Alice’s Adventures on the Island

“Alice ran and ran until she was right back where she started–lost.”

In Lewis Carroll’s sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, Alice reads the nonsensical poem “Jabberwocky” about a boy who slays and beheads a dragon-like creature. Lost’s smoke monster is reminiscent of this fictional beast, the Jabberwock, with its “eyes of flame…whiffling through the tulgey wood.”  This comparison is one of the less obvious examples of how Carroll’s stories are deeply woven into the fabric of Lost. The story of Alice is a fundamental starting point for examining how the show incorporates traditional literature into its narrative and how those works expand the story beyond the medium of television.

Of course, no Lost viewer can escape the heavy-handed allusions to Lewis Carroll’s two most famous works–Wonderland is never far from the audience’s conscience. The references are made explicit in episodes named after Carroll’s inventions (“The White Rabbit” and “Through the Looking Glass”) and a little less obvious in images like the one at the end of season 5, when we see a blonde “girl” tumbling, in slow motion, down a deep hole. And like Alice, Juliette begins to cry in frustration as she lies at the bottom of the hole. Will she find a little door that opens to a new world? Will she drown in her own tears?

Probably one of the most extensive and meaningful references happens in Season 4, Episode 10 (“Something Nice Back Home”) when Jack reads to Aaron, straight from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

From chapter II, “The Pool of Tears”

“Alice took up the fan and gloves, and, as the hall was very hot, she kept fanning herself all the time she went on talking: `Dear, dear! How queer everything is to-day! And yesterday things went on just as usual. I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think: was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is, Who in the world am I? Ah, THAT’S the great puzzle!’ And she began thinking over all the children she knew that were of the same age as herself, to see if she could have been changed for any of them.”

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