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Popular Literature Unit 1 Children’s Literature
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Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
Through the Looking-Glass Summary
Alice is sure the whole thing is not the white kitten’s fault. It must surely be the fault of the black kitten. Dinah, the mother cat, who has been washing the white kitten’s face, certainly has nothing to do with it. The mischievous black kitten, however, has been unwinding Alice’s ball of yam and in all ways acting naughty enough to cause the whole strange affair.
While the black kitten is curled up in Alice’s lap, playing with the yarn, Alice tells it to pretend that the two of them can go right through the mirror and into the looking-glass house. As she talks, the glass of the mirror grows misty and soft, and in a moment Alice is through the mirror and in the looking-glass room. The place is very strange; although the room looks just the same as the real room she had seen in the mirror, the clock and the fire and the other things in the room seem to be alive. Even the chessmen (Alice loves to play chess) are alive.
When Alice picks up the White Queen and sets her on the table, the White Queen screams in terror, thinking that a volcano has shaken her about. The White King has the same fear, but he is too astonished to cry out. They do not seem to see or hear Alice, and although she wants to stay and watch them and read the king’s rather funny poetry, she feels she must look at the garden before she has to go back through the looking glass. When she starts down the stairs, she seems to float, not even once touching the steps.
In the garden, every path Alice takes leads her straight back to the house. She asks Tiger Lily and Rose and Violet whether there are other people in the garden, hoping they might help her find the right path. The flowers tell her there is only one person, and Alice finds her to be the Red Queen—but a very strange chess figure, for the Red Queen is taller than Alice herself As Alice walks toward the Red Queen, she once more finds herself back at the door of the house. Then Alice figures out that in order to get to any place in this queer ‘,land, one must walk in the opposite direction. She does r so and comes face-to-face with the Red Queen.
The queen takes Alice to the top of a hill. There, spread out below them, is a countryside that looks like a large chessboard. Alice is delighted and says that she would love to play on this board. The Red Queen tells her that they will play. Alice will be the White Queen’s pawn, and they will start on the second square. At that moment, however, the Red Queen grabs Alice’s hand and they start to run. Alice has never run so fast in her life, but although she is breathless, the things around them never change at all. When they finally stop running, the queen tells Alice that in this land one has to run as fast as one can to stay in the same place and twice as fast as one can to get somewhere else. Then the queen shows Alice the pegs in the second square of the chess-board and tells her how to move. At the last peg, the Red Queen disappears, leaving Alice alone to continue the game.
Alice starts to run down the hill, but the next thing she knows she is on a train filled with insects and having quite an unpleasant time because she does not have a ticket. All the insects talk unkindly to her, and, to add to her discomfort, the train jumps over the brook and takes them all straight up in the air. When Alice comes down, she is sitting under a tree talking to Gnat, who is as big as a chicken and very pleasant. He tells her about the other insects that live in the woods; then he too melts away, and Alice has to go on alone.
Turning a corner, she bumps into two fat little men called Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the funniest little creatures she has ever seen. Everything they say seems to have two meanings. They recite a long poem about a walrus and a carpenter and some oysters. Then, while they are explaining the poem to Alice, she hears a puffing noise, like the sound of a steam engine. Tweedledee tells her that it is the Red King snoring, and, sure enough, they find him asleep. Tweedledee tells Alice that the Red King is dreaming about her and that if he stops dreaming Alice will be gone for good. Alice cries when they tell her she is not real but only a part of the Red King’s dream.
As she brushes her tears away, she sees Tweedledum staring in terror at something on the ground. It is an old broken rattle, and the two foolish men get into a terrible fight over it—that is, they talk a terrible fight, but neither seems very eager to have a real battle. The Crow flies over and frightens them, and the funny men run away into the woods. Alice runs too, and as she runs, she sees a shawl blowing about. Looking for the owner of the shawl, Alice sees the White Queen running toward her. The White Queen is a very odd person; she lives backward and remembers things before they happen—for example, she feels pain before she pricks her finger. While the queen is talking, she turns into a sheep, and Alice finds that she and the sheep are in a shop. It is a very curious shop; the shelves are full of things that disappear when Alice looks at them. Sometimes the boxes go right through the ceiling. Then the sheep gives Alice some needles and tells her to knit.
As she starts to knit, the needles become oars, and Alice finds herself and the sheep in a little boat, rowing sticking in a stream. The oars keep sticking in the water, and the sheep explains that the crabs are catching them. Alice picks some beautiful, fragrant rushes that melt away as soon as she picks them. To her surprise, the river and boat soon vanish, and she and the sheep are back in the shop. She buys one egg, although in this shop two are cheaper than one, and the egg begins to grow larger and larger and more and more real, with eyes, a nose, and a mouth. Then Alice can tell as plain as day that the egg is Humpty Dumpty.
She has an odd conversation with Humpty Dumpty, a conversation filled with riddles. They take turns at choosing the topics to discuss, but even though Alice tries to be polite, most of the subjects lead them to arguments. Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice the meaning of the “Jabberwocky” poem, the one she had seen in the White King’s book. Then, while reciting another poem, Humpty Dumpty stops right in the middle and says that is all. Alice thinks this very strange, but she does not tell him so. She thinks it is time for her to leave, but as she walks away, a terrible crash shakes the whole forest.
Thousands of soldiers on horseback come rushing toward her, the riders constantly falling off their horses. Frightened, she escapes from the woods into the open. There she finds the White King, who tells her that he sent the soldiers and horses and that the loud crash she heard was the noise of the Lion and the Unicorn fighting for the crown. She goes with the king to watch the fight, which is indeed a terrible one. It is silly of them to fight for the crown, since it belongs to the White King and he has no intention of giving it away. After the fight, Alice meets the Unicorn and the Lion. At the king’s order, she serves them cake, a very strange cake that cuts itself as she carries the dish around.
A great noise interrupts the party. When it stops, Alice thinks she might have dreamed the whole thing until the Red Knight comes along, followed soon by the White Knight. Each claims her as his prisoner. Alice thinks the whole business silly, since neither of them can do anything except fall off his horse and climb back on again, over and over and over. At last, the Red Knight gallops off, and the White Knight tells her that she will be a queen as soon as she crosses the next brook. He is supposed to lead her to the end of the woods, but she spends the whole journey helping him back on his horse each time he falls off. The trip is filled with more queer conversation, but by this time, Alice is used to strange talk from her looking-glass friends. At last, they reach the brook. The knight rides away, and Alice jumps over the brook and into the last square of the chess-board. To her delight, when she reaches that square she feels something tight on her head. It is a crown, and she is a queen.
Soon she finds the Red Queen and the White Queen confronting her; they are very cross because she thinks she is a queen. They give her a test for Queens that she apparently passes, for before long they are calling her “Your Majesty” and inviting people to a party that she is to give. After a time, the Red Queen and the White Queen go to sleep, and Alice watches them until they disappear. She then finds herself before a doorway marked “Queen Alice.” All of her new friends are there, including the queens who just vanished. The party is the most amazing experience of all. Puddings talk, guests pour wine over their heads, and the White Queen turns into a leg of mutton. Alice is exasperated, so much so that she seizes the tablecloth and jerks it, knocking everything from the table onto the floor. She then grabs the Red Queen and shakes her as she would a kitten. What is this ? It is a kitten she is shaking, the black kitten. Alice talks to Dinah and both the kittens about the adventure they have all experienced, but the silly kittens do nothing but purr.
Question And Answer
1. Name examples in the book that indicate Alice is playing a game of chess. How do these examples correspond with important steps in her metaphorical journey to adulthood?
Ans: When she meets the White Queen in the garden in the beginning of the book, she is instructed to advance eight squares. She is told that she will become a queen when she reaches the final square. A chess board is eight squares across and when a pawn advances to the opposite edge, it becomes a queen. The Red Knight battles the White Knight for Alice, wanting to take her prisoner and in so doing prevent her from moving to the final square. Before crossing the final brook to the final square, the White Knight sings a sad song about an old and a young man, which is meant to warn young Alice about what lies ahead.
2. Describe situations in which Alice seems to be the adult rather than the characters she is talking to. Remark on the importance of this portrayal of Alice as a little adult in the context of Victorian perspectives on childhood.
Ans: Alice seems much more able and sensible than the White Knight, who cannot even ride his own horse. She also makes more sense than Humpty Dumpty, who claims to be a master linguist. When she is sitting with her cats, she lectures them as if she is their mother. She scolds her kitten, Dina, for misbehaving with the yarn and milk. She also mediates the fight between Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
3. Which characters are helpful to Alice on her journey and which are hurtful? Explain.
Ans: This question has a bit of a grey answer, because many of the characters in the book communicate with Alice via riddles. Often these riddles simply confuse Alice, but sometimes they contain important lessons and pieces of information. But a clear distinction between antagonists and protagonists exists along the lines of red and white characters. Alice is a white pawn, so she is obviously allied with the other white characters in the game.
4. The metaphysical question encouraged by Tweedledee and Tweedledum about Alice’s existence is disturbing yet important. Explain what they might have meant by posing this idea and how it fits into Carroll’s broader message.
Ans: The twin brothers suggest that Alice does not, in fact, exist at all, and that she is merely a figure of the Red King’s imagination. This idea fits in with Carroll’s experiments in logic, and his employment of the “null set” idea. One example of this is the White King’s observation that Alice has keen sensations if she is able to notice “Nobody” travelling on the road. The fact that Alice might not exist is also consistent with the theme of identity and its discovery. Alice is travelling in a backwards world, so she is technically an inversion of herself. The end of the journey coincides with her assertion of her character even while in the looking-glass world.
5. How does I [Through the Looking Glass] differ from Alice in Wonderland ? How are the two books similar?
Ans: Carroll’s sequel is rather different from the first instalment. It is automatically darker, for it begins in winter and inside Alice’s house. It also deals with heavier questions in a more direct way, such as the discovery of identity and the progression towards maturity. However, Carroll does recycle a few characters, and he does still have Alice moving through several stages in a strange world before she can return home. The characters speak in riddles in both books, and Alice is still trying to make sense of a fantastical environment.
6. What is the meaning or moral of “The Walrus and the Carpenter”?
Ans: This is a trick question, in some ways, because there is no definitive interpretation of the poem. Some scholars have ventured to say that it is merely another example of fantastical whimsy in the book, and that it is not meant to be analysed, but instead left to the imagination of children. However, there is a sense that the innocence of the oysters led them to ruin, which could be tied to the larger theme of childhood and innocence that pervades the book.
7. What role does poetry play in Through the Looking Glass?
Ans: This depends on the situation and the characters. The introduction of “Jabberwocky” allows the author to play with the theme of mirrors and reversal. “The Walrus and the Carpenter” provides an opportunity for Tweedledee and Tweedledum to confuse Alice. They have a debate following the recitation of the poem, in which Alice cannot decide who is the moral character. This puzzlement is consistent with the toying nature of the twins. The White Knight’s poem/song is an expression of Alice’s transition from childhood to adulthood. Finally, the poem at the conclusion of the book is a tribute to Carroll’s inspiration, Alice Liddell, and more generally, the imagination and innocence of children.
8. Do you get the sense that Alice is in control of her own destiny in the book, or are there stronger forces at play moving her towards a predetermined fate?
Ans: Alice is told at the beginning of her journey that she must get to the eighth square. The White Queen gives her instructions for what she must do, but it seems that Alice is basically pushed and directed by other characters in most cases towards her ultimate goal. At the same time, Alice seems very much in charge at the end of the feast, but this seems to be what removes her from the dream and lands her back in reality.
9. Respond to Carroll’s question at the conclusion of the book.
Ans: It is suggested at one point in the book that Alice is a figment of the Red King’s dream. And in the last chapter, the reader gets a sense that Alice was dreaming the entire time and that she has just woken up. However, when the narrator poses the question, and then includes the final poem, it appears that the greater message is that the story was inevitably the author’s dream.
10. Comment on the characters’ overall treatment of Alice. What does this say about the nature of her journey?
Ans: Most of the characters in the Looking Glass world are ridiculous and somewhat rude or abrasive. They confuse, debate and make demands of Alice. The only character that shows Alice sincere and consistent kindness is the White Knight. Alice is progression along the chessboard, which represents her path to adulthood. The inconsiderate treatment she receives highlights the loneliness and alienation of this particular kind of journey.
11. How does Lewis Carroll play with language in Through the Looking-Glass?
Ans: In Through the Looking-Glass, Alice encounters a variety of bizarre situations, many of which are linguistic in nature. While we often use the term “play with language” somewhat loosely, Carroll’s novel often quite literally plays with language to produce games and puzzles for its reader.
Consider “Jabberwocky,” the often discussed poem within the novel. When Alice first happens upon the book that contains it, she decides that she cannot read it “for it’s all in some language I don’t know”:
She puzzled over this for some time, but at last a bright thought struck her. “Why, it’s a looking-glass book, of course! And if I hold it up to a glass, the words will all go the right way again.”
The passage is printed backwards, and if the reader holds it up to a mirror, it appears legibly. This moment of linguistic play produces what Alice refers to as a
puzzle—a game for the reader to play.
But there is a joke in Alice’s initial reaction that has to do with the linguistic play present throughout “Jabberwocky.” Once we read “Jabberwocky,” we see that there are words that we do not know:
Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.
But as we read through the poem, we can make sense of it. As readers we can interpret the passage because of the syntactical relationship that exists between words, even when we do not know what these words mean. Imagining their meaning becomes another sort of game precisely because the words that we play with are made up. This dynamic is in play throughout the novel: Alice must constantly manipulate language to solve the puzzles that other characters present to her. Characters use a precision of language that often twists the meaning of words entirely—as if they are holding language up to a mirror.
12. What is a critical analysis of Through the Looking-Glass?
Ans: Lewis Carroll’s novel made significant, ground-breaking contributions through the combination of its serious treatment of philosophical issues, delightful humour, and indicative use of language While it serves as a sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Won offers a distinct fantasy world that derland, it also mirrors reality Carroll’s knowledge of mathematics as an element of games is also on view.
The novel has claimed a permanent place in English literature and culture in part through its memorable original characters—notably the twins Tweedledee and Tweedledum—and the author’s adaptation of nursery rhyme personages such as Humpty Dumpty.
The central motif of the chess game provides structure to the novel as well as raising questions about the nature of being. Does Alice have free will? Or is she merely a pawn? Her irreverent attitude toward authority, personified in the Red Queen and King, is undiminished from the earlier work.
Carroll’s lasting contributions to language, perhaps more than literature, help make this work unique and special. The nonsensical juxtapositions in “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” such as that between cabbages and kings, have entered daily discourse. But it is probably through the multiple coinages in “Jabberwocky” that the novel has achieved lasting influence and fame.
13. Character analysis : Alice
Ans: Alice is the protagonist of the story. She is a playful, imaginative seven-year-old who was also the main character of Carroll’s first book. She is inspired by an actual girl who was in some ways Carroll’s ward. She leads the reader through the looking-glass world, which is a metaphor for her journey to adulthood. She is both insightful and ignorant; she often does not understand the characters in the looking-glass world, but often it seems that her thoughts and conversation make more logical sense than theirs. She is persistent in making it through to the eighth square, and she consistently shows her precocious personality through the shameless curiosity and fearless decision-making she engages while wandering through the looking-glass world.
Alice spends the entire book participating in a game of chess, in which she is a white pawn trying to make it to the eighth square so that she can become a queen. As much as the book emphasises the necessity of completing that journey, so, too, does it push Alice forward with regret. “phis tone illustrates the strong paternal feelings the author had for Alice in real life as well as his imagination.
14. Through the looking glass is a children fiction but how does it capture adult attention?
Ans: Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There is a children’s book, but its themes and settings — a mirror image of Alice in Wonderland which is based on a chess game — appeal to the thought processes of adults.
Because the story is based on a game of chess, it would actually require an adult mindset to fully comprehend the references to each character as a chess piece. For example, the Red Queen is breathtakingly fast, representing the agility and relative freedom of movement of queen as a chess piece. Likewise, other characters move in a (somewhat) corresponding manner as the chess pieces they represent.
The chess theme also lends itself to political implications, with Alice being used as a pawn in the giant game. Adults understand this concept, but children typically do not.
15. In what way does chess in Through the Looking-Glass suggest a deterministic conception of life?
Ans: The motif of the chess game in Through the Looking-Glass suggests the presence of an intelligent force that exists outside of the world of the chessboard, guiding the actions of Alice and the other characters according to the rules of the game of chess. As the author of the story, Carroll becomes the intelligent force that bends the character’s actions to his will. As a result, the character’s perception of individual free will exists as an illusion. Alice exemplifies this determinism when she arbitrarily changes her mind from seeing the beelike elephants in favour of moving along the course laid out by the Red Queen. This moment of self restraint is atypical of the insatiably curious Alice, but her decision seems unconvincing. Carroll’s hand as author and “chess player” emerges here, as he bars Alice from becoming sidetracked from her prescribed goal. As Alice begins walking the path of the pawn, moving directly from square to square, she loses the profound sense of curiosity that might potentially lead her astray. Alice’s resolve to complete the game demonstrates the role of determinism in the story, for Alice’s actions are not her own but stem from the will of a guiding force.
16. Discuss the Themes and Characters of through the looking glass?
Ans: One important theme of Through the Looking-Glass is the power of language to impose order on chaotic reality. The power of words can be seen in the nursery- rhyme characters whose actions are determined by their rhymes. Tweedledum and Tweedledee fight over the rattle not because they choose to but because the rhyme says they must. Humpty Dumpty is sure the king will send his men to help him because the rhyme says so.
How effectively characters use language also determines who they are. Humpty Dumpty tells Alice that when he uses a word, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less. . . . The question is which is to be master—that’s all.” Elevated on his wall Humpty is a snob. Because of his proper diction, he feels he is upper class and can “lord” it over others. His words, he feels, give him the power to bully. But, like Humpty’s eggshell exterior, this power is fragile. Fragile, too, are human efforts through language to impose order on nature. Alice may choose to tell Kitty that her adventures were a “nice dream,” but she has just finished crying out at the dreadful confusion of the banquet that “I can’t stand this any longer!” Through language, humanity tries to impose meaning and order on an amoral, chaotic world, but this order of human law and social convention is shaky at best.
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!/ The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!”
Carroll also points out, through several episodes in Through the Looking- Glass, that language in our world is often arbitrary and sometimes reveals sloppy thinking. In the garden a tree in danger barks, “Bough-wough.” Carroll here shows how strangely our language connects tree bark and dog’s barks, tree boughs, and a dog’s bow-wows. In another incident a frog cannot understand why anyone should answer the door unless it has been asking something. He mistrusts words that are ill-defined and irregularly connected to reality. In still another episode Alice tells the King she sees nobody on the road, and he congratulates her on her good eyesight in seeing Nobody.
While language can create a fragile order for the world, it can also reduce it from a world of poetry and imagination to one of reason and control. When the Gnat, for example, asks Alice what insects she “rejoices” in, Alice replies, “I don’t rejoice in insects at all . . . . But I can tell you the names of some of them.” The Gnat asks Alice whether the insects answer to their names, that is, whether the names benefit the insects at all. Alice replies that the use of names comes only to the person who does the naming, who exercises control over other creatures. When Alice starts listing to some of the insects, the Gnat offers fanciful definitions for the arbitrary names: “a snapdragon- fly. Its body is made of plum pudding, its wings of holly-leaves, and its head is a raisin burning in brandy.” The poetry of the Gnat’s definitions escape Alice; she can only theorize why insects “are so fond of flying into candles.”
The Gnat episode also points up another important power of language, the power of names. Alice has missed the Gnat’s point that names reduce, that names signify another’s control. The Gnat asks her if she would willingly lose her name. She replies, “No, indeed.” When the Gnat observes that her governess could then only call her “Miss” and could “miss” her lessons, Alice rejects his idea as a bad joke. The Gnat then weeps for her lost imagination and innocence.
Later on in her journey to adulthood, Alice does lose her name in the mysterious woods where names are forgotten. Without her name Alice walks lovingly with a fawn. When their names return, however, the fawn flees in fright from the self-assertive girl who announces, “I know my name now I won’t forget it again.”
Alice’s dissociation from nature and innocence mark one of her important steps to adulthood, a primary theme of both Alice books. This journey to adulthood has more perils than the loss of innocence. Tweedledee implies that adulthood may not provide all the control and stability Alice desires when he insists that she may only be part of the Red King’s dream. Humpty Dumpty warns her of the discomforts of growing older and advises her to resist doing so.
Alice, however, is determined to grow up, to become a queen, even at the cost ,of losing innocence, imagination, and the one character in Looking-Glass land who genuinely seems to care for her. Many scholars have thought that Carroll injected his own personality into the character of the White Knight. The knight is one of the few characters who treats Alice with respect and courtesy, as a kind adult acknowledging a child’s world. The knight’s world is one of gentleness and caring rather than determination and power. In his poem, which parodies William Wordsworth’s poem “Resolution and Independence, he tells of an old man sitting on a gate. A young man approaches and repeatedly asks the old man what he does. Although the old man gives him several imaginative responses, the young man is so busy with himself, his inventions, and his plans for success that he does not listen and even beats the old man. Alice is similarly so absorbed in herself and in becoming a queen that she jokes about the White Knight’s departure and skips away thoughtlessly. The adult world with its contests for power and success is often a world of insensitivity and cruelty.
Alice’s lack of kindness appears again in the scene with the Red and White Queens. The Red Queen notices that the White Queen is sleepy and tells Alice to sing her a lullaby. As Alice could not join in the Gnat’s humor, she now cannot sing because “I don’t known any lullabies.” When the two queens sleep on her shoulders, she complains that no one ever has had to take care of two queens at once: “Do wake up you heavy things.”
Adulthood and power are not all Alice wants them to be. At the banquet, when she starts giving orders, she finds that the pudding can talk, that everyone fixes his attention on her, that she must make a speech, and that chaos quickly ensues. Rather than controlling the chaos, she fuels it, especially when she pulls the tablecloth off. This loss of power and control makes Alice violent, she fiercely grabs hold of the Red Queen and shakes her “backwards and forwards with all her might.” Her violence carries over into the real world, where she cruelly shakes her kitten and then quickly tries to cover by fussing over it. Growing up is confusing for Alice, but being a grown-up, using language precisely, balancing self-achievement with concern for others, using power and control wisely, is equally hard or even harder.
Important Quotations Explained
17. It’s a great huge game of chess that’s being played—all over the world—if this is the world at all, you know.
Ans: This quote occurs in Chapter 2 of Through the Looking-Glass, as Alice looks out from the hill and sees a landscape checkered like a chessboard and different characters stationed on the board like chessmen. Carroll has already introduced the theme of chess. but Alice’s musing suggest that chess functions as a metaphor not only for the world of the novel but for our world as well. Carroll frequently espoused the idea of life as a game. Like Alice, we are pawns in our own lives, condemned to move forward through time with little knowledge and understanding of the wider world. Within our limited perspective, the world seems eminently ordered and explainable by nature and logic, much like a chessboard’s symmetrical and geometrical nature evokes a sense of determinable order.
18. Of all the strange things that Alice saw in her journey Through The Looking-Glass„ this was the one that she always remembered most clearly. Years afterward she could bring the whole scene back again, as if it had been yesterday—the mild blue eyes and kindly smile of the Knight—the setting sun gleaming through his hair, and shining on his armour in a blaze of light that quite dazzled her—the horse quietly moving about, with the reins hanging loose on his neck, cropping the grass at her feet—and the black shadows of the forest behind—all this she took in like a picture, as, v« atching the strange pair, and listening, in a half-dream, to the melancholy music of the song.
Ans: This sentence appears in Chapter 8 of Through the Looking-Glass. Not only is it the longest sentence in trier book, but it is also the most photographically vivid image in either book and brings to mind Carroll’s hobby as a photographer. The image is poignant given the White Knight’s role in the story. The White Knight is an aberration among the characters, since he is the tidy character who treats Alice with true kindness and compassion. He does not seem to be part of Alice’s dream at all, since the characters in her dream behave disagreeably and induce profound feelings of loneliness and isolation in Alice. The White Knight seems more veal than the absurd personages she has met before, which is one reason why Alice remembers his image so dearly after many years have passed. The photographic quality of the passage indicates that Carroll has inserted himself and his desires into the text, since Carroll cread the White Knight as his literary counterpart. Carroll crosses into the pages of the book to burn his image iao Alice’s mind as the most authentic and memorable character. an effect he wished to have on the mind of the real life Alice Liddell.
19. Life, what is it but a dream?
Ans: This question ends the poem that concludes Through the Looking-Glass. reminding us that one can never be sure that life is more than a dream, since it is made of fleeting memories, arbitrary machinations, and essentially meaningless conclusions. Alice’s adventure in Through the Looking-Glass is a dream, even though it dramatizes her journey to young womanhood. Even as she wakes, Alice finds that the order of her room seems just as arbitrary and tenuous as the dream world from which she has emerged. Additionally, this quote brings to mind the Red King’s dream and the implications that human life exists as dream in the mind of a greater divine being. With this final question. Carroll suggests that we do not in fact exist as we imagine, and ultimately are no more than the shadowy dreams of a greater consciousness.
20. What is Motifs of Looking-Glass World.
Ans: Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.
Inverse Reflections :
Many of the basic assumptions that Alice makes about her environment are reversed in Looking-Glass World. Outcomes precede events, cakes are passed out before being cut, destinations are reached by walking in the opposite direction, and characters remember the future and think best while standing on their heads. These strange phenomena challenge the way Alice thinks and in some cases expose the arbitrary nature of her understanding of her own world. Many of Alice’s experiences exist as meaningless parodies of aspects of her own familiar world back home. Alice becomes aware of a new, inverted perspective on life as she travels forward and backward through Looking-Glass World.
Alice falls asleep at the beginning of Through the Looking-Glass, just as she did at the outset of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, so that the resulting fantastical adventures occur in her dreams. The story follows Alice through the various episodes of Looking-Glass World so that we experience her adventures through her impression of Looking-Glass House, the chess game, and her quest to become a queen. The characters and scenes that she encounters exist as a combination of her memories and impressions of the waking world and the random, illogical inventions of her dreaming mind. Carroll emphasises the dream motif by basing some of the denizens of Looking-Glass World on individuals from The life of his real-life muse, Alice Liddell. For example, the Red Queen is based on Alice’s governess Miss Prickett. while the White Knight is closely based upon Lewis Carroll himself.
The chess game that Alice participates in becomes the organising mechanism for her adventure in Looking-Glass World. Alice’s journey closely follows the rides of a traditional game of chess. The perspectives and movements of the individual characters correspond to the movements of their respective chess pieces. The Red and White Queens have an unlimited view of the board, since queens can move in any direction and as many spaces as they want in a single turn. The Red and White Kings can only move one space at a time in any direction, so while they have the same perspective as the queens, they have limited mobility. This limitation explains why the White King cannot follow the White Queen as she runs away from the other chessmen, since she moves “too fast.” As a pawn, Alice can only move forward once space at a time, with the exception of her first move, in which she can move two spaces. Like a pawn, Alice can only “see” one square ahead of her. When she reaches the final square and becomes a queen. She can “see” the whole board because now she has the full mobility of the queen chess piece. Mice’s move to take the Red Queen results in a checkmate of the Red King, ending the chess game and causing Alice to wake up.
Train Imagery :
Trains and train imagery appear frequently to underscore the feeling of unstoppable forward motion that governs Alice’s journey toward womanhood. The Red King’s somnolent snoring resembles a train engine, while the White Queen screams like a train whistle before she pricks her finger. Alice skips forward several spaces when she finds herself unexpectedly on a train, shooting through the forest toward her destination and mimicking Alice’s forward movement as a pawn in the chess game. The train imagery suggests the irreversible and unstop-pable movement toward adulthood that Alice becomes subject to in her journey through Looking-Glass World.
21. What is role of Alice?
Ans: In Through the Looking-Glass, Alice is a child not yet eight years old. She has been raised in a wealthy Victorian household and is interested in good manners, which she demonstrates with her pet, Kitty. Alice treats others with kindness and courtesy, as evidenced in her various interactions with the Looking-Glass creatures. She has an extremely active imagination but seeks order in the world around her. Alice fights to understand the fantastic dream world that has sprung from her own imagination, hying her best to order her life experiences and connect them to the unusual situations she encounters in Looking-Glass World. Alice’s maturation transforms into a game of chess, in which her growth into womanhood becomes a quest to become a queen.
Alice feels lonely, which motivates her to seek out company that she can sympathise and identify with. She creates a structured imaginary world that she can control. and creates Looking-Glass World in order to connect with other individuals and seek out company that she feels comfortable with. She desires a family and in the beginning of the book uses her pets as a substitute family in the “real” world. Alice knows that these are not genuine relationships, as seen when she breaks off conversation with her cats to have an aside to herself. Alice creates Looking-Glass World and desires to become a queen because she craves a sense of control over her surroundings. She relates to the residents of Looking-Glass World in the same way that she relates to her pets, taking on the manner of a good-natured mother figure who behaves with solicitude and deference despite her authority. Alice has occasional bouts of sadness and loneliness throughout her travels, when she acknowledges to herself that the characters that populate Looking-Glass World are not real and cannot show her true compassion or provide her with real companionship.
22. The Nature of Reality Through the Looking-Glass.
Ans: Through the Looking-Glass opens with young Alice imagining a world beyond the looking glass, and it ends with questions about whether Alice’s dream might actually be a dream within a dream. In this way, the novel raises questions about the nature of reality. Carroll blurs the distinctions between being asleep and being awake so that it becomes difficult to tell where the conscious world ends and the world of dream begins. Sudden and apparently random movements from place_ to place may suggest shifts in waking reality or mark shifts in dream states. Alice seems to awaken into a backwards dream world, a place that exists as a kind of parallel universe which reminds readers, as the White Queen points out, that the impossible is available to them in the everyday. But Carroll’s examination of the nature of reality is more thorough than a dream sequence suggests. Mice’s dream world seems embedded in the dream world of the Red King, and at the same time her dream World permits her to cross thresholds connecting one realm of reality to another. Her invisibility early in the novel, for instance, suggests an almost godlike power that derives from her ability to imagine the chess world. But when Alice suddenly becomes visible, she becomes a player in a different game, one that she cannot control.
Troubling, too, is the sense that Alice is trapped in a reality that cannot be proven to exist objectively. If she sets out to prove that she exists as a real little girl and not as part of the Red King’s dream, Alice is forced to wake up the Red King by way of proving her point, an act which introduces two philosophical problems. If Alice is part of a dream, can her actions in the dream actually change the world outside the dream ? In other words, can the dreamed Alice actually awaken the sleeping King who exists in a reality outside the dream ? Then, too, what happens if Alice is a figment of the King’s imagination ? By waking him, Alice will end the dream and, in doing so, end her own existence; in order to prove her own existence, Alice must risk terminating existence.
23. Discuss the Childhood and Maturation of Through the Looking-Class.
Ans: Like many Victorian novels, Through the Looking-Glass explores the hidden spaces and imagined worlds of childhood, as Alice steps through the looking glass into a backwards world of her own imagination. Unlike the fall (down the hole and from innocence) that opens the first Alice novel, this stepping through into a dreamscape of talking flowers and moving chess pieces represents a more mature and conscious gesture on Alice’s part. It is a movement to escape the lonely drawing room world in search of community with guidance from characters such as the intelligent Gnat and the benevolent White Knight.
As Canton’s novels suggest, growing up was a well-organised affair in the nineteenth century, with guide books, moral conduct books, and didactic novels designed to guide children in their moral and physical development. With such titles as The First Principles of Polite Behaviour (1825), Letters from a Mother to her Daughter (1825), and The Young Lady’s Library of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge (1829), these cau-tionary books included essays on morality, sermons, parables, and an assortment of exemplary tales complete with explanatory notes and commentary. Regardless of tone and content, however, these books shared a common assumption about childhood. It was seen as a vulnerable period in which uninitiated children required moral education and discipline.
Alice’s imagined world provides release from this world of control, moving her into a backward, playful, and adventurous world. But the new location does not necessarily guarantee new understanding. In fact, Alice’s maturity is realised during the course of the novel. Dreaming of a space in which her mature imagination might escape from the Victorian rules of civility and decorum, Alice finds herself in a world bound by arbitrary rules (chess) and by an implicit desire not to breach traditional boundaries and not to address directly the desire to become, metaphorically and literally, the queen of her own castle. Despite her own best efforts to create a world in which the crown of maturity is within reach, Alice wanders through a world in which solitude and frusisation continue to weigh heavily upon her.
Tellingly, Alice seems to mature very little during her time in the Looking-Glass world, and her emotional and intellectual growth remains mostly unchanged. Opening her journey on a note of frustration (with “Jabberwocky,” for instance), she ends it similarly, gathering the Red Queen into her fist and shaking her fiercely. But at the same time, Alice’s willingness to venture into the other world and to find her way through encounters with rude Sowers. combative Tweedle twins, and aggressive chess pieces. marks the beginning of a movement toward autonomy and a growing awareness of one’s place in the world.
24. Victorian Crisis of Faith.
Ans: If the historical context of the Alice novels was shaped, on the one hand, by the ideological confidences associated with imperial expansion, it was shaped on the other by the philosophical uncertainties caused by conflict between ideas promoted by science and religion. As the nineteenth century opened, the debate between the religion (faith) and science (empirical study) seemed oddly at peace. Traditional anxieties had been lewried, it seemed, by such an influential book as William Paley’s Natural Theology (1802), which argued that the scientific study of the natural world reveals divine agency and intelligent design. Paley and others argued that evidence of design was wonderfully elastic, capable of being reconfigured to accommodate and explain new information brought forth from current scientific discoveries.
Paley’s neutralising influence lasted until about the 1830s, when a new generation of readers began to see in the new science both a suggestion of the limited scope of a designees power and a potentially powerful means to radical political and theological ends. Geologists, for instance, were active in these early decades, and their examination of fossil records raised a very real threat to widespread belief in the creation as told in Genesis. Coming in a considerable line of thinkers who wrote and spoke about evolution, Charles Darwin published his Origin of Species in 1859, bringing the claims of scientific data head to head with the ancient biblical text’ In Through the Looking-Glass, Alice experiences moments that resonate with implications of this conflict, when what she believes about the world is undercut by the reality of a world in which everything seems to be done backwards. She faces moments, as did many Victorians, when her own faith is challenged by her experience. In the Looking-Glass world the impossible is always possible, as the White Queen tells Alice, and what a person believes can appear patently incorrect.
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