Through the Looking Glass

Through the Looking Glass Summary and Analysis of Chapter 3


Alice tries to survey the land before her, and she notices some elephants tending to enormous flowers like bees. She also notices that there are no rivers and that she is standing on what seems to be the only mountain in the place. Desiring to proceed to the third square, she leaps over the first brook in front of her.

She lands in a carriage and is immediately accosted by a guard asking for her ticket. She does not have a ticket and tries to explain herself, but all the passengers are chastising her for wasting time, breath and money. The passengers are all animals and insects. There is one passenger too small for her to see whispering in her ear.

When the train leaps over the next brook, she finds herself sitting beneath a tree and talking to a large gnat, which had previously been whispering in her ear. She explains to the gnat that she has never known any talking insects, and she proceeds to tell him the names of insects where she comes from. He then responds by telling her the equivalent insects in his world: the rocking horse fly, the snap-dragon fly and the bread-and-butter fly.

The two then discuss whether or not it would be convenient to be able to leave behind one's name. The gnat makes a joke and in so doing makes itself extremely sad. When Alice looks up, she finds that it is gone, and wanting to make progress, she walks on. She finds herself in a darker wood with a wood beyond it and assumes this is the wood where things have no names.

Because she is in this wood, she cannot remember her name or the names of things around her. She comes across a Fawn who suffers from the same predicament, and they move on together into the next wood. Here, she remembers, and she proceeds along the path with two finger-posts, both pointing in the same direction, but one for Tweedledee's house, and the other for Tweedledum's.


Alice makes the typical two-square leap allowed a Pawn as its initial move. She starts in the second square, but as soon as she leaps a brook she is in a train in the third square. This train takes her over a brook and into the fourth square.

The issue of naming things appears in this chapter twice. The first occasion is in the middle of the conversation between the Gnat and Alice. Alice makes an incredibly astute observation about names, arguing that names are not actually important because they belong to things inherently but because they are useful tags for the person referring to them.

The second occasion involves Alice's short experience in the wood where things have no names. She forgets her name while she is here, although at one point, she believes it begins with an "L", undoubtedly because she has replaced the White Queen's daughter, Lily, in the game. She meets a fawn, with whom she rejoices once they exit the wood and remember their names.

The wood is supposed to represent the universe as well as Alice's observation. Things in the universe do not have signs or labels. Names are a product of the minds that need to organize and refer to them. Otherwise, they would not exist. This falls under the theme of imagination as well, or things merely existing as a part of a separate mind.

Alice's logical observation reveals her as a representation of Carroll, since he was so concerned with formal logic in his studies. Her rationality stands in sharp contrast to the nonsense of the Gnat, and will continue to do so with other characters. This and the consequences of her realization (the excursion in the no-name wood) is also a reminder that Alice is dwelling simultaneously in two worlds: that of the child and that of the adult. Her rationality places her in the world of adulthood, but it tends to get her into trouble in the Looking-Glass world, which might indicate a warning against her swift progress.