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Red Queen (Through the Looking-Glass) facts for kids

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Red Queen
Alice character
Tenniel red queen with alice.jpg
The Red Queen lecturing Alice.
Art by John Tenniel.
First appearance Through the Looking-Glass
Created by Lewis Carroll
Portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter (Alice in Wonderland, Alice Through the Looking Glass)
Emma Rigby (Once Upon a Time in Wonderland)
Gender Female
Occupation Queen
Spouse(s) Red King
Will Scarlet (Once Upon a Time only)
Nationality Looking-Glass Land

The Red Queen is a fictional character in Lewis Carroll's fantasy 1871 novel Through the Looking-Glass. She is often confused with the Queen of Hearts from the previous book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), 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, the Red Queen 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 against 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 from the story's predecessor, Alice's Adventures 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:

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 Walt Disney 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 of which is 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 (as the phrase "off with his/her head" is constantly uttered only by the Queen of Hearts in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland). However, American McGee's game implies that after Alice was put into the asylum the Queen of Hearts and Red Queen fused together.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland

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 (Barbara Hershey), who was her tutor in magic. 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 young woman named Anastasia, with whom Will Scarlet (the Knave of Hearts) was in love. The Red Queen featured as one of the show's main antagonists, alongside Jafar.

Pandora Hearts

Two characters from the manga/anime Pandora Hearts are based on the Red Queen, Alice and Lacie, though Lacie has more in common with the Red Queen than Alice, who also has connections with The Queen of Hearts.

American McGee's Alice and Alice: Madness Returns

The Red Queen is combined into the Queen of Hearts in the first game, American McGee's Alice. The names are used interchangeably. However, in the second game, Alice: Madness Returns, they are separated once more and the player meets the Queen of Hearts in her original form; the Red Queen is seen at the very beginning of the game as a flashback from Alice's memories of when The Red Queen reigned sovereign in Wonderland.

DC Comics

In the third volume of Shazam!, the Red Queen came from the Wozenderlands and is a member of the Monster Society of Evil. She was among its members imprisoned in the Dungeon of Eternity within the Monsterlands until Mister Mind instructed Doctor Sivana on how to free them. As Shazam fights a Mister Mind-controlled C.C. Batson, Red Queen and Scapegoat ask Mister Mind when they will get a turn. Mister Mind states that they will get their chance once the Magiclands are united. As the Monster Society of Evil continues their fight with the Shazam Family, Scapegoat noted to Red Queen that Black Adam was supposed to be part of the group as Red Queen states that Black Adam refused to follow Mister Mind while having plans to get revenge on Alice and Dorothy Gale. When Scapegoat mentions his plans to get revenge on Mayor Krunket, Superboy-Prime crashes the fight where he uses his fists to impale Scapegoat as he states to Red Queen that he's going to play around first before he gets serious. When Shazam defeats Mister Mind, the resulting magical energy knocked out the Red Queen and the rest of the Monster Society of Evil. The Monster Society of Evil was mentioned to have been remanded to Rock Falls Penitentiary where the Shazam Family built a special section to contain magical threats.

Come Away

The Red Queen is played by Anna Chancellor in the 2020 movie Come Away. This version of the Red Queen is depicted as the imaginary counterpart to Eleanor Morrow, Alice's maternal aunt and the old sister of Alice's mother Rose (Angelina Jolie), whose imaginary counterpart is the Queen of Hearts.

Adaptive uses outside the arts

In science

In business

  • “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).
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