Alice's adventures in adaptation: The evolution of power in children's and young adult literature

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In this thesis I have analyzed the evolution of power in children’s and Young Adult literature through Lewis Carroll’s children’s novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865). Carroll’s novel is one that has been adapted and retold a multitude of times in varying ways. In this thesis, I compare Carroll’s original work to three different adaptations, Walt Disney’s animation (1951), Tim Burton’s visual film adaptation Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Young Adult trilogy Splintered (2013) written by A.G. Howard. In comparing the three works, I discuss how power plays a role in Wonderland through her relationships to three key themes: identity, authority, and time. In doing so, it is demonstrated that as Alice gets older with each adaptation, the more power and responsibility she receives. Her purpose and relationship to Wonderland changes as she gets older, as does her power to choose and become a heroine while navigating elements of the fantastic. Though Howard’s adaptation does not focus on Alice, but rather her fifteen-year-old great-niece, Alyssa, the premise remains the same: She is a teenager who must carry a legacy, yet struggles with the power imbalance that comes with being younger than Burton’s Alice but older than Carroll’s. I demonstrate how power and relationships specifically as it relates to children’s and Young Adult literature as Alice evolves and gets older, therefore receiving more power to save Wonderland and become a heroine.

Children's literature, Young adult literature, Adaptation