Alice is bored sitting on the riverbank with her older sister, who is reading a dull book that has no pictures or conversations in it. As Alice contemplates on making a daisy-chain, she suddenly sees a talking white rabbit wearing a waistcoat and carrying a pocket watch run past, lamenting his tardiness. Alice curiously chases the White Rabbit and sees him pop down his rabbit-hole, which was underneath a hedge. With her curiosity getting the better of her, Alice goes into the rabbit-hole after him. The rabbit-hole stretched straight ahead as she crawled through, and suddenly the rabbit-hole dipped down, and Alice found herself falling down, down, down, down, down into a very deep, dark well. As Alice fell deeper down, she looked at all of the cup-boards, book-shelves, jars, mirrors, paintings, and other commonplace objects that were placed all 'round the sides of the well. She takes down a jar from a shelf as she went past it. The jar is labeled "ORANGE MARMALADE", but the entire jar was empty. Alice did not want to drop the jar for fear of killing somebody underneath, so she just places the jar in one of the cup-boards as she fell past it. After falling even more deeper, Alice wonders if she shall right through the center of the Earth and come out onto the other side of the world. After the long fall, she finally lands in a curious world called Wonderland. Once again, Alice sees the White Rabbit frantically hurrying down a passageway overhead. She races after him, but suddenly loses the White Rabbit in a awfully long hall that was surrounded by many doors. Alice tries to open every door, but finds that they are all locked. She then sees that a little glass table with a small golden key on it has suddenly popped up out of nowhere. Alice figures that the golden key may open one of the doors and tries it on every door, but the key did not fit any of them. She then noticed a low curtain she had not seen before, and behind it was an extremely small door. Using the key, she unlocks the door to reveal that it leads into an extremely beautiful garden. She tries to fit through, but she is too large. Looking back at the table, she saw that a glass bottle with a paper label that says, "DRINK ME" has magically appeared on it. After wondering if it was alright to drink from the bottle, Alice drinks all of the bottle's contents and finds herself shrinking down to ten inches high- the right size to get through the little door and into the lovely garden. Alice then tries to open the little door to get into the garden, but recalls that the the little door is locked again. She then realizes in dismay that she has forgotten the key high above on the table, and thus cannot reach it at her height. She attempted climbing up one of the legs of the table, but it was too slippery. After crying in frustration for a moment, Alice discovers a small glass box lying underneath the table. Inside of the box is a cake with the words "EAT ME" neatly marked on it in currants. Alice decides to eats the cake, figuring that if it makes her grow larger, she can reach the key, and that if it makes her get smaller, then she can creep under the little door. With that, she ate a little bit of the cake. She was quite shocked to see that she stayed the same size. (Usually, this generally happens when one eats cake). However, Alice had gotten so used to such curious, unexpected things happening to her that it seemed pretty dull and stupid for life to go on in the common way. So she immediately ate every last morsel of the "EAT ME" cake.
The cake makes Alice grow so enormous that her head hits the ceiling, much to her shock and surprise. "Curiouser and curiouser!" she cried. Alice saw that she could now reach the key on the table, and she picked up the golden key, hurried off to the garden door, and unlocked it. She looked along the passageway, only to find that she is worse off than before, as she could only look at the garden with one eye. She was so gigantic that she couldn't fit through the door now and get into the pretty garden. Sad and frustrated, she began to cry uncontrollably, and her tremendous tears flooded the half the hallway. The White Rabbit runs by and is so frightened of the giant Alice that he drops his gloves and fan and immediately scurries away into the darkness. Alice fans herself with the fan, wondering if she is still the same person that she was before she fell down the rabbit hole. Using the White Rabbit's fan causes Alice to shrink again, and she finds herself swimming through her own tears. Alice tries to make small talk with a talking Mouse while they paddle together, but the only topic of conversation that comes to mind is her beloved cat, Dinah, which offends him deeply. So Alice starts to talk about a pleasant little dog that lives near her house, but when she mentioned that the dog kills rats the Mouse gets offended again. The Mouse then tells Alice to get to shore so he could tell her his history on why he dislikes cats and dogs. The pool quickly becomes crowded with other talking animals and birds that have been swept away, and they all swim to shore.
The group decides that the first order of business is drying off, so the mouse gives them a very dry lecture on William the Conqueror. When this proves ineffective, the Dodo decides that the best thing to dry them off would be a Caucus-Race. The Dodo marks out a race course in an approximate circle, the racers begin running whenever they feel like it, and everyone wins in the end. Alice reaches into her pocket and gives sugar coated sweets to the winners. The animals then beg the mouse to tell them something more and he recites a tale about a mouse and a dog. Alice mistakes the mouse's tale for his tail; this insults him and he leaves. The others and Alice beg him to finish his story, but he refuses and walks away quicker. Flustered, Alice begins talking about her pet cat Dinah again, which frightens the rest of the animals away. Lonely and sad at the prospect of everyone not seeming to like Dinah, Alice sits down on a tree-stump and starts to sob bitterly.
The White Rabbit suddenly appears again and mistakes Alice for his housemaid, Mary Anne. He orders her to go back to his house and fetch him his gloves and fan. Inside the house, she finds another bottle and drinks from it, hoping that it will make her grow large again. Before she knew it, Alice grows so large that she has to stick one arm out the window and her foot up the chimney. The horrified Rabbit orders his gardener, Bill the Lizard, to climb on the roof and go down the chimney. As Bill slides down the chimney, Alice kicks him out with her foot, shooting him up into the sky. Outside, Alice hears the voices of animals that have gathered to gawk at her giant arm. The crowd hurls pebbles at her, which turn into little cakes. When Alice nibbles the cakes, she suddenly shrinks down again. She runs away from the crowd into the woods, where she decides that she must return to her normal size and find the lovely garden. Suddenly Alice is confronted by a giant puppy. She picks up a stick and teases him with it until he is tired and she can run away. She comes upon a mushroom and sitting on it is the Caterpillar smoking a hookah.
The Caterpillar questions Alice and she admits to her current identity crisis. He asks her to recite "You Are Old, Father William," and she does so, but it comes out with many errors. Then she accidentally insults him by saying that three inches is a wretched height to be (he himself is three inches tall). The Caterpillar crawls away into the grass, telling Alice that one side of the mushroom will make her taller and the other side will make her shorter. She breaks off two pieces from the mushroom. One side makes her shrink smaller than ever, while another causes her neck to grow high into the trees, where a pigeon mistakes her for a serpent. With some effort, Alice brings herself back to her usual height. She stumbles upon a small estate and uses the mushroom to reach a more appropriate height. Alice notices the grinning Cheshire Cat perched in a tree, but he disappears when she looks away.
A Fish-Footman has an invitation for the Duchess of the house, which he delivers to a Frog-Footman. Alice observes this transaction and, after a perplexing conversation with the frog, welcomes herself into the house. The Duchess' Cook is throwing dishes and making a soup which has too much pepper, which causes Alice, the Duchess and her baby (but not the cook or her grinning Cheshire Cat) to sneeze violently. The Duchess tosses her baby up and down while reciting the poem "Speak roughly to your little boy." The Duchess gives Alice the baby while she leaves to go play croquet with the Queen of Hearts. To Alice's surprise, the baby later turns into a pig, so she sets it free in the woods. The Cheshire Cat appears in a tree, directing her to the March Hare's house. He disappears, leaving only his grin behind in the air, hich prompts Alice to remark that she has often seen a cat without a grin but never a grin without a cat.
Alice becomes a guest at a mad tea party, along with the Hatter (now more commonly known as the Mad Hatter), the March Hare, and the Dormouse. In the course of the party, Alice reveals that the date is 4 May (which happens to be the birthday of her presumed real-life counterpart, Alice Pleasance Liddell). The other characters ply Alice with unsolvable riddles and nonsensical stories until she becomes so insulted that she leaves, claiming that it is the stupidest tea party that she has ever attended. Alice comes upon a door in a tree and enters it, finding herself back in the long hallway from the first chapter. She opens the door, eats part of her mushroom, and shrinks so she can get into the beautiful garden.
In the garden, Alice comes upon three living playing cards painting the white roses on a rose tree red because the Queen of Hearts hates white roses. A procession of more cards, kings and queens and even the White Rabbit enters the garden. Alice meets the violent Queen and pacifying Kings of Hearts. The Queen orders "Off with their heads!" when she sees the work of the gardeners. A game of croquet begins, with flamingos as the mallets and hedgehogs as the balls. The Queen condemns more people to death, and Alice once again meets the Cheshire Cat. The Queen of Hearts then debates chopping off the Cat's head, even though his head is disconnected from his body, floating in the air. Alice suggests talking to the Duchess, so the Queen orders the Duchess out of prison.
The Duchess is brought to the croquet ground. She is now less angry and is always trying to find morals in things. The Queen of Hearts dismisses her on the threat of execution and introduces Alice to the Gryphon, who takes her to the Mock Turtle. The Mock Turtle is very sad, even though he has no sorrow. He tries to tell his story about how he used to be a real turtle in school, which The Gryphon interrupts so they can play a game.
The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon dance to the Lobster Quadrille, while Alice recites (rather incorrectly) "'Tis the Voice of the Lobster." The Mock Turtle sings them "Beautiful Soup" during which the Gryphon drags Alice away for an impending trial.
At the trial, the Knave of Hearts is accused of stealing the tarts. The jury box is made up of twelve animals, including Bill the Lizard, and the judge is the King of Hearts. The first witness is the Mad Hatter, who doesn't help the case at all, followed by the Duchess' Cook. During the proceedings, Alice finds that she is steadily growing larger when she is suddenly called as a witness pussy.
Alice accidentally knocks over the jury box as she stands in alarm. She argues with the King and Queen of Hearts over the ridiculous proceedings, eventually refusing to hold her tongue. The Queen shouts her familiar "Off with her head!" but Alice is unafraid, calling them out as just a pack of cards. However, as she said this remark, all of the cards rose and flew upon her. She gets scared and fights them off, when she finds herself back on the riverbank. Her older sister gently shakes Alice awake from the strange dream. Alice tells her sister all of the weird adventures she had in her curious dream. She then goes home for tea, while her sister stays behind and dreams about all of those curious adventures happening to herself.
The following is a list of main characters in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
- The White Rabbit
- The Mouse
- The Dodo
- The Lory
- The Eaglet
- The Duck
- Bill the Lizard
- The Caterpillar
- The Duchess
- The Cheshire Cat
- The March Hare
- The Hatter
- The Dormouse
- The Queen of Hearts
- The Knave of Hearts
- The King of Hearts
- The Gryphon
- The Mock Turtle