Study Guide

The Red Queen in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass

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The Red Queen

Character in: Looking-Glass World

The Red Queen, not to be confused with the Queen of Hearts in Wonderland, is one of the chess pieces in the grand game of chess that Alice plays in Looking-Glass World. Because Alice is a White Pawn, you might expect her to regard the Red Queen as an enemy. But although the Red Queen can be bossy, she actually gives Alice a lot of helpful advice and arranges for Alice to take part in the game.

Examining the character of the Red Queen, we realize that Carroll's attitude toward matronly women seems to have softened since the first Alice book. Unlike the Queen of Hearts, the Red Queen doesn't abuse her power, keeping violence to a minimum and trying to help events unfold as smoothly as possible. She's overbearing, but she's trying to help Alice if she can. The Red Queen's pragmatism about the battle being fought between the chess pieces reminds us that all conflicts are somewhat arbitrary. At the end of the book, the Red Queen turns into Alice's black kitten, Kitty. We can't really find any deeper meaning in this, except that Carroll is reminding us of the connections between real life and Looking-Glass World.

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