Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There
(with 50 illustrations by John Tenniel)
After the success of his first fantasy novel, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, Lewis Carroll followed it up with a sequel of sorts in “Through The Looking-Glass And What Alice Found There”. This story makes no references to the previous book, nor does it provide an extension to events that happened in the previous book as is usually the case with sequels. Though it does not draw on characters, settings and themes mentioned in the previous book, “Through The Looking-Glass” can be considered as an exact opposite, a mirror image of the “Alice in Wonderland” book. Whilst the first theme drew inspiration from playing cards and several facets of mathematics, this one draws heavily on the themes of mirrors and image reversal. The first book teed off with Alice being outside on a warm, summer day, and prior to the events that took place in it. Here, Alice is indoors, sitting beside a fire, on a cold winter night — an exact opposite to what had been portrayed in the first book.
The book begins with Alice pondering over what would exist beyond the other side of the mirror. Alice, the ever adventurous girl, climbs up the fireplace mantel and pokes at the mirror. Much to her surprise, she finds out that she actually could enter right through the mirror, into another world. The alternate reality that is perceived by Alice is in fact, a mirror image, a reflection of her house. She ventures outside this topsy turvy world, to find herself in the garden, in the middle of a warm sunny afternoon. She meets a whole array of characters, quite different from the characters she met in the first book. Apart from The Mad Hatter and The March Hare, no other characters from the first book make an appearance in this book.
A very distinguishing image that has been used as a literary device is its analogy and parallelism to the game of chess. Alice meets The Red Queen, who reveals that the entire countryside is structured in a manner similar to the playing area of a chessboard. The Red Queen further offers to make Alice the queen, if she is able to make it to the seventh rank, in what is supposed to be a chess game of sorts spanning the entire countryside.
Alice is placed as one of The White Queen’s pawns, thereby starting her journey towards the seventh rank, the final rank that would entitle her to become a queen. The first characters she meets during this journey are Tweedledum and Tweedledee, two fat twins immortalized by the nursery rhyme, the events of which are played out as a part of the chapter in the book. Along the course of the book, she meets Humpty Dumpty who goes on to help Alice understand the phrases mentioned in the not so coherent poem Jabberwocky.
Like the story of “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland”, this book also ends with Alice waking up in a daze, holding the kittens of her cat Dinah in her hands. The book, like the prequel has seen many adaptations and is a part of popular culture as well.