Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland summary
This summary was written by Lenny de Rooy and comes from Lenny’s Alice in Wonderland site at http://www.alice-in-wonderland.net. You may use and reproduce this summary, provided that you leave this copyright notice intact. Reading this summary doesn’t mean that you don’t have to read the book anymore; the puns, jokes and other things that make the book so great are not included.
Chapter 1: Down the Rabbit-Hole
Alice is sitting with her sister on the riverbank and is very bored. Suddenly she sees a White Rabbit running by her. It is wearing a waistcoat and takes a watch out of it, while muttering to himself ‘Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!’. Alice gets very curious and follows him down his rabbit-hole.
The rabbit-hole suddenly goes straight down and Alice falls into it. She falls very slowly and while she is talking to herself she falls asleep. Suddenly she lands on a heap of sticks and dry leaves and the fall is over. She sees the White Rabbit running in front of her through a long passage and she continues to follow him.
When she turns the corner the Rabbit is gone and Alice finds herself in a long, low hall, with doors all round it. She tries them, but they are all locked. Then she comes upon a little three-legged table on which a little golden key lies. The key fits in a little door behind a curtain and when she opens it she sees that it leads into a small passage. At the end of the passage Alice sees a beautiful garden. She really wants to get into the garden, but she is too big to fit through the door.
When she goes back to the table she finds a little bottle on it with the words ‘Drink me’ printed on the label. Alice drinks from it and starts shrinking until she is only ten inches high. She now has the right size to enter the door, but she finds that the door is still locked and that she has left the little golden key on the table, which is now too high to reach.
She starts crying, but soon sees a little glass box lying under the table containing a small cake marked with the words ‘Eat me’. Hoping that this cake will make her grow or shrink too, she eats it.
Chapter 2: The Pool of Tears
Suddenly Alice finds herself growing and she continues growing until she reaches the ceiling. Now she is able to get the key from the table, but again she is too big to fit through the door. This situation makes her cry and she cries until there is a large pool all round her, which reaches half down the hall.
The White Rabbit returns, now splendidly dressed and carrying a pair of white kid gloves and a large fan. Alice asks him for help, but the Rabbit is so frightened that he drops the gloves and fan and runs away. Alice picks them up and starts fanning herself while she wonders what it is that has made this day so different from every other. She decides that she must have been changed into another girl in the night as she can’t remember her multiplication tables or geography correctly and isn’t able to recite a poem properly.
The fanning makes Alice shrink again until she is two feet high. She tries again to enter the door but it is still locked and the key is still lying on the table. Then she slips and falls into her own pool of tears.
She encounters a Mouse who fell into the pool too, but she frightens him when she starts talking about her cat Dinah and a dog. He promises her to tell her why he hates cats and dogs and they swim to the shore, taking other creatures that fell into the pool too with them.
Chapter 3: A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale
As all creatures are wet they start thinking of a way to get dry. The Mouse tries telling them the ‘driest story’ he knows, but as this doesn’t work they decide to have a Caucus-race. The Dodo draws a circle in which they all start running at random.
After half an hour they are quite dry and the race is over. The Dodo decides that everyone has won and all must have prizes. They look to Alice for these, and she hands around comfits, which she finds in her pocket. The Mouse thinks she must have a prize herself and she is presented her own thimble.
Then the Mouse begins to tell its long and sad tale, which in Alice’s mind has the shape of a real tail. When no one pays attention he becomes angry and leaves. The other creatures leave too when Alice begins talking about her cat again.
Chapter 4: The Rabbit sends in a Little Bill
The White Rabbit returns, looking for his fawn and gloves. Alice wants to help but finds that the hall has vanished. When the Rabbit sees Alice he mistakes her for his maid, Mary Ann, and orders her to go home and get him a pair of gloves and a fan.
Alice enters his house and finds another bottle marked ‘Drink me’. She drinks it, hoping it makes her larger. It does, but it makes her so large that she fills the whole room.
The Rabbit angrily comes looking for her and when he tries to get through the window Alice knocks him down with her hand. He orders Pat to get the arm out of his window and Alice knocks them down again. Bill the lizard is sent down the chimney, but Alice kicks him out with her foot. Finally they throw a barrowful of pebbles in through the window, which change into cakes. Alice eats one and shrinks until she is small enough to get through the door.
She runs off past the group of animals into a thick wood. There, Alice finds a Puppy. She throws a stick because she wants to play with it, quite forgetting that she is now much smaller than the Puppy. She has to run away to avoid being trampled under its feet.
Alice manages to escape and starts searching for something to eat which will make her grow back to her proper size. When she looks on top of a mushroom she sees a Caterpillar sitting on it while smoking a hookah.
Chapter 5: Advice from a Caterpillar
The Caterpillar asks Alice who she is. She answers that she doesn’t know because she has changed so many times that day. A brief conversation follows, during which Alice gets a little irritated because the Caterpillar is rather crusty and keeps making very short remarks. Alice tells him that she can’t remember things as she used to, so the Caterpillar asks her to repeat ‘You are old, Father William’, which comes out all wrong when she tries.
Alice starts complaining that she is too small and the Caterpillar advises her to eat from the mushroom: one side will make her grow taller and the other side will make her grow shorter. Then he crawls away. Not knowing which side makes her grow, Alice tries one part which makes her shrink until her head hits her feet. Quickly she eats from the other part which makes her grow until her head and neck rise far above the treetops.
Because of her long neck a pigeon mistakes her for a serpent in search of her eggs. Alice succeeds in convincing it that she is only a little girl and eats again from the mushroom until she is reduced to her normal size. She walks on and reaches an open place in the woods with a little house in it. As she is too big to enter, she eats from the mushroom to bring herself down to the right size.
Chapter 6: Pig and Pepper
As Alice stands in front of the house, a fish-like footman comes out of the forest, knocks on the door and a frog-like footman opens. The fish-footman delivers an invitation from the Queen for the Duchess to play croquet and leaves. The frog-footman sits on the ground outside the house.
Alice walks to the door and knocks, but the footman tells her that it is no use knocking as he is on the same side of the door and they’re making too much noise in the house to hear her anyway. Eventually Alice opens the door herself.
She finds herself in a large kitchen with the Duchess nursing a baby, a grinning Cat and a cook who is making soup. There is so much pepper in the air that everyone but the Cook and the Cat has to sneeze, and the baby howls continuously. The Duchess tells Alice that the Cat grins because it’s a Cheshire Cat.
At once the cook starts throwing everything within her reach at the Duchess and the baby. The Duchess doesn’t seem to mind and continues nursing the baby in a very cruel way. Because she has to get ready to play croquet she throws the baby to Alice who takes it outside to save it from being killed. The baby starts grunting, turns into a pig and runs into the woods.
Alice notices the Cheshire Cat sitting on a branch of a tree and asks it which way she should go. It tells her that the March Hare and the Mad Hatter live near and disappears suddenly. It reappears to ask a question and then disappears again. Alice decides to visit the March Hare. The Cat appears for the third time, but as Alice tells him to stop appearing and vanishing so suddenly he vanishes slowly this time, leaving only his grin behind. Alice reaches the house of the Hare, but because the house is rather big she first eats a little from the mushroom.
Chapter 7: A Mad Tea-Party
Alice sees a large table set out under a tree in front of the house. The March Hare and the Mad Hatter are having tea at it and a Dormouse is sitting between them, fast asleep. Alice sits down in a chair, although the Hare and Hatter tell her there’s no room.
The Hare offers her some wine, but there is only tea. When she protests that it isn’t civil to offer wine when there isn’t any, he replies that it wasn’t very civil of her to sit down uninvited. The Hatter tells her she needs a haircut and asks the riddle “why is a raven like a writing-desk?” Alice says that she believes she can guess that, and the others begin to ridicule her by starting a discussion about semantics.
The Hatter asks her what day of the month it is. His watch doesn’t tell the time but the day of the month, and the Hatter claims that it is two days wrong. Alice thinks it odd to have a watch that tells the day of the month but not the hour.
Then the Hatter asks if she has come up with an answer to the riddle. She hasn’t, and the Hatter and the Hare say they don’t know the answer either. Alice tells them they shouldn’t waste time by asking riddles with no answers. The Hare replies that Time is a him and not an it. The Hatter tells Alice that if she were on good terms with him, he would do whatever she liked with the clock. The Hatter tells her that he quarrelled with Time last March when he was singing “Twinkle, twinkle, little bat” at a concert given by the Queen of Hearts, and now it is forever six o’clock. As this is teatime they must always have tea and thus they never have time to wash the cups, so they just keep moving around the table to a new set of places.
Alice, the Hare and the Hatter wake the Dormouse and ask him to tell them a story. He tells them a story about the sisters Elsie, Lacie and Tillie who lived at the bottom of a treacle well and learned to draw things starting with an M. Alice keeps interrupting the story so the others make rude remarks to her. Finally she becomes really offended and walks away.
Alice notices a tree with a door in it, and when she enters it she finds herself in the long hallway with the glass table. She takes the key and unlocks the door, eats from the mushroom to make herself smaller and is finally able to enter the beautiful garden.
Chapter 8: The Queen’s Croquet-Ground
Alice comes upon a rose-tree with white roses. Three gardeners are painting them red. Alice asks them why and they explain that they planted the white roses by mistake and the Queen will cut off their heads for that. So they try to hide the mistake by painting them.
At that moment the procession of the Queen arrives, which is made up almost entirely of playing cards. The Queen severely asks Alice who she is, but she is not afraid and makes the Queen angry by making a rude remark. The Queen shouts ‘Off with her head!’ but Alice replies that this is nonsense and the Queen is silent. She notices what the gardeners have been doing and orders their beheading. They are saved by Alice who hides them in a flowerpot.
The Queen invites Alice to play croquet with them and she joins the procession. She notices that the White Rabbit is in the procession too and he tells her that the Duchess is under sentence of execution. The game begins and Alice is surprised by the croquet-ground; the balls are live hedgehogs, the mallets live flamingos, and the soldiers make the arches. Alice tries to manage her hedgehog and flamingo, while the arches are constantly wandering away and everyone is playing without waiting for their turns, quarrelling, and fighting for the hedgehogs. All this makes the Queen furious and she constantly orders the beheading of people.
The Cheshire Cat appears and Alice starts complaining. The King notices the Cat, follows the advice of the Queen to behead it and walks off to get the executioner. Alice attempts to continue with the game, but eventually returns to the Cheshire Cat.
There’s a large crowd around it now, and the executioner, the King, and the Queen are having a dispute whether the Cat can be beheaded as they can only see it’s head but no body. Alice tells them that they should ask the Duchess about it, so the Queen orders the executioner to get her out of prison. The Cheshire Cat starts fading and when the Duchess arrives he has disappeared.
Chapter 9: The Mock Turtle’s Story
Alice walks off with the Duchess, who is in a very good mood now. She keeps attaching arbitrary morals to everything and seems to agree with everything Alice says. Alice politely tries to tolerate her presence, although she keeps digging her sharp chin in to her shoulder.
Then the Queen suddenly appears. The Duchess takes off and Alice returns to the game. When the Queen has ordered so many beheadings that only she, Alice and the King are left, she takes Alice to the Mock Turtle. While walking, Alice hears the King pardoning all the prisoners.
They come upon a Gryphon and the Queen tells him to take Alice to the Mock Turtle to hear his history. When they arrive he is sitting sadly on a rock, sighing loudly. Alice asks what his sorrow is, and the Gryphon answers that he has none.
The Mock Turtle starts telling his history which is interrupted by sobbings and long pauses. He tells how he once was a real turtle and went to school at the bottom of the sea where his master was an old turtle called Tortoise and he took courses like Reeling and Writhing.
Chapter 10: The Lobster Quadrille
The Gryphon and the Mock Turtle explain to Alice what sort of dance a Lobster Quadrille is and start dancing around her while the Mock Turtle sings the words.
When they’re finished they ask Alice to tell her story. She tells them about her curious day and when she gets to the part about her repeating `You are old, Father William’ to the Caterpillar they interrupt her and make her repeat ‘Tis the voice of the Sluggard’, which comes out all wrong too. Then they ask the Mock Turtle to sing ‘Turtle Soup’ for them. He is interrupted with a cry in the distance: ‘The trial’s beginning!’ Alice and the Gryphon run away and leave the Mock Turtle alone, still singing.
Chapter 11: Who Stole the Tarts?
Upon arrival Alice sees the King and Queen of Hearts sitting on their throne, with a great crowd assembled about them. The Knave is standing before them in chains and the White Rabbit has a trumpet in one hand and a scroll of parchment in the other. In the middle of the court is a table with a large dish of tarts upon it. While waiting for the trial to begin, Alice looks around and notices that the King is the judge and that the jurors are not very smart.
The White Rabbit starts reading the accusation; he claims that the Knave of Hearts stole the tarts. The King wants the jury to consider their verdict, but the Rabbit tells him that they should have the witnesses first.
The first witness is the Mad Hatter, accompanied by the March Hare and the Dormouse. Alice feels that she is starting to grow again. The Hatter gives no evidence so they move on to the next witness. The next witness is the Duchess’ cook and she is being cross-examined. She testifies that tarts are made mostly of pepper. To her great surprise Alice herself is being called as the third witness.
Chapter 12: Alice’s Evidence
In the meantime Alice has grown so much that she upsets the jury box when she gets up. She hastily tries to put them back into their places. She tells the King that she knows nothing about the stolen tarts, which he considers very important. The White Rabbit has to correct him again.
Then the King reads from his notebook, stating that all persons more than a mile high must leave the court. Alice refuses to leave because she suspects that he made up the rule, and the King tells the jury to consider their verdict.
Then the White Rabbit brings in a letter, which serves as evidence. The letter contains a verse, written in someone else’s handwriting, which clears up nothing at all. However, the King thinks that it is important but Alice corrects him and explains why the verse proves nothing. Eventually the King asks the jury for the third time to consider a verdict, and now the Queen contradicts him and says that there should be a sentence first and a verdict afterwards.
Alice isn’t afraid to contradict her anymore, as she has grown to her full size now, and tells them that they’re nothing but a pack of cards. At this point the whole pack rises up into the air and comes flying down upon her. She tries to beat them off but finds herself lying on the bank, with her head in the lap of her sister, who is brushing away some dead leaves that fell down from the trees upon her face.
Alice realises that everything was a dream and tells her adventures to her sister. As Alice runs off for the tea, her sister thinks about the dream and falls asleep herself, and dreams the same dream as Alice. She continues to dream about how her little sister will eventually become herself a grown woman and how she will always keep the simple and loving heart of her childhood.