Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Lee Behlman

Committee Member

Adam Rzepka

Committee Member

Jeffrey Miller


The occurrences of madness in the text of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures on Wonderland and in Sir John Tenniel’s accompanying illustrations have largely gone unexamined or have been seen by interpreters as simple byproducts of Carroll’s use of nonsense language. This paper examines the ways in which madness is produced and framed in both the context of the narrative as well as in Tenniel’s associated illustrations. A close reading and examination of the language of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland reveals a framework through which the narrative’s underlying elements of madness can be perceived. Through their use of language, the narrator as well as the characters allow the reader to occupy a unique perspective in the narrative. A perspective which not only allows them to see the language frameworks that are produced, but to subsequently use those frameworks to perceive the madness that emanates from within the narrative. Several of the illustrations by Sir John Tenniel, which accompany Carroll’s text, are also examined, not only for their visual content and expression, but also how they visually represent moments in the text as well as in accordance with their physical placement in the narrative. The illustrations offer not only an interpretation of the madness present in the narrative. They also depict their own forms of madness, particularly in aspects of the narrative which are descriptively sparse.

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