Curiosity Killed the Cat…Or Did It?

November 1, 2009

“In another moment down went Alice after [the rabbit], never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.”

This quote from the first chapter of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland provides a clear display of the unreasonable curiosity and ignorance that is prevalent in the minds of young children. For small children, everything is an adventure, a mystery awaiting discovery. Children are so vulnerable because not only is their curiosity piqued by the most seemingly meaningless things, they possess that youthful innocence that prevents them from seeing the danger or risk in chasing those “rabbits” of interest. Carroll is playing with the idea that children will see something new and fascinating and start chasing it, but they never worry about the consequences of the chase.

However, are they consequences, really, or is Carroll insinuating that these adventures that children embark upon are actually a better, more rewarding version of life?

Had Alice not fallen down the rabbit hole, she would continue her mundane life with no thought about how exciting it may truly be. To a sophisticated adult, Alice’s adventures in Wonderland are childish, unrealistic, and unbelievable; however, to a child, such as the character of Alice, they are exciting, invigorating, and simply fun.

Now, tell me: which outlook seems more appealing? Sure it may be “dangerous” in a physical sense, but it seems more rewarding to lead an exciting life spent in Wonderland than go to school or work each day doing the exact same thing as the previous day, and hating every minute of it. Granted, this is large stereotypical generalization, but it is something worth considering, no?

Maybe those meddling kids are on to something…


  1. Great point in your follow-up comment to Alex:

    “While young children may not accomplish anything “meaningful” in the eyes of modern society by following their imagination, to a child nothing is more real nor more meaningful than the places their imagination takes them.”

    Perhaps — also — stories of great wonder are only possible if we tap into our childlike sensibilities (or un-sensibilities, if you will).

  2. I don’t quite understand what you mean by the children’s adventure’s as a more “rewarding version of life,” but otherwise good thinking.

    Think about this one… Would Alice have willingly jumped down the rabbit hole, if she had seen it coming? Keep in mind that she slipped and fell when the tunnel became a sudden drop. From our point of view, maybe Alice would not have simply jumped into the abyss. The readers are given proof that Alice is a logically thinking person who happens to get distracted or set off course with another situation Wonderland throws at her. From her wanting to explore the garden through the small door, we see that Alice is one who would explore and let her curiosity take her places, but she wouldn’t have (as far as I know) jumped into the rabbit hole just for the fun of it…

    You’re definitely on to something…

    • First of all, thanks for your comment, the feedback is greatly appreciated. By the more rewarding version of life, I simply meant that children’s lives are full of adventure and endless possibilities if they give in to their imagination and follow every metaphorical rabbit that they see. In my humble opinion, this life experienced in childhood, that of wonder, magic, and untapped potential is more rewarding the life of work and responsibility led by adults. While young children may not accomplish anything “meaningful” in the eyes of modern society by following their imagination, to a child nothing is more real nor more meaningful than the places their imagination takes them. To them, anything is possible, and risks are nearly always worth taking. To that end, it seems as if people get more out of the life they live as a child than during the rest of their mature life, because generally speaking kids are very carefree and simply happy. They have nothing to worry about other than to have fun and enjoy their childhood while it lasts (or at least that is what most adults in my life told me, and continue to tell me…)

      And did she fall, or did she jump? In the text it never says, as far as I can see, however the quote from Chapter 1 that I put in my blog post makes it seem, to me, like she jumped. She was bored, she saw a rabbit, became curious, and decided to follow it. It said she never considered “how in the world she was to get out of it”, which to me gives the impression that she willingly followed the rabbit. While it is true, she did not know it would turn into a straight up free fall in the form of a “well”, do you think she would have stopped her chase if she saw that it was? She was so intent on catching the rabbit, so curious as to the quirkiness of it, I think she may have continued to chase it, no matter how deep the chase took her into the earth, simply to appease her curiosity. There may be no way of knowing whether or not she would have intentionally jumped had she seen the drop coming (or the answer may be revealed later; I am quite unfamiliar with anything but a very broad, general sense of the subject matter of this story), but, with my knowledge of children’s curiosity and my analysis of the story thus far, my instinct at this moment is that the answer is yes.

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