Through the Looking Glass by John Tenniel. Wood-engraving by the Dalziels.— Illustration to the ninth chapter of
Manners are not taught in lessons," said Alice. "Lessons teach you to do sums, and things of that sort."
"Can you do Addition?" the White Queen asked. "What's one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one?"
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Commentary by Ray Dyer
With this and the following illustration of Queen Alice with the other two Queens, Tenniel returns to the popular early and mid-Victorian storytelling compositional style. Such a widely acceptable form of illustration was well-known and admired by Lewis Carroll, from his own wide reading and collecting of authors such as Dickens and Thackeray, and also from Carroll's many bound half-volumes of the profusely illustrated Punch weekly. To these may be added Carroll's own early exhaustive drawing efforts, with several half and full-page illustrations, for his original, and initially private, copy for Alice Liddell of Alice's Adventures Underground (1886).
Previous commentators on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland have rightly drawn attention to the adroit use made by the artist of simple expressive changes in Alice's facial features, in step with the textual progression, as at the Mad Hatter's Tea-Party. Here also, in Tenniel's consecutive depictions of Alice with the two Queens, he reflects the way Carroll's text variously describes Alice as "always ready for a little argument.... cautious ... puzzled"; and subsequently as "in great perplexity ... impatient." Readers may like to judge for themselves how far the textual vagaries are matched by their illustrator's fluctuating and subtle depictions of Alice's eyes,the line of her mouth, the elevation of her head, in particular.
For a wider and more general overview of the way author and illustrator place Alice among the royal personages, it is worth noting that in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland the child heroine remains unchanged in rank, and essentially herself in the presence of the very ambivalent playing-card King and Queen of Hearts; whilst in the closing book Through The Looking-Glass, Alice, after individual adventures with each of the chess-piece Queens, is elevated to the same status as the pair. Are there literary precedents for this? If not, does Lewis Carroll's broader biography shed light upon such a dramatic result for his unassuming child heroine? In the real world, Alice Liddell and her two sisters, as daughters of the Dean of Christ Church college and cathedral, had ample opportunities to mix socially with the royal family at open summer events. In June 1863, at the Christ Church Charity Bazaar, the Liddell sisters from their stall sold a kitten to none other than the future Queen, then Princess of Wales, (Carroll, Diaries, 4: 171 and n.165, 172 and n,168). See following commentary for further discussion.
Carroll, Lewis. Alice's Adventures Underground. Facsimile edition of hand-written/illustrated original . London: Macmillan, 1886.
_____ . Lewis Carroll's Diaries. The Private Journals of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. Vol. 4. Ed. Edward Wakeling. England: Lewis Carroll Society, 1997.
Last modified 10 October 2021