Through the Looking Glass

Through the Looking Glass Summary and Analysis of Chapter 6


The egg continues to get bigger and bigger, and it also has acquired human features, and it is sitting atop a rather narrow wall. Alice realizes that this must be Humpty Dumpty. He is offended by her remark that he looks like an egg. Because she is dissatisfied with the conversation, she recites the Humpty Dumpty poem to herself.

Humpty Dumpty asks her not to mutter to herself, and she expresses concern about him being seated so precariously on the wall. He argues that there is nothing to worry about, and before he can explain why, Alice says that it is because the kings men will all come to put him back in his place. He asks her how she knows this, and she says she read it in a book.

Humpty Dumpty then asks her what her name means, and she says that names do not have to have meanings. He argues that her name is stupid because it could mean anything. Alice tries to change the subject by complimenting him on his belt, but he is quite insulted because it is a cravat. He remarks that it was a gift from White King and Queen.

Alice asks Humpty Dumpty to translate Jabberwocky for her, since she observes that he has a way with words. He provides ridiculous definitions for all of the words she does not understand, and when he is done, he offers to recite a poem for her. She does not really want to listen to a poem, but when she hears that he composed it just for her, she figures she should just listen.

He cuts it off rather abruptly and indicates that he thinks they should say goodbye. He remarks that because her face is so ordinary he probably would not realize it if they were to ever meet again. Before she can respond, a great crash shakes the forest.


This chapter includes another argument about names that relates to Carroll's interest in formal logic. Humpty Dumpty argues that his name and Alice's and proper names in general should have universal significance, whereas improper names of things can mean whatever he wants them to mean. Obviously, in the real world, this situation is reversed.

This episode in many ways relates back to the original nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty. Although it does not proceed in the same way, there are important references to note. For example, Carroll employs the word "proud" rather frequently in this chapter, which is meant to recall Humpty Dumpty's "pride that goeth before his fall."

Carroll is obviously capable of morbid humor, as evidenced by the part of the conversation between Alice and Humpty Dumpty in which they discuss age. Alice remarks that it is impossible for one to stop growing older. This is Humpty Dumpty's reply: "One can't, perhaps, but two can. With proper assistance, you might have left off at seven."

Humpty Dumpty is likely a satire of a certain type of intellectual. He has clear strengths and weaknesses. He of course claims that he is good at everything, but it seems that his most likely specialization is linguistics. The humor is evident because even though Humpty Dumpty can talk extensively about words and language, he is utterly helpless when it comes to mathematics, which was Carroll's own field of expertise.

The story of Humpty Dumpty is also an allegory for the fall of man from grace as well as the fall of the devil for his pride. This also relates to the issue of childhood and the "fall of innocence" that accompanies the progression to adulthood. Perhaps Humpty Dumpty is meant to be a lesson for Alice, though it seems she is already many steps ahead of him when it comes to maturity.