Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
- Then the Queen left off, quite out of breath, and said to Alice, "Have you seen the Mock Turtle yet?"
- "No," said Alice. "I don't even know what a Mock Turtle is."
- "It's the thing Mock Turtle Soup is made from," said the Queen.
(Alice in Wonderland, chapter 9)
Carroll enjoyed such puns on Victorian fashions and etiquette, and showed this frequently. The description and drawing by John Tenniel gives comedic value to the Mock Turtle, as he is clearly an assemblage of creatures, therefore not a real turtle as his name rightly suggests.
Alice encounters the Mock Turtle with the Gryphon. The Mock Turtle is a very melancholy character, it is thought because he used to be a real turtle. He tells Alice his history of going to school in the sea, but cannot understand the school system that Alice describes to him- least of all the poetry she recites. Ironically, she cannot understand it either. This is a pun on the two meanings of "school", referring in the turtle's usage to a school of fish or marine animals, and by Alice to an institute of learning (see school). He says teacher was an old Sea Turtle called Tortoise and when Alice asks him why he was called Tortoise if he was a Turtle the Mock Turtle answers "We called him tortoise because he taught us!".
To say that the Mock Turtle's name is a pun on the name of the soup is incomplete. The Tenniel illustration of the Mock Turtle specifically depicts it as a collection of creatures that make up the ingredients of mock turtle soup; they are not random. The pun is not only of the name, but of the nature of the soup itself.
Traditionally, mock turtle soup takes the parts of a calf that were not frequently used and often discarded, including the head, hooves, and tail; and uses the non-muscular meat to imitate turtle meat. Tenniel's illustration shows the Mock Turtle with the body of a turtle, and the head, hooves, and tail of a cattle calf. The complicated pun, then, is both word-play and picture-play.
|Main Characters||Alice's Adventures in Wonderland||Alice - White Rabbit - Mouse - Dodo - Duck - The Lory - Eaglet - Pat - Bill - Puppy - The Caterpillar - Duchess - Cheshire Cat - March Hare - The Hatter - Dormouse - Queen of Hearts - King of Queens - Knave of Hearts - Gryphon - Mock Turtle|
|Through the Looking-Glass||Alice - Red Queen - White Queen - Red King - White King - White Knight - Tweedledum and Tweedledee - The Sheep - Humpty Dumpty - Haigha - Hatta - The Lion and the Unicorn - Bandersnatch - Jubjub bird|
|Minor Characters||Alice's Adventures in Wonderland||Alice's sister - Dinah - The Duchess' Cook - Executioner - Fish Footman - Frog Frootman - Pig Baby - The Playing Cards|
|Through the Looking-Glass||Snowdrop - Kitty - Red Knight - Live Flowers - Aged Man - Rocking Horse Fly - Bread and Butterfly - Snap-Dragonfly - The White Horse|