Thursday, January 27, 2011

"They Were Both Very Unpleasant Characters!" : A Look at "The Walrus and the Carpenter" by Lewis Carroll

Happy Birthday, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson...also known as Lewis Carroll, author of the Alice Books!

In honor of Mr. Carroll's 179th birthday, I have taken the liberty of posting two versions of "The Walrus and the Carpenter," one of Carroll's most beloved poems. The first clip is from the Disney animated version. The poem is heavily abridged, but I love the music and it features some awesome voice acting. J. Pat O'Malley, Disney voice veteran, plays EVERY ROLE: The Tweedles, the Walrus, the Carpenter AND all the Oysters. Crazy. The second clip is a proper unabridged recitation. I wanted to post the scene from the 1998 BBC version that starred Kate Beckinsale as Alice. It is tied with the Disney animated version as my favorite Alice adaptation. Alas, the embedding is unavailable, but seek it out yourselves!

People love analyzing "The Walrus and the Carpenter." Some people interpet it to be about religion or imperialism. Some just see it as a poem about a walrus and a carpenter who deceive and eat a bunch of oysters. Personally, I like reading the poem as an examination of "Action vs. Intention." Who is the worse character? The Walrus who eats more oysters but feels sorry, or the Carpenter who doesn't eat as many, but is very callous about it all? Alice's conclusion? "They were both very unpleasant characters!" Whatever the interpretation, it's definitely one of the most whimsical poems about deception and murder I've ever read.

Happy Birthday, Lewis Carroll!

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