Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There Summary

Lewis Carroll


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There abandons the fluidity and chaos of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for artifice and strict determinism. In the first book, the emphasis is upon Alice’s adventures and what happens to her on the experiential level. In the sequel, the reader accepts Alice and with detachment examines nature transformed in Looking-Glass Land’s chessboard landscape. The voyage has shifted from the Kingdom of Chaos, with its riotous motion and verbal whirlpool, to the land of stasis, where the landscape is geometrical and the chess pieces are carefully manipulated by the rules of a precise game. In Wonderland every character says and does whatever comes into his or her head, but in the Looking-Glass world life is completely determined and without choice. Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Lion and the Unicorn, the Red Knight and the White Knight must fight at regular intervals, whether they want to or not. They are trapped within the linguistic web of the poems that give them life, and their recurrent actions are forever predestined.

Whereas Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland undermines Alice’s sense of time, space, and commonsense logic, Through the Looking-Glass questions her very reality. Tweedledum and Tweedledee express the view developed by George Berkeley that all material objects, including Alice herself, are only “sorts of things” in the mind of the sleeping Red King...

(The entire section is 519 words.)