Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (also known as Alice Through the Looking-Glass or simply Through the Looking-Glass) is a novel published on 27 December 1871 by Lewis Carroll and the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alice again enters a fantastical world, this time by climbing through a mirror into the world that she can see beyond it. Lewis Carroll’s sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), titled Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871), takes the beloved Alice into a new world featuring a live game of chess, a few bizarre characters, and a repetition of classic nursery rhymes. While nonsense proves to be the bread-and- butter of Lewis Carroll’s writing style, it is not without purpose; the narrative structuring of the chess game and Alice’s pursuit of queenhood, coupled with the exchanges with the various characters, fall in line with a classic coming of age tale, and present Alice as a figure within a Bildungsroman.
While not as lighthearted as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass nevertheless occupies the sanic silly, nonsensical world as its predecessor. Through wordplay, pointless battles, and the fantastical, dreamlike setting, Through the Looking-Glass makes nonsense the norm-while also suggesting that attempting to make sense out of nonsense is a normal, if often futile, endeavor.
From the moment Alice crawls through the looking-glass and into Looking-glass World, the novel asks that the reader- and, for that matter, Alice-suspend their disbelief. Looking-glass World is one in which flowers talk, nursery rhyme characters and chess pieces come to life, and sheep knit while inexplicably shouting rowing terms. It’s a world in which it seems like anything is possible. This unpredictable chaos, however, doesn’t stop Alice from trying to make sense of the nonsense happening around her. Importantly, Alice recognizes that she doesn’t have the knowledge or the skills to understand the inner workings of Looking-glass World, so she makes sure to ask questions of everyone in an attempt to fit what she sees into a framework that makes sense. Despite these attempts-as when Alice tries to figure out whether the thing around Humpty Dumpty’s middle is a cravat around his neck or a belt around his waist-Alice is overwhelmingly unsuccessful in interpreting what she sees, but in some ways, this is exactly the point. There’s no good way to interpret the book’s fantastical happenings or verbal nonsense-the job of the reader, and of Alice, is to take what happens in stride and enjoy it.
In Alice Through the Looking Glass, Alice and the Sheep begin rowing a small boat together. The Sheep uses the term “crabs” and “feathers,” which Alice does not understand Alice simply accepts the fact she is not going to receive an acceptable answer because she is in a nonsensical world. It is not until they have been in the boat for quite some time when Alice finally snaps at the Sheep for an answer. This is only after the Sheep keeps asking her for items and she almost falls out of the boat. Due to the breakdown of communication between them, Alice is rather frazzled.
In both stories, other characters question the meanings of words, too, in order to draw the readers attention to the usages of phrases :
“Then you should say what you mean,” the March Hare went on.
“I do.” Alice hastily replied, “at least-I mean what I say that’s the same thing, you know.”
“Not the same thing a bit!” said the Hatter. “You might just as well say that “I see what I eat” is the same thing as “I eat what I see?” (Carroll 54).
In Wonderland and Looking Glass Land, words are ambiguous and often have double meanings. When she was falling down the rabbit hole, Alice picked up a jar labeled, “marmalade.” Expecting to pick up a snack along the way, Alice is disappointed when she realizes the jar is empty. The label misrepresented the item and its contents. In this instance. Carroll provided a certain anticipation that was not met. Thus, when entering a fictitious world, readers should not have preconceived notions or expectations.
Another nonsensical moment in Alice Through the Looking Glass occurs when the Red Queen had to explain to Alice how and when they eat jam in Looking Glass Land, “The rule is jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to- day. It’s jam every OTHER day: to-day isn’t any OTHER day you know” (Carroll 164). A reader must understand the concept of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, as well as the meaning behind the capitalized words. In this instance, the reader is unsure if the characters can ever cat jam because if they cannot eat tomorrow, did not have it yesterday, and it is not allowed today, there does not seem to be a case in which it is legal to eat jam.
When Tweedledee and Tweedledum attempted to tell Alice a story to teach her the dangers of curiosity, however, they could not even decide on the proper name of the tale. One twin said. “The walrus and the carpenter,” while the other added, “or the story of the curious oysters” (Carroll 151)  Within Wonderland and Looking Glass Land, there is even ambiguity in regards to titles. Therefore, everything in Wonderland and the Looking Glass Land are subject to vagueness. When the baby turned into a pig, Alice was baffled, there was no reason for such a change, but it occurred. Wonderland and Looking Glass Land cause confusion in order for the reader to question the logic behind such incidents. As Lacan addressed, people become socialized and develop certain expectations. Carroll’s complete disregard for standards allows reasoning to be questioned in a unique setting.
In many cases, Carroll uses nonsense to let readers in on jokes and poke fun at stuffy traditions or schools of thought that, upon closer inspection, look just as silly as the White Knight constantly falling off his horse. Anything, Carroll Suggests, can look silly and contrived if one is willing to see it as such. Alice’s conversation with Tweedledee and Tweedledum about the poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” for example, pokes fun at circular philosophical arguments that have no one correct answer. Similarly, when the twins turn Alice’s attention to the snoring Red King and suggest that Alice is just a dreamy figment of his imagination, Carroll gestures to some religious theories circulating in the Victorian era, most notably that all humans exist in God’s dream. Situating this reference in a tale like Through the Looking-Glass, however, implies that while they may be fun to think about, such theories shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
At several points, Carroll makes fun of formal education and academic ways of knowing. The Red Queen refers to the dictionary as “nonsense,” while Humpty Dumpty suggests that since Alice read the nursery rhyme “Humpty Dumpty” in a book, it’s equivalent to a history of England. Most tellingly, Humpty Dumpty decodes the poem “Jabberwocky” for Alice. “Jabberwocky” is a poem that, by many standards, is complete and utter nonsense; it never defines exactly what the fearsome and fictional jabberwock is, or tells the reader what a bandersnatch or a tum-tum tree are, and about half of the words in the poem aren’t even real words. However, the poem also follows a familiar format, rhyme scheme, and meter that make it, at the very least, fun on an auditory level to read or recite. Through the poem (and through the nonsensical novel as a whole), Carroll makes the point that literature should be enjoyable, nonsense or not.
Humpty Dumpty’s imperious and self-important interpretation of “Jabberwocky,” however, reads as a still-relevant critique of seriousness, scholarliness, and holding up intelligence and formality over anything else. Decoding the poem allows Humpty Dumpty the opportunity to lord his knowledge over Alice, but much of the poem’s meaning remains a mystery and it seems like Humpty Dumpty might even be making up his interpretation altogether. With this in mind, it’s important to remember that Lewis Carroll and a few contemporaries invented the genre of nonsense literature. Prior to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, it was unthinkable that a talking sheep could exist outside of a simple morality tale or, for that matter, that literature intended for children didn’t need to have a “moral” to be meaningful or worth reading. With this, Carroll again makes the case that literature, whether it makes logical sense or not, should be fun- and that, if the reader so chooses, that can be one’s final interpretation of a work.
The chess game and the train journey serve as metaphors for the trajectory of Alice’s life, over which she has little control. When Alice sees the large chess game before her, she is excited by the prospects of playing the game herself, not realizing that she has been a part of it since her very entry into this fantasy world and her thrill of wanting to be a pawn has already come true since her every step has been carefully planned and executed. The train journey has already given her a head start as the pawn moves two boxes in its first move. The chess game thus, is being used strategically as a guiding narrative by Carroll to suggest the play of larger forces like fate and destiny that mark a preordained future for the characters and exhibit the looming presence of a larger design that is marked by rules and logic.
The second is Humpty Dumpty’s interpretation given to Alice in chapter six, which can be seen as an account of animals resembling badgers, lizards, and corkscrews, going through various gyrations in the plot of land around a sundial during a part of the afternoon when one begins broiling things for dinner. The third is one made by a child, “It means a bug that comes out at night with a light on its tail and a sword between its beak. That’s what a jabberwalkie is.”
In the end, it’s only when Alice becomes Queen, the fulfillment of her ardent wish, and when she “can’t stand this any longer!” (TLG, 213) that she tries to get away from the so called chaotic, nonsense world. Ironically, she does it by putting it into a further state of disorder and chaos. In the end we, as readers, are left with graver philosophical issues of “Which dreamed it?” (TLG, 216) to grapple with which makes us wonder about the subject of the story herself / himself. Hence, we can see that throughout the two books Nonsense pervades, yet we need to notice that it is not simply a formal structure because grammatical structure here runs counter to content. And content in turn makes one analyze In the end, it’s only when Alice becomes Queen, the fulfillment of her ardent wish, and when she “can’t stand this any longer!” (TLG, 213) that she tries to get away from the so called chaotic, nonsense world. Ironically, she does it by putting it into a further state of disorder and chaos. In the end we, as readers, are left with graver philosophical issues of “Which dreamed it?” (TLG, 216) to grapple with which makes us wonder about the subject of the story herself / himself. Hence, we can see that throughout the two books Nonsense pervades, yet we need to notice that it is not simply a formal structure because grammatical structure here runs counter to content. And content in turn makes one analyze.