header logo
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Summary


Here you will find a Alice's Adventures in Wonderland summary (Lewis Carroll's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.

P.S.: As an Amazon Associate, we earn money from purchases made through links in this page. But the summaries are totally free!

Last Updated: Monday 1 Jan, 2024

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Summary Overview

One sunny day, a young girl named Alice, while lazily perusing a book, spots a well-dressed White Rabbit hurrying past her and scurrying down a rabbit hole. Intrigued, she gives chase and finds herself in an enormous hallway filled with doors. Locating a key on a table, she opens a small door and glimpses a splendid garden beyond. Unable to fit through the opening, she drinks a potion labeled "DRINK ME" that shrinks her down, but she can't reach the key she has left on the table. A cake labeled "EAT ME" makes her grow enormously. In her distress, she cries a flood of tears that forms into a sea. Alice, shrunk once more, swims ashore with a Mouse, where they join a diverse group of animals. Alice encounters the White Rabbit once more, who confuses her for a maid and sends her to fetch his items. Within the Rabbit's residence, she consumes an unmarked potion, growing so large that she fills the room. Her attempts to swat away the White Rabbit and his servants result in her being attacked with rocks, which miraculously turn into cakes upon landing. Consuming a cake, she shrinks and finds herself in a forest. After an altercation with a Caterpillar, she learns that different bits of a mushroom can make her grow or shrink. After a peculiar interaction with a Duchess, her pig-baby, and a grinning, disappearing Cheshire Cat, Alice finds herself directed to the house of the March Hare. In the March Hare's dwelling, Alice has an uncouth tea party with the Hare, the Mad Hatter, and a Dormouse, learning that they're stuck in an eternal tea-time due to a disagreement with Time itself. After leaving the tea party, Alice finds herself back in the grand hall, and armed with the key and a piece of mushroom, finally gains access to the garden. A game of croquet with the Queen of Hearts, who uses live flamingos and hedgehogs as equipment, ensues. This is followed by a peculiar trial for the Knave of Hearts, accused of stealing the Queen's tarts. The trial descends into chaos, and Alice, growing giant due to another piece of mushroom, upends the entire court. Suddenly, Alice awakes on the riverbank, realizing it was all a dream, and shares her fantastical adventure with her sister before heading in for tea.

chapter 1

Alice, sitting idly by a riverbank, suddenly spots a White Rabbit worriedly checking a watch before disappearing down a hole. Intrigued, Alice follows, tumbling into what seems like a well filled with shelves and cupboards. She takes an empty marmalade jar from one of the shelves and begins wondering aloud about her fall and her cat, Dinah. Just as she imagines a conversation with Dinah, she lands unhurt and spots the White Rabbit disappearing around a bend. She finds herself in a corridor filled with locked doors. A key on a glass table opens a small door hidden behind a curtain, revealing a passage to a garden. However, Alice is too big to pass through. Returning to the table, she finds a bottle labeled “DRINK ME.” Upon drinking it, Alice shrinks, but realizes she left the key on the high table. Frustrated, she sees a small cake marked “EAT ME” under the table. Despite eating it hoping to grow, Alice remains tiny, leaving her disappointed.

chapter 2

After eating the cake labeled “EAT ME,” Alice turns into a nine-foot giant and struggles to peek through the door. She starts crying, her tears pooling around her. The White Rabbit shows up, worried about a late appointment with the Duchess, but hurries off again, leaving his gloves and fan behind. Picking up the items, Alice starts to fan herself and wonders whether she is really Alice or someone else. She tries to recount her lessons to confirm her identity, but mixes them up, fueling her theory that she might be Mabel, a girl she knows. She believes her lesson mix-ups suggest she has transformed into Mabel, who knows next to nothing. If she's Mabel, she feels no obligation to leave the well and rejoin society. Despite her identity crisis, she is determined to escape the well and return to the surface. Alice soon discovers that fanning herself causes her to shrink, so she continues until she's small enough to fit through the door. But again, she has left the key behind. Before her frustration escalates, she plunges into a pool of salt water, first mistaking it for the sea, but quickly realizing she's swimming in her own tears. She encounters a Mouse and tries to communicate, first in English then in French. She asks about a cat, scaring the Mouse. She tries to apologize, but can't help discussing her cat Dinah, which offends the Mouse. She hastily switches the topic to dogs, scaring the Mouse further. Alice assures the Mouse she'll stop talking about cats and dogs if it returns. The Mouse agrees, asking Alice to follow him to shore where he will share his backstory and explain his fear of cats and dogs. They are soon joined by a Duck, a Dodo, a Lory, and an Eaglet, all swimming towards the shore.

chapter 3

Alice and the animals, now on the shore, start drying off. A heated debate between Alice and the Lory is interrupted by the Mouse, who insists they pause for a history lesson. The story of William the Conqueror is chosen as it is the "driest" tale known to the Mouse. Yet, despite the story, they remain wet. The Dodo suggests a Caucus race to help. Marking a course, setting everyone up, and starting the race with a shout of “go.” The animals participate chaotically until half an hour later when the Dodo declares the race finished. Everybody is a winner and Alice is chosen to distribute prizes. She hands out mints to the entire group, leaving none for herself. She finds a thimble and gives it to the Dodo, who turns around and awards it back to her as her prize. She accepts, albeit thinking the act rather silly. After the mints are consumed, the Mouse decides it's time to share its story. Alice, however, is distracted by the Mouse’s tail, confusing it for its “tale” about a mouse in court. The Mouse scolds Alice for lack of focus. She apologizes, but they misinterpret each other and the Mouse storms off. The animals express their disappointment and Alice wishes her cat Dinah were present to retrieve the Mouse. She goes on about Dinah's bird-eating habits, scaring off all the animals. Left alone, Alice starts to weep until she hears approaching footsteps.

chapter 4

The White Rabbit, mistaking Alice for his maid, orders her to fetch his fan and gloves from his house. Despite finding it peculiar to be taking commands from an animal, Alice obliges. At his house, she finds the gloves and fan along with a bottle labeled “DRINK ME.” Intrigued, Alice consumes the liquid and begins to expand until she fills up the room, her arm sticking out a window and foot lodged in the chimney. Alice's current predicament reminds her of a fairy tale, causing her to wonder if she's actually grown up. Her musings are interrupted by the White Rabbit, who struggles to enter his house blocked by Alice’s enlarged arm. She swats away the Rabbit and his servant, Pat, when they try to get in. They resort to sending another servant, Bill the lizard, down the chimney. Alice, however, kicks him out and the crowd outside suggests setting the house on fire. When they start throwing pebbles that turn into cakes, Alice eats one, shrinks, and escapes, only to face an angry mob. Alice makes a hasty retreat into a forest, contemplating how to regain her original size and locate the garden. She's brought to attention by a large puppy which she distracts with a stick. As she continues her journey, she stumbles upon a mushroom with a hookah-smoking caterpillar on top.

chapter 5

In her journey, Alice encounters a Caterpillar sitting atop a massive mushroom, puffing a hookah. They both silently gaze at each other until the Caterpillar breaks the silence by asking, “Who are you?” Alice finds it difficult to define herself to the grumpy Caterpillar. Disheartened, she decides to leave, but the Caterpillar requests her to recite a poem before leaving. The Caterpillar points out her mistakes in recitation and queries about her preferred size. Alice offends the three-inch Caterpillar by expressing her disdain for such a short height. The Caterpillar, now offended, crawls away but informs Alice that different sides of the mushroom can make her bigger or smaller. Experimenting, Alice nibbles the mushroom's right side and becomes tiny. After tasting the left side, her neck extends above the trees. In her struggle to adjust, a Pigeon mistakes her for a snake threatening its eggs. Alice clears the misunderstanding and the Pigeon retreats, allowing her to munch on the mushroom pieces until she reverts to her original size. Now back to normal, Alice continues her search for the garden and stumbles upon a four-foot house. She aims to visit the house, so she consumes some mushroom to shrink her size down to nine inches.

chapter 6

Alice, from a distance, witnesses a footman dressed as a fish delivering a letter to a frog footman at a house. The letter is an invitation for the Duchess to attend the Queen's croquet match. After the Fish Footman leaves, Alice approaches the Frog Footman, who seems to be in a state of stupor, gazing blankly at the sky. Alice attempts to knock on the door, but the Frog Footman informs her that her knocking will go unnoticed due to the loud noise inside. Unfazed by a plate that narrowly misses him, the Footman plans to stay put for days. Irritated by his absurdity, Alice enters to find a chaotic kitchen scene. The Duchess is nursing a baby, a cat with a wide grin is perched on the hearth, and a Cook is too liberal with pepper in her soup, causing the Duchess and baby to persistently sneeze. When Alice asks about the grinning cat, the Duchess tells Alice it's a Cheshire Cat and insults her ignorance. Amidst this, the Cook is throwing things recklessly, prompting Alice to intervene. Attempting to shift the conversation, Alice speaks about the earth's axis, which the Duchess misinterprets as "axes" and shouts, "Chop off her head!" Following a violent lullaby, the Duchess hurls the baby at Alice and leaves to prepare for the Queen's croquet game. Alice carries the baby outside, surprised to find it transformed into a pig. After the pig scampers away, Alice meets the Cheshire Cat again, who cryptically advises her on her next move. He suggests the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, though warns they are mad. When Alice protests, the Cat declares everyone, including Alice herself, to be mad. Despite Alice's attempt to argue, the Cat diverts the discussion, mentions the upcoming croquet match, and then slowly disappears, leaving behind only its grin. Alice proceeds to the March Hare’s house, finding it much larger than her. She eats some of the Caterpillar’s mushroom and grows to an appropriate size of two feet.

chapter 7

In the yard of the March Hare's residence, Alice walks up to a big table where the Mad Hatter and March Hare are in the middle of a tea party, using the snoozing Dormouse as an armrest. Despite their protests that there's no space for her, Alice seats herself. She is offered wine by the March Hare, but there isn't any. When Alice points out his rudeness, he retorts that it was impolite for her to sit uninvited. The Mad Hatter then criticizes Alice's hair, and poses a puzzling riddle: “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” An argument about the meaning of words ensues after Alice tries to solve it. Following the argument, there's silence until the Mad Hatter inquires about the time from the March Hare. Discovering the March Hare's watch is faulty, he blames the March Hare for buttering it, leading to a sulky response from the Hare: “It was the best butter.” Alice loses interest in the riddle and gets upset with the Mad Hatter when he admits to not knowing the answer. She reproaches him for wasting time on unsolvable riddles, and he counters by explaining that Time is a person, who has been stuck at tea-time since he was accused of “murdering time” by the Queen of Hearts. The March Hare breaks the monotonous conversation by requesting a story from the Dormouse, who has just been awakened. He spins a tale about three sisters in a treacle-well, which Alice finds confusing. She keeps interrupting with questions, annoying the Dormouse. The Mad Hatter's insults finally drive her to leave in a huff, and she sees them trying to cram the Dormouse into a teapot as she departs. Then, she comes across a tree with a door within it in the woods. Walking through, she's back in the main hall. Using the mushroom, Alice adjusts her size to take the key from the table and fit through the door. Successfully, she walks through it and finally reaches the garden pathway.

chapter 8

Alice encounters three playing card gardeners, Two, Five, and Seven, in the garden. They are in a panic, hastily changing the color of the white roses to red, fearing the Queen's wrath on discovering their mistake. When the Queen of Hearts arrives, she questions Alice harshly. Alice controls her fear, reminding herself that they are just cards. The Queen loses her temper when Alice nonchalantly addresses her about the gardeners, but the King pacifies her. When the Queen discovers the gardeners' mistake, she demands their execution. Alice saves them by hiding them in a flower pot and follows the Queen to play croquet. At the croquet match, Alice is bewildered by the peculiarities of the game: the uneven ground, living hedgehogs as balls, flamingos as mallets, and playing cards forming the arches. The Queen's temper flares throughout, and she keeps demanding executions. Alice tries to escape but encounters the Cheshire Cat. Their conversation attracts the King's attention who tries to intimidate the Cat. When the Queen orders the Cat's execution, the executioner and the King are confused, as the Cat is only a floating head. Alice suggests consulting the Duchess, the Cat's owner. However, by the time they bring the Duchess, the Cheshire Cat vanishes.

chapter 9

Following the Cheshire Cat's departure, the Duchess joins Alice in the croquet game. Alice finds the Duchess' friendly behavior odd, attributing it to the absence of pepper. As they stroll, the Duchess imparts multiple moral lessons to Alice. The Duchess tries to put her arm around Alice, but Alice dissuades her, fearing the flamingo mallet might bite. The Queen interrupts them, sends off the Duchess, and instructs Alice to continue the game. Soon, only Alice, the King, and the Queen are left in the game as the rest have been sent for execution. With no soldiers to play as hoops, the Queen brings the game to an end and suggests Alice meet the Mock Turtle. As the King pardons the sentenced players, the Queen and Alice head towards the Gryphon, who escorts Alice to the Mock Turtle. The Gryphon reassures Alice that the Queen doesn't actually execute anyone. Meeting the Mock Turtle, Alice is struck by his melancholic demeanor. The Gryphon, however, remains unsympathetic, telling Alice the Mock Turtle is only pretending to be sad. The Mock Turtle tearfully recounts his past as a real turtle, attending sea school under an old turtle called Tortoise. Confused, Alice asks why a turtle would be called Tortoise, to which the Mock Turtle reprimands her, clarifying it's because he "taught us." He then elaborates on his educational journey, studying peculiar subjects like Reeling and Writing, Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision. When Alice wonders about the duration of the lessons, the Mock Turtle explains they got shorter every day because they “lessen.” Alice's question about what happens when there's no time left for lessons is ignored by the Gryphon, who diverts the conversation to games.

chapter 10

Still sobbing, The Mock Turtle asks Alice about her familiarity with lobsters. She nearly tells him about eating one, but stops herself and simply denies the knowledge. The Mock Turtle and Gryphon then discuss the Lobster-Quadrille, a unique dance where sea creatures pair with lobsters, march from the beach, and then fling the lobsters into the sea. They enact the dance's first figure for Alice, without lobsters, and The Mock Turtle sings a song about a whiting and a snail. Post dance, Alice queries about the whiting, suppressing her urge to admit that she tasted whiting. The Gryphon corrects Alice's misconception that whiting comes with crumbs and is instead a fish that polishes the shoes of sea animals. Alice finds it odd that the porpoise steps on the whiting’s tail in the song. She shares that she would have excluded the porpoise from the dance, but The Mock Turtle advises that it's imprudent for a fish to go anywhere without a “porpoise”, making a pun on 'purpose'. The Gryphon and Mock Turtle then ask Alice to share her adventures. Alice begins to narrate her Wonderland journey, reaching her encounter with the Caterpillar before they interrupt her. They express surprise at Alice's incorrect recitation of “Father William” and demand her to recite the poem “‘Tis the voice of the sluggard”. Alice once again muddles the words which puzzles the Mock Turtle, who seeks an explanation for the resulting absurd verse. The Gryphon suggests that she should stop reciting and offers to either re-show the Lobster-Quadrille or hear the Mock Turtle's song. Alice chooses the song and hears “Turtle Soup”. As the song ends, the Gryphon hears “The trial’s beginning!” and quickly takes Alice away.

chapter 11

Alice enters a crowded courtroom where the King and Queen of Hearts preside over the trial of the Knave, accused of stealing the Queen's tarts. Alice, enjoying the familiarity of the court setup, observes the jurors noting down their names to prevent forgetting them by the trial's end. When she remarks about their silliness, they jot it down. Alice takes a noisy pencil from the juror Bill, who then uses his finger to write. The White Rabbit, acting as herald, reads out the accusation. The first witness, the Mad Hatter, comes forward clutching a teacup and bread and butter. He refuses to remove his hat, explaining it’s not his property but something he sells. Meanwhile, Alice starts to grow, causing the Dormouse to move away in alarm. The Hatter's testimony is confused and inconclusive, mentioning both the March Hare and the Dormouse but failing to provide clear evidence. A juror asks the Hatter about the Dormouse's words, but he can't recall. An outraged King insults the Hatter's intelligence, leading to a guinea pig cheering and subsequently being quieted down. The Hatter leaves the stand after a confusing exchange with the King about standing and sitting, and another cheering guinea pig is silenced. The Hatter departs before the Queen can order his beheading. Next, the King calls the Cook as a witness. Asked about the tart ingredients, she answers, "Pepper." The Dormouse interjects sleepily with "treacle," causing chaos in the court. The Cook disappears during the uproar, and Alice is called as the next witness by the White Rabbit.

chapter 12

Alice mistakenly knocks over the jury stand as she responds to the White Rabbit's call, then hurriedly tries to fix the situation. She pleads ignorance about the missing tarts, a claim the King finds significant. However, the White Rabbit corrects him, asserting the statement was insignificant. The King agrees, repeating both words absentmindedly. The King suddenly mentions Rule 42, which says anyone above a mile high should leave the court, directing attention to Alice. She refutes the claim and accuses the King of making up the rule. The King insists it's the eldest rule, to which Alice retorts it should be the first then. Following a brief silence, the King demands a verdict but is interrupted by the White Rabbit demanding more evidence. A paper allegedly written by the Knave is presented, though its handwriting doesn't match his. The Knave denies authorship due to the lack of a signature. The King asserts that the lack of a signature implies the Knave's dishonesty. The Queen agrees, believing the note confirms the Knave's guilt. Alice insists on reading the poem on the paper. Despite its nonsensical nature, the King provides a convenient interpretation and requests a verdict. The Queen wants the sentence prior to the verdict, which Alice objects to, criticizing the Queen who then orders Alice's execution. Alice, having grown to her full size, dismisses the flying playing cards. Alice awakens and finds herself on her sister's lap by the river. She shares her adventure and is then sent inside for tea. Her sister remains, daydreaming about Alice's tale. She realizes the dreamlike characters will disappear once she opens her eyes. She hopes that Alice will retain her youthful spirit as she ages and will share her adventures with other children.

Enjoying this summary?
Buy the book! (it's better)

Lists that recommended Alice's Adventures in Wonderland