Illuminated initial T he flowers Alice encounters during her visit in the Garden of Live Flowers in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, attempt to represent the plants as different levels within the British social class structure. The microcosm that Carroll created apparently places the finer and rarer specimens (i.e. the tiger-lily, and the rose) in a higher class than the more common and simpler daisies. Moreover, even the characteristics of each type of flower alludes to its rank and class in the garden.

And here they [the daisies] all began shouting together, till the air seemed quite full of little shrill voices. "Silence, everyone of you!" cried the Tiger-lily, waving itself passionately from side to side, and trembling with exBment. "They know I can't get at them!" it panted bending its quivering head towards Alice, "or they wouldn't dare to do it!"

"Never mind!" Alice said in a soothing tone and , stooping down to the daisies, who were just beginning again, she whispered "If you don't hold your tongues, I'll pick you!"

There was silence in a moment, and several of the pink daisies turned white.

"That's right!" said the Tiger-Lily "The daisies are the worst of all. When one speaks, they all begin together, and its enough to make one wither to hear the way they go on!" (122)

When Alice first enters the garden, she notices and speaks to the tiger-lily first, while the daisies interrupts and chatters away until threatened to stop by Alice. The rose assumes an air of superiority towards Alice as it criticizes her from the very beginning of the conversation.

Related to the issue of class structure is how power is divided among the classes. Normally in British society, power is divided unequally with the higher classes getting most of the share. Within the Garden of Live Flowers, no flower can assume more power than another, although there seems to be existing class levels, because all of them are planted into the ground and none can reach another. The tiger-lily tries to silence the daisies, but to no avail until Alice threatens to pick them. The daisies silences immediately with even a few turning white with fear.


Victorian Web Overview Lewis Carroll

Last modified December 1995