Hello everyone. I am publishing my March’s Book Of The Month discussion later than intended, but let’s dive right in.
Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass takes place months after the events of Alice in Wonderland.
In this book, readers follow Alice to another magical world as this time she takes a step through her mirror (the looking glass) to a world where everything is inverted. If Alice wants to get somewhere, she must walk away from it rather than towards, left is right, etc.
The novel is also written in the third-person, and once again Carroll’s writing is very direct. This novel is filled with poems all about the passage of time and the loss of youth and some of them are rather poignant. This novel includes the famous verse entitled Jabberwocky, which I will be talking about in a discussion all on it’s own because it is one of my favourite poems. I absolutely love the use of nonsense verse, and I will be discussing nonsense writing and its importance at a later date. I think this book is more challenging to read, for example at times the text is backwards. This use of placement on the pages is interesting. Alice must read backwards, therefore the text is backwards, so readers have the same struggle as Alice. When we must read backwards, our actions mirror Alice’s, who has stepped through a mirror so the idea and the symbolism of the mirror becomes really interesting and in my opinion, quite complex.
There is the idea that literature mirrors reality. I talk about this a lot, as after all so much art reflects life. Alice steps through a mirror into a world where everything is backwards, yet the injustice and pointlessness and the cruelties that Alice must contend with can be argued to mirror the injustices that one must face when they grow up, because adulthood and reality is unfortunately filled with things that are not fair. Cruelty exists, inequality exists, lack of control over our own choices exist. So it is very interesting that this nonsensical world mirrors the injustices of the real world and then at times our actions while reading mirror Alice’s so the whole reading experience is very immersive.
I think that Through the Looking-Glass is darker than Alice in Wonderland. I don’t know if this was Carroll’s intention. I think sometimes that Carroll intended to write a nonsensical fantasy novel about a curious girl and her curious nature is celebrated, and ever since readers and scholars have analysed this work and created interpretation after interpretation because the nonsense and the wondrous nature of the book has inspired curiosity. The fact that this is a book that celebrates wonder and in fact lends itself to endless interpretations is quite funny, and perhaps that was the intention, perhaps Carroll wanted people to endlessly question. So while the intentions of Carroll are impossible to know, I do think that his works can be discussed at great length, and I think that some of the discussions can be quite complex.
I love the idea of fate in Through the Looking-Glass. I love the idea of the chess board. I think that the chess board is very symbolic. I think the chess board by itself could be the heart of many discussions and interpretations. I see the chess board as a metaphor for how in life, each move we make determines our next one. This can be negative or positive depending on how you view it. One can question Alice’s choice. If she was always meant to play this game of chess, then did she have any control over the moves she made or did she do what she was always destined to do?
I think that Alice’s journey is quite an empowering one, because she plays the game of chess but she moves from pawn to Queen. This, in my opinion, demonstrates her journey from child to adult. She has matured, she is more sure of herself, she has learned a lot and she is using her newfound knowledge to improve her next move.
I think that Alice in Wonderland will always be my favourite work by Lewis Carroll. I loved it when I was young. I love the movie adaptations. I love the text. I always go back to it, it is surrounded in nostalgia, so the conclusion that I have come to is that Alice in Wonderland will always be one of my beloved childhood texts but I think that Kate in her twenties prefers Through the Looking-Glass.
Read Through the Looking-Glass if you haven’t already and then tell me which text you prefer.