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The Queen an Older Sibling?

November 18, 2009

After finishing Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, I began to think about some of the less major characters that I neglected to pay attention to before. One such character was the Queen.

The Queen appears to be somewhat of an older sibling. While she acts that way towards Alice, she seems to act the same way towards every other character as well. For example, the Queen is constantly shouting “Off with her head!” to whoever she sees. However, she never acts on those threats. This is reminiscent of an older brother (or in this case, sister) that always raises their arm to hit their younger sibling but never actually hits them. Additionally, the empty threats link up with an angry sibling’s own meaningless bluffs, such as “I’m going to kill you!”

Both are seemingly very violent but in truth all parties know that both the Queen and the older sibling she resembles would never follow through with such menace.

Further evidence that the Queen represents an older sibling (that, in turn, feels superiority) is presented when Alice is talking with the Cheshire Cat about the Queen. Alice notices the Queen is listening in and quickly changes her critical tune to declaring that the Queen is so “likely to win” (p. 86) the croquet game. The Queen is obviously pleased by this, and a possible conflict is avoided. Could Alice have been fearful of the Queen’s wrath (similar to an older siblings own)?

By looking closely at the Queen, it seems possible that she is like an angry, bluffing older sibling who thinks she is far superior to those her junior.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Rivu D. permalink
    November 29, 2009 12:45 pm

    You make an incredible comparison here. Although I’m going to have to disagree with you on the queen being a “less major character, I wholeheartedly agree with you that the queen does seem like somewhat of an older sibling. The similarity that I keep seeing is that both have superiority and both have the ability to abuse that superiority. Whether they abuse it or not is up to the older sibling, but the Queen definitely abuses her power as she orders executions on her whim, and I love how you compared that to an older brother or sister saying something along the lines “I’m going to kill you!”. And just like a little brother or sister would do, Alice gets fed up with her “older sibling” and tells her off. As an aside its interesting to see how Alice shatters the illusion of wonderland as soon as she tells off the Queen of Hearts, her “sibling”.

  2. Melissa H. permalink
    November 19, 2009 1:48 pm

    The first thing that caught my eye was your title and before reading what you wrote in the blog it also got me thinking. I made a short comparison. After I finished reading the blog I was like wow this is a really good point. I had never thought of it like this, probably along with half of everyone else. It makes sense now that you’ve laid all the ideas out and then support what you feel. I also can see how you go her being a sibling. She comes off protective of Alice, but at the same time I guess what you could consider “mean?” Most of us with older siblings’ love them but do get annoyed with them or scared of them at some point… well at least I can say that. I think Carroll does a good way at putting this all together if that was the point he was trying to make. You did an even better job at thinking outside the box and being creative because I probably would have never thought of this.

  3. Emma L. permalink
    November 18, 2009 12:37 pm

    First of all when I saw the title I was very interested to see if the Queen did have any sisters or if it was a twist on a concept totally different.

    I was disappointed the Queen wasn’t a bigger part in Alice’s journey because the thought process Carroll used to develop this character is incredible. If this, which it probably will, would become a Broadway musical, I can be quite certain that the Queen would be one of the leading parts with one of the “show stopper” numbers. I can picture it now, the cards doing a tap dance and the Queen singing out with elaborate costumes.

    I agree that the Queen could be seen as an older sibling. I admit I sometimes may “threat” my sister if I want something before her or if she is bothering me, but I never actually do what I say. I can relate to the Queen in that sense and I can see other siblings agreeing with this observation. I think it is interesting that Carroll only gave the queen the “bad” qualities of a person. Could the Queen personality be in wanting attention?

    I can’t wait to read your next blogs! Brava!

    • Kristen K permalink
      November 18, 2009 11:03 pm

      First of all, thank you.

      Second, I agree with your disappointment about the Queen having a small part. In fact, I feel that nearly all the characters’ roles were fairly short-lived. Granted, it is a children’s story and is meant to be shorter than a grandiose novel, however I felt that the majority of the characters were rather underdeveloped.

      And to answer your question, I think attention is exactly what the Queen wants. She is always ordering others about and feels she absolutely must win the croquet game. As for the “bad” qualities–again I agree. The question is, does it not seem odd to you that Carroll would make a character that displays “bad” qualities the Queen of Hearts?

      • Emma L. permalink
        November 19, 2009 12:07 pm

        I agree that if Carroll did develop each character that the book would become into a novel. There is nothing wrong with novels, yet since this book was aimed towards children, specifically Alice, there needed to be a shorter summary of the characters as a whole instead of elaborate fully developed personalities. Although could Carroll have cut some characters from the book and developed the remaining ones and still get the same message/story across?

        I do think it is very odd that Carroll would make a character display “bad” qualities. Perhaps Carroll was showing Alice a person who she would not want to become as she matures. The Duchess is a perfect example of a person who demonstrates both “good” and “bad” qualities. Carroll was probably hinting that in some situations people can come across as rude yet when out of that situation they really are a polite person.

        Of course, in Wonderland are “bad” qualities good?

  4. November 18, 2009 12:28 pm

    That would make some sense, and I like where you’re going with this. Wouldn’t it just make everything easier if Carroll had a manuel saying ‘Duchess=____’ making our lives so much easier and making the analysis much, much easier. Along with the symbolism, jokes, metaphors, and so on. Also, do you think that Alice’s manners toward the Queen, if we assume the Queen is like an older sibling, are out of true manners or only because the Duchess is Alice’s elder? And at the trial, Alice’s manners and respect for the Queen have flown out the window, as it does with times with my own sister.

    • Kristen K permalink
      November 18, 2009 10:55 pm

      Yes, I agree, it would make analysis easier to have a manual. But from what I’ve gathered from the mathematician that was Carroll, I would say perhaps the entire point of the story is to figure it out (like a math problem), or even just to prove you can figure it out.

      I think perhaps Alice’s attitude toward the Queen prior to the trial was polite and appeasing out of fear. The reason she suddenly starts defying the Queen in the trial is perhaps because she has begun to grow much larger than the Queen–and thus her fear has disappeared.

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