• Kia Thrysøe Nielsen
4. term, English, Master (Master Programme)
In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1872) strangeness and reversal of order describe the essence of the worlds of the novels. Alice’s movement into these worlds initially evokes a sense of the uncanny, as everything is possible in the worlds of Wonderland and Looking-Glass. A talking rabbit wearing a waistcoat and a clock triggers a sense of uncertainty about what is real and imaginary, as it appears in Alice’s real world. The view of the uncanny presented in this thesis will focus on the uncanny effect. This effect will be argued to be caused an ‘uncanny trigger’, which is mostly known through Sigmund Freud’s “The Uncanny” essay from 1919. In Freud’s attempt to conceptualise the uncanny, he coins the phrase ‘the return of the repressed’, which is the most common understanding of the uncanny: meaning something repressed which has returned, causing an uncanny effect. Thus something repressed recurring can be stated as an ‘uncanny trigger’: Furthermore, these ‘uncanny triggers’ are argued as something familiar recurring as unfamiliar, or an old primitive belief which has been surmounted is once more confirmed (e.g. a ghost). In more detail, the uncanny triggers can be: castration-anxiety, womb-fantasies, a double, repetition, ghosts, the dead (returning to life), anthropomorphism, the inanimate coming to life. E.g. the uncanny trigger of anthropomorphism causes an uncanny effect upon the implied reader of Wonderland, when encountering the White Rabbit, as it has humanlike attributes in a world where this is not common. I will also use the scholar David Rudd’s notions of the uncanny in order to attempt to comprehend the concept. The aim of this thesis is to analyse and discuss the uncanny effects on Alice and the implied reader. Although the focus will primarily be on Alice, the implied reader will also be discussed as experiencing the uncanny effect, in opposition to Alice. As the implied reader and Alice are situated on different levels of the text - inside and outside – they experience the uncanny effect differently. E.g. the above example of the White Rabbit causing an uncanny effect is only experienced by the implied reader, as it appears in the setting of Alice’s real world, and the human like attributes is commented upon by the narrator. Whereas Alice does not even consider anything unfamiliar about the Rabbit before she notices that it carries a watch. The reason for these various uncanny experiences is due to the difference in perspective: Alice merely encounters the Rabbit, whereas the implied reader is informed by the narrator that it is odd that Alice does not notice the talking Rabbit – which immediately makes the reader focus on the Rabbit as odd. Furthermore, I will argue the implied reader as an adult, while Alice is seven years old. The example of the Rabbit was only one example of the uncanny effect, which illustrated my focus on Alice and the reader as recipients of the uncanny effects and the difference in their experience of the effect. Throughout the study, I will also consider the uncanny as affecting Alice’s sense of identity, and her failure in comprehending the logic and order of Wonderland and Looking-Glass worlds.
Publication date28 May 2015
Number of pages60
ID: 213094653