Through the Looking-Glass "With A Name Like Yours, You Might Be Any Shape"

Lewis Carroll

"With A Name Like Yours, You Might Be Any Shape"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Having won a literary name for himself with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the story that grew out of a rowboat trip on July 4, 1862, with the small daughters of his dean, Prof. Charles Dodgson finally got around to writing its sequel, Through the Looking-glass and What Alice Found There, seven years after the publication of the first book. By passing through the mirror into the Looking-Glass House, Alice finds herself in a situation where everything is reversed. The White Queen can remember things before they have happened. She screams, then sees blood on her finger, and only after seeing the blood is she pricked by the pin of her brooch. Then Alice visits a shop whose clerk is a sheep. For the sake of buying something, she asks the price of eggs. She is told that the price is five-pence farthing for one, but only two pence for two. However, if she buys two, she must eat both. Alice decides to buy one, but when the clerk sets it upright on a shelf, it begins to grow larger and more human; and when Alice gets near enough, she sees its eyes, nose, and mouth, and is sure it is Humpty Dumpty. He is proud to be called an egg, as he proclaims into space, never looking at her. Unable to get into a conversation with him, she repeats to herself the nursery rhyme about "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall."

"Don't stand chattering to yourself like that," Humpty Dumpty said, looking at her for the first time, "but tell me your name and your business."
"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 yours, you might be any shape, almost."
"Why do you sit out here all alone?" said Alice, not wishing to begin an argument.
"Why, because there's nobody with me!" cried Humpty Dumpty. "Don't you think I know the answer to that? Ask another?"