Chapter 7: A Mad Tea-Party Notes from Alice in Wonderland

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Alice in Wonderland Chapter 7: A Mad Tea-Party

Outside the house, the March Hare and the Mad Hatter are having tea while the Dormouse sleeps between them. Alice approaches, but the others yell that there is no room, even though they are sitting at a very large table. Indignantly claiming there is plenty of room, Alice seats herself at the table. Alice finds the Mad Hatter and the March Hare to be very rude, but they remind her that it was rude to join them without being invited.

The Hatter asks Alice a riddle, "'Why is a raven like a writing desk?'" Chapter 7, pg. 44 Alice says she thinks she can guess, which leads to some confusion on the Hatter's part. The Hatter insists Alice should say what she means. Alice answers that she means what she says, and that's the same thing. The Hatter disagrees because, for example, seeing what one eats is not the same thing as eating what one sees.

Topic Tracking: Meaning 4

The Hatter asks what day of the month it is, and when he finds out that his watch is two days slow he angrily reminds the March Hare that he didn't think the Hare's idea of using butter to fix it was a good one. Alice gets a good look at the watch and sees that it is a strange one. It tells the day of the month, but not the time. The Hatter tells her that his watch is perfectly normal, because neither his watch nor the watches Alice is used to tell what year it is. Alice is pretty sure this comment has no meaning whatsoever, even though she understands the individual words.

Topic Tracking: Meaning 5

When asked if she has guessed the riddle yet, Alice has to confess that she has no idea. The Hatter and the Hare both say they also have no idea, much to Alice's frustration. She says the other two are wasting time. The Hatter explains that it's best to keep on good terms with time; it turns out that he had a quarrel with Time when he took part in a concert for the Queen of Hearts. He had to sing "'Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!/How I wonder what you're at.'" Chapter 7, pg. 47 The Queen hated his performance and had howled that he was murdering the time. Since then, it's always six o'clock for the Hatter--that is, it's always tea time.

The March Hare, who is getting sick of the conversation, suggests that Alice tell a story. Alice doesn't know any, so the Hatter and the Hare wake the Dormouse. So the Dormouse tells a story about three little sisters named Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie who lived at the bottom of a well and ate treacle.

Topic Tracking: Identity 6

The Hare speaks up to ask Alice if she'd like more tea. Irritated, Alice replies "'I've had nothing I can't take more.' To this the Hatter says, 'you mean you can't take's very easy to take more than nothing.'" Chapter 7, pg. 48 Alice now wonders why these girls lived at the bottom of a well. After some thought, the Dormouse pronounces that it was a treacle well. Alice objects that there is no such thing, and the Dormouse threatens to end his story if she doesn't stop interrupting. The Hatter interrupts when he decides he needs a clean cup; everybody must move down one place. Alice continues to argue over the details of the story the Dormouse is telling, but the Dormouse manages to confuse her into silence with a series of puns and strange expressions.

Finally, Alice becomes disgusted by the rudeness of her three companions and, swearing to herself that she will never return, she stalks away. She soon comes upon a tree with a door in it and decides without much thought to enter.

Inside, she finds the long hall with the glass table. Better prepared this time, Alice takes the golden key and unlocks the door to the garden. Then she nibbles at the mushroom until she is a foot tall and walks into the beautiful garden.

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