Reflection in the Mirror

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass is a seemingly nonsensical piece. However, its chaotic flow is well thought out and relevant. The illustrations were scrutinized by Caroll and the artist, which is interesting because some have odd designs and placements. Characters will be significantly mentioned in the text on the page but the illustration does not acknowledge them. The text itself structurally also forms around the images; they make up the page together. This is because as tough to understand athey may be sometimes, Collins wants the reader to recognize the contents of the image. Even if their purpose is a “brain break” for the rest of the story on the page, because this is a children’s book after all. The way that Collins has set up this novel alludes that he does not want the reader to correlate two subject matters just because they are placed next to or near each other. To rely less on context clues, and focus on matters individually in order to explore deeper. This allows the reader to truly analyze everything on every page of the novel. The lack of order and hierarchy of importance to the situations illustrated further drives the idea that the contents are random, while they are just truly meant to stand on their own. A looking glass—or mirror—is an ideal way to explore deeper into oneself. A person may recognize herself or she may not, but at some point there will be a look in the mirror that will be the first occurrence of self recognition. When Alice is playing with the two kittens in the beginning of Through the Looking Glass, the black kitten is the naughty and bad one whereas the white kitten is innocent and pure. Alice threatens the black kitty that if he is not good, “[she’ll] put [him] through into Looking-Glass House. How would [he] like that?” (Collins 119). Alice is using this consequence like it is daunting or difficult. The black kitten, the “bad” one, being put through the looking glass would be apparently an unpleasant, potentially frightening, experience if he had to reflect on himself. The contents of the novel are not random and they all surface back to the title’s main idea of deeper reflection. 

Daisy Miller on Daisy Miller

In Henry James’ Daisy Miller, the romantic interest of protagonist Winterbourne, named Miss Daisy Miller, is a young lady with a bold personality. She is described from the perspectives of numerous other characters in the novel to provide the reader a chance to determine their own feelings about her. However, listening to Daisy speak may be the most useful tool to decide how the reader feels about her. To Winterbourne, she is an intriguing, witty, and beautiful woman—but her looks seem to be the driving force of his fascination. According to Winterbourne’s snobby aunt, Mrs. Costello, the Miller family is “hopelessly vulgar” as they are “intimate” with their courier and Daisy is only a “common” pretty. Mrs. Costello is a part of the high social status, so she has an understanding of the kinds of people that are also in her community. When Daisy speaks, it is often formal dialogue, especially with Winterbourne. She believes speaking this way will give the impression that she is a classy woman, not a young lady with a liking to tease others. This also exudes the impression that she is from a higher class than how she actually lives. Daisy is self-absorbed and has “main character syndrome”: meaning that she is the center of her world and other people are to do deeds for her, not the other way around because that would not make sense to her as she is the “main character” of life. She says to Winterbourne, “I like a lady to be exclusive; I’m dying to be exclusive myself. Well, we are exclusive, mother and I. We don’t speak to every one—or they don’t speak to us. I suppose it’s about the same thing” (James 20). Perhaps Daisy teases men so often because a lady is exclusive. She likes interacting with men, but being a lady is important to her. Being a lady also extends to her family—her mother—for that factors into the image of who she associates with and where she comes from. It is certainly not the same thing for a person to not speak to many others versus other people approaching that person. If someone does not seem approachable, others will not want to introduce themselves. If a person wants to interact with another specific person, it is her responsibility to introduce herself and make that interaction happen. On the same note, when Winterbourne discusses taking a trip to Rome, Daisy reaction is, “’I don’t want you to come for your aunt,’ said Daisy; ‘I want you to come for me’” (30). She has known this man for not even a full day and they by no means have a close relationship to each other, yet she wants him to do things for her. It would be very nice if they could reconnect in Rome, but her poutiness to his proposition is very off-putting all because she is not the star of the show, if he does not visit Rome specially for Daisy. When Daisy speaks, it is certainly conveyed to the reader how she views herself and how she wishes for others to view her. 

Women: pure and evil

In Charles Dickens’ classic mid-nineteenth century novel, there are few characters who show they are kindhearted and have good intentions. The character who embodies this the most is a young woman named Rose. She is a sweet “girl next door”. As her name hints, she is feminine and beautiful like a flower. Roses symbolize love, and the young woman Rose certainly infiltrates love into this crime ridden storyline. There is another young woman, Nancy, who is affiliated with Fagin’s gang and lives her life on the streets trying to keep herself alive. To Rose, Oliver is an innocent young boy who needs more guidance in his life. Per request of the gang, Nancy kidnaps Oliver. Rose wants nothing but to help other people, Oliver in particular, and Nancy is interjecting herself into his life and causing havoc. To the audience, Rose is portrayed as this ultra-feminine woman whereas Nancy does not even recognize herself as human, let alone feminine. 

Nancy goes to speak with Rose to inform her that she was the one who kidnapped Oliver. She tells Rose, I am the infamous creature you have heard of, that lives among the thieves… so help me God! Do not mind shrinking openly from me, lady. I am younger than you would think, to look at me, but I am well used to it. The poorest woman fall back, as I make my way long the crowded pavement” (Dickens 226). This entire passage is Nancy degrading herself as not just a woman but from humanity, and she is having this conversation with the very entrancing and womanly Rose. 

Nancy identifies herself as a “creature”, an entity that is worse than the “thieves” she lives with and she does not fit in with even the poorest people on the streets. She is a woman, but she is also worse than the other people on the Earth. Labeling herself as “infamous” expresses that her unpleasant qualities are everlasting. Being eternal and a monster are qualities typically describing and evil entity. Nancy is deceptive, she is older than she looks. In actuality, this is likely due to her impoverished lifestyle, but she is “not what she seems” nonetheless. Deceiving others is a trait the devil often uses. 

Rose, on the other hand, is the opposite of Nancy. Although they are both women, Nancy calls Rose “lady”, a title she does not give herself. They are the same, but they are also not, as Nancy would not be offended if Rose visibly showed her disturbance of Nancy’s presence. Nancy also cries out “so help me God!” in a time that Rose tries to lend a helping hand. Rose is portrayed as angelic and feminine. A woman with good energy who wishes to assist others in fixing their problems. This scene stands out in the plot because it is an intimate interaction with two women: one pure and one evil.