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 curiousity and fearless decision-making she engages in 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 emphasizes the necessity of completing that journey, so, too, does it push Alice forward with regret. This tone illustrates the strong paternal feelings the author had for Alice in real life as well as his imagination.
Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Tweedledee and Tweedledum are twin brothers who encounter Alice again in the looking-glass world. They were also present in Wonderland, in Carroll's first book. They are important because they embody proper social behavior and norms. Even when they engage in fighting, they first decide they are going to do it and then set a time limit so that they can sit down for dinner at the appropriate hour. They impart a message of caution, both through their strict adherence to rules and also through the story of the Walrus and the Carpenter, which they relate to Alice.
There is also a mean streak in these two brothers, for the tease Alice about the idea that she is merely a figment of the Red King's imagination. They claim that she is not real, and that she is only a character in the Red King's dream. Alice is disturbed by this idea, even though she questions at the end of the book whose dream was responsible for the looking-glass world.
This is also a character who appears not only in this book, but in the author's prequel as well. He is also the subject of a popular nursery rhyme. He is an egg (though he vehemently denies it) with a face and human clothes. Alice is not fond of him, which is not surprising; he constantly interrupts her to instruct her on vocabulary and language. Carroll uses this character to express his view on the ways in which people misabuse language. Humpty Dumpty is nauseatingly confident about his definitions of words, even though most of what he has to say is ridiculous.
He does introduce Alice and the reader to the concept of the portmantaeu word, which is a word that combines two words and their meanings into a new word. He does this in order to explain Jabberwocky in his own terms before his inevitably fall.
The White Knight is the protagonist in the last leg of Alice's journey. He saves her from the Red Knight, who wishes to capture "the white pawn." Instead of capturing her, he treats her as an equal and allows her to roam free, although he does express his feelings about her particular journey. He is a disorganized, clumsy character who is interested in bogus inventions. He does, however, have a kind heart.
Through the Looking Glass Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Through the Looking Glass is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.