Study Guide

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass Looking-Glass, Chapter 6

By Lewis Carroll

Looking-Glass, Chapter 6

Humpty Dumpty

  • The egg gets larger and larger, and when Alice gets close to it she realizes that it's Humpty Dumpty. She can't help saying aloud how much he looks like an egg.
  • Humpty Dumpty tells her that it's irritating to him to be called an egg. Alice tries to explain that she only said he looked like one, and some eggs are very pretty, anyway. Humpty Dumpty is still offended and won't look at her.
  • Verse Alert: Alice repeats the nursery rhyme "Humpty Dumpty" quietly to herself.
  • Humpty Dumpty tells Alice to stop chattering to herself and tell him her name and business. When she says her name is Alice, he asks what it means. He says that his name indicates his shape, but hers doesn't.
  • Alice tries to warn Humpty Dumpty about the dangers of sitting perched high on a wall. Humpty Dumpty explains that there's no possible chance he could fall off, but if he did, the King has promised to send all his horses and his men.
  • Alice interjects the part about the horses and the men, which she remembers from the rhyme. Humpty Dumpty thinks she has been spying on him and gets angry, but she explains that she read it in a book.
  • They lose track of the conversation and decide to start over. Humpty Dumpty asks Alice her age, and she says she's seven and a half. Humpty Dumpty tells her she should have stopped at seven, and she is offended by this remark.
  • Alice changes the subject by complimenting Humpty Dumpty on his cravat (a kind of necktie) – but she can't decide whether it's really a cravat or a belt. He's offended and explains that it's a cravat, a gift from the White King and Queen for his un-birthday.
  • Alice says she thinks un-birthday presents aren't as nice as birthday presents. Humpty Dumpty says they're better, because you only get one birthday a year, but you get 364 un-birthdays.
  • Humpty Dumpty begins using fancy words, and each time he does, he gives Alice a long explanation of what he's using the word to mean. Alice isn't sure you can make words mean so many different things, but Humpty Dumpty says you can. He explains that he pays them extra when he makes them work really hard.
  • Since Humpty Dumpty seems to be good with words, Alice asks him to explain the poem "Jabberwocky," which she read in Looking-Glass House in Chapter 1. Line by line, Humpty Dumpty explains what the poem means, giving Alice definitions for the words she didn't know.
  • Verse Alert: Humpty Dumpty offers to recite a poem to Alice. Alice tries to stop him, but he's determined. He recites a nonsense poem in couplets about fishes.
  • At the end of the poem, Humpty Dumpty abruptly says goodbye to Alice. She wishes him goodbye until they meet again, but he says he won't recognize her the next time because she looks just like everybody else.
  • Humpty Dumpty shuts his eyes, and Alice walks away. She says to herself that he is a very unsatisfactory person.
  • Suddenly there is a loud crash, and the whole forest shakes.