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Once outside, Alice climbs a nearby hill to get a better
look at the garden near the house. However, every time she begins
to follow the path to the hill, she finds herself back at the door
to the house. Dismayed, she mentions her frustration to Tiger-lily,
who surprises her by responding in perfect English. The Tiger-lily
explains that all flowers can talk. The Rose chimes in and mentions
that Alice does not look very clever. Alice asks them if they feel
at all vulnerable. They explain to her that they are protected by
a nearby tree that will bark at any approaching threats. The Daisies
begin caterwauling and Alice silences them by threatening to pick
The Rose and the Violet continue to insult Alice, but
the Tiger-lily reprimands them for their rudeness. Alice learns
from the flowers that there is another person like her in the garden.
They describe the Red Queen, who now looks human and stands a head
taller than Alice. The Rose advises Alice to walk the other way,
but Alice sets off toward the Red Queen, ending up back at the door
of Looking-Glass House. Once she sets off in the opposite direction,
she eventually reaches the Red Queen.
The Red Queen is friendly but overbearing when she strikes
up a conversation with Alice. Alice explains her plight to the Red
Queen and mentions the garden, which prompts the Red Queen to remark that
she has seen gardens that would make this one seem like a wilderness.
When Alice mentions the hill, the Red Queen states that she has
seen hills to make this hill look like a valley. Frustrated, Alice tells
the Red Queen that she speaks nonsense, but the Queen responds that
she has heard nonsense that would make her claims seem as sensible
as a dictionary. The Red Queen takes Alice to the hill, where she
notices that the surrounding countryside resembles a giant chessboard.
Alice spots a game of chess happening on the chessboard and expresses
her desire to join the game. The Red Queen tells Alice that she
may stand in for the Tiger-lily as a White Pawn. The two begin a
brisk run but remain in the same place. Once finished with their
run, the Red Queen explains the chess game to Alice. Alice starts
at the second square and must travel through the other squares.
A different character owns each square, and once Alice reaches the
eighth square she will become a queen herself. With a few final
words of advice, the Red Queen bids Alice goodbye and disappears.
Just like in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,
Alice acts as an explorer in Looking-Glass World, recalling other
explorers discovering new territories in the late Victorian era.
Like the English Imperialist explorers of Carroll’s time, Alice
intrudes on foreign lands with preconceived notions about language,
manners, and the way the world works. When she meets the living
flowers, she discovers not only that others do not share her assumptions,
but that the native population perceives her as foolish. Alice’s
lack of knowledge about Looking-Glass World creates a culture clash
in which her confusion over the flowers’ explanation of why trees
have “bark” and “boughs” inspires scorn in the flowers.
Alice fails to understand that in Looking-Glass World
she must do everything backward. She gets confused when the Rose
advises her to “walk the other way” to reach the Red Queen. Alice
relates to the Red Queen how she is “lost” because she does not
realize that in the mirror one has to move away from an object to
get closer to it. The path seems to actively punish her for failing
to understand the properties of Looking-Glass World, deliberately
rearranging itself to get her off track. The principles of inversion
do not solely affect space and distance, but also movement. The
faster Alice moves, the less distance she covers, so that when she
runs she never seems to leave her initial position.
Alice becomes a pawn in the game of chess and discovers
that Looking-Glass World closely follows the strict rules of chess.
Alice can only move forward one “square” at a time, despite the
fact that she seems to wield a degree of imaginative control over
Looking-Glass World. While the Queen seems to “vanish” because she
can travel quickly across the board, just as a Queen has greater
mobility in a game of chess. As a pawn, Alice has much more restricted mobility
and line of vision. Alice is not only a pawn in the game of chess,
but also in the text of the book. The author has absolute control
over Alice’s actions and can move her around at will in the context
of the story as if she were a pawn.