End of “Through the Looking-Glass”

Chapter VIII: “It’s My Own Invention”

1. “This took a long time to manage, though Alice held the bag open very carefully, because the Knight was so very awkward in putting in the dish: the first two or three times that he tried he fell in himself instead” (AA 237).

I love when Carroll manipulates physical dimensions, allowing a whole man to fit inside his saddlebag. I think transcending the physical restrictions of reality is an essential element of the imagination. Plus, this passage reminds me of Hermione’s all-consuming bag in Harry Potter, on which she casts a spell that extends the internal dimensions of the bag without affecting its external appearance.

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Hermione’s bag

Chapter IX: Queen Alice

2. “‘[The White Queen] never was really well brought up,’ the Red Queen went on: ‘but it’s amazing how good-tempered she is! Pat her on the head, and see how pleased she’ll be!’ But this was more than Alice had courage to do” (AA 257).

The Red Queen is a bit more subtly mean here than her counterpart in Alice’s Adventures, who was quite verbose about wanting certain heads removed. She treats the White Queen like an animal, marveling over how “good-tempered” she acts and asking Alice to “pat” her on the head. One thing that I didn’t understand about this passage, however, was the last line. Does Alice view patting the queen on the head as a nice gesture, and thus, she doesn’t have the courage to simply be so forward? Or, is she aware of the degrading nature of the act, and doesn’t have the courage to be so belittling? I’m a bit confused as to how Alice’s “courage” plays into it.

3. “‘What is it, now?’ the Frog said in a deep hoarse whisper.

Alice turned round, ready to find fault with anybody. ‘Where’s the servant whose business it is to answer the door?’ She began angrily.

‘Which door?’ said the Frog.

Alice almost stamped with irritation at the slow drawl in which he spoke. ‘This door, of course!’” (AA 259).

We witness a side of “Alice, the Bad” in this scene, who seems to be overcome with a queen’s pretentious sense of self-importance after seeing the inscription “Queen Alice” over a door. Even though Alice has been on the receiving end of many creatures’ irritation (the Duchess’s, the Mad Hatter’s…), she shows no sympathy or patience for the frog. Moreover, the fact that she “almost stamped with irritation” portrays her as a somewhat petulant child, not as a queen.

Petulant children
Petulant children

4. “‘You look a little shy: let me introduce you to that leg of mutton,’ said the Red Queen. ‘Alice—Mutton: Mutton—Alice.’ The leg of mutton got up in the dish and made a little bow to Alice; and Alice returned the bow, not knowing whether to be frightened or amused” (AA 261).

As if we needed any additional incentive to consider Carroll’s portrayal of animals, he literally resurrects Alice’s sheep meat, anthropomorphizing it to the point that it has the courtesy to bow. The Red Queen doesn’t even allow Alice to eat it because they’ve been introduced, and it certainly wouldn’t be “civil” to eat something she’s met.

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Bowing mutton

Chapter X: Shaking

5. “She took her off the table as she spoke, and shook her backwards and forwards with all her might” (AA 267).

As we soon discovery that the Red Queen is actually the kitten, I’m a bit concerned as to how roughly she was shaking poor black kitten. Unlike in Wonderland, reality has consequences for physical tussles.

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