Chess in Through the Looking Glass

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The Penguin Popular Classic comments, “Alice goes through the looking glass into another world whose eccentric inhabitants seem to be chess-pieces... Obeying their own impossible rules of logic.” These words become central to my understanding of the motif of Chess in “Through the Looking Glass”, even as Carroll proceeds to create a world of enthrallment for his child audience(and readers). In his Preface, Carroll states “As the chess-problem, given on the previous page, has puzzled some of my readers, it may be well to explain that it is correctly worked out, so far as the moves are concerned... anyone who will take the trouble to set the pieces and play the moves as directed, [will find them] to be strictly in accordance with the laws of the game.” For the authenticity of the moves, non-players with very little knowledge of the game can do nothing other than rely on these word’s of the Author. Yet, from a reading of the novel, several features of the game become impossible to ignore. The first is the visual impact: Alice standing on the hill, shows us the world of this novel, squares divided by brooks and little green hedges. “It’s a great huge game of Chess that’s being played!”. Because Alice believes in this, the author makes us believe in it too: language plays an important role thoughout the novel, but in particular here when it convinces us of the accuracy of the Chess theme. It becomes clear that she is only a pawn, a minor character through not only through her designation by the Red Queen, but also through how the other characters behave with her. In fact, the image of a pawn being moved by a player is impressed upon our minds even farther: Alice, in looking-glass-house, moving the chess pieces like an invisible force, prefigures descriptions of her when she “skim(-med) through the air” (in the Garden of live flowers with the Queen) and “floated
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