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Through the Looking-Glass

Lewis Carroll

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.