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Why is a Raven Like a Writing Desk? (The Mad Hatter Riddle)

A riddle found in the 1865 book Alice in Wonderland asks why a raven is similar to a writing desk. A character known as the Hatter posed the question. The riddle has remained unsolved over time. This article will provide the solution to the riddle.

why is a raven like a writing desk?

Origin of the Question

During a tea party in the 1865 novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter asks, “Why is a raven like a writing desk?”

He originally intended it as an unsolvable riddle. Alice was unable to solve the riddle because there was no solution.

The Mad Hatter admitted as much.

When Alice said she couldn’t answer, the Mad Hatter finally admitted the riddle had no solution.

“I have no idea!” he exclaimed.”I think you might do something better with the time than waste it asking riddles with no answers.”

Alice sighed in response to the Mad Hatter’s response.

The Mad Hatter responded, “You wouldn’t talk about wasting Time if you knew what I know about it. It’s him.”

The riddle became one of the most famous in the world.

Lewis Carroll did not intend for there to be an answer, but in an updated version of the book, he did provide one.

“Because it can produce a few notes, tho they are very flat; and they do not put it with the wrong end in front!” wrote Carroll.

Carroll also misspelled never as “nevar,” which is raven spelled backward, but they lost the clever pun due to a proofreader error.

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Why is a Raven Like a Writing Desk?

Knowing the answer to a riddle does not imply that it makes sense.

As a result, let us dissect Carroll’s response. It is simpler to divide the answer into three distinct parts:

“Because it can generate a few notes.”

“However, they are very flat.”

“And they do not place it with the incorrect end in front.”

“Because It Can Produce a Few Notes”

A raven and a writing desk can both produce notes.

A raven makes a “croak” sound, while a desk produces written notes.

Writers literally write notes or letters on a writing desk.

Carroll’s youthful playfulness with words is endearing.

Every riddle conceals another wordplay riddle.

His riddles (and their answers) usually mean several things at once.

“However, they are very Flat.”

Raven notes are both flat in that they lack any significant variation in pitch or timbre.

A handwritten note on a desk is flat as well.

When applied to a raven’s “note,” flat means the geometrical shape of the note when applied to a writing desk.

“They do not place it with the wrong end in front.”

This part of the riddle solution has several interpretations.

The most important is a reference to the word “nevar” spelled backward. This intentionally misspelled word is “raven.”

The phrase “wrong end in front” refers to a word written backward, which never occurs (except, of course, in his updated preface).

A writing desk should never be “put” or placed with the incorrect end facing the writer.

That would render a writing desk practically useless.

However, there are other possible interpretations.

They usually depict a raven with its head pointed up or down, looking forward.

When you look at a writing desk, the front is where you put your paper or notebook to write.

As a result, Carroll may be implying that both a raven and a writing desk are typically viewed forward.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is the Raven like a Writing Desk Meaning?

Because it can produce a few notes

2. Why is a Raven like a Writing Desk Heartless?

Because they both have quills dipped in ink.

3. What is Mad Hatter’s Riddle?

What has a bed but never sleeps? The Answer: A River.

4. What does a Raven Symbolize? 

Death or bad fortune to come.

5. Can Raven send Messages?

 They’re actually great at delivering messages.

More FAQs

6. What is the Message of the Raven?

We are all haunted by the knowledge of death and, especially, of our own mortality.

7. What Bird Symbolizes Death?

Ravens and crows, owls and vultures.

8. What Bird means Someone from Heaven?

Red cardinals

9. Which Bird is a Symbol of a Happy Marriage?

Mandarin Ducks, Doves and Lovebirds

10. Which Bird means Freedom?


Carroll’s riddle has perplexed riddle enthusiasts for generations.

Answers have poured in, but because the riddle is absurd, there is no correct answer.

The goal is to let your mind wander as you consider the various options for obtaining an answer.

So go ahead and get your thoughts going.

Remember, sharing is caring!

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