The Imagery in Lewis Carroll's The Mouse's Tale

August 06, 2022

"The Mouse's Tale" appears in Lewis Carroll's 1865 novel, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, or Alice's Adventures Under Ground in the manuscript version. It foreshadows the nonsensical trial depicting an anthropomorphic entity called the "Fury" that condemned the mouse to death at the finale of the book. When the classic English novel's titular character, Alice, is told of the mouse's sad story, his "long and sad tale", she imagines the mouse's tail as the tale being told while looking at it. The "tale" is formed into a concrete poem in the shape of the mouse's tail. 

The image on the left shows the printed version of "The Mouse's Tale", p.36 in the 1865 edition of Carroll's novel. The image on the right is the handwritten page of the original manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground, written and illustrated by the author in 1863. It is currently under the safekeeping of and digitised by the British Library. The text reads: We lived beneath the mat, Warm and snug and fat, But one woe, and that Was the cat! To our joys a clog, In our eyes a fog, On our hearts a log Was the dog! When the cat's away, Then the mice will play. But, alas! one day (So they say) Came the dog and cat, Hunting for a rat, Crushed the mice all flat, Each one as he sat Underneath the mat, Warm, and snug, and fat― Think of that! 


Extras: Speaking of concrete poems, here's my piece titled "G Fret". Written in 2010 under my pseudonym, Armineonila M, the poem is now featured in my debut poetry collection, Line Breaker. Click the image to read it.

Image credit: Wikimedia

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