Through the Looking-Glass Places Discussed

Lewis Carroll

Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Alice’s house

Alice’s house. The story starts and ends in the overstuffed Victorian parlor of Alice’s English home. As in Wonderland, a safe, comfortable world surrounds the sometimes threatening dream world.

Looking-Glass Land

Looking-Glass Land. World that Alice enters by stepping through the mirror in her home. Because the land is on the other side of the mirror, many things go by opposites. Books are printed in mirror-writing, walking directly toward an object results in leading one away from it, one must run as quickly as possible merely to stay in one place. Time can move both forward and backward, just as some chess pieces—not pawns—can move in either direction.

The world is laid out in a pattern of squares, like a chessboard whose columns are divided by hedges and whose rows are separated by small brooks. As a White Pawn in the Queen’s file, counting from the White side, Alice begins on square Q2 and proceeds to Q4, Q5, Q6, Q7, and Q8. She can see and interact with characters from her square or on adjoining squares. The book signals her chess moves with triple rows of dots.


Train. Alice covers the third square quickly, moving by railway (in chess, pawns may advance two full squares on their first move but only one square at other times). The train rushing forward is a parody of hectic, commerce-driven, modern life, in which not only is time money (a thousand pounds a minute), but also words, and even puffs of smoke.

Wood where things have no name

Wood where things have no name. In the next square, Alice learns about Looking-Glass insects, whose natures seem determined by their (punning) names....

(The entire section is 715 words.)