March 22, 2010
Curioser and Curioser!
A couple of weeks ago I went and saw Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. I don’t care what some people are saying, I absolutely loved it. But then, I’ve always been a Tim Burton fan, not to mention a Johnny Depp fan… and an Alice fan… so put them together? I’m all over that!
There were a few things in the movie that really hit home with me. The story of Alice in Wonderland has always fascinated me – I think because I could relate to Alice in lot of ways. She is suddenly dropped into this world that doesn’t make any sense to her, and she’s expected to find her way home despite nonsensical advice from well-wishing Wonderland residents and a plethora of mind-boggling obstacles. Seeing Tim Burton’s version of the Alice story – which is actually more of a “Return to Wonderland” in which Alice is older, but apparently not much wiser (ah touché, Mr. Burton) – turned Lewis Carrol’s fairytale into an even more of a metaphor for my own life.
I found an article written by Jill Brown, in which she makes observations similar to mine (full article at http://singlemindedwomen.com/women-relationships/alice-in-wonderland/)
Throughout the film there is a debate as to whether or not this is “the” Alice; the real Alice of before, now grown up, who has the courage and spirit to help the suffering characters to defeat the tyrannical and oppressive rule of the Red Queen. Alice goes through her own doubt and self-discovery during her adventure to try to discover for herself whether or not she is indeed “the” Alice, the champion of good and right in this magical reality.
This reminds me of the part in the Alice in Wonderland book when Alice first runs into the Caterpillar:
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, “I–I hardly know, sir, just at present– at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”
(Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 5)
Like Alice, I will wake up in the morning as one person, and through the course of day feel like I’ve been transformed into three or four different people, all before the sun goes down! Part of my disorder is that I have a hard time with stable identity and emotional regulation – “changing with the wind” so to speak. I’m definitely working on that, but it’s not easy. The slightest thing can completely change my entire mood, attitude towards myself, decisions for the day, etc. Because of that, I can get really confused about what is real and what’s not, what’s me, and what’s not me. Is the person who is crying/laughing/angry/happy/sad right now “the” Edde… or some other Edde that has decided to momentarily inhabit my mind and emotions? Is this an imposter, or the champion that will one day conquer this monster called “Borderline Personality Disorder”? Like Alice said, “I can’t explain myself, Sir, because I’m not myself you see!”
I think the most compelling scene in Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and the one that resonated the most with me personally and will with all the single minded women out there, comes about half way through the film when Alice is doubting her significance and role. She doesn’t believe she’s been to Underland before, thinking her previous voyage was just a bad childhood dream and so she doesn’t want to step up and help the Mad Hatter in his rebellion and resistance against the Red Queen. While she expresses her reluctance to take action, the Mad Hatter says to her something along the lines of, “You used to be much muchier before. Yes you were much more Alice the last time we met. You have lost your muchness.” (Jill Brown)
Last week I posted on my Facebook as my status: “Edde is finding her muchness.” A good friend commented saying: “Your muchness is where it has always been! In your child like spirit – Children are much more courageous before they are taught to fear. Remember your wonderland Alice.” I thought about how true that was. Little children are naturally… “muchier.” They don’t usually sit around wondering who they heck they are and why they do what they do… They’re just… them… Before the cruel world teaches them to fear, to question their worth, to lose touch with their spirits. In her childhood Wonderland, Alice started to doubt herself. Not only was she constantly changing size, she was always being asked “Who are you?,” “Are you sure you’re real?,” “What is an Alice?” The only way she could ever get back to reality was by standing up for herself, stomping her little foot, and proclaiming her identity. Then she could return to the world of grownups and hold her own. Tim Burton expanded on this dimension of the Alice story. Alice had to first believe she was the champion meant to slay the Jabberwocky before achieving that magnificent feat, thereby gaining the courage to return to the real world and assert herself as a strong, independent woman. This underlying message of empowerment can resonate with everyone who has tried to figure out who they are in this crazy, nonsensical world.
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
(Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 6)
I think it’s safe to say Alice and I have have a lot in common haha!
But really… I think every girl is a real-life Alice in her own unique way…Trying to make it through the maze of this strangely confusing yet stunningly beautiful wonderland called “life.”