Through the Looking-Glass summary
This summary was written by Lenny de Rooy and comes from Lenny’s Alice in Wonderland site at http://www.alice-in-wonderland.net. You may use and reproduce this summary, provided that you leave this copyright notice intact. Reading this summary doesn’t mean that you don’t have to read the book anymore; the puns, jokes and other things that make the book so great are not included.
Chapter 1: Looking-Glass House
Alice is at home; talking to herself and to her black kitten named Kitty. On the table is a chess game and she tries to make the kitten sit like the Red Queen, but the kitten doesn’t succeed because it won’t fold its arms properly. She decides it should be punished and holds it up to the looking-glass, threatening to put the kitten into the Looking-glass House if it isn’t good immediately.
Alice starts telling the kitten about the other side of the looking-glass where everything is the same as in the drawing room, only backwards. She wonders how it will be to live there and fantasises that the glass is so soft that she can get through. The glass then indeed turns into a sort of silvery mist and Alice climbs through it.
She notices that the things she could see from the drawing room are the same in the looking-glass room, but the other things are quite different. The chessmen are alive and are walking about the room.
As Lily, one of the white pawns, starts crying, Alice wants to help. She picks up the White Queen and puts her next to Lily. As the chessmen cannot hear or see Alice, she is quite surprised. Alice also frightens the White King by lifting him up too, dusting him and writing for him with his pen.
When Alice tries to read a book she has to hold it up to the looking-glass to read it. It is a poem called Jabberwocky, which consists of many strange words that she doesn’t understand. She wants to see the garden and finds herself floating downstairs.
Chapter 2: The Garden of Live Flowers
Alice tries to reach a hill to see the garden better, but not one path seems to lead to it; she always ends up where she started. Eventually she comes upon a flower-bed. The flowers can talk and they tell her that there’s someone else in the garden.
It appears to be the Red Queen, who is now as large as Alice is. They have a conversation and Alice notices that the country is a huge chessboard, with brooks and hedges dividing the ground up into squares. She asks if she can join the game and the Red Queen tells her that she can take Lily’s place as a White Pawn and start in the second square.
Suddenly they start running, but no matter how hard Alice runs, they stay in the same place. The queen explains that in this country you have to run at least twice as fast to get somewhere else. She gives Alice instructions for the game and tells her that she’ll be a Queen when she reaches the 8th square. Then she leaves.
Chapter 3: Looking-Glass Insects
Alice notices that what she thought were bees are in fact elephants. She runs down the hill and crosses the first brook, which takes her to the next square.
She suddenly finds herself in a railway carriage with all kinds of creatures and a Guard who asks for the tickets. Alice tries to explain that she hasn’t got a ticket and during the discussion she notices that the other passengers speak and think in chorus. She has a conversation with a small insect that sounds very unhappy, when suddenly the train has to jump over a brook and the carriage rises straight into the air.
Her surroundings melt away and she finds herself sitting under a tree with a Gnat, the creature she was talking to. He tells her about the Looking-Glass insects like the Rocking-Horse-Fly and the Bread-And-Butterfly. He is so unhappy that he sighs himself away.
Alice enters the wood where things have no names and immediately forgets her own name. She meets a fawn and together they walk on. But when they reach an open spot the Fawn remembers that it is a deer and that Alice is human, and hurries away into the woods.
Alice follows the path and comes upon the house of Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
Chapter 4: Tweedledum and Tweedledee
As they are standing very still, Alice forgets they are alive and they reprimand her for not knowing the right manners for a visit. When they shake hands they all start dancing. Alice wants to know which road she should take to leave the forest, but they repeat ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’ to her.
Then they take her to the sleeping Red King and tell her that she is only a thing in his dreams. When he wakes up, Alice will disappear. Although Alice doesn’t believe it, it still upsets her.
Tweedledum finds his rattle lying broken on the ground and he wants to start a fight with Tweedledee for it, just as in the poem. They ask Alice to dress them up with all kinds of material, which they use as armour. Before they can fight, the monstrous crow flies overhead, causing it to get very dark and making quite a wind with its wings. Tweedledum and Tweedledee run off and Alice hides in the forest. She notices a shawl being blown away.
Chapter 5: Wool and Water
Alice catches the shawl and sees the White Queen running through the wood. As she is very untidy, Alice helps her to put on her shawl again and brushes her hair. The Queen wants to hire her as a lady’s maid, but she refuses.
The White Queen explains the advantages of living backwards, meaning that you remember things before they actually happen. She illustrates this with a story about the King’s messenger who is in prison for a crime that he has not yet committed.
Alice starts to feel very lonely and the Queen tries to keep her from crying by talking about her age and about believing impossible things. Then the shawl is being blown away again and they cross a brook to get it.
They’re now in a shop and the Queen turns into a knitting sheep that is sitting behind the counter. The Sheep asks Alice what she wants to buy and she answers that she wants to look first. But when she tries to look at something, it always moves and the shelves she looks at always appear empty.
The Sheep gives Alice some knitting needles and asks her if she can row. The needles turn into oars and Alice finds herself and the Sheep in a boat. Alice tries to pick some scented rushes, but they begin to fade away as soon as she has picked them.
Suddenly they are back in the shop and the Sheep asks again what she wants to buy. Alice decides to buy an egg. The Sheep tells her that she has to get it herself and places the egg on a shelf. When Alice walks to it, it seems to get further away. She finds trees growing in the shop and she even has to cross a little brook.
Chapter 6: Humpty Dumpty
As Alice approaches, the egg gets larger and more human, and eventually turns into Humpty Dumpty, who is sitting on a very narrow wall. She offends him by calling him an egg and he tells her that her name doesn’t fit her shape.
Alice is concerned about him falling from the wall, but Humpty Dumpty explains that the King promised him to send all his horses and all his men if he ever fell off, just as in the rhyme. He asks her age and tells that he got his cravat as an un-birthday present from the White King and Queen.
He also tells Alice that he can make words mean whatever he chooses. Alice asks him to explain Jabberwocky for her and he does. Then he repeats a poem for her, which suddenly ends. He says goodbye and rudely remarks that he wouldn’t recognise her when they were to meet again.
Alice walks away and a heavy crash shakes the forest.
Chapter 7: The Lion and the Unicorn
The next moments several thousand soldiers and horses come running out of the wood. They all keep stumbling and tripping over each other. When Alice reaches an open place, she sees the White King with his memorandum book. He tells her that he sent all his men and horses, except for those that are wanted in the game and his two messengers.
Haigha, one of the messengers, arrives and tells them that the Lion and the Unicorn are fighting for the crown again. They run to the town where Hatta, the other messenger who just got out of prison, is waiting.
During a pause in the fight the Lion and the Unicorn come sit with them. The Unicorn says that he thought Alice was a fabulous monster and they agree to believe in each other. Bread and plum-cake is handed out and then the Lion and Unicorn are being drummed out of town, in accordance with an old song. Alice crosses another brook and covers her ears to protect them from the loud noise.
Chapter 8: ‘It’s my own invention’
When the noise has died away a Red Knight arrives on his horse. He shouts “Check!” takes Alice prisoner and tumbles off his horse. Then a White Knight arrives to rescue her and he also falls off his horse. They start a fight during which they constantly keep falling off their horses.
The White Knight wins and tells her that he is here to guide her safely to the eighth square. He starts showing her some of his inventions. As he keeps falling down, Alice thinks he is not a very good rider, but he tells her that he has had plenty of practice.
He goes on about his inventions and sings a song for her about an old man. Then he rides away and Alice enters the eighth square. She suddenly finds herself wearing a golden crown.
Chapter 9: Queen Alice
Alice realises that she now is a queen. The White Queen and Red Queen invite her to her own dinner-party and start examining her with nonsensical questions and giving her lessons in manners.
The Queens get tired and fall asleep in Alice’s lap. Suddenly they disappear and Alice is standing in front of a doorway marked ‘Queen Alice’. She asks a Frog where she can find a servant to open the door for her, but he doesn’t help her. The door swings open and she hears a chorus singing. They welcome her so she decides to get in herself.
The singing stops when she enters a hallway with a large table. Her guests appear to be animals, birds and flowers. The White and Red Queen are sitting at the head of the table and she joins them. They tell her she missed the soup and introduce her to a leg of mutton, which bows for her. They explain that now she’s been introduced to it, she cannot eat it anymore. They introduce her to the plum-pudding too, but Alice cuts a slice from it anyway, despite his protests.
The White Queen recites a poem to Alice and then tells her that something is going to happen. Suddenly the candles start growing and the bottles turn into a sort of bird and fly away. The Leg of Mutton is sitting in the White Queen’s place while she disappears in the soup. Everyone starts behaving foolishly and Alice jumps up and seizes the table-cloth. Everything crashes to the floor and she notices that the Red Queen has shrunk and is now running around on the table. She catches her and tells her she will shake her into a kitten.
Chapter 10: Shaking
While shaking the Queen she starts getting smaller, softer, and rounder…
Chapter 11: Waking
…and Alice notices that she has really turned into a kitten.
Chapter 12: Which dreamed it?
Alice realises that she has dreamt the whole thing and that she is now back in the drawing room, holding her black kitten.
She walks to the table, takes the chess-piece of the Red Queen and tries to make the kitten confess that it turned into her. She wonders what it was that Dinah and the white kitten turned into. She asks Kitty who it was that dreamt the story; she or the Red King, but it keeps licking its paw and doesn’t answer.