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Lewis Carroll's 1865 novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, sometimes colloquially referred to as Alice in Wonderland, is filled with a wide variety of unusual characters. These characters are used as complex metaphors for the transition from childhood to adolescence, and characters from Alice in Wonderland are so well-known that they often crop up in popular culture. Even people who haven't read the novel often recognize the characters, thanks to the fact that they are so famous.
Once of the most important characters from Alice in Wonderland is Alice herself, the young girl who is forced to navigate the complex world of the novel. Alice is portrayed as an individual at the cusp of adolescence, and she struggles with adults and her relationship to the world. Over the course of the novel, readers see Alice mature, and they also recognize many of the challenges she faces from their own experience. Although Carroll claims otherwise, evidence strongly suggests that Alice was based on a real young woman of Carroll's acquaintance.
The White Rabbit is another notable character from the novel. He figures as a sort of guide, who takes Alice down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, and pops up now and again to move the story along. The mysterious world of Wonderland is ruled by a tyrant Queen, the Queen of Hearts, who constantly threatens to decapitate people. Her shocking lack of manners and crazed behavior makes her seem like an overgrown child. The King of Hearts, on the other hand, is a woefully inadequate character who simply follows along with his wife's whims, while the Knave of Hearts gets into trouble for stealing some tarts.
Alice also encounters the Duchess, another very interesting representative of the characters from Alice in Wonderland. The Duchess is described as extremely ugly and rather rude in her first encounter with Alice, and she mistreats her baby, who turns into a pig when Alice carries it outside. The Duchess, it transpires, is an antagonist of the Queen, and later on she turns out to be a much nicer character. For Alice, the behavior of the Duchess mirrors the confusing and often changeable behavior exhibited by the adults around her in the real world.
The Duchess has a pet cat, the Cheshire Cat, who is probably one of the most iconic characters from Alice in Wonderland. He has a maddening tendency to disappear at will and to talk in elusive riddles, and at one point his slow disappearance leads Alice to remark that she's seen a cat without a grin, but never a grin without a cat.
Some additional interesting characters from Alice in Wonderland include the guests at the Mad Hatter's tea party, like the March Hare and the dormouse. Alice also encounters the Mock Turtle, a lugubrious turtle who is mocked by the Gryphon. Another character of interest is the Caterpillar, who is depicted sitting on a toadstool, smoking a hookah, and answering questions reluctantly, if at all.