My name is Olena. I am from Ukraine. Can you possibly help me giving an explanation, please ? In the book Alice in Wonderland by L. Carrol the expression “beat time” is used in two meanings. The first one is clear enough, that means to indicate the tempo of music tapping out the beats, ets. But the second meaning is direct as I undersand that means “waste time”. Am I right?
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Olena, you need to give us the context of the expression. Can you write the sentence or paragraph that it came from?
Here is the context:
Alice sighed wearily. “I think you might do something better with the time,” she said, “than wasting it in asking riddles that have no answers.”
“If you knew Time as well as I do,” said the Hatter, “you wouldn’t talk about wasting it. It’s him.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” said Alice.
“Of couse you don’t!” the Hatter said, tossing his head contemptuously. “I dare say you never even spoke to Time!”
“Perhaps not,” Alice cautiously replied: “but I know I have to beat time when I learn music.”
“Ah! That accounts for it,” said the Hatter. “He won’t stand beating. Now, if you only kept on good terms with him, he’d do almost anything you liked with the clock. For instance, suppose it were nine o’clock in the morning, just time to begin lessons: you’d only have to whisper a hint to Time, and round goes the clock in a twinkling! Half-past one, time for dinner!”
Thank you very much in advance. Olena
It’s a pun on the word “beat”. The Hatter is talking about time as a person, and he says that if you beat him (i.e., brutalize him), he won’t cooperate.
Thanks a lot for your lucid explanation, Jamie