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4 Meanings of Through The Looking Glass

Through the looking glass is the surreal, illogical, paradoxical or wondrous side of things. This originates with the 1865 book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll. Looking glass is an old term for a mirror. In the book series, a girl enters a fantastical world by climbing into a mirror. The following are common interpretations of the phrase through the looking glass.


The person you see when you look in the mirror isn't exactly you -- it is a mirror image of you such that everything is reversed. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has themes of opposites such as time running in reverse and logic that is the opposite of common logic. As such, through the looking glass is used as an analogy to describe environments where everything is the reverse of standard reality. The term is also used more broadly to describe the absurd, surreal and paradoxical.


Idealism is the philosophy that ideas create the world and not the other way around. The reversed world of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is viewed as challenging the notion that reality is a static thing that is beyond reinterpretation. This can be viewed as an idealistic vision where reality is open-ended and ever changing.

Parallel Universes

As Alice enters a strange world behind a mirror, this is often viewed as a parallel universe.

Reality is Stranger Than Fiction

The colorful characters beyond the looking glass no doubt view Alice as strange -- just as strange as she views them. This might suggest that it is not imaginative fiction that is strange but the reader themselves if they should think it strange.
Overview: Through The Looking Glass
The surreal, illogical, paradoxical or wondrous side of things.
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