The final chapters of Alice intensify Carroll’s satire. All the issues he touched upon in previous chapters become more blunt.
The court of the Queen of Hearts is political satire about Queen Victoria. The Knave’s trial is mocking the justice system. The Dutchess appears again this time transforming from child abuser to child molestor. But Carroll was after all an educator first. The chapter with the Mock Turtle exhibits his attitude towards children’s education in England at the time.
Throughout the book, Alice attempts to deal with the craziness around her by trying to apply the formal education and training she has received. In every instance, that education fails her miserably. As I said in the previous unit, Alice in Wonderland is an Anti Didactic book in that it teaches children NOT to learn from adults. When she meets the Turtle, they have a conversation about the type of education they each received. The Turtle confirms that Alice’s education IS indeed inferior and explain what he had learned in school: “the different branches of Arithmetic– Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.” If adults were honest with themselves and their children about what it really means to be an adult, they would teach their children these four subjects if they really wanted them to succeed.
So Carroll is saying (like Sinclair) that Victorian education does not teach children what they need. The turtle’s suggestions give you a glimpse of what Carroll thinks adults should teach children if they honestly wanted to prepare them for the world. Explain how Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision reflects adults.
Also, look at the very end of the book and Alice’s sister. She is an adult. How does she react to Alice’s dream? How does this part reflect the ideals of Romanticism?