* CONTAINS SPOILERS
When I began reading Through the Looking Glass, I had to groan a little because it seemed so surreal to switch from Paradise Lost which is epic with a capital E and about God and Satan and mankind’s downfall, to Alice scolding her kitty by the fire. And yet in the same vein as Paradise Lost, I had to muster all my powers of concentration while reading to understand the story.
Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll is the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a fantasy story about a little Victorian girl who discovers a world full of talking creatures and nonsense logic. In Looking Glass, Alice enters a mirror world to Wonderland where she encounters both new and old characters, and tries to understand the topsy turvy play on perception and direction. Alice moves from one bizarre episode to the next in a chess theme about transitioning from childhood to the adult world.
I read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland around the same time last year and thought I would love it because the 1951 animated Disney movie was a childhood favourite of mine. I enjoyed the cleverness and imagination of the book, but overall it didn’t make a lot of sense to me. My experience with Looking Glass was very similar: it didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but this time around I could appreciate the creation of a dream world where a little girl could try to make sense of adult control over her life and how people (or creatures) contradict themselves. I don’t play chess, but I know enough about chess moves to see how Alice was restricted in her ability to move or make decisions, and was greatly affected by the major characters of authority she met during her adventure, such as the Red Queen. When Alice is close to the end of her journey, she is threatened by the Red Knight, but ironically rescued by the White Knight. However, as much as she craves companionship, he cannot go with her and Alice must to complete the rest of her journey alone.
Overall, I found Alice’s story in Through the Looking Glass dark, sad and confusing, but so can be childhood and I realized that is probably Lewis Carroll’s point for both stories. Alice and the characters from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass have such enormous influence on popular culture, I think it’s worth taking the trip with Alice to see where it all began. Like me, you may not understand the riddles, poetry or why a raven is like a writing desk, but you certainly won’t forget Alice and her incredible journeys.
I read Through the Looking Glass and watched Alice in Wonderland as part of my Book to Movie Challenge.