A Grin without a Cat

The Cheshire Cat.If I had to choose a favorite character from Alice in Wonderland, I would choose the Cheshire Cat. He’s creepy and possibly madder than any of the other characters, but he knows things. He knows things, and he refuses to share them.

It’s that secret knowledge that makes him interesting. He seems to know more about Wonderland and the characters who populate that land than the other characters do. He’s the one who tells Alice that the Hatter and the March Hare are both mad. He stumps the Queen of Hearts at his own execution. How does one cut off a head when that head is all that can be seen?

Yes, the Cheshire Cat is an enigma. He aids Alice only to get her into trouble later. He both encourages and thwarts the pursuit of knowledge with his philosophical questions and vexing riddles. He acts illogically yet is altogether logical according to the laws that govern Wonderland.

I don’t know why those qualities make the Cheshire Cat endearing. They shouldn’t. They didn’t in the past. I didn’t particularly care for the cat in the past. I thought he was cruel to Alice. Of course, that was my perspective as a child. I now view the story from an adult’s perspective and a writer’s one. When I examine the story now, I find myself pondering the cat because he’s complicated. He’s a case of both/and rather than either/or. He can’t be explained in a single sentence (unless Faulkner’s doing the explaining). He’s both a cat with a grin as well as a grin without a cat.

Who’s your favorite character in Wonderland?


  1. SteveMarch says:

    I would have to agree, the Cheshire Cat is probably my favorite character – perhaps as adults we love him because we love to create those puzzled looks on our children’s faces! (manical laugh! maniacal laugh!)  However, my favorite ‘Alice in Wonderland’ quote is from Tweedledee: “Contrariwise, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic!”

  2. SteveMarch says:

    Boo!?  Are you kidding me? Simply fodder for another post, another time!

    •  @SteveMarch Perhaps so. I don’t want to wear out the Alice theme, though. A week full of Alice posts was ample. I’m moving onto other literary characters. At least, that’s the plan. I’ve gotten some good feedback about the character sketches.