Lewis Carroll Decoded: Quotes That Reveal the Creative Genius

Go down the rabbit hole to understand the meaning behind Lewis Carroll quotes

Characters From Alice in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland Characters. Credit: Chelsea Lauren / Contributor/Getty Images

Lewis Carroll is a master story teller. He uses expressive language to make fiction sound like reality, and in each book, Lewis Carroll leaves a philosophical message to his readers. These profound philosophies make his stories a source of great inspiration. Here are some of Carroll's most famous quotations from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" along with an explanation of the hidden meanings in the quotes.

"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backward."

This quote, spoken by the Queen in "Through the Looking Glass" has intrigued, inspired and influenced great thinkers of the world. Celebrated psychiatrist Carl Jung presented his concept of synchronicity based on this quote from Lewis Carroll. Leading professors of various academic institutes have researched the role memory plays in human life. Though at face value, this statement seems absurd, it provokes you to think about how memory is imperative to the sense of self. Without memory of who you are, you have no identity. 

"Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"

Also from the Queen in "Through the Looking Glass," this is another masterpiece from the cryptically talented Lewis Carroll. You have to read it twice to understand what a deep thought this is.

The metaphor of running is used to express our daily routine, the activity of working hard to keep up with the fast pace of our dynamic world. If you want to get somewhere, achieve a goal or accomplish a task, you need to work twice as hard as you usually do. That's because everyone is working as hard as you are, and that's helping you stay in the race.

If you wish to achieve success, you will need to work harder than others!

"It was much pleasanter at home when one wasn't always growing larger and smaller and being ordered about by mice and rabbits."

A simple, innocent remark by Alice in "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" can set you thinking about your life too. Alice, who slips through the rabbit hole into a land of absurdities and wonders, finds the newness of the place unsettling. She encounters talking animals such as rabbits and mice. She also consumes food and drink that alter her shape and size. Confounded by these weird occurrences, Alice makes the remark.

"You see, Kitty, it must have been either me or the Red King. He was part of my dream, of course—but then I was part of his dream, too! Was it the Red King, Kitty? You were his wife, my dear, so you ought to know—oh, Kitty, do help to settle it! I'm sure your paw can wait!"

In Alice's world in "Through the Looking Glass," the real and the imaginary often intermingle, leaving her confused. Alice sees Kitty as the Red Queen in her dreams and as her pet in reality. But even when she sees the Red Queen, Alice imagines the cat to be a queen. Lewis Carroll uses this metaphor to show how dreams and reality often coexist as if they are a part of one another.

 

"Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next."

This quote sets the tone for the book, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," as the story unravels one absurdity after another. At first, the reader is struck by the weird mention of a rabbit wearing a waistcoat. As the next scene unfolds—Alice falling down the rabbit hole—the reader realizes that a lot of surprises are in store. You can marvel the author's vivid imagination, which is at once captivating and thought-provoking. 

"Let me see: four times five is twelve, and four times six is thirteen, and four times seven is—oh, dear! I shall never get to twenty at that rate! ... London is the capital of Paris, and Paris is the capital of Rome, and Rome—no that's all wrong, I'm certain. I must have been changed for Mabel!"

In this quote from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," you may actually feel Alice's confusion.

You can see that Alice gets all her multiplication tables wrong, and she confuses the names of capitals and countries. Her frustration reaches a point where she feels that she has metamorphosed into Mabel, a relatively unknown character in the book. All we know of Mabel is that she is dull and dim-witted.

"Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

This quote is from the Queen in "Through the Looking Glass." Imagination the seed for innovation. If it weren't for the impossible dreams of the Wright brothers, would we have invented the airplane? Would we have the electric bulb without Thomas Alva Edison's dream? Millions of innovators dare to dream the impossible or believe in the unbelievable. This quote by the Queen is the right spark for a fertile mind that is looking for inspiration.

"But it's no use going back to yesterday because I was a different person then."

Another cryptic metaphor from Alice in "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" that could keep you awake at nights. Alice's thought-provoking remark reminds you that each day we grow as individuals. We are defined by our choices, experiences and our perspectives. So, every day, we wake up a new person, with new thoughts and ideas.