The Wonder of the Power of Language in Alice in Wonderland


Power is a game played by everyone. Learning to confront the power game is important if we do not want to fall prey of it. Among all sources of power, language is one uniquely human. The language people use in communication is just like a game according to Ludwig Wittgenstein. People not only connect the referents with the words, but also with the implications behind the expressions. Only through continuous interactions and guessing of the meanings, people can understand each other. For example, it is possible that a person actually means “give me an apple,” when pronouncing the word, “apple.” As Peter Kemp asserts, the power of language lies in its implications. It can be used to force, to mislead, to satire or to hurt others. The purpose of this study is to analyze how a little girl, Alice, learn to master the language game in order to survive and not being bullied. In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, some language games were played to Alice by those Wonderland creatures, in order to be the power-holders in the conversation. Alice, a seven-year-old girl, was not able to make a refutation at those illogical arguments. Her lack of expression provided chances for those creatures to have power on her for she was unable to resist or protest against unjust language. Text analysis shows that in order for Alice to survive in the Wonderland, she gradually mastered the language game by observing and participating in the debates with Wonderland creatures.

Author Information
Yen-Hua Lai, National Chung Chen University, Taiwan

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2015
Stream: Humanities - Literature/Literary Studies*

This paper is part of the ACAH2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon