White Queen (Through the Looking-Glass)

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White Queen
Alice character
A-dressing the White Queen.jpg
Alice "a-dressing" the White Queen.
Art by John Tenniel (1865)
First appearance Through the Looking-Glass
Created by Lewis Carroll
Information
Species Human
Gender Female
Occupation Queen
Spouse(s) White King
Children Lily (a pawn)
Nationality Looking-Glass Land

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

Plot[edit]

Along with her husband the White King, she is one of the first characters to be seen in the story. She first appears in the drawing room just beyond the titular looking-glass as an animate chesspiece unable to see or hear Alice, the main character. The Queen is looking for her daughter Lily; Alice helps her by lifting the White Queen and King onto the table, leading them to believe they were thrown up by an invisible volcano.

When Alice meets the Red Queen and joins the Chess game, she takes the place of a white pawn, Lily being too young to play. She does not meet the White Queen as a human-sized character until the Fifth Square. The White Queen lives backwards in time, due to the fact that she lives through the eponymous looking glass. Her behaviour is odd to Alice. She offers Alice "jam to-morrow and jam yesterday - but never jam to-day." She screams in pain until, rather than because, she pricks her thumb on her brooch, and tells Alice of the King's messenger who has been imprisoned for a crime he will later be tried for and perhaps (but not definitely) commit in the end. The White Queen, aside from telling Alice things that she finds difficult to believe (one being that she is just over 101 years old) says that in her youth she could believe "six impossible things before breakfast" and counsels Alice to practice the same skill. The meeting ends with the Queen seeming to turn into a bespectacled sheep who sits at a counter in a shop as Alice passes into the next square on the board. The Sheep is somewhat different from the Queen in terms of personality and gets "more like a porcupine every time [Alice] looks at her" because she knits with several knitting needles all at once. Two of these needles turn into oars when Alice appears in a boat, and then reappear in the Sheep's shop, where Alice purchases an egg, which becomes Humpty Dumpty as she moves to the next square.

In Chapter 9, the White Queen appears with the Red 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, the White Queen seems to flee the scene by disappearing into a tureen of soup. Martin Gardner's The Annotated Alice points out that the White King is at the time in check from the Red Queen, and the White Queen's move is rather pointless, though characteristic of her stupidity. However, since neither side acknowledges the check, it is not technically illegal. Alice proceeds to "capture" the Red Queen and checkmate the Red King, ending the game. The White Queen is not seen again, except as one of Alice's white cats, who Alice speculates may have influenced the dream.

In other media[edit]

White Queen (Mirana)
Anne Hatheway as White Queen (Through the Looking Glass).jpg
Anne Hathaway as the White Queen in Tim Burton's 2010 adaptation
Created by Lewis Carroll and Tim Burton
Portrayed by Anne Hathaway
Information
Occupation Queen of Wonderland
Relatives Iracebeth the Red Queen

The White Queen has been portrayed in various TV and film productions by actresses including Carol Channing, Penelope Wilton and Brenda Bruce.

In Sandra the Fairytale Detective, her name is Victoria because she is the Queen of Victory.

Alice in Wonderland (2010)[edit]

Anne Hathaway portrays the White Queen (renamed "Mirana of Marmoreal") in Tim Burton's 2010 adaptation[1] alongside Helena Bonham Carter as Iracebeth, the Red Queen; they are portrayed as sisters. The White Queen's soldiers appear in white armor inspired by chess pieces while The Red Queen's appear in armour made to resemble cards. Mirana's delicate exterior is reinforced by her habit of holding her hands gracefully at shoulder height in almost every scene in which she appears. But her black fingernail polish and the dark circles under her eyes, as well as her nonchalance about certain potion ingredients ("buttered fingers"), hint at a more complex character under the surface. Additionally, she is portrayed as a young woman with white blonde hair, a flawless complexion and air of elegance, grace and perfection.

In the movie, Iracebeth has banished her sister from "Underland" out of jealousy; Mirana, having taken a vow never to harm another living thing, is helpless to fight back and must wait years for the "Frabjous Day," when a "champion" will arrive and slay the Jabberwocky, Iracebeth's fearsome pet. That champion arrives in Alice (Mia Wasikowska), now a young woman, who initially thinks she is having a recurring dream. By the film's climax, however, Alice accepts her destiny and slays the Jabberwocky, restoring rulership of Wonderland to the White Queen. Mirana banishes her sister and bids Alice goodbye. Despite her benevolent and kind attitude, Anne Hathaway remarks that on the inside, the White Queen is just as sadistic as her sister, if not more so, and has surrounded herself with a warm and calm atmosphere, out of fear she will not be able to control her true nature.[citation needed] This side to her character is hinted at after Alice remarks that Mirana cannot imagine the horror that goes on inside the Red Queen's castle, yet Mirana coldly assures her - whilst wielding a blade - that she can. Mirana apparently is not above cruel punishment such as having her sister exiled to the Outlands for the rest of her days where nobody is to show her kindness or say a word to her. Mirana also had the Knave of Hearts unwillingly kept in Iracebeth's company for the rest of his life.

Her clothes and persona are similar to those of the historical Scottish Queen Mary Stuart.[citation needed]

Other adaptions[edit]

  • The character of Genevieve Heart in Frank Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars series is considered a re-imagining of the White Queen.
  • The main antagonist of the manga and anime series Pandora Hearts, known as the Will of the Abyss, is based on the White Queen in appearance and mannerisms, and is also identical to another character named Alice, who is based off the Red Queen.
  • The character of Mrs Wragge in Wilkie Collins' No Name is considered to be based on the White Queen.
  • In the finale of Once Upon A Time In Wonderland, Alice mentions that the Red Queen, who had turned over a new leaf over the course of the series, was now known as the White Queen.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Missy Schwartz, "Best Actress," Entertainment Weekly 1032/1033 (Jan. 30/Feb. 6, 2009): 46.