Carroll the Master of the Illogical


Lewis Carroll was a master at the illogical and whimsical oxymoron.  His use of nonsense and word play has been lauded for generations.  The chapter “A Caucus-Race and a Long Tail” is a shining example of the genius of Carroll.  The scene is rife with contradictions that are absolutely delicious to read.

For starters, Dodos went extinct because of their low intelligence.  When hunters would aim at the Dodo bird, the stupid little thing would stand there staring at the gun that would eventually kill it.  It made hunting a little too easy.  The irony, therefore, of Carroll’s creation is that the Dodo is actually quite logical and uses a very extensive vocabulary.  An intellectual Dodo is an oxymoron in itself.  Matter of fact, Carroll’s birds all have personalities that are quite shocking.  A Lory is a very active and excitable little bird.  They have been called down right friendly.  However, Carroll’s Lory is very aloof and crabby.  Not all the personality traits associated with that bird.

Mice are rather insignificant little beings, vermin to be exact.  They are thought of as filthy animals who typically get very little respect in the big wide world.  They are prey for a hundred different animals and are trapped and killed daily.  So who would have ever thought a mouse would be so easily offended?  It’s also intriguing to note that he’s a rather gifted orator, another shocking fact about mice that I was not aware of.

Carroll lived in an era when whimsy was at its height of popularity.  The Victorians adored fantasy and creative pursuits.  Lewis Carroll may have had the natural aptitude for spinning fantastic tales but he was the product of a whimsical age.  For all the darkness Dickens found in the era, Carroll is at the other end of the spectrum.  He’s all the light.  Personally, I believe reading Carroll after Dickens was a very wise decision, if I must say so myself.  It makes me appreciate the humor, whimsy, and fantasy of Carroll’s works so much more.


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