Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland &
Through the Looking Glass
Summaries by Michael McGoodwin, prepared 2001

Acknowledgement: These works have been summarized using the Modern Library edition.  Quotations are for the most part taken from that book, as are paraphrases of its commentary.   

Overall Impression: These are timeless classics for children of all ages written when a man could innocently admire little girls not his own.


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865)

Down the Rabbit Hole:
Alice dozes on the river bank when a White Rabbit runs by. She chases after him into a rabbit hole and finds herself falling. Dinah is her cat. A bottle labeled "Drink Me" makes her shrink in size, s cake labeled "Eat Me" make her grow very large. 

The Pool of Tears:
Her tears fill the floor as a pool--a mouse...

A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale:
Various animals gather and have a race but are unhappy to hear about her cat Dinah.

The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill:
Alice arrives at the rabbit's home. He calls her Mary Ann and thinks she is the housemaid. She drinks from a bottle and becomes very large. Bill the lizard... 

Advice from a Caterpillar:
She receives advice from a caterpillar smoking a hookah and perched on a mushroom. Caterpillar recites the poem You are old, Father William. He advises her that the mushroom can be used to grow or shrink: "One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter." She eats and becomes extremely short, then very tall with a serpents neck, finally learns how to use it to regulate her height.

Pig and Pepper:
She arrives at the Duchess' house where a Fish footman delivers an invitation to a Frog footman--it is for the Duchess to play croquet with the Queen. The Duchess is ugly and cross, and nurses a baby. The Cheshire-Cat sits nearby. The cook uses too much pepper in the soup... The baby becomes a pig. Alice outside finds the Cheshire Cat on a bough of a tree grinning. He points her toward the Hatter and the Hare. He vanishes leaving only his grin.

A Mad Tea-Party
Alice joins the Mad Hatter and the March Hare and the dormouse for a tea party.

The Queen's Croquet Ground
In the rose garden, cards play croquet, including the Queen and King of Hearts. She often commands "Off with her head", but Alice stands up to her. They play--the balls are live hedgehogs, the mallets flamingos, and the hoops are soldiers... The head of the Cheshire Cat materializes overhead.

The Mock Turtle's Story
The Queen and Alice encounter the Mock Turtle and a Gryphon--the turtle spins a tale.

The Lobster-Quadrille
This is also told by the Mock Turtle. Includes "Will You Walk A Little Faster?"

Who Stole the Tarts?
The Queen believes the Knave stole the tarts and has a trial

Alice's Evidence
Alice shows that the tarts have not been taken. She awakens from her dream to find her head in the lap of her sister, who in turn dreams about Alice.

Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There (1872)

Looking-glass house
Alice's cat Dinah has had kittens, and tends to the white one. As Alice (7 1/2 year old) dozes, the black kitten plays with a ball of yarn, leaving it in a tangle. She takes her in her lap and talks to her. She asks if the kitten can play chess, says "Let's pretend we're kings and queens...let's pretend you're the Red Queen, Kitty." She peers into the looking-glass (mirror) over the mantle and imagines what life must be like in the room and world she sees. Suddenly she is able to pass through to the other side. The pictures seem to be alive, etc... Several chessmen are in the cinders. A white pawn rolls on its side--the Queen's precious Lily. Alice is invisible. She dusts off the King. Alice discovers a book recounting the poem Jabberwocky in mirror-image print. Alice heads for the garden.

The Garden of Live Flowers
She encounters talking flowers, including the tiger-lily. The Red Queen arrives, now taller than Alice. The Queen addresses her--"all the ways about her belong to me..." The garden is marked like a chess board. The Queen has them run, and explains eventually "HERE, you see, it takes all the running YOU can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!" The Queen tells Alice how she must go to successive squares--through the 3rd by railway, 4th is Tweedledum and Tweedledee's, 5th is water, 6th is Humpty Dumpty, 7th forest, and 8th is where she will become a queen--then vanishes.

Looking Glass Insects
Alice boards the carriage of the train, in the company of a goat, a man dressed in paper, a beetle, and a gnat... The gnat talks about how she might lose her name, which happens later in the forest...

Tweedledum and Tweedledee
She arrives at their house... One recites the Walrus and the Carpenter.

Wool and Water
Alice encounters the White Queen... She becomes a sheep in a shop...

Humpty Dumpty
She finds him sitting on a wall. He has received unbirthday presents. He analyzes the strange words in Jabberwocky--brillig, slithy, etc.

The Lion and the Unicorn
They are fighting...

It's My Own Invention
The White Knight is constantly falling off his horse. He recites a poem. Alice arrives at the 8th square and acquires a crown.

Queen Alice
Alice with the Red and White Queens.

Alice awakens to find herself with the kitten, believes she was really the Red Queen and that the white kitten was the White Queen. 

The book concludes with the poem "A boat, beneath a sunny sky" which has first letters of each line spelling out the name "Alice Pleasance Liddell", the Dean's daughter.