As we read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Island of Dr. Moreau, we enter into two unique worlds of imagination. Both Lewis Carroll and H.G. Wells describe lands of intrigue and mystery. We follow Alice and Prendick into two different worlds where animals speak, evolution is tested, and reality is bent until it nearly breaks. It is the masterminds of Lewis Carroll and H.G. Wells that take these worlds of fantasy and make them realistic. How do these two great authors make the unbelievable believable? Both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Island of Dr. Moreau float in between a dream world and reality, which makes the real seem unbelievable and the unbelievable seem real.
In H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau, we see right from the beginning that imagination and reality are blended together to create an air of confusion. In the introduction we are told that Prendick disappeared for eleven months. When he was found, he told a story that no one would believe. ‘He gave such a strange account of himself that he was supposed demented (pg. 1).’; So right from the beginning we do not know what to believe. Later in the story, Prendick is picked up by the Ipecacuanha. On this ship there are deformed and strange men riding with Montgomery. ‘He was, I could see, a misshappen man, short, broad and clumsy, with a crooked back, a hairy neck and a head sunk between his shoulders (pg. 10).’; This is the first picture we get of the deformities from the island. During this time on the Ipecacuanha, Prendick is weak from exhaustion and in a state of confusion, which adds to our confusion.
It is later in the story, where reality really becomes deformed. First, Prendick is locked out of the inner rooms of the enclosure, because of their ‘little secrets.’; Second, Prendick walks out into the woods to get away from the puma’s crying. It is hear that he gets a good look at one of the deformities for the first time. ‘Then I saw it was a man, going on all fours like a beast! (pg. 38).’; It is this sight that sends Prendick’;s imagination wild. ‘The thicket about me became altered to my imagination. Every shadow became something more than a shadow, became an ambush, every rustle became a threat. Invisible things seemed watching me (pg. 39).’; It is these emotions of Prendick’s that make the unbelievable seem real. He has gone from a sane man with some studies in science to a man who fears the shadows and sees men walk on all fours. The dream state of everything at this time keeps us believing that anything is possible.
This is the same technique that Lewis Carroll uses in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The story begins with Alice getting tired, which implies that she is falling asleep and going to enter the fantastic world of dreams. Immediately, she sees a white rabbit in a waistcoat. This puts the reader directly into the world of fantasy and imagination. It is Carroll’s use of explanations that makes this unbelievable world seem real. No matter how strange something appears it has a meaning and a reason. When the Mock Turtle is telling his story of school, he says, ”the master was an old Turtle—we used to call him Tortoise–.’ ‘Why did you call him Tortoise, if he wasn’t one?’ asked Alice. ‘We called him Tortoise because he taught us,’ said the Mock Turtle angrily. ‘Really you are very dull.’ (pg. 91).’; It is this type of explanation that helps the reader to believe the story. Alice is referred to as dull for not understanding, so the reader accepts the explanation in order not to be dull.
Another example of this is when Alice meets the Cheshire-Cat. The cat tells her the way to the Hatter and the March Hare, but adds that ‘they’re both mad.’; Alice replies that ‘I don’t want to go among mad people.’; The Cat then gives the explanation. ”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.’ (pg. 65)’; The Cat then goes on to explain why he is mad. ”To begin with,’ said the Cat, ‘a dog’s not mad. You grant that?’ ‘I suppose so,’ said Alice. ‘Well, then,’ the Cat went on, ‘you see a dog growls when it’s angry, and wags its tail when it’s pleased. Now I growl when I’m pleased, and wag my tail when I’m angry. Therefore I’m mad.’ (pg. 65-66)’; This explanation shows how this unbelievable world can seem real. Everything has a reason. Everything has a purpose.
These two books make the real seem unreal and the unreal seem real simply by blending the two worlds of reality and imagination. It is this fuzzy line between the believable and the unbelievable that Lewis Carroll and H.G. Wells exploit to create their unique fantasy worlds.