"Do you hear the snow against the window-panes, Kitty? How nice and soft it sounds! Just as if some one was kissing the window all over outside. I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again." And when they wake up in the summer, Kitty, they dress themselves all in green, and dance about -- whenever the wind blows -- oh, that's very pretty!...And I do so wish it was true! I'm sure the woods look sleepy in the autumn, when the leaves are getting brown."
Here Alice provides an image of the seasons using both a simile and an extended metaphor. Alice anthropomorphizes the seasons, expressing her desire for the whimsical. She is not content to see the seasons change; she wants there to be something more to this scientific phenomenon. In that sense, this quote foreshadows Alice's journey into the mirror.
This quote also provides characterization of Alice, for it expresses her need for the whimsical. Indeed, in the very next paragraph, the reader discovers that unlike her sister, who is very "exact," Alice loves to pretend.
"No, I shouldn't," said Alice, surprised into contradicting her at last: "a hill can't be a valley, you know. That would be nonsense--
The Red Queen shook her head. "You may call it 'nonsense' if you like," she said, "but I've heard nonsense, compared with which that would be as sensible as a dictionary!"
The Red Queen claims rationality
At the next peg the Queen turned again, and this time she said "Speak in French when you can't think of the English for a thing--turn out your toes as you walk--and remember who you are!"
Through the Looking Glass has been seen as Alice's journey through childhood and into adulthood. If this is indeed the case, an important lesson to learn along the way is to keep a firm hold on one's identity. There are many challenges in growing up, many of those aimed at influencing a child to become something specific. The Red Queen is metaphorically warning Alice against these many influences.
How it happened, Alice never knew, but exactly as she came to the last peg, she was gone. Whether she vanished into the air, or whether she ran quickly into the wood...there was no way of guessing, but she was gone, and Alice began to remember that she was a Pawn, and that it would soon be time for her to move.
It is important that Alice plays the role of a Pawn while she travels through the Looking-Glass world. It is unclear how much control over her movements she has, considering that she is a chess piece. Further, pawns have much less freedom of movement than the other pieces in the game, and they are often used as sacrifices so that other more important pieces can be saved. But the Pawn does have the opportunity to travel all the way across the board in order to transform into a Queen, which is Alice's goal. This is a near impossible journey in chess, which foreshadows the impending challenges Alice will have to face.
"Not you!" Tweedledee retorted contemptuously. "You'd be nowhere. Why, you're only a sort of thing in his dream!"
Alice, Tweedledee, and Tweedledum find the Red King sleeping in the wood. When Alice says that it is impossible to know about what he is dreaming, Tweedledee claims that Alice is merely a character in the Red King's dream. Alice objects to this proposal vehemently, arguing that she must be real. The discussion ends abruptly when Alice dismisses the possibility and asks the boys about the weather.
This is an important question because it is related to the question of how much choice Alice has in her movements through the Looking-Glass world. If she is just a figment of the Red King's imagination, then her actions and choices have already been determined for her. Carroll brings up this question again at the end of the book, when Alice supposedly wakes from her own dream.
Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said: "one can't believe impossible things."
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
Here the White Queen is providing Alice with yet another lesson. Believing the impossible is the prerogative of children, since they do not yet have to carry the burden of responsibility and rationality that comes with adulthood. Children should be imaginative, and the White Queen is trying to communicate with Alice that she should not have a hard time believing the things that occur in the Looking-Glass world.
"What's the use of their having names," the Gnat said, "if they won't answer to them."
"No use to them," said Alice; "but it's useful to the people that name them, I suppose. If not, why do things have names at all?"
Carroll does a lot of philosophizing through Alice in the book. Here, he is commenting on the fact that without minds, names and labels do not exist. Naming is a mechanism used by the mind to organize the universe. He is calling attention to the fact that a name is not intrinsic; it is contingent and arbitrary. Here again, Alice imposes sense on the world in which there is a great deal of nonsense. Again, she exhibits a great deal of knowledge and maturity for her age.
"That's the effect of living backwards," the Queen said kindly: "it always makes one a little giddy at first--"
In the Victorian era, children were in many ways, especially legally, treated more like adults than they had been in the past. They were expected to bear a good deal of responsibility. This quote is perhaps a reference to this idea of beginning one's life as an adult rather than a child.
Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.
This is a section from the poem that ends the book. The poem is an acrostic, for the first letter of each line spells out Alice's full name, Alice Pleasance Liddell. Alice Liddell was the young girl who inspired Wonderland and Looking-Glass. The poem is entitlted "A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky," which is apt, because Carroll first came up with Alice's stories while he was out in a boat with the Liddell girls. Alice apparently asked him to entertain them, and the stories were the result.
Research shows that Alice Liddell was not actually similar to the Alice of the stories, and Carroll was known to have remarked that Alice was a totally imaginary character. This particular set of lines confirms this: Alice is a figment of Carroll's imaginations, the material of his dreams.
"Of course I'll wait," said Alice: "and thank you very much for coming so far--and for the song--I liked it very much."
"I hope so," the Knight said doubtfully: "but you didn't cry as much as I thought you would ."
Alice is about to proceed to the eighth square, where she will be crowned queen. This step is meant to symbolize her coming-of-age, which is captured in the melancholic song of the knight. She is oblivious to the meaning of this final step and to the meaning of the knight's song, which is why she does not share the knight's sentiments. She, like most children, is not aware of the fact that she is growing up. She lives in the moment, and will only realize once it has already happened that she is an adult and no longer a child.
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.
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