unstable reality where fantasy aspects create confusion. The characters are faced with the reality of whether or not they ultimately are satisfied of their goals, if they were reached.
In both Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass the process of dreaming plays a fundamental function in opposing rationale to accomplish goals, finding meaning in an unstable, parallel world which as a conclusion allows the character to make sense of their journeys when faced with reality. The subconscious state of dreaming allows one to defy logic and order to by any means achieve their desires.
In both A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, each character is faced with the decision if their goal is worth risking for the unknown. When Hermia’s father Egeus does not allow Hermia to be with Lysander, her true love, the two lovers devise a plan to escape so they can be free and live their life together. Lysander and Hermia enter the woods to search for his “widow Aunt” and escape Athens and the strict Athenian laws (Shakespeare 141-142).
The aunt’s house represents a safe house where they are able to be free without worrying for their family and the discomfort of the court. Hermia and Lysander never reach the aunt’s house and have to go back to the court. Even though in the end they do get married, their desire to be together in freedom is never obtained due to how structured the court life is. After Alice falls down the rabbit hole and enters the room with many doors, her ultimate goal is to reach “the loveliest garden you ever saw” through the door that she cannot seem to get into (Carroll 13).
The garden represents growth, innocence, freedom and journey which is what every child wants. After travelling throughout Wonderland, when Alice eventually reaches the garden she is not even able to enjoy it. The beautiful garden is in the middle of a chaotic and cruel atmosphere under the ruling of the King and Queen of Hearts. Alice is taken aback when she finds multiple cards painting the roses red since she comes to the realization that the gardens beauty is not even real. In their subconscious state, characters mix reality into their dreams.
After Lysander becomes victim to the love potion and runs off with Helena, Hermia dreams that Lysander just watches a serpent attack her and he does not help her, but leaves her (Shakespeare, 177). When she awakens, she comes to the realization that Lysander has left her, so her nightmare of a dream has become her reality. Children often feel as if adults overlook them, as if their presence is not really there. This has come up many times with Alice where she is constantly trying to get the Wonderland characters attention but they do not seem to notice.
Her constant saying of “Excuse me sir” or “How d’ye do? ” (Carroll, 153) to get attention is representative of how she is never really recognized and this can mirror her struggles that she faces as a child in her reality. In the end, each character is faced with how their desires were never truly achieved which can be caused by the unstable reality of their dream world. A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland can be represented as unstable realities through aspects of time and fantasy.
Shakespeare creates a dream like state through the love potion. When awaken with the love potion on your eyes the first person you lay eyes on would be the person you fall in love with. This alone causes confusion and chaos in the woods. Also, the fact that it can only be applied to sleeping eyes, Shakespeare is brining more meaning to what can seem to be an innocent dream. By creating talking animals Carroll is bringing a very childlike and innocent scene to the more difficult topic of struggles into adulthood.
The caterpillar is an example of finding ones true self, while the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter are controlled by time, which can be linked to how in the adult world there never truly is enough time and one day you will not have any time left. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream the woods is a “league without the town” (Shakespeare, 142). It is an enclosed and sealed off space where the only true indication of time is the sky. Helena and Demetrius run through the woods not knowing what time of night it is and what they can encounter.
They are surrounded by only their problems and desires and have no recognition of things around them, which in reality is not a very safe outlook to have. Another use of time is through Hippolyta and Theseus trying to pass time until their wedding ceremony. Hippolyta says “Four nights will quickly dream away the time” (Shakespeare, 132). This is quite ironic not only for the use of time, but also through the four nights leading to their wedding day all the dream states that occur in the woods. The word dream is also used as a sort of coping mechanism for their impatience.
Two characters in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland who are obsessed with the notion of time are White Rabbit and Mad Hatter. The reader is introduced to the White Rabbit with him saying “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late! ” (Carroll, 9). Throughout the book he constantly says this but no exact time is ever established of when he has to be at the courts. The queen accused the Mad Hatter of “murdering time” so his punishment is the time always being 6 o’clock, “it’s always tea time” (Carroll, 64). Even though in reality time never stays the same, it seems to pass in the book but it never truly does.
In the woods and wonderland characters are allowed to forget time, which when compared with reality, relates to growing old. Conflicts and obstacles in this unstable reality are often based on confusion, and when order is eventually restored, characters are faced with reality. Through conflicts and obstacles, the characters eventually face reality and piece together the meaning of all that has happened. One of the major ways the characters grasp reality is through identity transformations or finding ones identity. Alice is constantly on a journey of finding her true identity.
She is trying to make sense of a world that she does not understand, which can be compared to the real adult world. When the caterpillar asks Alice who she is she replies with “ I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, Sir’, because I’m not myself, you see” (Carroll, 41). A caterpillar represents transformation and growth and that is exactly what Alice does throughout the novel. In the beginning she is constantly in tears, but near the end she is able to handle what wonderland throws her way and is confident even when dealing with the Queen of Hearts.
The only downfall is it seems as if Alice is awaken from her dream just before she is able to find her true self. Also, Alice is always trying to act older then she is, which is reflected in her dream wonderland. Even though she is a child, she thinks childish things such as crying are foolish and she is always trying to prove her worth, whether it is with the Mad Hatter and his riddles, or the Cheshire cat. By the end of the play there are two identity transformations. One is with Egeus, Hermia’s father.
In the beginning of the play he gave Hermia an ultimatum, to either marry Demetrius, or she will be killed, “As she is mine, I may dispose of her” (Shakespeare, 135). This resulted in her running into the woods with Lysander. When they arrive back to the court Egeus would like Hermia to still marry Demetrius, but he does allow Hermia and Lysander to get married. Another similar identity change is with Theseus. In the start of the play he abides by the strictness of the rules, but around his own wedding day he does allow true love to prevail and overrules Egeus’ original ultimatum.
One of the main concepts in each text is finding identity, and by the end of each, the characters are able to find more of their true identity. Dreams play an important role in both Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream and Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass in finding worth in desires, and discovering ones true self. Dreams are often used to explain bizarre events that allow us to understand things that we would normally never understand.
When one is faced with reality, they are able to use their dreams in order to find ones self. Time is an important factor in how reality can be unstable, it is always changing and we can never go back in time. Dreams show us our deepest desires and allow us to see if those desires will bring worth to ones life. Dreams are a parallel reality they show us the struggles faced in every day life in a world we understand. We are able to create this perfect world, until of course we wake up. Albert Einstein once said, “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a persistent one. ”