Through the Looking-Glass | Study Guide

Lewis Carroll

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Through the Looking-Glass | Chapter 9 : Queen Alice | Summary



Alice suddenly discovers the Red Queen and the White Queen sitting on either side of her. The three speak, and the queens quiz Alice with nonsensical questions, such as "Do you know Languages? What's the French for fiddle-de-dee?" and "Try another Subtraction sum. Take a bone from a dog: what remains?"

Soon the White Queen grows sleepy and the Red Queen sings her a lullaby. Shortly thereafter, both queens fall asleep leaning on Alice. She rolls them off her and walks to an arched doorway inscribed, "Queen Alice." There are two bells: a servants' bell and a visitors' bell. As she ponders what to do, the door is opened—and closed—by a "creature with a long beak," who announces "no admittance till the week after next!"

Alice knocks on the door, to no avail. A strangely dressed Frog approaches and talks to her briefly. Then the door is flung open to a chorus of "Welcome, Queen Alice." Walking into the crowd, Alice finds the Red and White Queens. There is some jockeying for power over ordering and then rejecting various foods. The Red Queen actively asserts control, even as Alice tries to wrest it from her. The White Queen remains silent.

Even though Alice is tired of poetry, the White Queen recites a poem about fish, and the queens push Alice as she attempts to make a speech to the guests. The party dissolves into chaos, and the White Queen vanishes into a soup tureen. As Alice looks toward the White Queen, she sees, "the Queen's broad good-natured face grinning at her for a moment over the edge of the tureen, before she [disappears] into the soup." As the party becomes increasing raucous, Alice loses her temper, shouting, "'I can't stand this any longer!' ... as she [jumps] up and [seizes] the tablecloth with both hands: one good pull, and plates, dishes, guests, and candles [come] crashing down together in a heap on the floor."

Alice turns to the Red Queen, "the cause of all the mischief." The queen, however, has "suddenly dwindled down to the size of a little doll" and is running on the table. At this moment, Alice seizes the Red Queen and says, "I'll shake you into a kitten, that I will!"


Alice's coronation party is reminiscent of "A Mad-Tea Party" (Chapter 7) in Alice in Wonderland. The coronation party is a nonsensical, chaotic affair. However, Alice is now a much more self-confident character than she was in Wonderland. She is assertive in her own defense and isn't cowed, even though she is facing both the Red Queen and the White Queen.

Notably, the White Queen and the Red Queen fall asleep. For a moment, three of the four original royals are asleep (recall that the Red King, who does not appear in this chapter, has been asleep throughout). Alice is the only awake royal figure present in the final square at this point. However, at dinner, it is the Red Queen who tries to take control by ordering dishes to be served and removed from the table. Alice tries to reassert control, but the Red Queen does not back down. The White Queen does not participate—reaffirming that the Red Queen is Alice's opponent. Not only does the White Queen remain silent, but she also vanishes into a tureen of soup after reciting a poem. She is not a participant in the final plays of this chess match.

The chaos becomes more intense, and the Red Queen suddenly shrinks, becoming a less intimidating figure. The chess match ends as Alice captures the doll-like monarch. When Alice seizes the Red Queen, she places the absent, sleeping Red King in check.

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