Red Queen (Through the Looking-Glass)
The Red Queen lecturing Alice, by John Tenniel
|First appearance||Through the Looking-Glass|
|Created by||Lewis Carroll|
The Red Queen is a fictional character in Lewis Carroll's fantasy novella, Through the Looking-Glass. She is often confused with the Queen of Hearts from the previous book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, although the two are very different.
With a motif of Through the Looking-Glass being a representation 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
The Red Queen is commonly mistaken for the Queen of Hearts in the story's predecessor, Alice in Wonderland. The two share the characteristics of being strict queens associated with the color red. However, their personalities are very different. Indeed, Carroll, in his lifetime, made the distinction between the two Queens by saying:
—Lewis Carroll, in "Alice on the Stage"
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 film adaptation of the books, the characters are also combined, leading to further popular misconception. Also, Jefferson Airplane's song "White Rabbit" contains the lyric "and the Red Queen's off with her head", another instance of the two characters combined or mistaken for one another.
Adaptive uses outside the arts
Red Queen's Hypothesis
The Red Queen's Hypothesis, Red Queen, "Red Queen's race" or "Red Queen Effect" is an evolutionary hypothesis. The term is taken from the Red Queen's race in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass. The Red Queen said, "It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place." The Red Queen Principle can be stated thus:
- "For an evolutionary system, continuing development is needed just in order to maintain its fitness relative to the systems it is co-evolving with."
The hypothesis is intended to explain two different phenomena: the advantage of sexual reproduction at the level of individuals, and the constant evolutionary arms race between competing species. In the first (microevolutionary) version, by making every individual an experiment when mixing mother's and father's genes, sexual reproduction may allow a species to evolve quickly just to hold onto the ecological niche that it already occupies in the ecosystem. In the second (macroevolutionary) version, the probability of extinction for groups (usually families) of organisms is hypothesized to be constant within the group and random among groups.
- The paradox of sex — the "cost" of males
Science writer Matt Ridley popularized the term "the red queen" in connection with sexual selection in his book The Red Queen. In the book, Ridley discussed the debate in theoretical biology over the adaptive benefit of sexual reproduction to those species in which it appears. The connection of the Red Queen to this debate arises from the fact that the traditionally accepted theory (Vicar of Bray) only showed adaptive benefit at the level of the species or group, not at the level of the gene (although, it must be added here that the protean 'Vicar of Bray' adaptation is very useful to some species that belong to the lower levels of the food chain). By contrast, a Red-Queen-type theory that organisms are running cyclic arms races with their parasites can explain the utility of sexual reproduction at the level of the gene by positing that the role of sex is to preserve genes that are currently disadvantageous, but that will become advantageous against the background of a likely future population of parasites.
Sex is an evolutionary puzzle. In most sexual species, males make up half the population, yet they bear no offspring directly and generally contribute little to the survival of offspring. In fact, in some species, such as lions, males pose a positive threat to live young fathered by other males (although this could be viewed as a manifestation of Richard Dawkins' so-called selfish gene, whose 'goal' is to reproduce itself, which may as a consequence suppress the reproduction of other genes). In addition, males and females must spend resources to attract and compete for mates. Sexual selection also can favor traits that reduce the fitness of an organism, such as brightly colored plumage in birds of paradise that increases the likelihood for an individual to be noticed by both predators and potential mates (see the handicap principle for more on this). Thus, sexual reproduction can be highly inefficient.
One possible explanation for the fact that nearly all vertebrates are sexual is that sex increases the rate at which adaptation can occur. This is for two reasons. Firstly, if an advantageous mutation occurs in an asexual line, it is impossible for that mutation to spread without wiping out all other lines, which may have different advantageous mutations of their own. Secondly, it mixes up alleles. Some instances of genetic variation might be advantageous only when paired with other mutations, and sex increases the likelihood that such pairings will occur. Also, in asexually reproducing organisms, especially parthenogenetic organisms, mutations conferring an advantageous allele will have to occur twice, before the advantageous allele becomes fixed in the population, resulting in a longer phase where the heterozygote for the disadvantageous allele (relative to the new advantageous allele) is fixed in the population.
For sex to be advantageous for these reasons requires constant selection for changing conditions. One factor that might cause this is the constant arms race between parasites and their hosts. Parasites generally evolve quickly because of their short life cycles. As they evolve, they attack their hosts in a variety of ways. Two consecutive generations might be faced with very different selective pressures. If this change is rapid enough, it might explain the persistence of sex.
- See also
“Red Queen marketing” is defined as the business practice of launching new products in order to replace past failed launches while the overall sales of a brand may remain static or growth is less than fully incremental (Donald Kay Riker, 2009). The concept is important since traditional financial metrics, such as sales and revenue growth, do not adequately describe a company’s efficiency at product development and marketing. In a perfectly efficient development process the sales of a new launch would contribute entirely incremental growth; if that launch simply replaces prior launches, or cannibalizes related brand offerings, the company is practicing a form of Red Queen marketing. Companies that launch new products at an increasingly high rate over time to maintain the status quo are likely practicing Red Queen marketing.
Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010)
The 2010 live-action film Alice in Wonderland, fashioned as a sequel to the novel, features Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen. Bonham Carter's head was digitally increased three times its original size on screen. Bonham Carter's character is a combination of the Red Queen, the Duchess and the Queen of Hearts. From the original Red Queen, this character gets only a relationship to the White Queen. Here the Red Queen is the older sister of the White Queen, and is jealous of her sister, whom her subjects genuinely love. From the original John Tenniel illustrations of the Duchess, she gets a massive head in proportion to her body and a retinue of frog footmen. The White Queen theorizes that the movie's Red Queen has a tumor pressing against her brain, explaining both her large head and her deranged behaviour. Most of her characteristics are taken from the Queen of Hearts, including:
- A quickness to anger, including the famous phrase "Off with his/her/their/your head!" Her first name, Iracebeth, is a play on the word "irascible". In the movie, the queen's moat is full of heads from her many decapitations. Carter has said that she based her performance on her toddler-aged daughter.
- The use of animals as inanimate objects. Beside the flamingo mallets & hedgehog croquet balls from the original, this queen also uses them as furniture.
- Having tarts stolen, although in this adaptation it was a starving frog footman who stole the tarts rather than the Knave of Hearts. Here, the queen is madly in love with the Knave of Hearts, who leads her army, and has executed her husband the King for fear that he would leave her.
- Employment of a fish footman and the White Rabbit.
- Heart motifs throughout her palace & a 16th-century-style costume associated with the queen of hearts playing card & the original John Tenniel illustrations for the Queen of Hearts.
The irritable, snobbish mother of Alice's potential husband, cast as a corresponding villain in the "real world" also resembles the Queen of Hearts when she fumes about her gardeners planting white instead of red roses.
After the Jabberwocky is slain by Alice, the Red Queen's army stops fighting and following her orders. The White Queen banishes the Red Queen to Outland where nobody is to say a word to her or show her any kindness. The Knave of Hearts is also banished and tries to kill the Red Queen only to be thwarted by the Mad Hatter. As the Red Queen and the Knave of Hearts are carried off to their exile, the Red Queen repeatedly shouts "He tried to kill me" while the Knave of Hearts begged for the White Queen to have him killed.
In the video game adaptation of the film, she plays a minor role, first appearing as a mere illustration. She is not seen in person until near the end of the game, first playing croquet and beheading the hedgehogs she uses as balls whenever they miss their target at her castle, and then again both before and after the battle with the Jabberwocky. Her clothes and persona is similar to the Tudor sisters Queen Mary I (persona) and Queen Elizabeth I (clothes).
The Red Queen appears in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (a spin-off to Once Upon a Time) portrayed by Emma Rigby. She is a character distinct from the Queen of Hearts (who is played by Barbara Hershey). Like the Queen of Hearts and the Mad Hatter, the Red Queen is an émigré to Wonderland from the Enchanted Forest, having originally been a woman named Anastasia with whom Will Scarlet (who later became the Knave of Hearts) was in love. Her mother disapproved of her relationship with Will even when they leave for Wonderland. Upon arrival, Anastasia and Will encounter a wagon filled with bread that is bound for a nearby palace. Anastasia convinces Will that they should attend the party at the palace. While at the party, Anastasia meets the local King while Will is looking around. Their ruse is discovered by the guards and are thrown out. It turns out that it was part of Will's plan to pocket some food from the party as he tells Anastasia that they got some food to last them a week. Before making plans to return to the Enchanted Forest, Anastasia states to Will that they should steal the Crown Jewels from the palace. Anastasia infiltrates the palace so that she can obtain the Crown Jewels and throw them out the window to Will. During the heist, Anastasia is confronted by the King who catches her in the act. When asked by the King what possessed her to do that, Anastasia states that the King has more wealth than her. The King plans to have the Crown Jewels given to Anastasia in exchange that he has her hand in marriage since he has been searching for a queen. Anastasia goes ahead with the King's offer and becomes the new Queen much to Will's dismay. Some years later, the Red Queen has entered into an alliance with Jafar to gain the power of a genie Alice is in love with. The Red Queen has some minor skill with magic, but is nowhere near as powerful as Jafar or the Queen of Hearts. To ensure that she and Jafar get what they want from Alice, the Red Queen has the White Rabbit as her reluctant spy to keep her posted on Alice's status until his part of their deal is fulfilled.
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