Through the Looking Glass

The Symbolic Nature of Food in Literature: Reflecting Upon Personal Experience College

Eating is not only fundamental for survival; it also offers a setting for social gatherings, where eating habits and rituals create a noticeable distinction between social classes. In literature, food often symbolizes more than pure nourishment. Food presents a contrast between order and chaos; etiquette and taboo behaviour; and social classes. The presentation of food in literature can also mirror the personal experiences of the author, reinforcing the “write what you know” trope. Lewis Carroll, Paul Delarue and the Grimm Brothers have endured poverty firsthand, allowing them to draw on personal experience in their works. Although it is unclear whether Joseph Jacobs ever struggled financially, he clearly depicts the struggle of the lower class in his work as well. While food symbolizes larger themes of poverty, cannibalism, deception, and overcoming adversity within the texts, it also provides the authors with an opportunity to parallel their own societies, commenting and reflecting upon the struggles they personally face. The following texts demonstrate these themes and ideas: Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass; The Grimm Brothers’ “Hansel and Gretel”; Paul Delarue’s “The Story of...

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