Term Paper: Edgar Allen Poe and Lewis

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[. . .] As seen by considering his life, his relationships, and his childhood, the issues toward women Poe suggests in his horror fiction are likely largely based on his own issues toward women.

Overall then, Poe can be viewed as a trouble man whose childhood caused him to develop significant problems in his view of women and relationships. This resulted in Poe developing unsuitable relationships, most notably his marriage to his cousin Virginia.

Now that Poe has been considered in detail, it is now time to move on to consider the life, relationships, and writings of Lewis Carroll. The thing that Lewis Carroll and Edgar Allan Poe have in common is that they both developed strong relationships with children. The major difference is the reasons for these relationships and the nature of the relationships. As will be seen, Carroll's focus on children was a healthy one.

Carroll is well-known for having a strong connection to children. One source describes Carroll saying, "Diffident and shy, he was best able to communicate with children." His ability to communicate with children is probably best seen by considering the success of his two books Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. As one text describes, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was "originally written to amuse on of his numerous small girl friends, the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church."

These kind of statements and knowing that Carroll did have a tendency to be friends with young girls immediately raises questions about the nature of his interests in the girls. There is a tendency to immediately assume that this interest may have been sexual. However, there is little evidence to support this view and more to support the view that Carroll simply enjoyed the minds of the young and longed for the simplicities of being a child himself.

One of the best ways to see a writer's views of the world is to consider what they have written. For Lewis Carroll, a consideration of his most famous work Alice in Wonderland says a lot about the reasons for his love of children. On the surface, Alice in Wonderland could be considered as an imaginative fantasy story, following young Alice through her crazy adventure. All the strange events in the text could be considered as existing for entertainment value. However, beyond this surface meaning, the author is presenting a range of opinions on childhood, on life, and on the world in general.

The major clear message in the book is that one should remain a child and avoid becoming a "normal" adult. As one critic notes, Alice in Wonderland implies "a disastrous disruption between the kind and intelligent little girl and the cruel and stupid adults she encounters." This aspect of the book creates a view where children know better than adults. This is certain to appeal to children, but this does not seem to be the only reason for the message. The clearest suggestion of the theme is seen after Alice wakes from the dream, when the sister describes imagining Alice as a grown woman,

Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood: and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with the dream of Wonderland of long ago... And find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days."

The essential message is that one should remain a child forever. This suggests that Carroll's focus on children is related to the way they think and they way they enjoy life. More importantly, this does not suggest that Carroll's interest in children is any form of sexual interest.

This message about holding onto the joy of childhood also appears to be based on the author's own longing for childhood. This is especially true because the passage describing Alice as storyteller can be considered as being based on how the author wants himself to be viewed as storyteller. As the author of the book, he is the person telling the story of Wonderland, and is describing himself as having the heart of a child. This shows that Carroll's ability to relate to children is based on the childlike part of himself. This means that his interest in being friends with children is part of his desire to hold onto the enjoyment and fun of childhood and to escape from the reality of adulthood. Once again, this suggests that Carroll's interest in children has nothing to do with a sexual desire.

Carroll's interest in children as a way of him escaping from the adult world is also suggested by the messages contained in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. One of the major themes operating within the text is how Alice deals with the rules and regulations of the world she is in. The clear message presented is that one should question the rules and regulations when they do not make sense. When the King states a rule saying all persons more than a mile high must leave the court, Alice says, "that's not a regular rule; you invented it just now." From the reader's point-of-view, Alice is right when she argues in the courtroom and is doing the right thing to stand up and argue against the rules. The message that is communicated is that the adult world is full or rules of regulations, that many of those rules and regulations do not make sense, and you should be willing to argue against those rules. For Carroll, this shows his frustration with the rules and regulations of society. The author is also frustrated with the adult world, which results in the message about staying a child forever. These are the aspects of real life that frustrate the author and so to escape from them, the author creates a fantasy world based on children. This is a strong suggestion that Carroll enjoys the company of children because he likes their simple and imaginative approach to life. Spending time with children gives Carroll the opportunity to get away from the rules and regulations of the real world and enjoy the freedom of being a child.

The messages and meaning present in Carroll's work also show that Carroll considers himself a father figure to children. As noted, he wrote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland especially for children. In doing so, he created a magical and adventurous story that would appeal to children. As noted, he also wrote the book to offer a message to children in a way they would understand. He wanted to teach children to keep their childlike spirit even as they became adults. This teaching element of the work puts Carroll in the position of being a father figure, where he wants to provide guidance to the children. This suggests that Carroll has a genuine love for children, but does not suggest that this love exists in anything but a fatherly way. There is certainly no suggestion that his love for children was sexual in any way.

Finally, it is worth looking at Carroll's writing style. In looking at Poe's writing earlier, it was noted that his work was full of perverseness and strongly suggested psychological issues related to women and relationships. Carroll's writing is almost the complete opposite of Poe's. Carroll's writing is full of lively and fun images. These include the white rabbit, the tea party, and the Cheshire cat. One text describes Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as being liked for its "wit, weird logic, linguistic fun, and wild rhymes." This description all suggests the fun and liveliness of the book. The style of writing also has no dark qualities. Overall, it suggests Carroll's own love for the fun, freedom, and imagination associated with childhood. There is definitely no question of any darker qualities to the story that would suggest a sexual interest in children.

The only question that remains to be answered in regards to Carroll is why his interest was mainly in young girls, and did not extend to young boys. This is a point that can be suggestive of Carroll having a perverse interest in young girls. Once again, though, the content of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland provides the logical answer. The interesting thing about Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is that all of the images presented are more female-focused than male-focused. Obviously, the main character is female. But there is also the white rabbit, the Cheshire cat, and the tea party. Overall, these seem to be images more feminine than masculine. The suggested reason for these images is that masculine images would tend to be more brutal. A tea party is a typical game for girls to play. The equivalent for boys might be playing war games, or more physical sports. Carroll's writing clearly does not include any aspects that offer any… [END OF PREVIEW]

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