Have I Gone Mad?

Have I gone mad
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The Mad Hatter:
Have I gone mad?

I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.

Written in 1865 by an English author under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” follows the story of a girl named Alice who fell through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world where she met creatures including the Mad Hatter.

Considered as one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre, the story derives its humor from its nonsensical nature brought by an excess of meaning. In contrast with literal nonsense, literary nonsense uses humoristic devices and absurdity to better illustrate a point, not to lose one. Lewis Carroll used this device to his most memorable and famous works, making him known for this trend.

However, the dialogue above was not taken from the novella but from Tim Burton’s 2010 film adaptation “Alice in Wonderland.” It stars Mia Wasikowska as Alice Kingsleigh and Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. The movie was a combination and retelling of the novella and its 1871 sequel “Through the Looking Glass.” Although there were significant changes in the movie, some movie critics think that the theme remained intact despite the differences. In the movie for example, Alice and the Mad Hatter developed a special bond and friendship not present or emphasized in the book.

In Carroll’s version, he was simply “The Hatter”. Nevertheless, it was already an implication of mental incongruity as workers in the hat factory, especially in the 19th century, experienced neurological damage. Mad hatter syndrome became the name to refer to occupational chronic mercury poisoning that leads to disorders.

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