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Caterpillar (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) facts for kids

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Alice character
Alice 05a-1116x1492.jpg
The Caterpillar using a hookah; an illustration by John Tenniel. The illustration is noted for its ambiguous central figure, whose head can be viewed as being a human male's face with a pointed nose and protruding chin or being the head end of an actual caterpillar, with two "true" legs visible.
First appearance Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Created by Lewis Carroll
Nickname(s) The Blue Caterpillar
Aliases Hookah-Smoking Caterpillar, Absolem
Species Caterpillar
Gender Male
Nationality Wonderland

The Caterpillar (also known as the Hookah-Smoking Caterpillar) is a fictional character appearing in Lewis Carroll's 1865 book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

In the book

Introduced in Chapter Four ("Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill") and the main center of interest of Chapter V ("Advice from a Caterpillar"), the Caterpillar is a hookah-smoking caterpillar exactly three inches high (a height, the virtues of which, he defends against Alice's complaint). Alice does not like the Caterpillar when they first meet, because he does not immediately talk to her and when he does, it is usually in short, rather rude sentences, or difficult questions.

The original illustration by John Tenniel is something of a visual paradox, wherein the caterpillar's human face appears to be formed from the head and legs of a naturalistic caterpillar.

In other media

Disney film

Blue Caterpillar
The Caterpillar as he appears in the 1951 Disney classic.
First appearance Alice in Wonderland
Created by Lewis Carroll
Voiced by Richard Haydn (original film)
Corey Burton (House of Mouse)
Species Caterpillar

His memorable phrase is a breathy "Whooo ... are ... you?". In the Disney animated film, this line is visualised as exhalations of smoke in the shapes "O", "R" and "U". Alice remarks in the original story that the Caterpillar will one day turn into a butterfly, and in both the 1999 television film and Disney's 1951 version he does so in Alice's presence. He is voiced by Richard Haydn.

The Caterpillar in the Disney film is a blue creature who, as in the original Carroll story, smokes a hookah. He is seen as a very forthright character as he yells at Alice quite often during the scenes in which they both appear. He blows smoke in Alice's face and when she needs assistance he ignores her. He is a quite mean character providing little to no assistance to Alice and ends up confusing her more while she is trapped in Wonderland. He then ignores her and turns into a butterfly and flutters away not caring whether or not Alice makes it out alive. He also instructs her to eat a mushroom but does not say what it does thus putting her into possible danger. He briefly appears during the second caucus race. He reappears one final time during the ending chase, still in butterfly form but once again smoking on his hookah, and again ignoring Alice when she asks for his help escaping the Queen of Hearts.

Tim Burton films

Absalom the Caterpillar
First appearance Alice in Wonderland
Created by Lewis Carroll and Tim Burton
Voiced by Alan Rickman

Alan Rickman voices the Caterpillar, who in this adaptation is named Absolem. Rickman was filmed while recording his voice in a studio, but his face was not composited onto the character's face as originally planned.

He appears five times in the movie. The first time is outside Wonderland, when a young man named Hamish Ascot is about to propose to Alice and she notices a blue caterpillar on his shoulder. The second time is when Nivens McTwisp the White Rabbit, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Mallymkun the Dormouse, and the Uilleam the Dodo consider Alice's identity, and they consult him. Absolem appears in a thick cloud of hookah smoke, which he blows at Alice. He appears again after Alice arrives at the White Queen's Castle, and again to remind Alice of her previous visit to Wonderland. He blows smoke at her twice this time, and Alice asks him to stop it. At the end of the movie, Absolem, as a butterfly, appears on Alice's shoulder as she sets off for China.

Rickman reprises the role in Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016), though he remains a butterfly, leading Alice to the looking-glass portal to Underland and informing her that matters require her urgent attention. He isn't seen again for the rest of the film but makes a cameo in the credits. This was also his final film performance and the film is dedicated in his memory.

Once Upon a Time

  • The Caterpillar appears in an episode of Once Upon a Time, voiced by Roger Daltrey.
  • The Caterpillar appears in the Once Upon a Time in Wonderland episode "Forget Me Not" voiced by Iggy Pop, wherein he operates a meeting-house for the transaction of criminal business. He is consulted twice by Alice for assistance in an adventure of her own.

See also

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