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The Footmen, the Duchess, and the Pig: Analysis of Chapter Six (1 of 2)

November 8, 2009

In the beginning of Chapter 6, Alice is outside next to the woods by a house. She sees a footman with a head that looks like a fish who knocks on the door and a footman with a head that looks like a frog answers. These footmen talk in a rather weird way. The Fish-Footman swaps words in his sentences. The Fish-Footman says “For the Queen. An Invitation from the Duchess to play croquet”, when actually he meant to switch Queen and Duchess. After the Fish-Footman has left Alice asks the the Frog-Footman how she is supposed to get in. The Footman never really answers her questions, instead he keeps talking to himself about how long he should sit outside. Alice then thinks that there is no point in talking to him because he doesn’t really ever answers her question. He just keeps talking to himself or answers her with a question.

So Alice decides just to go inside and there she finds the Duchess sitting with a baby and the cook making soup. The Duchess is described as having an ugly chin, which in the side notes it says that the Duchess is most likely copied from duchess Margaret of Carinthia and Tyrol, who is said to be the ugliest woman in the world. Alice first notices that the soup has a lot of pepper and that she believes that there is too much pepper. In the side notes it says the pepper is symbolizing the Duchess’ peppery ill temper. Also in Victorian England it was custom to use excessive pepper to mask the taste of slightly spoiled meat and vegetables. The Duchess’ baby did not like the pepper because it continuously cried and sneezed.

Alice Encounters The Ugly Duchess

Alice Encounters The Ugly Duchess. She was said to based of a portait of Duchess Margaret of Carithia.

Next, Alice sees the Cheshire-Cat, which she wanted to know why the cat grinned from ear to ear. The Duchess explains why just by telling Alice the name. Then the Duchess calls Alice a pig. Alice jumped when she heard this word because the Duchess said this word in such a violent way that scared her. Alice tried to explain why she asked but the Duchess just said that she didn’t know much at all. Alice did not like her tone so she decided that she was going to change the subject.

Just then, though, the cook started throwing fire-irons, pots, and pans at the Duchess and the baby. Alice did not understand this and tried to stop the cook and then a saucepan nearly took off the baby’s nose. Alice then talks about how the Earth turns on an axis which doesn’t have any relevance to this conversation. The Duchess says to chop off Alice’s head and Alice really hoped that the cook would not get the hint, which he didn’t. Then all of a sudden the Duchess starts to sing a lullaby.

After it was over the Duchess flung her child to Alice and said the she had to go get ready to play croquet with the Queen. While she left the cook threw another pan at her and again it missed. Alice then believes that they are going to somehow end up murdering the child so she took it with her. Then all of a sudden it turned into a pig. It was a very handsome pig, but a very ugly baby, so it was good that it changed into a pig. In the side notes it says that Carroll was not very fond of boys, so he would of course change the male baby into a pig.

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