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Through the Looking-Glass  
Through the looking glass.jpg
First edition cover of Through the Looking-Glass
Author Lewis Carroll
Illustrator John Tenniel
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Children's fiction
Publisher Macmillan
Publication date 1871
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 224 pp
Preceded by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871) is a work of children's literature by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), generally categorized in the fairy tale genre.[citation needed] It is the sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865). Although it makes no reference to the events in the earlier book, the themes and settings of Through the Looking-Glass make it a kind of mirror image of Wonderland: the first book begins outdoors, in the warm month of May (May 4),[1] uses frequent changes in size as a plot device, and draws on the imagery of playing cards; the second opens indoors on a snowy, wintry night exactly six months later, on November 4 (the day before Guy Fawkes Night),[2] uses frequent changes in time and spatial directions as a plot device, and draws on the imagery of chess. In it, there are many mirror themes, including opposites, time running backwards, and so on.


Plot summary

Alice entering glass room through mirror

Alice is playing with her kittens — a black kitten and a white kitten, the offspring of Dinah, Alice's cat in the first book — when she ponders what the world is like on the other side of a mirror's reflection. Climbing up on 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 alternate 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 a mirror. She also observes that the chess-pieces have come to life, though they remain small enough for her to pick up.

Upon leaving the house (where it had been a cold, snowy night), she enters a sunny spring garden where the flowers have the power of human speech; they perceive Alice as being a "flower that can move about", and introduce her to the "bread-and-butterfly" and other bizarre insects of the Looking-Glass world. Elsewhere in the garden, Alice meets the Red Queen (now human-sized), who impresses Alice with her ability to run at breathtaking speeds—a reference to the chess rule that queens are able to move up to seven spaces at once, and in any direction, making them the most "agile" of the pieces. 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 literally jumps over the third row and directly into the fourth rank, acting on the rule that pawns can advance two spaces on their first move.

Red King snoring, by John Tenniel

She then meets the fat twin brothers Tweedledum and Tweedledee, whom she knows from the famous nursery rhyme. After reciting the long poem "The Walrus and the Carpenter, the Tweedles 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 (thereby implying that she will cease to exist the instant he wakes up). Finally, the brothers begin acting out their nursery-rhyme by suiting up for battle, only to be frightened away by an enormous crow.

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. 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". (Unknown to Alice, these are standard terms in the jargon of rowing—and thus the Queen/Sheep, for a change, is speaking in a perfectly logical and meaningful way!)

After crossing yet another brook into the sixth rank, Alice immediately encounters Humpty Dumpty, who provides his own translation of the strange terms in "Jabberwocky" (in the process, introducing Alice and the reader to the concept of portmanteau words) before his inevitable fall. "All the king's horses and all the king's men" come to Humpty Dumpty's assistance, naturally, 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 each other. In this chapter, the March Hare and Mad Hatter of Alice in Wonderland make a brief re-appearance from the first novel in the guise of "Anglo-Saxon messengers" named "Haigha" and "Hatta".

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, and repeatedly falls off his horse—his clumsiness is a reference to the "eccentric" L-shaped movements of chess knights, and may also be interpreted as a self-deprecating joke about Lewis Carroll's own physical awkwardness and stammering in real life.

Bidding farewell to the White Knight, Alice steps across the last brook and is automatically crowned a queen. She quickly finds herself in the company of both the White and Red Queens—and by subsequently capturing the Red Queen, she puts the Red King (who has remained stationary throughout the book) into checkmate. She then suddenly awakes in her armchair to find herself holding the black kitten, whom she deduces to have been the Red Queen, with the white kitten being the White Queen. The story ends with Alice recalling the speculation of the Tweedle brothers, that everything had in fact been a dream of the Red King.

Theme of chess

Whereas the first book has the deck of cards as a theme, this book is based on a game of chess, played on a giant chessboard with fields for squares. Most main characters met in the story are represented by a chess piece, with Alice herself being a pawn. However, the moves described in the 'chess problem' cannot be carried out legally due to a move where white does not move out of check (a list of moves is included - note that a young child might make this error due to inexperience).[citation needed]

Although the chess problem is generally regarded as a nonsense composition because of the story's 'faulty link with chess'[3], the French researchers Christophe LeRoy and Sylvain Ravot have argued[4] that it actually contains a 'hidden code' by Carroll to the reader. The code is supposed to be related to Carroll's relationship with Alice Liddell, and apparently contains several references to Carroll's favorite number, 42. The theory and its implications have been criticized[5] for lack of solid evidence, misrepresenting historical facts about Carroll and Alice[6], and flirting with numerology and esotericism.

The looking-glass world is divided into sections by brooks, with the crossing of each brook usually signifying a notable change in the scene and action of the story: the brooks represent the divisions between squares on the chessboard, and Alice's crossing of them signifies advancing of her piece 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, which goes along with the book's mirror image reversal theme as noted by mathematician and author Martin Gardner[citation needed].

Carroll lived at Beckley, overlooking Otmoor, and the chessboard theme is believed to have been inspired by the characteristic field pattern resulting from its enclosure and drainage.[citation needed] The most extensive treatment of the chess motif in Carroll's novel is provided in Glen Downey's The Truth About Pawn Promotion: The Development of the Chess Motif in Victorian Fiction[7].

Returning characters

The characters of Hatta and Haigha (pronounced as the English would have said "hatter" and "hare") make an appearance, and are pictured (by Sir John Tenniel, not by Carroll) to resemble their Wonderland counterparts, the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. However, Alice does not recognize them as such.

Dinah, Alice's cat, also makes a return — this time with her two kittens; Kitty (the black one) and Snowdrop (the white one). At the end of the book they are associated with the Red Queen and the White Queen respectively in the looking glass world.

Though she does not appear, Alice's sister is mentioned. In both Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through The Looking-Glass, there are puns and quips about two non-existing characters, Nobody and Somebody. Paradoxically, the gnat calls Alice an old friend, though it was never introduced in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Poems and songs

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Problems listening to this file? See media help.

The Wasp in a Wig

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"). It has been suggested in a biography by Carroll's nephew, Stuart Dodgson Collingwood, that one of the reasons for this suppression was due to the suggestion of his illustrator, John Tenniel. In a letter to Carroll, dated June 1, 1870, Tenniel wrote:

…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.[8]

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 sold at Sotheby's; the catalog description read, in part, that "The proofs were bought at the sale of the author's … personal effects … Oxford, 1898…". The bid was won by John Fleming, a Manhattan book dealer. The winning bid was £1700.[citation needed] The contents were subsequently published in Martin Gardner's The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition, and is also available as a hardback book The Wasp in a Wig: A Suppressed Episode ...[9].

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, though some doubting voices have been raised. The proofs have yet to receive any physical examination to establish age and authenticity.[10]


  • A silent movie adaptation directed by Walter Lang, Alice Through a Looking Glass, was made in 1928. [1]
  • The 1933 live-action movie Alice in Wonderland, starring a huge all-star cast and Charlotte Henry in the role of Alice, featured most of the elements from Through the Looking Glass as well, including W.C. Fields as Humpty Dumpty, and a Max Fleischer animated version of The Walrus and the Carpenter. [2]
  • The 1936 Mickey Mouse short film "Thru the Mirror" in which Mickey travels through his mirror and enter a bizarre world.
  • The 1951 animated Disney movie Alice in Wonderland also featured several elements from Through the Looking-Glass, including the poems "Jabberwocky" and "The Walrus and the Carpenter" [3].
  • The book was adapted into a TV musical in 1966, with songs by Moose Charlap, and Judi Rolin in the role of Alice. [4]
  • Another adaptation, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, was produced by Joseph Shaftel Productions (distributed by Fox-Rank productions) in 1972, and is felt by many to be the most faithful adaptation to the original novel, with the exception of the omitted scene with the Cheshire Cat (Roy Kinnear) replaced by Tweedledum and Tweedledee (in a scene which remains faithful to their respective scene from Alice Through the Looking Glass). Fiona Fullerton played Alice, Michael Crawford played the White Rabbit, Peter Sellers played the March Hare and Dudley Moore played the Doormouse.
  • The book was adapted into a BBC TV movie, Alice Through the Looking Glass in 1974, with Sarah Sutton playing Alice. [5]
  • The 1977 film Jabberwocky expands the story of the poem "Jabberwocky".
  • A 1980 liberal stage production was produced and written by Elizabeth Swados, Alice in Concert (aka Alice at the Palace), based on both Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass, and performed on a bare stage. Meryl Streep played the role of Alice, with additional supporting cast by Mark Linn-Baker and Betty Aberlin, et al.
  • A 1982 38-minute Soviet cutout-animated film was based on the book. It was made by Kievnauchfilm studio and directed by Yefrem Pruzhanskiy. [6]
  • The 1985 two-part TV musical Alice in Wonderland, produced by Irwin Allen, covered both books; Alice was played by Natalie Gregory. In this adaptation, the Jabberwock materializes into reality after Alice reads Jabberwocky, and pursues her through the second half of the musical.
  • The book was adapted into an animated TV movie in 1987, with Janet Waldo as the voice of Alice (Mr. T was the voice of the Jabberwock). [7]
  • A Channel 4 movie, Alice Through the Looking Glass, was produced in 1998, with Kate Beckinsale playing the role of Alice. This production restored the lost "Wasp in a Wig" episode. [8]
  • The Looking Glass Wars series of novels and graphic novels by Frank Beddor. He takes characters like the walrus and peppers the prose with their Wonderland counterparts. Books in the trilogy as of 2010 are: The Looking Glass Wars, Seeing Redd, ArchEnemy. Beddor also publishes a series of graphic novels about his own Mad Hatter character called Hatter Madigan. Current titles are Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars, and Hatter: Mad With Wonder, the third book to be released Fall 2010.
  • A live musical, Alice Through the Looking Glass, with music by Stephen Daltry, was produced in 2000.
  • The 1999 made-for-TV Hallmark/NBC film Alice in Wonderland, with Tina Majorino as Alice, merged elements from Through the Looking Glass including the talking flowers, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, The Walrus and the Carpenter, and the Chess theme including the snoring Red King and White Knight.
  • In 2007, Chicago-based Lookingglass Theater Company debuted an acrobatic interpretation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass with Lookingglass Alice. Lookingglass Alice was performed in New York City (NYC), Philadelphia and is currently in an open-ended run in Chicago. There is also a version of the show touring in the United States.
  • Christmas 2007 a multimedia stage adaptation "Alice Through The Looking Glass" at The Tobacco Factory directed and conceived by Andy Burden, written by Hattie Naylor, music and lyrics by Paul Dodgson.
  • The 2008 opera Through the Looking Glass by Alan John
  • The 2009 Syfy TV mini-series Alice contains elements from Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
  • 2009 book Alice in Verse: The Lost Rhymes of Wonderland is an adaptation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass written entirely in rhyming verse by British-American author J.T. Holden
  • The 2010 movie "Alice in Wonderland" by Tim Burton contains elements of both Alice in Wonderland and Through the looking Glass.

In popular culture

For a list of references to both Through the Looking-Glass and Alice in Wonderland, see Works based on Alice in Wonderland.


  1. ^ In Chapter 7, "A Mad Tea-Party", Alice reveals that the date is "the fourth" and that the month is "May."
  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 on Guy Fawkes Night, November 5; in the fifth chapter, she affirms that her age is "seven and a half exactly."
  3. ^ See Lewis Carroll and chess on the Lewis Carroll Society Website
  4. ^ See their web-site Lewis CARROLL's chess game dedicated to the problem and its possible meaning
  5. ^ Moll, Arne (2008-07-13). "Lewis Carroll’s chess problem". Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  6. ^ See: Leach, Karoline In the Shadow of the Dreamchild, London 1999, “The Unreal Alice”
  7. ^ (University of Victoria, 1998)
  8. ^ Gardner, Martin (2000). The Annotated Alice. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 283. ISBN 0393048470. 
  9. ^ (Clarkson Potter, MacMillan & Co.; 1977)
  10. ^ see lengthy discussion about the 'absence' of investigation on the Lewis Carroll Discussion List


  • Tymn, Marshall B.; Kenneth J. Zahorski and Robert H. Boyer (1979). Fantasy Literature: A Core Collection and Reference Guide. New York: R.R. Bowker Co.. pp. 61. ISBN 0-8352-1431-1. 
  • Gardner, Martin (1990). More Annotated Alice. New York: Random House. pp. 363. ISBN 0-394-58571-2. 
  • Gardner, Martin (1960). The Annotated Alice. New York: Clarkson N. Potter. pp. 180–181. 

External links

On-line texts


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Ever drifting down the stream — Lingering in the golden gleam — Life, what is it but a dream?
In another moment Alice was through the glass, and had jumped lightly down into the Looking-glass room...

Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871) is a famous children's novel by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgeson)


Chapter 1

'Twas brillig and the slithy tothes,
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
Beware the Jabberwock, my son,
the jaws that bite and claws that scratch...
  • One thing was certain, that the white kitten had had nothing to do with it: — it was the black kitten's fault entirely. For the white kitten had been having its face washed by the old cat for the last quarter of an hour (and bearing it pretty well, considering); so you see that it couldn't have had any hand in the mischief.
  • "Do you hear the snow against the window-panes, Kitty? How nice and soft it sounds! Just as if some one was kissing the window all over outside. I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again." And when they wake up in the summer, Kitty, they dress themselves all in green, and dance about — whenever the wind blows — oh, that's very pretty!" cried Alice, dropping the ball of worsted to clap her hands. "And I do so wish it was true! I'm sure the woods look sleepy in the autumn, when the leaves are getting brown."
  • In another moment Alice was through the glass, and had jumped lightly down into the Looking-glass room. The very first thing she did was to look whether there was a fire in the fireplace, and she was quite pleased to find that there was a real one, blazing away as brightly as the one she had left behind. 'So I shall be as warm here as I was in the old room,' thought Alice: 'warmer, in fact, because there'll be no one here to scold me away from the fire. Oh, what fun it'll be, when they see me through the glass in here, and can't get at me!'
  • "The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never never forget!'
    "You will, though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it."
    • White King and Queen
  • Twas brillig and the slithy toves,
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.

    "Beware the Jabberwock, my son,
    the jaws that bite and claws that scratch
    Beware the jubjub bird
    and shun the frumious bandersnatch."

    • From Jabberwocky, st. 1, first shown in mirror writing
  • 'It seems very pretty,' she said when she had finished it, 'but it's rather hard to understand!' (You see she didn't like to confess, ever to herself, that she couldn't make it out at all.) 'Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas--only I don't exactly know what they are!
  • He chortled in his joy.

Chapter 2

  • "O Tiger-lily," said Alice, addressing herself to one that was waving gracefully about in the wind, "I wish you could talk!"
    "We can talk," said the Tiger-lily: "when there's anybody worth talking to."
  • The Red Queen shook her head, "You may call it "nonsense" if you like," she said, "but I've heard nonsense, compared with which that would be as sensible as a dictionary!"
  • "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"
    • Red Queen

Chapter 4

If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.
"The time has come", the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing wax —
Of cabbages —and Kings —
  • "Contrariwise," continued Tweedledee, "if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic."
He's dreaming now... and what do you think he's dreaming about?
  • "The time has come", the Walrus said,
    "To talk of many things:
    Of shoes — and ships — and sealing wax —
    Of cabbages — and Kings —
    And why the Sea is boiling hot —
    And whether pigs have wings."
  • 'I weep for you', the Walrus said,
    'I deeply sympathise.'
    • Walrus and Carpenter, st. 17
  • 'He's dreaming now,' said Tweedledee: 'and what do you think he's dreaming about?'
    Alice said 'Nobody can guess that.'
    'Why, about you!' Tweedledee exclaimed, clapping his hands triumphantly. 'And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you'd be?'
    'Where I am now, of course,' said Alice.
    'Not you!' Tweedledee retorted contemptuously. 'You'd be nowhere. Why, you're only a sort of thing in his dream!'
    'If that there King was to wake,' added Tweedledum, 'you'd go out — bang! — just like a candle!'
    'I shouldn't!' Alice exclaimed indignantly. 'Besides, if I'm only a sort of thing in his dream, what are you, I should like to know?'
    'Ditto' said Tweedledum.
    'Ditto, ditto!' cried Tweedledee.
    He shouted this so loud that Alice couldn't help saying, 'Hush! You'll be waking him, I'm afraid, if you make so much noise.'
    'Well, it no use your talking about waking him,' said Tweedledum, 'when you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real.'
    'I am real!' said Alice and began to cry.
    'You won't make yourself a bit realler by crying,' Tweedledee remarked: 'there's nothing to cry about.'
    'If I wasn't real,' Alice said — half-laughing through her tears, it all seemed so ridiculous — 'I shouldn't be able to cry.'
    'I hope you don't suppose those are real tears?' Tweedledum interrupted in a tone of great contempt.
    'I know they're talking nonsense,' Alice thought to herself: 'and it's foolish to cry about it.' So she brushed away her tears, and went on as cheerfully as she could.
  • "You know," he added very gravely, "it's one of the most serious things that can possibly happen to one in a battle — to get one's head cut off."
    • Tweedledee

Chapter 5

  • "The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday — but never jam to-day."
    • The White Queen
  • "I don't understand you," said Alice. "It's dreadfully confusing!"
    "That's the effect of living backwards," the Queen said kindly: "it always makes one a little giddy at first."
  • It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.
    • The White Queen
  • "I'm just one hundred and one, five months and a day."
    "I can't believe that!" said Alice.
    "Can't you?" the Queen said in a pitying tone. "Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes."
    Alice laughed. "There's not use trying," she said: "one can't believe impossible things."
    "I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
  • "Feather! Feather!" the Sheep cried again, taking more needles. "You'll be catching a crab directly."

Chapter 6

  • "My name is Alice, but — "
    "It's a stupid name enough!" Humpty Dumpty interrupted impatiently. "What does it mean?"
    "Must a name mean something?" Alice asked doubtfully.
    "Of course it must," Humpty Dumpty said with a short laugh: "my name means the shape I am — and a good handsome shape it is, too. With a name like your, you might be any shape, almost."
  • "When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."
    "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
    "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master— that's all."

Chapter 7

  • "I see nobody on the road," said Alice.
    "I only wish I had such eyes," the King remarked in a fretful tone. "To be able to see Nobody! And at that distance, too! Why, it's as much as I can do to see real people, by this light!"
  • "He's an Anglo-Saxon Messenger — and those are Anglo-Saxon attitudes. He only does them when he's happy."
    • White King
  • "I beg your pardon?" said Alice.
    "It isn't respectable to beg," said the King.
    • White King
  • "You alarm me!" said the King. "I feel faint — Give me a ham sandwich!"
    • White King

Chapter 9

  • "It's too late to correct it," said the Red Queen: "when you've once said a thing, that fixes it, and you must take the consequences."
  • "Make a remark," said the Red Queen: "It's ridiculous to leave all conversation to the pudding!"

Chapter 10

  • As large as life and twice as natural.

Chapter 12

  • Ever drifting down the stream —
    Lingering in the golden gleam —
    Life, what is it but a dream?

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikisource has original text related to:

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There
by Lewis Carroll
Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There is a 1871 children's book written by Lewis Carroll. It is an indirect sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Excerpted from Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Speaker Icon.svg one or more chapters are available in a spoken word format.


PD-icon.svg This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.


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