Category Archives: Response 2

The Mother and the Hero

Many stories that we read have a clear pattern of gender roles. In J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan,” the author continues this distinction of gender stereotypes to tell his story.

We meet Wendy Darling at the beginning of the story as a young girl. She has curiosity, kindness and maternal qualities, all traits given to female protagonists. We first learn of her inquisitive nature when a young boy named Peter arrives unannounced in her room. Instead of being “alarmed to see a stranger…she was only pleasantly interested” (21). When she sees him crying she “[gets] out of bed and [runs] to him,” intending to comfort him (22). This scene begins to show the maternal side of Wendy that we will soon see very often. She learns that Peter was there to put his shadow back on, and she takes great pride in knowing how to do this task and not him. She announces “I shall sew it on for you,” hinting that she feels she must take care of him as a type of mother figure (22). After this job is complete she worries she “should have ironed it,” yet again showing her motherly feelings (23). Peter lures Wendy to his home of Neverland by telling her that she “could tuck [them] in at night,” referring to the Lost Boys he lives with in Neverland (28). Wendy gets very excited at this prospect of acting as a mother to the boys and doing things they do: fixing their clothes, making meals and telling them to take their medicine. When she arrives in Neverland she makes sure the boys go to bed on time and, “nobly anxious to do her duty,” she teaches the boys about parents so that they do not forget theirs (68).

Peter Pan displays all the qualities of a male protagonist: he shows courage, authority and a desire to always appear strong. Upon first meeting Wendy he does not want to look like he was crying, “already of the opinion that he had never cried in his life” (23). He also is shown as a contrast to Wendy’s thoughts of his shadow, as he is “indifferent to appearances” (23). These traits show a very clear stereotype of boys. Peter also enjoys showing off his skills, saving people at the last minute in clever or brave ways. He symbolizes a male authority figure, as all of the boys respect him and wonder “What would Peter do?” in situations (53). Peter proves to be a heroic person, indifferent to his safety and always loving adventure. He never seems to be afraid and instead thinks ‘“to die will be an awfully big adventure”’ (85). He showcases his bravery and cockiness by doing unnecessary things to put himself in danger just for the entertainment and frequently saves the lives of others. These heroic traits are conventional of male protagonists.

The motherly Wendy and the heroic Peter adhere to these gender stereotypes throughout the entire story, creating an adventurous and exciting tale.

J.M. Barrie. Peter Pan. Modern Library, 2004. 9780812972979.

Nothing Changes in Neverland

                    In Peter Pan, the gender roles are pretty basic, the boy is the one who saves the girl in distress and the girl is the one who gets into a situation where they need to be saved.  Wendy is the mother; from the time Peter and Wendy meets all Peter talks about is how she will be the mother of the Lost Boys and him, she could take care of them and sew their clothes.  “Wendy, you could tuck us in at night.  And you could darn our clothes, and make pockets for us.” (Barrie, 38)  When they get to Neverland, she takes care of all the boys while they play and have fun.  Peter Pan was cunning and would do whatever he needed to protect his “family”.  He played husband and wife when Wendy came and the Lost Boys and Wendy’s brothers were their children.  “Children, I hear your father’s step.  He likes you to meet him at the door.”(Barrie, 120)  They followed the gender stereotypes of man is the provider and women is the one who takes care of the children and other household work.  When Wendy decided she wanted to go home and take everyone one with her, this is when they got attacked by Captain Hook’s crew.  This follows the stereotype of the women is the damsel in distress.  She was tied up to the mast which shows even more that she is in need of saving.  Her brothers and the Lost Boys are just little kids and Peter is a man so it is he who needs to save Wendy, but the younger children also help aid in Wendy’s escape after they are sent into the cabin to seek their “danger.”  Once Wendy decided it was time for her brothers and her to go home, Peter and Wendy made a deal that she would come back once a year for spring cleaning since he could not clean himself because it was a women’s job.  Mrs. Darling let “Wendy go to him for a week every year to do his spring cleaning.”(Barrie, 196)  Gender stereotypes in this story, follow the norm  that men are strong and are our saviors while women are the damsels in distress and take care of the children and stay at home.

Seaography, Mystery, and Mock Turtle Soup – Tanner Carlton

In “Alice and Wonderland” Lewis Carroll seems to take aim at the educational systems of his time by using key characters from the story. Evidence of this happens in chapter 9, when Alice meets the Gryphon and the Mock-Turtle. Upon meeting Alice, these two characters boast about their fine schooling and education.

The Mock-Turtle begins by going through the list of subjects that he had learned about such as “Arithmetic – ambition, distraction, uglification, and derision” as well as “mystery” and “seaography”.  Then the Gryphon adds that lessons are named lessons “because they lessen from day to day.”

I think this example is an interesting point for discussion in that it brings about two questions . . . First, it seems obvious that Carroll uses false pseudonyms for “real world” subjects, but what motive does he present in doing so? Secondly, why does Carroll bring about these questions using the characters of the “Mock-turtle” and the “Gryphon”?

In response to the first question, I believe that Carroll may be attempting to ridicule education with simple word play like substituting history with ‘mystery’ and division with ‘derision’. I don’t think that it is too far out of the question to argue that Carroll may be re-titling history as ‘mystery’ because so much of history can seem like a mystery to us. It may be Carroll’s aim to ridicule those scholarly elitists who think otherwise . . .

In response to the second question raised, it seems that the “Mock-turtle” and the “Gryphon” were interesting choices, by Carroll, to bring forth this subliminal message that mocks education. When describing the “Mock-turtle” the queen says “It’s the thing Mock Turtle Soup is made from”. I think a quick connection one can make with the “Mock Turtle” and the anti-education message is the word ‘mock’. Obviously Carroll is attempting to mock educational standards of the day so it could be that he named his character accordingly. Next, the “Gryphon”, poses a different value. Maybe Carroll used  the mythical gryphon because it inadvertently represents truth when it says lessons are called lessons “because they lessen from day to day.” A truth Carroll may be trying to establish.

I think that Carroll was very critical of education in a very comical way when he wrote “Alice and Wonderland”. I think the example of the “Mock-turtle” and the “Gryphon” illustrate that point very well.


Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

The Story of A young lady, named Alice, Who finds herself following a white rabbit into a land of wonder has captured the interest of generations and people of all ages.  The reason for this being that the author, Lewis Carroll, of this story utilized double entendre to hide underlying sexual innuendos.  This is especially evident when you focus specifically on the comparison between the older women figures like the Queen and the Duchess and how they are portrayed in contrast to young Alice.  For example the color of clothing they wear is very expressive of how the writer wants his audience to see the woman Vs. the girl.  Carroll dresses Alice in a traditional girl’s day dress, while he illustrates the Queen of hearts as wearing the color red which is commonly linked to mature sexuality.  This element of comparison is used to make the main character seem all the more innocent and virginal which in turn accentuates Alice’s overwhelming childlike curiosity that propels the plot of this famous fairy tale.

the Real World through Wonderland

his book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,
Lewis Carroll portrays Wonderland as a depiction of the mind of a little girl
named Alice. When Alice finds herself in Wonderland she does not know what she
is about to encounter, but her curiosity pulls her towards finding out the
mysteries of this place called Wonderland. As Alice walks through Wonderland
she quickly finds out that it is not at all like her homeland. The rabbit and
the dodo bird challenge the notion of reality by mocking it with their

Alice’s journey starts when she sees a dressed up white
rabbit scurrying off. She gets fascinated by it and follows him when she
suddenly starts her long fall down in the rabbit hole. The rabbit is a very shy
yet mean animal, but he symbolizes wanting something but not getting it. This
is why the rabbit is depicted as really frustrated person. When Alice tries to
talk to the rabbit by saying  “If you
please. Sir-” (Carroll 60)., he just walks off in an aggressive manner.  The rabbits behavior challenges reality by
portraying that no one has time for anyone, and that it’s every man for

During her journey, Alice lands on a bank from her pool
of tears with a couple of animals. When she brings out the fact that they need
to dry up, a dodo bird suggests that they should have a caucus race. Alice asks
what a caucus race is, the dodo bird replies by saying “the best way to explain
it is by doing it” (Carroll 68). By the end of the race, everyone that
participated was declared the winner. In a caucus in the real world, members
are elected to run as delegates. In the story, the dodo bird challenges the
fact of elections. No matter who wins an election there will always be someone
who opposes the fact that he or she won.

All the different characters in Wonderland challenge the
real world society in one way or another. The rabbit and the dodo bird show
that the real world society could be improved. In his book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Carroll portrays the real world
society as something that will fall apart if it is not improved.








Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Ontario: Broadview Literary
Texts, 2000. Print.

Web. 3 Oct. 2011.

Web. 3 Oct. 2011.


Passive or Active? DECIDE!

“Alice in Wonderland” begins with young Alice becoming bored, as children typically do when forced to sit, unentertained for too long. It is her curiosity and boredom that land her in wonderland. She plays both active and passive roles in the story and does not follow a distinct path from one to the other, but rather floats between the two extremes. Alice learns that there are times to be passive and times to be active, which aides her in becoming wiser and more mature throughout her journey, so that by the end of the story she has evolved from childhood to adulthood.

In the beginning Alice’s role is active, as is typical of most young, inquisitive children wishing to explore the world. She naively jumps down the rabbit-hole after the peculiar rabbit “never once considering how in the world she was to get out again”(Carroll 20). Although she is clearly taking the initiative to drive her story, Alice does not use proper judgment to consider her choice. This same thing is true when she begins eating and drinking objects. She is slightly more cautious when consuming the bottle labeled “DRINK ME” and the glass box labeled “EAT ME” checking for poison. Her priority, however, is to get into the garden and by using careful decision making she realizes, “if it makes me grow larger, I can reach the key; and if it makes me grow smaller, I can creep under the door”(Carroll 25). Her actions lead to her fate and she eventually reaches her destination.

Once in the garden, Alice begins to take a more passive role in the plot. She starts to observe rather than speak for each time she speaks to one of the animals they become offended by something she says, telling a rat she has met about a dog who “kills all the rats”(Carroll 32). Alice quits speaking unless spoken to and allows others to lead her around wonderland. She matures and realizes that it may be best for her to listen to others and not voice her opinion, especially after meeting the murderous Queen of Hearts.

In time though, the passive role does not seem to appeal to Alice, who becomes frustrated with people telling her what to do. During the trial over whether knave stole the tart, Alice outwardly refuses to obey the queen, declaring ‘“I won’t!”’ in front of the entire court (Carroll 116). Throughout her journey Alice has developed from the nosy, outspoken child to a young girl, who is mature enough to understand when it is proper to speak or not. Alice wisely chooses her role in the plot at the end of the tale. She shows that the strong heroine is not the one who is more active or more passive in the story, but rather the one who knows which role enables her success.

Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland ; &, Through the Looking-glass. New York: Signet Classic, 2000. Print.

A Wonderland of Nonsense

When reading “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, the reader can tell right away that wonderland is vastly different from its ‘real world’ counterpart. In Alice’s world, which we identify here to be the real and normal world, there are structures and rules. Whereas with Wonderland, the false world, we see there is noting logical about what occurs there and from our eyes everything that happens is nonsense. From talking animals to rapid body growing and shrinking, it’s not something that can be physically possible in our world. However, while all of wonderland is surly fantasy the scenes of the Duchess with her child and when Alice is growing small and tall consistently stand out as the most unusual scenes.


When Alice comes to the duchess’ house we see a set of chaotic events unfold in a short amount of time, from the stupid frog footman to the cook throwing cookware at the Duchess. However, the most peculiar moment comes from how the duchess treats her child. Not only does she scream and yell at it when it sneezes, her lullaby is filled with violence, saying while she shakes him to “speak roughly to your little boy, and beat him when he sneezes” (Carroll 96). While the real world does have cases of disciplining a child, I’m sure any mother from Alice’s world would be appalled at how the duchess treats her babe. Of course I doubt any mother would know what to say after the baby turns into a pig like the child does after Alice starts to carry it away. It’s an odd scene that shows both how family relationships are not perceived the same way in Wonderland and how anything that’s odd or impossible can and will occur.


Another case where Wonderland is different from the real world is its laws in physics, or its lack of it; the famous scene in which Alice’s takes one drink to make her smaller and one bite to make her tall. The scene is one we cannot get out of our heads, the idea of growing and shrinking at such a grotesque rate that it converges on body horror. While in the normal world a person grows as they age, it is not to the severity that is shown in this scene. When Alice eats the cake that says, “eat me” she grows at such a rate and height that “her head struck against the roof of the hall: in fact she was now rather more than nine feet high” (59). In the real world no one can ever be this tall because there would have been no possible way for her body to function and work for itself, she would have died, showing how the impossible in possible in Wonderland.

Stepping out of Bounds

          In all the stories we’ve read there has been gender roles that just stick up and deviation from them are frowned upon.  Women are supposed to be passive, submissive, follow the orders of men, and do housework.  Men are the breadwinners, active, and heroic.  The men are the ones who always have to save the damsel in distress. 

         In “Hansel and Gretel”, it starts out with the apparent gender roles of men being the smart ones who save women and the women just following the men.  Towards the end though, these gender roles are challenged a little bit by Gretel.  The mother is wicked and evil which is suspected by stepmothers and she wants to get rid of her children for her on greed.  The father agrees and Hansel hears this and since he is the man he comes up with a plan for his sister and him to stay safe.  He is the one who gets the stones and makes a path for them to follow home.  This does work, but they are abandoned all over again so he uses the same plan but with bread crumbs.  This time it doesn’t work because birds eat the bread up, so being the man he has to figure a plan out and he gets them to a witch’s house who tries to eat them.  This follows the stereotype that men never ask for directions and this is how they got to the witch’s house.  Once the witch decides to eat Hansel, it is now Gretel’s turn to find a way out to safety.  She uses intelligence and once opportunity brings itself up, she gets them to safety.  She is the one who pushes the witch into the oven and rescues Hansel, she is the one who finds the duck once they got to the river so they can cross it, and she is the one who realizes it is dangerous to go across on the duck together.  They find their way back to their father’s house after this all because Gretel was able to take charge.  Women are just as capable as men as finding a solution out of bad situations.  Women do not always need men to take care of them because women are capable of taking care of themselves. 

The Classic Fairy Tales  Maria Tatar