Alice in Wonderland Subliminal Messages
By: Cheyenne Kidd
The 1951 animated classic, Alice in Wonderland, follows the journey of a young girl after she enters the fictional world of Wonderland. The story, based on the novel written by Lewis Carroll, begins with Alice listening to another woman reading to her about history while Alice daydreams about another world. During her daydream she sees a white rabbit, and decides to follow him. As she follows him into the rabbit hole, she encounters an alternate universe filled with talking animals and mystical creatures such as twins Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, and the Cheshire Cat. The characters provide obstacles and symbolism in Alice's journey in Wonderland and in life. The film ends with Alice waking up from her dream of Wonderland. According to Giannetti this film would be considered leftist because of it's emphasis on social and societal commentary. The author and directors alike make comments about women, drug usage, and children throughout the film in various ways. Positive messages stem from Alice's journey, such as curiosity as a dangerous things. Coupled with the positive messages within the film, negative messages are also present such as the idea that women have jealous tendencies and that younger individuals cannot have valid opinions. In alignment with most Disney films, the leftist positive messages stood out in comparison to the negative messages with curiosity being dangerous having the most impact on the film and character development.
One crucial message with positive and negative messages becomes apparent throughout in the film when the flowers demonstrate how curiosity is good but can be dangerous as well as the notion that women are catty. Alice enters the world of Wonderland because of her innocent curiosity about the white rabbit. Her curiosity allowed meet and talk to new people that she would not have come into contact with, but all of her encounters were not necessarily beneficial. For example, when she meets the Cheshire Cat and speaks with him, instead of getting answers to her problems she becomes more confused. This confusion led her to storm off into the woods and eventually become lost. Another instance where her curiosity harms her is her encounter with the flowers. She kindly listens to the song of the flowers and in exchange gets ridiculed and called names. Her interaction with the flowers warns children that while kindness can have positive outcomes, in some instances other respond to kindness with disrespect. While harsh, this lesson would become beneficial to children as they grow up and interact with more people in society. The argument has an effective deliverance because it also teaches children that they should respond to rude behavior by turning the other cheek and moving on, just like Alice. Her encounter with the flowers while having positive connotations, like the lesson to have caution as well as curiosity, a negative aspect is also portrayed. The female flowers appear catty and rude, exemplifying the stereotype that women cannot have female friends without feeling jealousy. This jealously manifests itself in snide comments and the putting down of others who disagree with your opinion. The jealousy negative messages, while encased in a children's film, would have a greater impact if the adults watching interpreted them. If women did not act jealously, but instead united and celebrated other women, insecurities would reduce leading to a happier society.
With the messages portrayed in the film, pathos had the strongest connection because the director tried to get the audience to empathize with Alice when she spoke with the flowers as well as explored her curiosity. Curiosity as a danger has the strongest pull on the film because it is the driving factor for why she entered Wonderland as well as how she navigates her journey. Since curiosity was present throughout the film I would rate the messages a four, because while negative messages were portrayed they were less blatant and did not greatly impact the plot.