Through the Looking-Glass

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Through the Looking-Glass
Through the looking glass.jpg
First edition cover of Through the Looking-Glass
AuthorLewis Carroll
IllustratorJohn Tenniel
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
GenreChildren's fiction
PublisherMacmillan
Publication date
27 December 1871
Pages208
Preceded byAlice's Adventures in Wonderland 

Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (also known as Alice Through the Looking-Glass or simply Through the Looking-Glass) is an 1871 novel[1] by Lewis Carroll and the sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865). Alice again enters a fantastical world, this time by climbing through a mirror into the world that she can see beyond it. There she finds that, just like a reflection, everything is reversed, including logic (e.g. running helps you remain stationary, walking away from something brings you towards it, chessmen are alive, nursery rhyme characters exist, etc.).

Through the Looking-Glass includes such verses as "Jabberwocky" and "The Walrus and the Carpenter", and the episode involving Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The mirror which inspired Carroll remains displayed in Charlton Kings, Gloucestershire.

It was the first of the "Alice" stories to gain widespread popularity, and prompted a newfound appreciation for its predecessor when it was published.[2]

Plot summary[edit]

Chapter One – Looking-Glass House: Alice is playing with a white kitten (whom she calls "Snowdrop") and a black kitten (whom she calls "Kitty") when she ponders what the world is like on the other side of a mirror's reflection. Climbing up onto the fireplace mantel, she pokes at the wall-hung mirror behind the fireplace and discovers, to her surprise, that she is able to step through it to an alternative world. In this reflected version of her own house, she finds a book with looking-glass poetry, "Jabberwocky", whose reversed printing she can read only by holding it up to the mirror. She also observes that the chess pieces have come to life, though they remain small enough for her to pick up.

Alice entering the looking-glass.

Chapter Two – The Garden of Live Flowers: Upon leaving the house (where it had been a cold, snowy night), she enters a sunny spring garden where the flowers can speak; they perceive Alice as being a "flower that can move about". Elsewhere in the garden, Alice meets the Red Queen, who is now human-sized, and who impresses Alice with her ability to run at breathtaking speeds.

Chapter Three – Looking-Glass Insects: The Red Queen reveals to Alice that the entire countryside is laid out in squares, like a gigantic chessboard, and offers to make Alice a queen if she can move all the way to the eighth rank/row in a chess match. Alice is placed in the second rank as one of the White Queen's pawns, and begins her journey across the chessboard by boarding a train that jumps over the third row and directly into the fourth rank, thus acting on the rule that pawns can advance two spaces on their first move. She arrives in a forest where a depressed gnat teaches her about the looking glass insects, strange creatures part bug part object (e.g., bread and butterfly, rocking horse fly), before flying away sadly. Alice continues her journey and along the way, crosses the "wood where things have no names". There she forgets all nouns, including her own name. With the help of a fawn who has also forgotten his identity, she makes it to the other side, where they both remember everything. Realizing that he is a fawn, she is a human, and that fawns are afraid of humans, it runs off (to Alice's frustration).

Illustration of Alice meeting Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Alice meeting Tweedledum (centre) and Tweedledee (right)

Chapter Four – Tweedledum and Tweedledee: She then meets the fat twin brothers Tweedledum and Tweedledee, whom she knows from the nursery rhyme. After reciting the long poem "The Walrus and the Carpenter", they draw Alice's attention to the Red King—loudly snoring away under a nearby tree—and maliciously provoke her with idle philosophical banter that she exists only as an imaginary figure in the Red King's dreams. Finally, the brothers begin suiting up for battle, only to be frightened away by an enormous crow, as the nursery rhyme about them predicts.

Illustration of the Red King sleeping against a tree
The Red King dreaming

Chapter Five – Wool and Water: Alice next meets the White Queen, who is very absent-minded but boasts of (and demonstrates) her ability to remember future events before they have happened. Alice and the White Queen advance into the chessboard's fifth rank by crossing over a brook together, but at the very moment of the crossing, the Queen transforms into a talking Sheep in a small shop. Alice soon finds herself struggling to handle the oars of a small rowboat, where the Sheep annoys her with (seemingly) nonsensical shouting about "crabs" and "feathers".

Chapter Six – Humpty Dumpty: After crossing yet another brook into the sixth rank, Alice immediately encounters Humpty Dumpty, who, besides celebrating his unbirthday, provides his own translation of the strange terms in "Jabberwocky". In the process, he introduces Alice to the concept of portmanteau words, before his inevitable fall.

The White Knight

Chapter Seven – The Lion and the Unicorn: "All the king's horses and all the king's men" come to Humpty Dumpty's assistance, and are accompanied by the White King, along with the Lion and the Unicorn, who again proceed to act out a nursery rhyme by fighting with each other. In this chapter, the March Hare and Hatter of the first book make a brief re-appearance in the guise of "Anglo-Saxon messengers" called "Haigha" and "Hatta".

Chapter Eight – "It's my own Invention": Upon leaving the Lion and Unicorn to their fight, Alice reaches the seventh rank by crossing another brook into the forested territory of the Red Knight, who is intent on capturing the "white pawn"—Alice—until the White Knight comes to her rescue. Escorting her through the forest towards the final brook-crossing, the Knight recites a long poem of his own composition called Haddocks' Eyes, and repeatedly falls off his horse.

Chapter Nine – Queen Alice: Bidding farewell to the White Knight, Alice steps across the last brook, and is automatically crowned a queen, with the crown materialising abruptly on her head (a reference to pawn promotion). She soon finds herself in the company of both the White and Red Queens, who relentlessly confound Alice by using word play to thwart her attempts at logical discussion. They then invite one another to a party that will be hosted by the newly crowned Alice—of which Alice herself had no prior knowledge.

Chapter Ten – Shaking: Alice arrives and seats herself at her own party, which quickly turns into chaos. Alice finally grabs the Red Queen, believing her to be responsible for all the day's nonsense, and begins shaking her.

Chapter Eleven – Waking: Alice awakes in her armchair to find herself holding the black kitten, who she deduces to have been the Red Queen all along, with the white kitten having been the White Queen.

Chapter Twelve – Which dreamed it?: The story ends with Alice recalling the speculation of the Tweedle brothers, that everything may have been a dream of the Red King, and that Alice might herself be no more than a figment of his imagination. The book ends with the line "Life, what is it but a dream?"

Characters[edit]

Main characters[edit]

Minor characters[edit]

Writing style and symbolism[edit]

Mirrors[edit]

One of the key motifs of Through the Looking-Glass is that of mirrors, including the use of opposites, time running backwards, and so on, not to mention the title of the book itself. In fact, the themes and settings of the book make it somewhat of a mirror image to its predecessor, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865). The first book begins in the warm outdoors, on the 4th of May;[a] uses frequent changes in size as a plot device; and draws on the imagery of playing cards. The second book, however, opens indoors on a snowy, wintry night exactly six months later, on the 4th of November (the day before Guy Fawkes Night);[b] uses frequent changes in time and spatial directions as a plot device; and draws on the imagery of chess.

Lewis Carroll's diagram of the story as a chess game

Chess[edit]

Whereas the first book has the deck of playing cards as a theme, Through the Looking-Glass is based on a game of chess, played on a giant chessboard with fields for squares. Most of the main characters are represented by a chess piece, with Alice being a pawn.

The looking-glass world is divided into sections by brooks or streams, with the crossing of each brook usually signifying a change in the scene, and corresponding to Alice advancing by one square. Furthermore, since the brook-crossings do not always correspond to the beginning and ends of chapters, most editions of the book visually represent the crossings by breaking the text with several lines of asterisks ( * * * ). The sequence of moves (white and red) is not always followed. The most extensive treatment of the chess motif in Carroll's novel is provided in Glen Downey's 1998 dissertation The Truth About Pawn Promotion: The Development of the Chess Motif in Victorian Fiction.[3]

Language[edit]

The White Queen offers to hire Alice as her lady's maid and to pay her "twopence a week, and jam every other day." Alice says that she doesn't want any jam today, to which the Queen replies, "you couldn't have it if you did want it. The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday—but never jam to-day." This is a reference to the rule in Latin that the word iam or jam—which means now, in the sense of already or at that time—cannot be used to describe now in the present, which is nunc in Latin. Therefore, "jam" is never available today.[4] This exchange is also a demonstration of the logical fallacy of equivocation.[5]

Poems and songs[edit]

Most poems and songs of the book do not include a title.

The Wasp in a Wig[edit]

Lewis Carroll decided to suppress a scene involving what was described as "a wasp in a wig" (possibly a play on the commonplace expression "bee in the bonnet"). A biography of Carroll, written by Carroll's nephew, Stuart Dodgson Collingwood, suggests that one of the reasons for this suppression was a suggestion from his illustrator, John Tenniel,[8] who wrote in a letter to Carroll dated 1 June 1870:[9]

I am bound to say that the 'wasp' chapter doesn't interest me in the least, and I can't see my way to a picture. If you want to shorten the book, I can't help thinking – with all submission – that there is your opportunity.

For many years, no one had any idea what this missing section was or whether it had survived. In 1974, a document purporting to be the galley proofs of the missing section was auctioned at Sotheby's; the catalogue description, in part, read, "the proofs were bought at the sale of the author's…personal effects…Oxford, 1898." The document would be won by John Fleming, a Manhattan book dealer, for a bid of about US$832 (equivalent to $4,313 in 2019).[10] The contents were subsequently published in Martin Gardner's More Annotated Alice (1990),[11] and is also available as a hardback book.[12]

The rediscovered section describes Alice's encounter with a wasp wearing a yellow wig, and includes a full previously unpublished poem. If included in the book, it would have followed, or been included at the end of, Chapter 8 – the chapter featuring the encounter with the White Knight. The discovery is generally accepted as genuine, but the proofs have yet to receive any physical examination to establish age and authenticity.[13]

Dramatic adaptations[edit]

The book has been adapted several times, both in combination with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and as a stand-alone feature.

Stand-alone adaptations[edit]

Adaptions with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland[edit]

Film and TV[edit]

Stage productions[edit]

Other[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ During the "Mad Tea-Party", Alice reveals that the date is "the fourth" and that the month is "May" (chap.7).
  2. ^ In the first chapter, Alice speaks of the snow outside and the "bonfire" that "the boys" are building for a celebration "to-morrow," a clear reference to the traditional bonfires of Guy Fawkes Night that take place on the 5th of November. In Chapter 5, she affirms that her age is "seven and a half exactly."
  3. ^ See "Jabberwocky" full poem including readings, via Wikisource.
  4. ^ See "Walrus and the Carpenter" full poem, via Wikisource.

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Oxford Companions. 1986. Oxford Companion to English Literature (5th Ed.).
  2. ^ Carpenter, Humphrey (1985). Secret Gardens: The Golden Age of Children's Literature. Houghton Mifflin. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-395-35293-9.
  3. ^ Downey, Glenn R. 1998. "The Truth About Pawn Promotion: The Development of the Chess Motif in Victorian Fiction" [dissertation]. Retrieved via National Library of Canada.
  4. ^ Cook, Eleanor (2006). Enigmas and Riddles in Literature. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521855101. p. 163.
  5. ^ Almossawi, Ali. "An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments". pp. 16–7. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Carroll, Lewis. 1897 [1872]. Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. Philadelphia: Henry Altemus Company.
  7. ^ Bedtime-Story. 1999. "The Background & History of 'Alice In Wonderland'" Bedtime-Story Classics. Retrieved 29 January 2007.
  8. ^ Symon, Evan V. (18 June 2014) [2013]. "10 Deleted Chapters that Transformed Famous Books". Listverse.
  9. ^ Gardner, Martin (2000). The Annotated Alice. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 283. ISBN 978-0-393-04847-6.
  10. ^ University Libraries. "The Wasp in a Wig: A 'Suppressed' Episode of Through The Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There" [exhibit item]. Alice 150 Years and Counting…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll. University of Maryland Libraries.
  11. ^ Gardner, Martin. (1990) More Annotated Alice. New York: Clarkson N. Potter. ISBN 0-394-58571-2.
  12. ^ Carroll, Lewis (1977). The Wasp in a Wig: A Suppressed Episode of 'Through The Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. New York: Lewis Carroll Society of North America.
  13. ^ Leach, Karoline (2015). "The Curious Case of the Wasp in the Wig" (PDF). Contrariwise. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  14. ^ Alice Through a Looking Glass (1928) on IMDb
  15. ^ Cleverdon, Douglas (1959). Alice Through the Looking Glass [sound recording]. Written by Lewis Carroll (1872). London: Argo. Retrieved via National Library of Australia and Archived on 10 April 2020.
  16. ^ Handley, Alan. 1966. Alice Through the Looking Glass, with music by M. Charlap, lyrics by E. Simmons. USA: NBC. TV special. See Alice Through the Looking Glass (1966) on IMDb.
  17. ^ "Alice Through the Looking Glass – 1966 Television Soundtrack." Masterworks Broadway. Track listing.
  18. ^ MacTaggart, James. 1973. Alice Through the Looking Glass. UK: BBC. Television special. See Alice Through the Looking Glass (1973) on IMDb.
  19. ^ Pruzhanskiy, Yefrem. 1982. Alice in the Land in the Other Side of the Mirror. RU: Kievnauchfilm. Retrieved from Animator.ru.
  20. ^ Bresciani, Andrea, and Richard Slapczynski. 1987. Alice Through the Looking Glass. AU: Burbank Films Australia. See Alice Through the Looking Glass (1987) on IMDb.
  21. ^ Henderson, John. 1998. Alice Through the Looking Glass. UK: Projector Productions and Channel 4. See Alice Through the Looking Glass (1998) on IMDb.
  22. ^ Burden, Andy (dir.). Alice Through a Looking Glass [live production], written by H. Naylor, music by P. Dodgson. Factory Theatre: Tobacco Factory Theatres.
  23. ^ Upton, Andrew. 2008. Through the Looking Glass [opera], composed by A. John. Malthouse Theatre: Victorian Opera.
  24. ^ Wyatt, Stephen. 2011. "Lewis Carroll - Alice Through the Looking Glass" [radio broadcast], Saturday Drama. UK: BBC Radio 4. Retrieved via BBC Radio on 10 April 2020.
  25. ^ McLeod, Norman Z. 1933. Alice in Wonderland. US: Paramount Pictures. [Motion picture]. See Alice in Wonderland (1933) on IMDb.
  26. ^ Geronimi, Clyde, Wilfred Jackson and Hamilton Luske. 1951. Alice in Wonderland. US: Walt Disney Studios. See Alice in Wonderland (1951) on IMDb.
  27. ^ Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1972) on IMDb
  28. ^ fictionrare2 (29 September 2014), Nel mondo di Alice 3^p, retrieved 23 April 2016
  29. ^ Alice in Wonderland (2010) on IMDb
  30. ^ Alice in Wonderland (1985) on IMDb
  31. ^ "Fushigi no Kuni no Alice", Wikipedia, 26 February 2020, retrieved 10 April 2020
  32. ^ Alice in Wonderland (1999) on IMDb
  33. ^ Alice (2009) on IMDb
  34. ^ "Lookingglass Alice Video Preview". Lookingglasstheatre.org. Archived from the original on 27 October 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  35. ^ "Lookingglass Alice | Lookingglass Theatre Company". Lookingglasstheatre.org. 13 February 2007. Archived from the original on 8 March 2012. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
  36. ^ "Theatre adaptations (excluding reimaginings)". all-in-the-golden-afternoon96.tumblr.com. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  37. ^ Wade, Laura. 2012. Alice. Oberon Modern Plays. Oberon Books. ISBN 9781849433570. [Theatre script]. Retrieved via Google Books.
  38. ^ "Theatre adaptations (excluding reimaginings)". all-in-the-golden-afternoon96.tumblr.com. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  39. ^ "Alice's Adventures Under Ground". Royal Opera House. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  40. ^ Jabberwocky (1977) on IMDb

Other sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Online texts