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Course Hero, "Through the Looking-Glass Study Guide," December 14, 2017, accessed July 17, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Through-the-Looking-Glass/.

Through the Looking-Glass | Quotes

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1.

'I don't know what you mean by your way,' said the Queen: 'all the ways about here belong to me—but why did you come out here at all?'


Red Queen, Chapter 2

In this line, the Red Queen is set up as Alice's most obvious adversary. She is, at other points, helpful, but to win the chess match, Alice must overcome the queen. Thus, by the conclusion, Alice must "take" the queen, which she does when she shakes the queen into a kitten.

2.

I wouldn't mind being a Pawn, if only I might join—though of course I should like to be a Queen, best.


Alice, Chapter 2

Noting the chess analogy, readers will see the story is Alice's journey from Pawn to Queen. Carroll also intends readers to understand that part of the journey of life is going from childhood (Pawn) to adulthood (Queen) and autonomy. Readers can interpret this as the goal of life as an adult, too: to be in control of one's life is to move from Pawn to Queen.

3.

If that there King was to wake ... you'd go out—bang!—just like a candle!


Tweedledum, Chapter 4

The Red King sleeps for the entire story. Tweedledum suggests that Alice is a figment of the king's dream, and if the king wakes, she will no longer be in the Looking-glass world. Alice rejects this theory, citing flaws in his logic. One interpretation is that the Red King and Alice are the true adversaries. She implicitly defeats him by taking the Red Queen in the conclusion and then she wakes.

4.

Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.


White Queen, Chapter 5

This is one of the most famous lines from Lewis Carroll's novels. While it is somewhat nonsensical, it is also exceedingly encouraging. Alice is a child in a strange world, and her capacity to believe is remarkable already, but the idea of believing in "impossible" things is at the core of fantasy, fairy tales, and nursery rhymes.

5.

When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.


Humpty Dumpty, Chapter 6

Carroll pays a great deal of attention to word meanings and the power of names. Humpty Dumpty's proclamation is illogical. One cannot control the meanings ascribed to words by listeners or readers. Meanings evolve, and words change over time.

6.

I shouldn't know you again if we did meet. You're so exactly like other people.


Humpty Dumpty, Chapter 6

In a world of fantastical creatures, to a girl who has been to Wonderland and in the Looking-glass world, this is a strong insult. She is the only girl in this world. There are innumerable creatures here and in Wonderland—but none like her.

7.

I always thought they were fabulous monsters!


Unicorn, Chapter 7

To emphasize how wrong Humpty Dumpty was, the reader need only look at this exclamation from the Unicorn. Alice, a girl, seems to be a make-believe creature to the Unicorn. There is also a bit of humor to be found here in the idea of children being "monsters." The inversion is that typically in children's nursery fiction (especially from the Victorian era) the monster is what scares the child, not the child herself.

8.

If you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you. Is that a bargain?


Unicorn, Chapter 7

The fantasy creature proposes to the child that they each believe in the other. This is one of the moments where the reasons for Carroll's longevity as a well-loved children's author are apparent. He captures the whimsy of childhood stories here, and at the same time, he highlights that Alice is remarkable and fantastic, too.

9.

I don't want to be anybody's prisoner. I want to be a Queen.


Alice, Chapter 8

Much like not wanting to be a pawn, here Alice makes clear that she wants to be in control. In this world, the ones in control are the queens. To have power over one's own will in the Looking-glass world, means to be a queen. In this situation, another chess piece (a knight) says he is there to take her prisoner, whereas the second knight says he's there to rescue her. Alice, who will win the chess game, rejects being imprisoned. She will win, be in control, be a queen.

10.

Always speak the truth—think before you speak—and write it down afterward.


Red Queen, Chapter 9

There are moments where the Red Queen sounds more like a maternal or caring adult than simply Alice's opponent. This is one such moment. Consequently, Alice's eventual victory over her is also symbolic of her transition to attaining her majority in the world.

11.

I'll shake you into a kitten, that I will!


Alice, Chapter 9

At this point, Alice has seized the Red Queen, and in doing so, she has won the chess match. By capturing the queen, Alice checkmates (defeats) the sleeping Red King. The nonsense of the narrative is that the transition from the Looking-glass world to the "real" world happens by seizing a chess piece and shaking it until it turns into a kitten.

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