The Red Queen

Fettiplace-Jones’ wife was “an eager little woman with the features of the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland….” [TKO 94/91]

The Red Queen Lecturing Alice John Tenniel, 1871 illustration for Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll fromoldbooks.org via Wikipedia.org

The Red Queen Chastising Alice
Sir John Tenniel, 1871
illustration for Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
fromoldbooks.org via Wikipedia.org

This is the third reference to a Tenniel illustration in Dance (see The Frog Footman and The Mad Hatter). Powell, or at least Jenkins, makes a common error here. The Red Queen, who appears in Through The Looking Glass, is not be confused with the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. Carroll wrote: “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!” Carroll conceived his Queens as Furies; in contrast, Mrs Fettiplace-Jones “possibly advised by her husband not to be controversial about Czechoslovakia — spoke sagely of public health and housing;” she does not speak again in Dance. [TKO 94/91]

If Powell were intentionally making a reference here to The Kindly Ones (The Eumenides or Furies),  Mrs. Fettiplace-Jones would not be so readily acquiescent to her husband’s stricture against controversy.  Furthermore, we doubt that Powell was thinking of Carroll’s conception of his Queens as Furies; otherwise, Powell would not have mistakenly placed the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland. Rather, he is simply drawn once again to Tenniel’s memorable illustrations, which all but supplant every reader’s memory of Carroll’s improbable characters.

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