Book reviews

Review: “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass” by Lewis Carroll

“Only mustard isn’t a bird,” Alice remarked.

“Right, as usual,” said the Duchess: “what a clear way you have of putting things!”

“It’s a mineral, I think,” said Alice.

“Of course it is,” said the Duchess, who seemed ready to agree to everything that Alice said: “there’s a large mustard-mine near here. And the moral of that is – ‘The more there is of mine, the less there is of yours.'” – p. 81

Alice follows a white rabbit down the rabbit hole one day and finds herself in a land where the animals speak, inanimate objects have come alive and where every living thing do not seem to possess any logic and speak in round-a-bout ways. Lewis Carroll creates a vivid and memorable cast and a series of adventures in the first and more well known novel of the Wonderland.

Alice is portrayed as a very precocious seven year-old, and who is the only one who is seemingly behaving in  logical fashion. As she travels deeper into the Wonderland she meets the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, the Cheshire cat, a long-winded caterpillar who smokes a hookah and have a penchant of poetry, the Red Queen’s ugly sister and the pig-baby and of course, the Red Queen and King themselves. Speaking in nonsense speech that goes around in circles, it strike me that it very much resembles the speeches of politicians and the bureaucracy.

Similar themes continues in the sequel, Through the Looking-Glass:

“Were you ever punished?”

“Only for faults,” said Alice.

“And you were all the better for it, I know!” the Queen said triumphantly.

“Yes, but then I had done the things I was punished for,” said Alice: “that makes all the difference.”

“But if you hadn’t done them,” the Queen said, “that would have been better still…” – p. 176.

Does this dialogue and theory of punishment sound familiar?

Looking-Glass pales somewhat besides Wonderland. This time, Alice falls through a looking glass and into the world within it. She must make her way across a chessboard to reach the third square. Tweedledee and Tweedledum features in this novel  along with Humpty Dumpty, the red and white Queens and the re-emergence of the Mad Hatter. It is somewhat a more somber journey through the land of the Looking-Glass and it does not recreate the same air of frivolity and riddiculousness that was in Wonderland. The tone here is noticeably darker. Reading between the lines, parallels can be drawn between the gibberish that spills from the Wonderland characters and figures within our own world.

This was a re-read of Wonderland, having read it in high school and an abridged version as a child. It was, however, my first read of Looking-Glass and, I’m a little ashamed but also pleased to say, that I was inspired to read this due to the T.V. show Lost.