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Through the Looking-Glass

Lewis Carroll
Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title  Through the Looking-Glass

author Lewis Carroll

type of work Novella

genre Fairy tale; children’s fiction; satire; allegory

language English

time and place written 1867–1871, Oxford

date of first publication 1871, though the first copies were dated 1872

publisher Macmillan & Co.

narrator The narrator is anonymous, and does not use many words to describe events in the story.

point of view The narrator speaks in third person, though occasionally in first and second person. The narrative follows Alice around, voicing her thoughts and feelings.

tone Straightforward; avuncular

tense Past

setting (time) Victorian era, a decade before publication date

setting (place) England, Looking-glass world

protagonist Alice

major conflict Alice attempts to become a Queen in the massive chess game being played in the Looking-Glass World.

rising action Alice, as a pawn, moves forward square by square, meeting many different characters as she advances through the chessboard.

climax Alice becomes a queen.

falling action Alice seizes the Red Queen, puts the Red King in checkmate, and, having ended the game, wakes up wondering about her dream.

themes Chess as a metaphor for a deterministic conception of life; Language as a means to order the world; The inescapable loneliness a child feels growing up

motifs Dream; Inversion; Chess; Train imagery

symbols Rushes; The sleeping Red King

foreshadowing Alice’s recitation of the rhymes about Tweedledum and Tweedleedee, Humpty Dumpty, and the Lion and the Unicorn foreshadow each of their fates within the story.