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Silly Rabbit, Tricks Aren’t for Kids

December 3, 2009

Here is a quote that the White Rabbit proclaimed early in chapter two:

… muttering to himself, as he came, “Oh! The Duchess, the Duchess! Oh! Wo’n’t she be savage if I’ve kept her waiting!”


“The Duchess! The Duchess! Oh my dear paws! Oh my fur and whiskers! She’ll get me executed, as sure as ferrets are ferrets! Where can I have dropped them, I wonder?”

And I bring you one more quote:

“Talking of axes,” said the Duchess, “chop off her head!”

Now we both know the Queen of Hearts was famous for her phrase, “Off with his/her head!” As the quote states, the Duchess did mention something of the same sort. First, I’d like to explore the connection between the Queen and Duchess.

Why would Carroll have the two characters relate in this way? In chapter eight, we discovered that the Queen locked the Duchess up, so the two obviously do not have a pleasant relationship. After being released, the Duchess actually seemed rather nice, going off about morals. Through all these instances, we can conclude that the two characters were very different, yet they shared the phrase that involved beheading someone.

Now that that questionable connection is made, let’s move on to the White Rabbit’s statements. He fears that he will be punished to a fatal degree. Now you can easily predict that he is fearing the Queen, but he directly says the Duchess.


Is this some kind of mix-up? He doesn’t work for the Duchess, he works for the Queen. He never even meets the Duchess directly in the story. Is this some kind of trick? Did Carroll do this on purpose or did he just mess up? Am I missing something here?

Let’s say that he did, in some weird dimension, he did in fact mean the Duchess. In the first scene with the Duchess, as the quote says, she said to execute Alice. The cook didn’t seem to care, so it seems that the Duchess had no real power. Yet, the White Rabbit still was very afraid, which doesn’t seem likely.

Can anyone provide some insight to this, or is it a complete fiasco on Carroll’s part?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Miles W III permalink
    December 3, 2009 4:32 pm

    Hmm thats a really interesting thought. I think it is about how Wonderland is governed by fear. In my post Poker Face, on the blog Not Your Average Wonderland(Alice Project #2), I mentioned how most of those feared in the story do nothing and control people using fear. The White Rabbit doesn’t seem like the strongest character so this is why I think that he confuses the two because he is fearful of both. The Duchess also desires power and she may have done something to the Rabbit before Alice got there. Unless you can find Carroll’s diary, I’m sorry but this is probably as much insight as you will get to this.

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