Alice in Wonderland is often referred to as a nonsense tale. A simple fantasy story with no real meaning, purpose or lesson; often criticized for lacking a definitive storyline, which is not entirely different from some people’s views on Majora’s Mask. But, as the Dutchess from Alice in Wonderland says, “Everything has a moral, if you find it.” Despite what critics have claimed, there is much that can be drawn from this classic story, as there is much to learn from Majora’s Mask. The story’s predominant theme is one of identifying yourself and growing up: a theme that is clearly present in Majora’s Mask, and was explored in Hylian Dan’s popular article, The Immortal Childhood.
Alice in Wonderland begins at the home of the titular character Alice, a seven year old girl. Despite her age, Alice is adamant that she is grown up, and asks her sister to “stop talking to me as though I was a child”. Alice is the youngest in her family and because of this her mother won’t allow her to join the grown ups for tea. Instead, Alice is sent outside to amuse herself, where she begins to follow an unusual white rabbit. The rabbit leads her into its rabbit hole, which turns out to be a portal that leads Alice into Wonderland, a childish world with the theme of a deck of cards.
In Wonderland, Alice journeys far, meeting many different characters. Many of them are really quite immature, immersing themselves in childish habits; whether they’re rolling around the ground hysterically, breaking dishes by throwing them at people, ridiculously overusing pepper in cooking, or ordering beheadings to solve every little annoyance. Even though she is homesick, and worried that she will never see her family again, Alice must be the mature person in this world of immaturity.
Throughout her journey, Alice has to run errands and is ordered around more so than she has ever been in her life. She also struggles with her own identity, as during her quest she is often growing and shrinking in size, from unusually little to abnormally large. Due to her constant form changing, Alice says “I hardly know” who I am, “I knew who I was when I got up this morning.” She states that “being so many sizes in one day is very confusing” and that she is not herself. Along her quest, Alice comes to terms with what it truly is to be grown up. A wise cat helps her to this realization, as he informs Alice that there’s no going back once you’re grown up. He tells her that becoming an adult is a life of responsibility and stress, without endless time to play.
Alice changes in size throughout her quest.
Eventually Alice awakens, learning that her adventures were some kind of dream. She returns to her house, but learns that she isn’t quite home. Alice finds herself in Looking Glass Land, a world on the other side of the mirror, this time based on the game of chess. In this new land, Alice reads a poem about a foul beast, the Jabberwocky. She learns that this beast is threatening the land, but also that it is her creation: a physical manifestation of her childish fears. Interestingly, it is a wise owl that guides Alice on the path she must take, telling her that she “will never grow up”, not until she can “conquer the fears inside”, otherwise she “will never be more than a child.”
In this chess themed land, Alice begins as a simple white pawn in the second square, where she must progress to the eighth square, the place where pawns become queens. Alice had to grow from having a childish mind, to possessing a queenly mind. She began the story being bossed around, but ends it in a position of ruling power. At the film’s climax, Alice overcomes her fears by telling the Jabberwocky that she doesn’t believe in him. As he is destroyed, Alice again wakes up, but this time she is safely home, resting in her armchair. Her mother had been calling her, to give her some good news. To Alice’s delight, her mother says “I think you’re finally quite grown up enough to join us” for tea. The film happily concludes with Alice now having mentally matured enough to be included by the adults.
This moral bears a striking resemblance to the story of Majora’s Mask. Link is a 10 year old boy who inside himself believes that he is an adult. Having been the Hero of Time, and having gone through his epic journey in Ocarina of Time, to end up back in his childish form with all of his past memories, we can only imagine would be quite a disturbance to him mentally. It took until the very end of Link’s adulthood journey for him to really come to terms with the adult world, and for him to realize his immature actions, as in his relationship with Princess Ruto. During his quest he manipulated his stature from adult to child numerous times, and to now find himself trapped as a child until he literally grows up is a challenge. Link feels independent and can’t return to the way things used to be in Kokiri Forest. He has to move on, just like children eventually move away from their parents. He truly thinks that he is an adult.
Being on unstable terms of who he really is, Link finds himself thrown into Termina, a land dominated by the childish theme of masks. Link is quite obviously annoyed by being treated as a child. Whether it’s the Clock Town guards telling Link that they “cannot allow a child” to pass, or one of the many other people referring to link as just a kid, this was clearly frustrating for Link. He began his quest in the form of a Deku Scrub, a being even younger than him at 10 years. Not only did Link feel like an adult stuck in a child’s body, but he really struggled to identify who he is: an adult, a child, or a deku scrub?
As he progresses throughout Termina, Link continues to change his form, and is challenged by this. Eventually he ends up being adult half the time and child the other half. In Goron and Zora form he is an adult. As the Deku Scrub and himself he is a child. He is entirely conflicted, feeling truly split between the child and adult worlds. As Mikau he learns the responsibilities of the adult life, as Alice was taught by the cat. Similarly to Alice, Link changes forms and struggles to know who he really is, but he must very quickly become the mature person in Termina, as its citizens break down and despair at the approaching end of the world.
Link runs many errands along his quest, and as he continues to play the song of time and relive the three day period, he comes to have a more mature, a more grown up view of the world. Majora’s Mask is a quest where Link has to come to terms with the adult side of him. The wise owl, Kaepora Gaebora, helps Link along the way, encouraging him to live up to his destiny of defeating Majora, who threatens the land. He must defeat Majora, not only to save the world, but also for himself, because Majora represents the fears that he holds inside of himself.
Regardless of how Majora came into being, the demon is eternally childish. Despite existing for ages, it has the psyche of a child, and prays upon the Skull Kid who is bound to eternally remain a child. The childish mind is the exact thing that Link fears: being stuck as a child, when he feels like an adult. He feels that defeating Majora will be like overcoming the childish portion of himself. To Link in his normal form, Majora is extremely powerful, and is even more so to the childish Deku Scrub. What better way is there for Link to defeat Majora, than by earning and donning the Fierce Deity mask? With this Link is now an adult. In his adult form, Link can easily triumph over Majora, who is now nothing but a weak child. It was Link’s fears that truly gave Majora its intimidating power.
Link dons the Fierce Deity Mask, giving him the power to easily defeat Majora.
The child wearing Majora’s Mask on the moon is the same child that gives Link the Fierce Deity Mask. The Fierce Deity represents the adult side of Majora. Being such a childish and playful mind, Majora wants to get rid of anything remotely adult. Majora believes in the childish mind over the adult, and has no problem giving Link its adult self. Majora doesn’t realize how gladly Link receives this, and does not know that she is giving Link the exact thing the hero needed. Because Majora sees adults as evil, it states that Link is the “bad guy. And when you’re bad, you just run.” Majora hates adults because they won’t play, they won’t share its mindframe, just like the Skull Kid feuds with the Giants because they refused to play with him. As the Fierce Deity, his true adult self, Link is able to easily defeat Majora, his childish fear. As was the case with Alice, Majora’s Mask concludes with Link as the adult that he believed himself to be right from the start.
Alice, despite being told by her sister that she “can’t really think that she’s a grown up”, still manages to quickly mature. Link, despite being a child outwardly and in everybody else’s mind, is able to reveal himself as the adult he truly is. They may have believed they were already grown up, but they still had more to learn and more to see of the world. Growing up isn’t something that will just suddenly occur, it is a journey: a journey that is never about size, but about your mindframe. Only by facing their fears could Link and Alice grow up. Alice had to directly speak to the Jabberwocky, and Link trusted in the Fierce Deity mask, even though Majora gave it to him. Cremia, from Majora’s Mask says that “by doing one good deed, a child becomes an adult”. Link accomplishes many righteous acts, from saving the land, to reuniting a struggling couple, amongst much more. Alice also saves the land, helps a trapped goat, rescues an abused baby and vouches for a prisoner to have a fair trial. If being an adult only requires one good deed, then both Link and Alice qualify by the end of their quest.
Another more common moral, which is dominant in both Alice in Wonderland and Majora’s Mask, is the idea of appreciation and there being no place like home. Once Alice is in Wonderland, she finds herself separated from those she loves: her mother, father, cat and sister. She especially worries that her “poor mother must be in a terrible state.” Alice only begins to truly appreciate her mother once they have been separated. Only once she is gone does Alice notice what it is like to be without her. She misses her mother and is certain that her mother has begun to miss her.
In Majora’s Mask, Link goes on his quest, completely abandoning his friend Zelda. Link focuses on finding Navi, a friend that is lost, instead of appreciating those friends that he does have. Once consumed in the affairs of Termina, Link comes to realize that he shouldn’t waste his time searching for Navi, but should return to Zelda. He came to realize how much he appreciated her, once she was gone. At the conclusion of Majora’s Mask, the Happy Mask Salesman tells Link that they have both gotten what they were after, and although it seems like Link has gained little, he has gained this concept of appreciation. He has learned to stop searching for what is lost, to move on and return to Zelda. The Mask Salesman goes on to say that a parting need not last forever, reminding Link that Zelda was longing for the day when they would meet again.
Both Link and Alice learned to appreciate those who they had left behind and, as their quests progressed, they wished for nothing more than to be home, able to tell those they love how they feel. Alice is always afraid that she will never find her way home again, and any chance of doing similar looked fairly bleak for Link during his adventure. Link sympathizes with those he meets that are separated from their loved ones and helps them to find their way back home. Whether it’s freeing the monkey imprisoned by the Deku King, restoring Pamela’s father from his gidbo possession or by reuniting Kafei with Anju, Link helps many find their way home.
As Link watches Anju say “welcome home” to Kafei, he longs for Zelda to say the same to him. Similarly, Alice also helps others to find their way back home. There’s the goat that she releases from entanglement, and the prisoner who she longs to help. When vouching for the prisoner, Alice nicely sums up this theme for both Link and herself when she says, “set the prisoner free and let him go home. His family probably misses him very much. And one of the worst feelings in the whole world is to be homesick. I ought to know.”
Link remembers his parting with Zelda and Alice with her mother.
Without a doubt, themes form the most dominant similarities between these two tales, but they aren’t what you usually hear about when someone says that the two tales are similar. Usually, it is the rabbit hole, the portal to Wonderland, which is mentioned. Alice begins her journey by chasing a white rabbit through the woods, where it runs into a pitch black hole in a hillside. Alice follows, and being unable to see her way in the dank hole, she stumbles over the edge and falls into the rabbit hole, a mystical, time distorted portal of sorts. She lands on a patch of soft shrubbery and continues to follow the rabbit through some underground caverns, eventually coming to a mysterious door. The door leads to a room full of other doors leading to various places, and from there Alice makes her way into Wonderland, a very strange land indeed, and while it appears lush, it is far from a paradise.
As for Link, instead of following a rabbit, he chases the Skull Kid through the Lost Woods to regain his stolen ocarina and horse. As Alice did, he follows blindly into a dark cave where he too stumbles into a dark abyss. Falling mysteriously through masks, instruments, symbols and clocks, Link lands safely on a Deku Flower. After being cursed to live as a Deku Scrub by the Skull Kid, Link continues the chase through more caverns and into an endless expanse. Only being able to reach one corridor, Link makes for it, where he travels through a mysterious door into the Clock Tower of Termina: a far from joyous place. For the time being, both he and Alice were outrun by those they were pursuing
We can’t be entirely sure of the nature of these portals, and it is possible that the room of doors and the large cavern are actually in-between the worlds. Perhaps for one to form a strong opinion on the nature of the portals, they need to have a strong grasp of the nature or reality of the adventures. Termina is firmly established to fans as a parallel land, and the quest of Majora’s Mask as a truly physical quest; but it is not without dreamlike qualities. The story of Alice in Wonderland is portrayed entirely as a dream, which was the novel’s original intention. The movie does conclude in a way that makes the whole quest appear as slightly more real than a dream, but her clear awakening shows that its make up is fundamentally dreamlike. The land itself bears no parallel qualities to Alice’s homeland, unlike the direct resemblance Termina is of Hyrule. Link is knocked unconscious at the beginning of his journey, and this, bundled with the ethereal quality of Termina, could be seen as dreamlike. But Link is quite truly awake, and his journey is much more real than Alice’s.
The ‘Rabbit Holes’.
One notable similarity between the nature of the two quests is their relative time flow. Alice’s dream, in reality, seems like hours, even days, but she is lucky to be asleep for any more than an hour. Her dream passes in a quicker time so that she can come to appreciate her family, and mature, in quite a small timeframe. Similarly, the timeflow of Termina appears to be much faster than that of Hyrule, as indicated by the interactions of the Skull Kid with the land. Thus, Link is also able to mature and come to appreciate Zelda in a smaller timeframe.
There are strong similarities that can be drawn between the 1985 television film Alice in Wonderland and Majora’s Mask. Chiefly it is in regards to morals, with some more prominent aspects like another world and portals also bearing a resemblance. Really, the key point to note is the versions. Alice in Wonderland is so popular that there have been many rewrites, stage productions and films that are all based upon the writer’s interpretations of the original novels. Not every version bears such a striking resemblance to Majora’s Mask, in fact, in some versions the rabbit hole and parallel world concepts are the only similarities to be found. While this particular film version is quite similar, it seems that Alice in Wonderland’s similarities to Majora’s Mask are due to reputation, more so than to reality. Do the similarities go deeper than the rabbit hole? In this instance they do, but in many other versions, including Carroll’s original novels and the most recent 2010 film adaption, the rabbit hole is often where the foremost similarities stop.