Through the Looking-Glass

Through the Looking-Glass

Infobox Book |
name = Through the Looking-Glass
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = Book cover of "Through the Looking-Glass"
author = Lewis Carroll
illustrator = John Tenniel
cover_artist =
country = United Kingdom
language = English
series =
genre = Children's fiction
publisher = Macmillan
release_date = 1871
english_release_date =
media_type = Print (Hardback)
pages = 224 pp
isbn = NA
preceded_by = Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
followed_by =

"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 as literary nonsense. 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, on Alice's birthday (May 4), [In Chapter 7, "A Mad Tea-Party," Alice reveals that the date is "the fourth" and that the month is "May."] 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), [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."] 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.


Whereas the first book has the pack of cards as a theme, this book is loosely 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).

The chess problem

Although the chess problem is generally regarded as a nonsense composition because of the story's 'faulty link with chess' [See [ Lewis Carroll and chess] on the Lewis Carroll Society Website] , the French researchers Christophe LeRoy and Sylvain Ravot have argued [See their web-site [ Lewis CARROLL's chess game] dedicated to the problem and its possible meaning] 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 [See [ Lewis Carroll's chess problem] by Arne Moll] for lack of solid evidence, misrepresenting historical facts about Carroll and Alice [See: Leach, Karoline "In the Shadow of the Dreamchild", London 1999, “The Unreal Alice”] , and flirting with numerology and esotericism.

Other themes

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. 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 GardnerFact|date=February 2007.

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.Fact|date=February 2007

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.

Though she does not appear, Alice's sister is mentioned.

In both "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland" and "Through The Looking-Glass And What Alice Found There", 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".

Plot summary

Alice ponders what the world is like on the other side of a mirror (the reflected scene displayed on its surface), and to her surprise, is able to pass through to experience the alternate world. There, she discovers a book with looking-glass poetry, "Jabberwocky", which she can read only by holding it up to a mirror. Upon leaving the house, she enters a garden, where the flowers speak to her and mistake her for a flower. There, Alice also meets the Red Queen, who offers a throne to Alice if she moves to the eighth rank in a chess match. Alice is placed as the White Queen's pawn, and begins the game by taking a train to the fourth rank, acting on the rule that pawns in chess can move two spaces on the first move.

She then meets Tweedledum and Tweedledee, whom she knows from the famous nursery rhyme. After reciting to her the long poem "The Walrus and the Carpenter," the two proceed to act out the events of their own poem. Alice continues on to meet the White Queen, who is very absent-minded and later transforms into a sheep.

The following chapter details her meeting with Humpty Dumpty, who explains to her the meaning of "Jabberwocky," before his inevitable fall from the wall. This is followed by an encounter with the Lion and the Unicorn, who again proceed to act out a nursery rhyme. She is then rescued from the Red Knight by the White Knight, who many consider to be a representation of Lewis Carroll himself. He repeatedly falls off his horse, which is probably a reference to the L-shaped move knights make in chess, and recites a poem of his own composition to her.

At this point, she reaches the eighth rank and becomes a queen, and by capturing the Red Queen, puts the Red King (who has remained stationary throughout the book) into checkmate. She then awakes into her own world, and blames her black kitten (the white kitten was wholly innocent) for the mischief caused by the story. The two kittens are the children of Dinah, who is Alice's cat in the first book.

Poems and songs

* Prelude
* Jabberwocky (seen in the mirror-house)
* Tweedledum and Tweedledee
* The Lion and the Unicorn
* The Walrus and the Carpenter
* Humpty Dumpty
* "In Winter when the fields are white..."
* Haddocks' Eyes / The Aged Aged Man / Ways and Means / A-sitting on a gate (see Haddocks eyes) The song is A sitting on a gate, but its other names and callings are placed above.
* To the Looking-Glass world it was Alice that said...
* White Queen's riddle
* "A boat beneath a sunny sky" is the first line of a title-less acrostic poem at the end of the book—the beginning letters of each line, when put together, spell Alice Pleasance Liddell.

"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.

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.Fact|date=March 2007 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 ..." (Clarkson Potter, MacMillan & Co.; 1977).

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. [ see lengthy discussion about the 'absence' of investigation on the [ Lewis Carroll Discussion List] ]


* A silent movie adaptation directed by Walter Lang, "Alice Through a Looking Glass", was made in 1928. []
* 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". []
* 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" [] .
* The book was adapted into a TV musical in 1966, with songs by Moose Charlap, and Judi Rolin in the role of Alice. []
* The book was adapted into a BBC TV movie, "Alice Through the Looking Glass" in 1974, with Sarah Sutton playing Alice. []
* 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). []
* 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. []
* A live musical, "Alice Through the Looking Glass", with music by Stephen Daltry, was produced in 2000.
* The 1999 made-for-TV Hallmark/NBC version of "Alice in Wonderland" merged elements from "Through the Looking Glass" including the talking flowers, Tweedledee and Tweedledum along with 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.
* 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

References in popular culture

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


*cite book | last=Tymn | first=Marshall B. | |coauthors=Kenneth J. Zahorski and Robert H. Boyer | title=Fantasy Literature: A Core Collection and Reference Guide | location=New York | publisher=R.R. Bowker Co. | pages=61 | date=1979 | isbn =0-8352-1431-1
*cite book | last=Gardner | first=Martin | title=More Annotated Alice | location=New York | publisher=Random House | pages=363 | date=1990 | isbn =0-394-58571-2
*cite book | last=Gardner | first=Martin | title=The Annotated Alice | location=New York | publisher=Clarkson N. Potter | pages=180-181 | date=1960

External links

;On-line texts
*gutenberg|no=12|name=Through the Looking-Glass
* [ HTML version with over 170 Illustrations by various artists.]
* [ "Through the Looking Glass"] Free audio book at LibriVox
* [ HTML version with commentary of Sabian religion]
* [ Multiple Formats] ( [ html] , XML, opendocument [ ODF] , pdf ( [ landscape] , [ portrait] ), [ plaintext] , [ concordance] ) SiSU
* [ Searchable PDF and iPaper texts, with 50 illustrations by John Tenniel]

;Additional information
* [ Lenny's Alice in Wonderland site] contains background info, pictures, full texts, story origins, literary analyses, and more.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Through The Looking Glass — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Through the Looking Glass, titre original (anglais) du roman De l autre côté du miroir de Lewis Carroll ; Through the Looking Glass, album de… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Through the looking glass — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Through the Looking Glass, titre original (anglais) du roman De l autre côté du miroir de Lewis Carroll ; Through the Looking Glass, album de… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Through the Looking Glass — [Through the Looking Glass] a well known children’s book by Lewis Carroll, first published in 1872 with illustrations by John Tenniel. It is about the adventures in a strange world of Alice, a little girl who was also the subject of Carroll’s… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Through the Looking Glass —  Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différentes œuvres portant le même titre. Through the Looking Glass, titre original (anglais) du roman De l autre côté du miroir de Lewis Carroll ; Through the Looking Glass, album de Siouxsie and… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Through the Looking Glass — Filmdaten Deutscher Titel Through The Looking Glass Produktionsland USA …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Through the Looking-Glass — De l autre côté du miroir Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. De l autre côté du miroir (Through the Looking Glass), roman de Lewis Carroll, écrit en 1871. De l autre côté du miroir, série… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Through the Looking-Glass — Through the Look|ing Glass (1872) a book for children by Lewis Carroll in which the main character, Alice, a little girl, visits a strange world by stepping through a mirror. Many of the people she meets are ↑chess pieces or characters from… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Through the Looking-Glass —  and What Alice Found There is the full, formal title of the 1871 Lewis Carroll classic. Note the hyphen in Looking Glass …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • Through the Looking Glass — a well known children’s book by Lewis Carroll, first published in 1872 with illustrations by John Tenniel. It is about the adventures in a strange world of Alice, a little girl who was also the subject of Carroll’s earlier book Alice in… …   Universalium

  • Through the Looking-Glass — a story for children (1871) by Lewis Carroll: the sequel to Alice s Adventures in Wonderland. * * * …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.