Introduction

Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is a fantasy novel. It narrates the story of Alice, a little girl who falls down a rabbit hole and finds herself in a fantasy world full of strange creatures and humorous people. She meets up with three of them at a tea party: the March Hare, the Mad Hatter, and the Dormouse.

The Riddle

Alice comes across a table set out under a tree where March Hare and the Hatter were having tea. The two were using it as a pillow, resting their elbows on it, and talking over its head, while a Dormouse sat between them, deep asleep. When Alice went to sit at the table they stopped her by saying there was not enough room. However, Alice still sat and upset them. They bicker for a while as March Hare and Hatter pass rude comments to Alice to which she boldly replies. 

They finally pique her interest when Hatter asks a riddle that catches Alice’s attention. When Alice says she believes she can guess the answer, the March Hare twists her words and confuses her. They once again have an argument over saying what one means and meaning what one speaks.

After a while, Hatter asks Alice if she has been able to determine the answer to the riddle but Alice gives up and asks them for the answer. The Hatter and March Hare both deny knowing the answer which only annoys and angers Alice. She then sighs wearily and tells them to do something better with time than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers. 

Time

The Hatter haughtily shares that if Alice knew anything about time, she would know that time is a ‘him’. In their world, Time is an actual person and he’d do nearly anything you wanted with the clock if one just stayed on friendly terms with him. Suppose it had to be nine o’clock in the morning, and it’s time to start classes: all one has to do is murmur a hint to Time, and the clock will spin around in a flash. 

Then the time would be half-past one and dinner will be served. It does not end here; one could make it stay there as long as they liked.  Alice then understands that the three have stopped time and that is why it is always tea time. They do not wash the dishes, only keep moving around the table.  The March Hare grows tired of their conversation and proposes that Alice narrate a story. Alice passes the proposal and the Dormouse is woken up to entertain the lot with a story.

Conclusion

The chapter is an encounter between Alice and the three peculiar fantasy creatures who at first annoy her and come off as rude but also share with her a secret trick that could be very helpful if only it worked in the real world too.