Why did Lewis Carroll decide to suppress “The Wasp in a Wig” from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1871)? Certainly, he was acting on the advice of John Tenniel. However, the chapter’s suppression was likely not just because a wasp in a wig is hard to draw but because Carroll determined that the chapter was weaker in literary value than the rest of Looking-Glass. This article will argue that the weakness of the chapter follows from Carroll’s lifelong habit of digging at ideological sore points (in this case, how insects should be understood within a Christian as opposed to Darwinian view), conjoined with his growing anxieties about aging. These two themes work in tandem inadvertently to reach beyond the pleasures of nonsense to fall into genuine pathos; the human wasp, far more anthropomorphized than the looking-glass insects, is indeed both a social failure and close to death. Perhaps even a child reader cannot be much consoled by Alice’s reflection when she leaves the wasp that she was “quite pleased that she had gone back and given a few minutes to making the poor old creature comfortable” (AA 298).

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