Through The Looking Glass | Summary

Jun 29, 2019   •  59 views

Through the Looking Glass is written by Charles Lutridge Dodgson, under the pen name Lewis Caroll. It comes under the genre of nonsense children's literature of Victorian England. Lewis had written two texts in a series- Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there. Apart from these Lewis has written some riddles, poems and stories to amuse his little sisters. Critics believe that his fondness for the girl child "arises from his fear of mature sexuality, reality and adults world". Through Alice and other characters, Lewis has aptly explained Victorian reason, order and propriety.

Red Queen is an emblem of "unsatisfactory" elder who gives an array of orders about good manners to Alice- "look up, speak nicely and don't twiddle your fingers all the time";

"open wider mouth when speaking";

"Always speak the truth - think before you speak";

"Speak in french when you can't think of English for a thing";

"remember who you are! ";

When Alice becomes queen she says "But I dare say you've not had any lessons in manner yet". Through her journey Alice confronts many compromising situations where she was supposed to freak. But she manages the situation with utmost calmness and sincerity. Being seven and a half, she behaves like a grown up Victorian lady. As Waller de la Mace says "It is the sagacity of mind and heart that keeps her from being merely childish".

Alice is the sympathetic "fabulous monster". She did not shake hands with either Tweedledum and Tweedledee for fear of hurting the other's feelings". She is expected to have a future insight because it's a poor soul of memory that only works backwards". Every Victorian child is suffered to be 'reasonable', make memorandum of important things, learn different languages, speak when it is asked to, face the consequences of its acts and be polite to everyone.

In Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Alice is a protagonist surrounded by adults, not even a single child of her age accompanies her because Carroll's motive was to teach Alice to become a Victorian lady. She does not own a toy but a cat to play. She has learnt the poems by heart.

Alice grapples with the significance of identity and name Gnat says, 'what's the use of them having names'. Alice says, 'Why do things have name at all?" Lewis follows anthropomorphism by bringing children into conversation with nonsensical insect creatures. The explanation of house fly, dragonfly and butterfly signifies that name is intrinsically connected to a person's nature. This is echoed when humpty-dumpty asks Alice about the meaning of her name, she says, "Must a name mean something?". The wood of forgetfulness is a metaphor for the universe itself that generates no labels at its own".

In the victorian period, children were taught to live a double life. Alice is vexed by pretending to be two people "why there's hardly enough of me left to make one respectful person!". J.B Hordon notices she is constantly attempting to discover her destiny by examining the will of each animal she encounters. It is as if to find out what was expected of her were crucial to define her sense of self".

Alice's sojourn from a pawn to a Queen; from a "very thoughtful girl" to someone who is "ready to find fault with anybody", from inquisitive- "I wonder" to compilable- "I never thought that before"; is a tribute to Victorian childhood". Through the character of Alice, Carroll lays out the perfect victorian child who has reason, follows orders and has propriety.