Ambiguity as a Source of Humor in Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wond...

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Seminar paper from the year 2012 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Linguistics, grade: 1,0, University of Würzburg, language: English, abstract: "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." This quote captures like nothing else the essence of Lewis Carroll's classic children's book Alice in Wonderland. The story of a young girl getting bored during a hot summer day and slipping into a dreamland full of odd creatures has enchanted generations of children myself included. Alice is not a typical children's book though, as it is quite multilayered, thanks to Carroll's clever play with language. Carroll, common name Charles Lutwige Dodgson, was quite fond of using several stylistic devices like punning, to delight the young readership his stories were for. But I also noticed that he used ambiguity in quite a few instances. Many characters are very fond of ambiguity most prominently The Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the Mock Turtle, Gryphon and the Red King. Carroll mostly uses ambiguity to create confusion through misunderstandings, mostly on Alice's dispense, which in return tends to create a certain humor for the reader.
In this seminar paper I will discuss Carroll's use of ambiguity in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by analyzing several instances of it that appear throughout the novel. I will start out by defining ambiguity and in what ways ambiguity has been researched by other linguists and what results their studies produced. I am also going to explore the origins of Alice in Wonderland. How did Carroll come up with it? What kind of story is it? On the stylistic level I will examine what Carroll's general stance on ambiguity was and how he used it to create both confusion and comedy? I will take a closer look at the different forms of ambiguity he employs and how characters react to the usage of it.

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Ambiguity as a Source of Humor in Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wond...
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