Laughing and Grief
One thing that makes Alice a "curious child" is that she likes to pretend to be two people. Someone who would "box her own ears for having cheated herself in a game of croquet she was playing against herself" is ideally suited for the weird games of Wonderland and the land beyond the Looking-Glass, where our mirror selves have lives of their own, multiplying identity into ever-expanding realms of absurdity and uncertainty. Alice habitually questions her own identity, but playfully, as if her identity crisis were a game: "Who in the world am I? Ah, THAT'S the great puzzle!" she thinks to herself, just before she bursts into tears because she is "so VERY tired of being all alone here!" Playfulness is one aspect of Alice's identity crisis; loneliness and tears are the flipside of the puzzles and the games.
At its most extreme, Alice must question not just her identity but her own reality when Tweedledee and Tweedledum torment the poor girl by telling her that she is only something that the Red King is dreaming. Alice bursts into tears, crying, "I AM real!" Tweedledum, however, persists, telling Alice that even her tears are not real. Yet Alice is "half-laughing through her tears." Good for Alice: faced with a crisis of identity, or of reality itself, you might laugh, or cry, or both - just as Alice does. When Alice returns to the world of Dinah and the kittens (her reality, a fiction for us), she is still pondering the king and his dream. "Let's consider," she says playfully to the kitten, "who it was that dreamed it all." Wonderful Alice: lonely though she may be, she is never alone. If it turns out that we too are lonely characters in someone else's dream, let's hope we might cry and then laugh about it as easily as Alice does.