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Discuss the importance of chess in Lewis Caroll’s Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Caroll’s Through the Looking Glass is the sequel to the best selling book Alice in Wonderland. Alice enters a fantastical world through a mirror. As she advances her footsteps, she discovers several extraordinary things in the room. In that world, everything is inverted just like reflection. Just as she starts exploring the different things in the room, she notices chess pieces that are alive.

The game of chess plays an important role in the story. The entire story is developed just like a chess game. The adventures that Alice leads up to, are structured in the form of a chess game. The chess game offers a reflection to the different levels of adventures that Alice faces throughout her journey. She crosses every trouble in her way and moves a step above just like in a chess game. Chess is a game of well planned moves. Our fate depends upon the moves we choose. Similarly, Alice’s moves choose her fate in the story. Alice is invited to play the game and is given the role of a white pawn. Her aim is to achieve the eighth rank i.e. the Queen. To achieve this she needs to cross every hurdle in her way exactly like in the game of chess. She gains experience step by step and maturing a little by every hurdle she crosses.

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Alice is placed in the second rank as one of the White Queen’s pawns and begins her journey across the chessboard by boarding a train that jumps over the third row and directly into the fourth rank, thus acting on the rule that pawns can advance two spaces on their first move. When she starts as a pawn, she is naive. She has a little knowledge about the game. Her destiny is to become the Queen at the end. When Alice successfully crosses a square in this world, she becomes a bit more closer to her goal of becoming a Queen. The squares are divided by brooks and streams. She meets Red Queen in the garden who is the size of a human. Alice is impressed by the Red Queen’s ability to run at a high speed. She gradually moves to the next squares where she meets the White King, the shop, river, Humpty Dumpty and the forest. Alice is crowned as the Queen in the eighth square, where she meets the other two queens. She can now see the entire board and gained access to full ability just like the Queen has in the game.

The characters act accordingly to their corresponding pieces. The Queen is the most powerful piece on the board, which can move in all the directions. The King, however is the weakest one, which doesn’t have much accessibility. The transit from pawn to Queen has a resemblance to real life. Alice, who starts off as a naive and innocent girl gradually matures with every step. She leaves her childhood and enters to adulthood while advancing in the game. By using the chess game as the principle, the author suggests that every person is guided by a force and every event is predestined. The game of chess serves as a metaphor in the story. It indicates that fate is predetermined, just like it was Alice’s destiny to become the Queen. Her life is guided by external forces and it moves as it is planned. The game of chess also indicates the stage of maturation in human life. Thus we can say that Lewis Caroll very aptly used the game of chess to paint the story.

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