Who Belongs Where?

Upon viewing Jean-Paul Jamin’s engraving, “Tragedy of the Stone Age” many different themes come to mind. However, what I think is most interesting about the image is that it suggests a deeper meaning and relationship between man vs. nature, one that reflects the natural world as stronger than man. The lion in the image has clearly claimed the woman as his own and will not give her up for anyone or anything. The placement of the lions paws upon her hip and neck is a clear depiction of its dominance over the woman and is also highly sexualized. Upon discovering this scene the male within the engraving is exclaiming in horror and shock, as his face suggests in addition to his hands that are extended as he is dropping the instrument he was holding. The shock of the man when he sees his partner in jeopardy compared to the calmness and power of the lions face illuminates a moment when man cannot outsource the natural world. While the man had a successful hunt as the dead deer he is holding suggests, he ultimately cannot dominant all animals as he has been successfully doing. Additionally this animal-human paradox is translated within “Alice and Wonderland” many times as Alice discovers that she is often less knowing than the animals around here. Wonderland is a place that includes much more intelligent and powerful animals in compared to the world that Alice comes from. Despite Alice being new to Wonderland she at many times forces herself in spaces where she doesn’t exactly belong, for example the scene where she immediately sits at the table with the other animals, and is even questioned as to why she has sat down. However, through the context of the engraving one may ask themselves whether the lion has trespassed into man’s cave, or whether man trespassed within the lions den? With this in mind I am forced to question the relationships between Alice and the animals… Who is overstepping personal boundaries? Is anyone naturally given there own space? Can humans be considered animals? Why? Why not?

4 thoughts on “Who Belongs Where?”

  1. I love your comparison of Alice to the lion and I think it’s interesting the idea of man entering the lion’s cave or vice versa. Alice herself strikes me as more of the lion as she is confident in her own authority and enters the cave of Wonderland as if it is her own. She continually oversteps boundaries and asserts her dominance as one lion would take over the pride if necessary; I think the animals thus could be more humanized as being dominated by the lion or Alice.

  2. I loved how you linked Carroll’s novel to Jamin’s painting! Both the painting and the novel seem to subvert the traditional imagery of men dominating nature and animals, since the lion and the inhabitants of Wonderland are depicted as more powerful and intelligent than the two human beings. However, while we could see the lion’s entering the cave as an attempt to get back what was originally its, Alice’s arrogant behavior in Wonderland only reminds us of the man’s tendency to dominate nature and other men.

    1. I love this comparison between Alice and the lion. Alice walking into Wonderland is like Alice walking into the lions den, but as a human into a more natural world. Alice should be humbled by the natural power of Wonderland, and for a while she is, until she begins to exert her own power over the land. Alice, the human in animal territory, eventually wins over the natural world of Wonderland. Instead of man being dominated by nature, Alice is dominating the natural world. This brings us back to the idea of colonialism in Alice that suggests man’s supposed “right” to take over any land, whether inhabited or not.

  3. As you insightfully explore, there is definitely and interesting and relevant correlation between the art piece and Carroll’s narrative. I liked how you addressed the fact that Alice is indeed less knowledgeable than the animals who surround her. I think this comparison of the lion to Alice is spot on. Comparing her to the man in the painting wouldn’t work because he is quickly aware of the boundaries present in the animal kingdom. Although I do not believe anyone in Victorian England to admit to a parallel between their beloved Alice and an animal, it is a valid comparison, exemplifying the major boundaries that Alice ignorantly crosses as the invader in the novel.

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