In The Matrix, when Morpheus offers the blue pill or red pill, he explains:

You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.

The "story" part could be interpreted as "the story of Neo living in the Matrix ends, he wakes up in his "bed" (i.e. the cocoon) and he will have the shock of meeting a reality he might have trouble believing in. This interpretation is wrong, but we could be excused for understanding it that way.

You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

Adding to the confusion, staying in Wonderland could mean he would stay in the Matrix, the "wonderful, imaginary place". The rabbit hole took Alice to Wonderland. How deep it goes is precisely to that place. This interpretation is also wrong, but I think we know this only because we know what happens later.

Is Morpheus being deceitful or particularly cryptic? Or were the Wachowskis simply a bit all over the place with the analogies?

  • Considering that what Neo was after was discovering what the Matrix was, I never thought it was ambiguous. Wonderland was always continuing the journey. The blue pill was never anything but Neo's journey ending. I think you are over-thinking it. May 28, 2015 at 12:46
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    I think you've got it flipped. The blue pill ("no, I don't believe any of this, and I don't want to learn more") means he wakes up in his bed in the matrix, still a corporate drone. He can choose to believe whatever he wants to believe about the rumors, or that the past day has been a weird dream. Or he can choose the red pill, and choose the crazy up-turned reality (wonderland) outside of the matrix.
    – phantom42
    May 28, 2015 at 12:52
  • @phantom42 I know I've got it flipped. I want to know why it's so easily flippable.
    – MPelletier
    May 28, 2015 at 12:56
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    I don't see how he's being deceitful or cryptic. The analogy may not be the best one, but it's clear to Neo and the viewer.
    – phantom42
    May 28, 2015 at 13:18
  • Agreed, @phantom52. Downvoted as this seems to be someone trying to justify a sketchy interpretation.
    – DavidS
    May 28, 2015 at 13:50

2 Answers 2


Let's review what happened to Neo up to that point:

He was told by Trinity to "follow the white rabbit". Moments later, Dujour and her boyfriend knock on Neo's door and invite him to a nightclub; Neo agrees to go with them after he sees her white rabbit tattoo (i.e. he follows the white rabbit). At the nightclub, he meets Trinity, who starts to explain to him part of what the Matrix is. Later, Neo meets Morpheus, who also tells him

I imagine, right now, you must be feeling a bit like Alice, tumbling down the rabbit hole?

It's difficult to square your interpretation with all these events. Your interpretation has the following problems:

  1. How could Neo possibly be "tumbling down the rabbit hole [into Wonderland]" if the Matrix is Wonderland? Neo has lived in the Matrix his entire life, so he can't be just now tumbling down the rabbit hole.
  2. Morpheus' question to Neo (about feeling like he's tumbling down the rabbit hole), combined with what has previously happened to Neo, makes it clear that he views Neo as having entered Wonderland as soon as he followed Dujour.
  3. Neo's existence in the Matrix is portrayed as bleak and boring, hardly an adventure like going to Wonderland.
  4. The Matrix as Wonderland also makes no sense given that Morpheus has called it a "prison for your mind".

Furthermore, your interpretation of Neo's bed as his real-world cocoon makes no sense, as Neo doesn't know about his cocoon yet -- the only bed Neo has ever known is his bed in the Matrix. As pointed out by another answer, the last time Neo woke up in his bed was after being bugged by the Agents, and he was still unaware of what the Matrix is -- so waking up in that bed means believing in whatever he wants to believe.

The only thing that really supports your interpretation is Morpheus' line that taking the red pill means "you stay in Wonderland" -- since Neo is in the Matrix, that would seem to imply that the Matrix is Wonderland. But as I noted above, Morpheus views Neo's journey after "following the white rabbit" (Dujour) as Wonderland, not that the Matrix itself is Wonderland.

Morpheus wasn't being deceitful or cryptic. The analogy makes sense when considering all the events that happened to Neo by that point, and considering what else Morpheus says.

  • Are you sure Neo was told by Trinity to follow the white rabbit? I always assumed it would have been the operator who would have told him. Maybe that's semantics, but the purpose was for Neo to get to Trinity ... I didn't think she was talking to him until they met in person (well, Matrix person, anyway). May 28, 2015 at 14:46
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    @Paulster2 Neo asks her if it was her on his computer at the nightclub, and she confirms it. I suppose she could be lying, but I see no reason why she would do so...
    – Null
    May 28, 2015 at 14:48
  • No worries! Thanks for the clarification '-) May 28, 2015 at 15:45

It's an allusion to the encounter with Smith and the agents earlier, when they place the tracker in his belly button and his mouth closes over.

Neo then awakens in his bed, questioning the weird events that happened. It implies that Morpheous has indeed been monitoring Neo before their meeting

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