Through the Looking Glass

Through the Looking Glass Summary and Analysis of Chapter 2


Alice follows the path she believes will bring her to the garden, but no matter the direction in which she goes, she ends up back at the house. Eventually she runs into a patch of flowers with a tree in the middle. She discovers that the flowers can talk, but they are quite rude, criticizing her lack of intelligence and her strange looks. The flowers think that she must be a flower as well, even if she looks wrong.

The flowers reveal that there is another person in the garden, which Alice surmises from their desciption of a flower that looks quite like Alice. Alice looks around and sees the Red Queen, who has grown to a little taller than herself. Alice expresses interest in meeting the Queen, even though the flowers advise against it.

But when Alice tries walking toward the Queen, she finds herself in front of the house again. This time, she tries walking in the opposite direction in which she wants to go, and she finds herself walking almost straight into the Queen.

The Queen demands that Alice curtsey and call her "your Majesty" when they speak to each other. Alice tells the Queen that she wants to get to the hill in the distance, and when the Queen calls it a valley, Alice accuses her of speaking nonsense, but the Queen only then claims that she is making sense.

When the pair reaches the hill, Alice notices that the countryside is divided into regular squares. She realizes that the whole world is a chess game, and she very much wants to join the game. All of the sudden, she realizes she and the Queen are running, and when they slow down, the Queen explains that in this world, one has to run to remain in place.

The Queen assures Alice that she can play the game, and that she can even eventually be a Queen if she wants. She will start out as a pawn, however. The Queen gives Alice some instructions as to where she will have to go and whom she will meet, and then she vanishes.


There are a couple of examples of allusion in this chapter. The episode of the talking flowers is actually a reference to a the poem "Maud" by Tennyson. Additionally, the Rose and the Violet are meant to represent the two youngest Liddell sisters, Rhoda and Violet, who are otherwise not included in the Alice books.

The theme of inversion appears again when Alice tries to walk toward the Red Queen. Every time she walks in the direction she sees the Red Queen, she ends up closer to the house where she started. But when she suddenly walks in the opposite direction, she ends up right in front of the Red Queen. It also appears within the dialogue between Alice and the Red Queen. The Queen offers Alice a dry biscuit to quench her thirst, and she informs Alice that she must run in order to remain in the same place.

Carrollian scholar Roger Lancelyn Green speculates that the Red Queen is in fact a prototype for the governess of the Liddell children, Miss Prickett. He also argues that their mansion was the original Looking-Glass house, and that the land it looked out upon is the model for the land that Alice viewed as a chessboard when receiving instructions from the Red Queen.

The chessboard/game of chess as a metaphor for life is rather common in literature. Many authors/philosphers employ it, including George Eliot and William James. H. G. Wells opens his book The Undying Fire with a conversation between God and the devil, who are playing chess. God is the creator of the game and of the rules and can make as many moves as he likes, and the devil is responsible for introducing "a slight inexplicable innaccuracy into each move, which necessitates further moves in correction."

In Through the Looking Glass, Alice apparently has the ability to make her own moves, although it is not clear that the choice is entirely hers. This question is explored throughout the book. Indeed, as soon as the Red Queen tells Alice she is to be the White Queen's Pawn, she begins to run, although she cannot remember starting to run.