LIT 4334: The Golden Age of Children's Literature

The Queen and her power

on February 14, 2013 3:00am

One of the most interesting aspects of “Alice and Wonderland” for me is the power held by the women in Wonderland as well as the awe associated with these women. The most obvious example of this is the Red Queen: The potential for death and their fear of the Queen is so great that they are driven to paint a rosebush red to please her,

Fucking Paint Faster

Fucking Paint Faster

the denizens under her and her guests, who we are told are: “the guests, mostly Kings and Queens,” foreign royalty are all forced into playing a bizarre game of croquet with the Queen and even then are still sentenced to death by beheading. We also see that the Queen even scares another “powerful” woman whom Alice had encountered earlier in her trip through Wonderland; The Duchess.  In fact, the Queen appears to all effects to hold a position more powerful than even the King, a notion that would cause many readers to stumble: not solely due to the inherent feminism of the piece but the way the power dynamic is at odds with what the queen and King are, namely, playing cards. In nearly every card game the King is a more powerful card to have (for instance: a pair of kings beats a pair of queens in poker) and yet the Red Queen appears to outrank her husband the King. This disparity in their power may appear to be at least partially superficial, the King secretly pardons all the croqueteers, yet he does so, quietly and when the Queen is not present. This, I feel, reveals that the Queen is more powerful than the King, and he fears her.

Off with All their heads
Off with All their heads

Why then did Lewis Carroll create this powerful and bloodthirsty woman as the central “antagonist” of the story? I feel that all of these traits lie in examining who Carroll was telling this story to: Three young girls. She is gifted with a blood thirst (that is never truly sated) to provide comedic relief for the story so as to better entertain Carroll’s three young guests and is also given power to “act” on that desire to chop off people’s heads. This “powerful and bloodthirsty” woman then further serves as a foil to Alice (and presumably her two sisters) who is a young woman who does not want any harm to befall even random citizens.

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