Red Queen (Through the Looking Glass)


Red Queen (Through the Looking Glass)

The Red Queen is a fictional character who appears in Lewis Carroll's fantasy novella, "Through the Looking-Glass".

With a motif of "Through the Looking-Glass" being representations of the game of chess, the Red Queen could be viewed as an antagonist in the story as she is the queen for the side opposing Alice. Despite this, their initial encounter is a cordial one, with the Red Queen explaining the rules of Chess concerning promotion — specifically that Alice is able to become a queen by starting out as a pawn and reaching the eighth square at the opposite end of the board. As a queen in the game of Chess, the Red Queen is able to move swiftly and effortlessly.

Later, in Chapter 9, she appears with the White Queen, posing a series of typical Wonderland/Looking-Glass questions ("Divide a loaf by a knife: what's the answer to "that"?"), and then celebrating Alice's promotion from pawn to queen. When that celebration goes awry, Alice turns upon the Red Queen, whom she "considers as the cause of all the mischief", and shakes her until the queen morphs into Alice's pet kitten. In doing this, Alice presents an end game, awakening from the dream world of the looking glass, by both realizing her hallucination and symbolically "taking" the Red Queen in order to checkmate the Red King.

Confusion with the Queen of Hearts

She is commonly mistaken for the Queen of Hearts in the story's prequel, "Alice in Wonderland", but in reality shares none of her characteristics other than being a queen. Indeed, Carroll, in his lifetime, made the distinction of the two Queens by saying: "I pictured to myself the Queen of Hearts as a sort of embodiment of ungovernable passion - a blind and aimless Fury. The Red Queen I pictured as a Fury, but of another type; her passion must be cold and calm - she must be formal and strict, yet not unkindly; pedantic to the 10th degree, the concentrated essence of all governesses!"

The 1951 animated film "Alice in Wonderland" perpetuates the long-standing confusion between the Red Queen and the Queen of Hearts. In the film, the Queen of Hearts delivers several of the Red Queen's statements, the most notable being based on her "all the ways about here belong to me". Both characters say this to suggest importance and possible arrogance, but in the Red Queen's case it has a double meaning since her status as a Chess-queen means that she can move in any direction she desires.

In both "American McGee's Alice" and Tim Burton's upcoming film adaptation of the books, the characters are also combined, leading to further popular misconception.

In Science

The evolutionary concept of the The Red Queen's Hypothesis originates from her statement about the the Red Queen's race: "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"; this has given rise.

Popular Culture

She also appears briefly along with the Red King in "Donald in Mathmagic Land", and confuses Donald Duck for "a lost pawn" when the mathematics and calculation in a game of Chess is being explained.

In Resident Evil, the Red Queen is a computer of immense artificial intelligence and which has a nemesis named Alice.

The evil queen in "American McGee's Alice" is a combination of the Red Queen and the Queen of Hearts with whom the Red Queen is sometimes confused.

The Red Queen is obviously one of the inspirations for the character Queen Redd, the main antagonist of "The Looking-Glass Wars" and its sequel, "Seeing Redd" by Frank Beddor although they have little in common.


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