Carroll’s poem is well-known for using anthropomorphic characters to satirize the legal system. Fury’s quick decision to go after the mouse highlights the nature of some kinds of legal actions and how those who have power often abuse it.
The mouse’s lack of interest in participating in the trial underscores the notion that sometimes the pursuit of justice is compromised by self-serving motivations. Plus, the fact that those in authority may overlook the importance of fair judgment.
It’s also important to note that this poem was part of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and should also be analyzed within that context.
The Mouse's Tale Lewis CarrollFury said toa mouse, Thathe metin thehouse,'Let usboth goto law:I willprosecuteyou.—Come, I'lltake nodenial;We musthave atrial:ForreallythismorningI'venothingto do.'Said themouse tothe cur,'Such atrial,dear sir,With nojury orjudge,would bewastingour breath.''I'll bejudge,I'll bejury,'Saidcunningold Fury;'I'll trythe wholecause,andcondemnyoutodeath.'
Explore The Mouse’s Tale
‘The Mouse’s Tale’ by Lewis Carroll is a whimsical poem that details a confrontation between a mouse and the character Fury.
The poem begins with Fury proposing to go to court to have a trial against the mouse, claiming he has nothing else to do that morning. The mouse, however, dismisses the idea, stating that a trial without a jury or judge would be futile and a waste of time.
Despite the mouse’s objections, Fury arrogantly declares himself both judge and jury, vowing to try the case and condemn the mouse to death.
Structure and Form
‘The Mouse’s Tale’ by Lewis Carroll is a creative shape poem. This means that the poem is presented in the shape of a mouse’s tail, with each line arranged to form the tail’s curving shape. The lines are short and often contain only one or two words, contributing to the visual effect of the poem.
In this poem, the poet makes use of a few different literary devices. These include but are not limited to:
- Personification: can be seen when the poet imbues something non-human with human characteristics. The poem personifies the character Fury, attributing human-like qualities and emotions to this abstract entity.
- Metaphor: The entire poem serves as a metaphorical representation of the absurdities and injustices that can occur in the legal system. The trial between Fury and the mouse symbolizes unjust power dynamics and arbitrary judgments.
- Irony: The poem’s irony lies in Fury’s claim that he will have a trial without a jury or judge, as well as his declaration to be both judge and jury. This highlights the absurdity of the situation and the lack of fairness in the trial.
Fury said to
a mouse, That
In the first lines of the poem, the poet depicts a dialogue where the character Fury speaks to a mouse he encountered in the house. It’s an absurdist scene that mirrors the bizarre and dream-like reality Alice has fallen into in Wonderland.
The character of Fury wants to put Mouse on trial. He says, “‘Let us both go to law: I will prosecute you.— Come, I’ll take no denial; We must have a trial.” In these lines, Fury suggests a formal trial to the mouse. Carroll is perhaps critiquing the serious, grown-up world’s obsession with laws and trials, reducing it to this absurd situation. It’s a blend of the mundane and the surreal, a hallmark of Carroll’s style.
Fury even reveals to readers that he only wants to prosecute Mouse because he has nothing else to do. It reminds readers that the reasons for deciding someone’s fate can be as trivial as boredom.
In the next section of the poem, which makes up the very tip of the mouse’s tail, reveals that the mouse is quite intelligent. He knows that the proposed trial would be “wasting our breath” and that it can’t be valid without a jury or a judge. The mouse is suggesting the futility of such a process, demonstrating a sense of reason and understanding of how a fair trial should be.
In the next short lines, Fury counters the mouse’s protest by arrogantly appointing himself as both the judge and the jury. This is a critique of power, showing how those in authority can control the process and outcome of justice. The term “cunning” adds a sinister element to Fury’s character and makes it clear that he means harm.
The final lines condemn the sometimes frivolous nature of the justice system, with Fury deciding to condemn the mouse to death. Fury decided to outcome, undermining the notion of justice and fair trial. This could be seen as a parody of an autocratic system where justice is manipulated by those in power.
The characters in ‘The Mouse’s Tale’ are Fury and a mouse. Fury represents an arbitrary and capricious authority figure, while the mouse serves as the innocent party subjected to this authority.
Carroll uses the form of a mouse’s tail as part of his experimental approach to literature. The form also contributes to the dream-like atmosphere of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.’
‘The Mouse’s Tale’ is part of a scene where Alice meets a group of animals after the “Pool of Tears” incident. It’s the Mouse’s narrative about its encounter with Fury, and it reflects the book’s larger themes of absurdity, power dynamics, and critique of societal norms.
Fury suggests a trial simply because he has nothing else to do. This reflects the poem’s critique of arbitrary authority and the capriciousness of power.
Readers who enjoyed this poem should also consider reading some other Lewis Carroll poems. For example:
- ‘Jabberwocky’ – is a brilliant nonsense poem. It tells the story of one person’s quest to slay the Jabberwock and the incredible creatures they meet along the way.
- ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’ – was included in his 1871 novel ‘Through the Looking-Glass.’
- ‘The Crocodile’ – speaks about a crocodile who sneakily attracts fish and then swallows them with a big smile on his face.