Tempest in a Tea Cup With Malice Aforethought:
Wars of the Roses Symbolism in Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland"
By Scott Warner
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When Henry recovered from his illness, Richard's protectorship was repealed and he was excluded from the Council. The Duke of York's response was to raise an army. The two forces met at the first Battle of St. Albans and the Lancastrian army was roundly defeated, leading to Henry's capture. Richard was again declared Protector. He was married to Cicely Neville, thus allying himself to the powerful Earl of Salisbury's clan including his son, Richard Earl of Warwick. In 1459, Henry VI unexpectedly led an attack on the York army in Wales. The leaders of the York faction were forced to flee England, Richard to Ireland and the other nobles to the English duchy of Calais. Margaret had Parliament impose death sentences upon them and their lands were impounded. Realizing the do-or-die nature of the situation, Warwick and Richard's eldest son, Edward Earl of March, led an army against Henry at Northampton in 1460 with the aim of finally deposing him and installing Richard as king. After routing the Lancastrian army, the delusional Henry was captured wandering through the carnage. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London and Margaret was forced to escape to Scotland.
Richard immediately returned from Ireland expecting to be crowned but Parliament refused him. Instead, they installed him as Prince of Wales and rightful heir to the throne. Nevertheless Richard was the true ruler in all but name. The Lancastrians started a revolt and Richard hurried north to suppress it. However his forces were routed at the Battle of Wakefield in December of 1460 and Richard was slain. His head was chopped off, adorned with a paper crown and displayed on the city walls of York. Richard's second son Edmund was also killed. Salisbury was captured and executed. Queen Margaret led a Scottish army south with the intention of uniting with the Lancastrian forces and attacking London.
The two armies again faced one another at St. Albans with Warwick attempting to halt their advance. The Lancastrians won a great victory and Henry was freed from the Tower. Richard's nineteen year old son Edward, now with inherited title of Earl of York, assembled a huge host of Welsh retainers and advanced eastwards to halt the Lancastrian march. He defeated them at the Battle of Mortimer's Cross in February of 1461. One month later, he was crowned Edward IV at Westminster. Edward IV pursued the retreating Lancaster army and fought the bloody Battle of Towton in Yorkshire in March of 1461. Margaret and the bewildered Henry fled back to Scotland. Margaret still continued to incite rebellion and Edward IV finally ended the campaign by winning the Battle of Hexham in 1464. Henry was re-captured and was again imprisoned in the Tower of London. The Earl of Warwick was dubbed the "Kingmaker" for his critical support at Towton and Hexham.
Edward IV began restoring order but a new threat arose at the end of the decade. Warwick began installing his brothers in positions of authority and he also hatched a scheme to marry Edward to the sister of the Queen of France. Warwick's plan forced the wayward Edward IV to reveal that he was already secretly married to Elizabeth Woodville, the beautiful widow of a Lancaster nobleman. Elizabeth began her own crusade of establishing family members in positions at court and Warwick was subsequently excluded from the king's counsels. The ambitious Warwick could not stand for this opposition, thus terminating his allegiance with the Yorkist camp. He devised a plan to drive a wedge into the House of York by luring Edward's younger brother George Earl of Clarence into marrying Warwick's daughter Isabella, heir to his extensive estates. Warwick hoped to install Clarence and Isabella as the new rulers.
Warwick then staged a series of revolts in 1469. Edward crushed the rebellion in 1470, forcing Warwick and Clarence to flee to Paris. Margaret and her son also absconded to France. The ever imaginative Warwick then devised a new plan: he would lead an expedition to London to restore Henry VI to the throne; in return, Margaret's son Edward Prince of Wales would marry Warwick's second daughter, Anne Neville. In the autumn of 1470, Warwick and the Duke of Clarence landed in southern England with an army of mercenaries paid for by France. With Edward IV detained in the north, the way to London was unguarded. Henry was released from the Tower and once again proclaimed king. Without time to prepare, Edward was driven into exile at Burgundy.
However, Henry's mental condition had deteriorated to the level of imbecility and Edward IV returned to England in March of 1471. Edward's relations with London merchants had always been superior to previous British rulers, so the city's gates were opened and Henry was returned to the Tower. The Yorkist army fought the Lancaster forces on the outskirts of London at the Battle of Barnet in April. The Lancaster army was routed and Warwick was killed. Realizing his error, Clarence re-united with the Yorkist coalition. Margaret and the Prince of Wales had landed in western England and Edward IV captured them at the bloody Battle of Tewkesbury in May. Margaret was imprisoned but her son Edward was cold-bloodedly murdered. Many Lancastrian nobles were also executed. To bring a final end to the wars, it was announced that Henry had died of 'displeasure and melancholy' in the Tower. Edward's youngest brother, Richard of Gloucester, may have been involved in these murders.
After fifteen years of civil war, law and order was re-established and economic prosperity began to increase. To suppress any further insurrection in the north, Edward dispatched his brother Richard of Gloucester to maintain control. Richard had proven himself an able commander at Tewkesbury. Richard had married Anne Neville, heir to the immense Warwick estates and widow of the executed Prince of Wales. The Duke of Clarence aroused his brother's wrath when Clarence attempted to have himself acclaimed heir to the Warwick estates. Clarence died in 1478 by 'drowning in a vat of Malmsey wine.'
However, Edward IV suddenly died of a stroke in 1483, leaving two sons and two daughters. The crown was passed to his thirteen year old son Edward V and his eleven year old brother Richard became Duke of York. Their uncle, Richard of Gloucester, was declared to be their guardian until Edward came of age. England was once again plunged into fraternal rivalry. Elizabeth had Edward V escorted to London to be coronated before Gloucester could be declared Regent. However, Edward's escort was ambushed by Gloucester and his ally, the Duke of Buckingham, in May of 1483 and Edward V was captured. Richard's character was greatly misrepresented by later chroniclers, particularly Shakespeare. He was only slightly physically deformed but this feature was exaggerated to represent moral depravity. Richard was a secretive man by nature but also a competent statesman and a capable administrator, rooting out habitual corruption.
Nevertheless, too many inexplicable deaths surrounded him. Edward V was 'ensconced' in London Tower. Richard had himself crowned king in Westminster Abbey on July 6th. Two important Woodville noblemen were executed without trial and 20,000 Gloucester troops surrounded London. Their threat forced Queen Elizabeth to release her son, the Duke of York, from protective sanctuary in Westminster Abbey so that he could attend Edward V's coronation. However Richard of Gloucester had the Duke of York confined in the Tower along with his brother and the ceremony was mysteriously postponed. After August, the two princes were never seen again. Owing to Gloucesters army outside the city, Parliament was forced to acclaim Richard king. In November of 1483, Richard appropriated Edward's formal coronation ceremony for his own, becoming Richard the III.
Rumors of Richard's complicity spread in the autumn of 1483 and several small revolts sprang up amongst the York noblemen; their purpose was to protect Edward IV's two surviving daughters. The most serious rebellion was headed by Buckingham whose relationship with Richard had taken a turn for the worse. Buckingham claimed the rightful heir to the throne should be Henry Tudor of Richmond, the son of Lancaster noblewoman Lady Margaret Beaufort. While Lady Margaret remained in England, Henry Tudor was smuggled to Brittany for safety. In reprisal, Buckingham was executed. This inflamed both Lancastrian and Yorkist noblemen alike; instead of making war on one another, they started plotting together. Queen Elizabeth and Lady Beaufort agreed that Henry should marry the Queen's daughter, also named Elizabeth.
Henry was joined in exile in France by many disaffected noblemen whose lands had been confiscated by Richard III. In April of 1484, Richard's only son and heir died and his mother, Anne Neville, passed away a year later. It was rumored that Anne Neville's death was no accident, that Richard had poisoned her so that he could marry Elizabeth York instead of Henry Tudor, thereby legitimizing his claim to the throne. After thirty years of decimation to the ruling class and their recent exodus to safe havens, Richard was supported by only three major houses: the Duke of Norfolk; Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland; and Lord Stanley of Cheshire. Norfolk remained loyal to Richard but Percy claimed neutrality. The allegiance of Lord Stanley was unknown. Henry Tudor landed in Wales with an army of only 2000, close to Stanley's estates. With 4000 retainers, Stanley could have easily blocked their path but he allowed them to pass unhindered.
As the Tudor army proceeded east, Henry's numbers swelled because Welshmen viewed his coming as a resurgence of regional power. Richard's fortunes took a different tack with only Norfolk bringing full support. Northumberland remained on the sidelines. Richard held Lord Stanley's son as hostage, so he too claimed neutrality. However, he positioned his forces midway between the two armies at Bosworth Fields, disguising his true loyalties. Just before the coming battle, many of Richard's supporters deserted his cause and joined the rebels. The battle commenced on Aug 22. Despairing of his chance at victory, Richard personally led a cavalry charge at Henry's standard but Stanley chose that moment to commit his small army to Henry's cause. Richard was un-horsed by the muddy ground and he was slain. A circlet of gold from his helmet fell off; Stanley quickly placed it on Henry's head and proclaimed him king, ending Richard III's murderous two year reign. Henry VII subsequently married Elizabeth of York, thereby uniting the two houses and finally ending the Wars of the Roses. Henry acknowledged this fact by adopting a white rose superimposed on a larger red one as his emblem. This symbol is still used today by the Beefeater royal guards. Historians mark this date as the culmination of the Middle Ages.View charts at 960 only
|House of York||House of Neville (Salisbury)|
|Richard, Duke of York----Cicely Neville||Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick|
|Edward (IV)---Elizabeth Woodville||Edmund||George||Richard (III)---Anne Neville|
|Earl of March||↓||Earl of Rutland||Earl of Clarence||Duke of||↓||(widow of Henry VI's|
|Edward (V)||Richard||Elizabeth---Henry Tudor (VII)||Edward|
|Duke of York||↓||Prince of Wales (d. 1484)|
|Henry VIII--- 6 wives|
|1454||1st Battle of St. Albans||York||Henry VI captured; Richard not crowned; Henry released|
|1459||unnamed battle in Wales||Lancaster||unforeseen attack by Henry; Yorks flee to Ireland + France|
|1460||Battle of Northampton||York||Richard aided by son Edward + Warwick; Henry re-captured + imprisoned|
|Dec 1460||Battle of Wakefield||Lancaster||Richard slain, head displayed; son Edmund + Duke of Salisbury executed|
|1460||2nd Battle of St. Albans||Lancaster||Margaret aided by Scots mercenaries; Henry freed from Tower|
|Feb 1461||Battle of Mortimer's Cross||York||coronation of Edward IV March 1461|
|Mar 1461||Battle of Towton||York|
|1464||Battle of Hexham||York||Henry re-captured; Warwick dubbed "Kingmaker"|
|1469||Warwick plot||Earl of Clarence promised hand of Warwick's daughter Isabella; Edward IV's secret marriage to Elizabeth Woodville (Lancaster widow) revealed|
|Apr 1471||Battle of Barnett||York||Warwick slain|
|May 1471||Battle of Tewkesbury||York||Edward IV aided by brother Richard Duke of Gloucester; Margaret imprisoned; son Edward executed; Henry VI dies (or is murdered) in Tower|
|1478||death of Earl of Clarence||"drowned in vat of Malmsey wine" probably at behest of Richard of Gloucester|
|1483||death of Edward IV||stroke; survived by two sons Edward + Richard + 2 daughters|
|May 1483||capture of son Edward V||by Gloucester + Buckingham before coronation|
|Jul 1483||capture of younger son Richard||London surrounded by Gloucester army, forcing release of Richard from sanctuary; imprisoned with brother|
|Aug 1483||disappearance of 2 Princes||by Richard of Gloucester|
|Nov 1483||coronation of Richard III||appropriation of Edward V's ceremony|
|1483||execution of Buckingham||for supporting Henry Tudor's claim to throne through Lady Beaufort (Lancaster); Henry betrothed to Woodville's daughter Elizabeth (York)|
|1483||death of Richard III's son||natural causes|
|1484||death of Anne Neville||wife of Richard III; cause unknown|
|Aug 1484||Battle of Bosworth||Tudor||Richard III slain when horse falls; Henry crowned Henry VII|
He is also famous for his fondness for young girls. He enjoyed their company over adult females, probably because he did not feel threatened by them. Dodgson never married and had very few adult female friends. His attraction to young girls was not of the lustful sort but was characterized by worshipful Byronesque feelings for their innocent beauty, a not uncommon Victorian attitude. He even convinced the mothers of some girls to allow them to pose for nude drawings or photographs. (By his request, these pictures were destroyed after his death). He discerned no impropriety or deviancy in these acts. By far, his greatest attraction was felt for Alice Liddell, the second daughter of Henry Liddell, dean of Christ Church College. He was devoted to Alice and her two sisters, Lorina and Edith, and often entertained them.
On July 4th of 1862, Dodgson was thirty years old. He and the Reverend Robinson Duckworth took the children on a canoe trip up the Thames for a picnic. During the trip, Dodgson regaled the children with the impromptu yarn of Alice's underground adventures in Wonderland. The ten year old Alice pleaded with him to write the story down. After expanding and embellishing the tale, he finished the task in February of 1863. Artist John Tenniel of Punch Magazine was hired to illustrate the book and he finished his famous drawings by September of 1864. The novel was published as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in 1865 by MacMillan. It was an instant critical and financial success with children and adults alike. Alice's hilariously precarious adventures and Dodgson's irreverent verse were divinely wrought. Whether his characters were based on upper or lower class stereotypes, tradesmen or scholars, Dodgson's caricatures of British social mores was on a par with Gulliver's Travels. He also made thinly veiled allusions to many famous personages in British history, some of them with reference to the Wars of the Roses. However, these insinuations were not very detailed. There is a cryptic entry in Dodgson's diary for October of 1862 about a mysterious situation involving Alice. Her mother sensed that his attraction for Alice was too fervent and relations between Dodgson and the Liddells cooled.
Dodgson followed the success of "Wonderland" in 1872 with the equally exceptional Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. This novel differed from its predecessor with a more structured plot and more specifically individualized caricatures. The harebrained plot conformed to the preposterous moves of an outlandish chess match. The characters in "Looking-Glass" were more evocative of famous people and Dodgsons nonsense verse was even better, some of most memorable in English literature. Due to these traits, the novel can be deemed as more adult-oriented than Wonderland but Dodgson's style suffered somewhat from these restrictions, making the story stiffer and lacking the same freewheeling originality as its predecessor. Nevertheless, both books are notable as outstanding works of fantasy literature. Since he was unencumbered by the improvisational basis of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Dodgson was able to develop the allegory on the Wars of the Roses to a deeper, more explicit degree.
Critic Martin Gardner, author of The Annotated Alice, notes that Carroll's stories have been analyzed from many different viewpoints. Some of these interpretations were exceedingly capricious including religious and metaphysical. Freudian psychoanalyst Dr. Phyllis Greenacre's 1955 evaluation is perhaps the most vigorous, equating the relationships between the Red and White Queens and their kingly spouses as an unresolved oedipal complex Dodgson felt for his mother, a neurosis that led to his attraction for young girls. Gardner points out that the nature of children's fantasy literature lends itself to symbolic caricature which is tempting to interpret. Yet Gardner's work contains no details on some of the most obvious symbols, the ones involving the Wars of the Roses!
Dodgson's source for the Duchess character was Eleanor Cobham, the second wife of Lancastrian ally Humphrey Plantagenet, Duke of Gloucester. After his first wife died, Humphrey married the ambitious Eleanor in 1428. She is famous for being charged with the attempted assassination of Henry VI by employing witchcraft. In Shakespeare's Henry VI, she rouses Queen Margaret's ire and the Queen clouts her on the ear. Eleanor vows that she will have vengeance on the Queen. The ludicrous assassination accusations were leveled by Henry Beaufort, Cardinal of Winchester and Humphrey's rival for power within the House of Lancaster. Her trial was typical of English jurisprudence at the time, simply a show trial with a predetermined outcome: she was sentenced to lifetime imprisonment. During the trial she was incarcerated in Leeds Castle. After her sentencing, she spent fourteen years in the crypt of Peel Castle. Both sites are said to be haunted by visions of a large black dog. The Duchess has little relevance to the Wars of the Roses since these events took place before the civil wars started. However, Alice inquires about the Duchess during the croquet match and the White Rabbit warns her to be quiet because the Duchess is under a death sentence for boxing the Queens ears. Tenniel's drawing of the Duchess is based on "The Ugly Duchess," a sixteenth century painting by Flemish artist Quintin Matsys. The painting is a portrait of 14th century Duchess Margaretha Maultasch of Tyrol.
Most of the allegorical references in Alice in Wonderland to individuals involved in the Wars of the Roses are readily apparent. The lethargically imbecilic King of Hearts is a dead ringer for Henry the VI and his wife, Queen Margaret, is the aggressively egotistical Queen of Hearts who will only tolerate red roses. She belligerently orders the decapitation of anyone who opposes her will. Her playing card soldiers are representative of the network of familial retainers that could be called on for support during times of warfare. Upon the arrival of the King and Queen at the croquet match, the Knave of Hearts carries the royal crown on a cushion. This represents Richard of York's desire for the crown. The match itself has no set rules and therefore represents the no holds barred nature of the feud between the Houses of Lancaster and York (even the "hedgehogs" engage in combat). At the end of the story, the Knave is put on trial for "stealing" the Queen's tarts. This can only be symbolic of Duke Richard's near attainment of the throne (acknowledged as the Prince of Wales). This is evidenced not only by the historical record but also by Shakespeare's Henry VI. When Richard is captured after the Battle of Wakefield, it is Queen Margaret who places the paper crown upon his head and commands his beheading: "Off with the crown, and, with the crown, his head." She also orders that his head be set on the city gates of York.
The Mad Hatter and the March Hare are also easily identifiable. The Mad Hatter is the "Kingmaker" Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (so designated for his aid in "crowning" a new king). Workers in the hat manufacturing trade were prone to madness due to their exposure to mercuric compounds. His compatriot, the March Hare, is the eldest son of Richard of York, Edward Earl of March. These two co-conspirators of the House of York conducted England on a very merry uncivil war for two decades. Dodgson suggested to John Tenniel that the caricature of the Hatter be based on a local furniture dealer, Theophilus Carter, who was noted for his eccentric ideas and his penchant for top hats. However, Tenniel's drawing bears an uncanny resemblance to mathematician Bertrand Russell. In addition, the March Hare resembles Russell's fellow don at Cambridge, G. E. Moore. Likewise, the Dormouse looks like philosopher J. M. E. McTaggert, close friend and fellow don of Russell and Moore. The trio was known as the Mad Tea Party of Trinity.
The character of the Baby represents Richard of York's youngest son, Richard Duke of Gloucester. The Baby turns into the Pig for three reasons: Richards emblem was a white boar; for his swinish, homicidal conduct; and Richard was 'transformed' from Duke to King. The Duchess abuses the Baby with pepper because Eleanor Cobham was jealous of Richard's acquisition of the Gloucester title. The Cheshire Cat boasts a dual reference to the Wars of the Roses. Its primary purpose is to represent Lord Stanley, the Earl of Cheshire. Stanley's ambiguous allegiance is superbly personified by the Cheshire Cat's magical re-materializations. The King of Hearts notes that decapitation of the Cheshire Cat isn't possible since it has no body at the time. However, the Cheshire Cat is interested in the Baby's welfare because it also represents Sir William Catesby, an ally of Gloucester. Contemporaneous political pundits identified Catesby as the Cat. Richard rewarded Catesby with the position of Speaker of the House of Commons for his support.
Like Duchess Eleanor's trial, the court proceedings at the Knave's trial are a veritable farce. The King of Hearts serves as the judge, surely as nonobjective an arbiter as one can imagine. The White Rabbit is the court announcer. The witnesses are the Mad Hatter, the Duchess' cook and Alice herself. The accused Knave of Hearts stands before the King and Queen in chains and the jury consists of twelve assorted animals. The King wants to hear the jury's verdict before the presentation of evidence and the Queen wishes to immediately behead everybody. The Mad Hatter, the cook and Alice all give nonsensical, irrelevant testimony. The Hatter cleverly evades all questions and flees the courtroom at the first opportunity, stranding his compatriots. This is a reference to the Earl of Warwick's defection from and connivances against Edward V. During the proceedings, Alice has been growing larger and eventually upsets the jury box. The playing card soldiers attack but turn into a simple deck of cards and Alice awakens from her Wonderland dream. This might be an acceptable ending for a children's tale but from the perspective of the Wars of the Roses, it leaves much to be desired. Besides the trial of Richard of York, this ending has no other relationship to the wars.
The story begins with Alice berating the black female kitten of Dinah (her pet in Alice in Wonderland) for devilishily snarling a ball of yarn. She admonishes the black kitten for not being as good-natured as her white female littermate, Snowdrop. The two kittens are metaphors for Margaret Lancaster and Cicely Neville, Richard of York's wife, and the snarled yarn alludes to the wrack and ruin wrought on English society by Margaret. Alice falls asleep contemplating the mirror on the mantel and is transported to Wonderland. The royal characters in Wonderland have been transformed to anthropomorphic chess pieces including the Queen of Hearts (Red Queen). This suggests that even the royalty in the Wars of the Roses were mere pawns liable to manipulation in a greater game. The substitution of knights into the story is superior to the knaves of the previous book, however Dodgson intentionally omitted the bishops in deference to his religion. Once Alice finds her way out of the house, she comes upon a garden of talking flowers that cast aspersions upon her demeanor. The two youngest Liddell children, Rhoda and Violet, are referred to as a Rose and a Violet. The Tiger-lily refers to another young friend of Dodgson, Lilia Macdonald. Alice notices that the countryside is laid out in a perfectly square grid of fields. She meets the Red Queen who can travel very fast in any direction. The Queen shows Alice how to travel between the squares according to her status as a Pawn.
Alice's first move is the traditional two-square jump to WQ4. This forested square is characterized by the inability to remember names. She meets Tweedledum and Tweedledee who may represent Edward IV's two sons that were murdered by Richard the Third; however there is no tangible evidence to corroborate this. The twins recite the poem of the Walrus and the Carpenter to Alice. These two characters are symbolic of the rapacious English politicians who fed on the gullibility of their constituents (oysters), much the same way that royalty did. The Red King is snoring in the square to the right (RK5) and the three discuss whether he is dreaming about them or vice versa. His somnolent, visionary condition connotes Henry VI's mental deficiencies. The twins get into an argument over a broken rattle. This may be stretching the bounds of allegorical relevance but this could refer generally to the rattle caused by all civil strife. The twins gird for battle with household implements, emblematic of the English yeomanry. The White Queen flies in and lands in WQB 4, the square to the left of Alice. She is rather frumpy and addle minded, not at all like her counterpart Cicely Neville. As with all "Mirrorland" characters, she experiences life backwards. She tells Alice that the Mad Hatter has been sentenced to imprisonment before committing any crime.
The White Queen advances one square (WQB 5) as does Alice (WQ 5) and Alice finds herself in a small dry goods shop run by a knitting ewe. Then they are magically transferred to a rowboat, mimicking Dodgson's outing with the Liddell children. After returning to the shop, the sheep moves to the rear of the store, signifying the White Queen's move to WKB 8. After purchasing an egg, Alice also advances to the next square, WQ 6. The egg begins to expand and becomes the Mother Goose character Humpty Dumpty precariously perched on a narrow wall. This may allude to the instability of the stuffed figureheads to which the Houses of Lancaster and York both resorted. Humpty treats Alice with the same disdain that the British upper classes treated the common populace. Alice wonders about the band around his neck (or waist) that could be a cravat or a belt. This band was an unbirthday present given to Humpty by the White King and Queen. If the band is judged to be a cravat, it could represent a common remedy for political conspirators: the hangman's noose. Dumpty discusses the fleetingness of glory and notes that the White King has promised an army of men and horses to effect repairs if he falls. This could refer to Warwick's exploits (both for and against Edward IV) or to those of the Earl of Clarence. Alice leaves Dumpty but doesn't go far before she hears a tremendous crash from behind. An army goes racing past in mass confusion, falling over one another. This represents the fatal carnage of great battles like Towton, Mortimer's Cross, Hexham and Tewkesbury.
Alice then meets the White King in the square to her left (WQB6). He suffers from poor eyesight and balance, a reference to Edward IV's inability to foresee the Earl of Warwick's rebellion, the Earl of Clarence's defection and Richard the Third's treachery. The March Hare arrives in the role of Haigha, one of the King's Messengers. Haigha informs the King that "they are at it again," referring to a brawl between the Lion and the Unicorn for possession of the King's crown. From a Wars of the Roses perspective, this alludes to the continuing plots and rebellions of the House of Lancaster and their allies. The three walk to a nearby town and meet the other Messenger, Hatta (Mad Hatter), who has just been released from prison. This refers to the Earl of Warwick's escape to France when threatened with arrest. The Lion and Unicorn take a break from fighting. The Lion is the traditional symbol of England while the Unicorn represents Scotland, thus alluding to Scotland's long running struggle to gain its freedom. In addition, John Tenniel's caricatures of the Lion and the Unicorn are evocative of the famous political rivals Liberal William Gladstone and Tory Benjamin Disraeli respectively. With good reason, the White King feels uneasy standing between the two combatants. When Alice serves plum-cake to the Lion and Unicorn, they argue over the size of the portions; the division of the spoils of combat has relevance to the Wars of the Roses. Then a deafening crescendo of drums scares Alice and she quickly moves to WQ7.
Suddenly the Red Knight moves to WK2, the square to the right of Alice and tries to take her prisoner. However, he clumsily falls off his horse. Luckily the White Knight arrives on WK2 in the nick of time to rescue Alice and the Knights engage in slapstick combat. They hold their maces with both arms Punch-and-Judy fashion and they agree to abide by the Rules of Battle: if a blow lands, the opponent is unhorsed; if a blow misses, the attacker falls off. This suggests that the Knights are mere puppet actors being manipulated by an unseen overlord. This too has relevance to the Wars. The Knights always crash to the ground head first, implying the custom of beheading. The Red Knight is vanquished and gallops off (taken by WKn); this is synonymous with the Earl of Warwick's death at the Battle of Barnet. The White Knight removes his helmet, revealing a curious resemblance to Dodgson himself: he has a kind and gentle face with mild blue eyes and shaggy hair and he treats Alice very fondly. The White Knight also has a propensity for inventing all sorts of oddball contraptions. He reveals that he has concocted a new recipe for plum pudding: blotting paper, sealing wax and gunpowder. Since Alice served plum cake to the Lion and the Unicorn, this may have relevance. At the time of the Wars of the Roses, gunpowder was just then making its first crude debut in England as a weapon of war. (The blotting paper may be a reference to the later addition of cotton fibers to the formula to make cleaner burning powder.) The Knight leaves Alice, moving back to WKB5.
Alice then moves to WQ8, finally reaching the back rank. A very tightly fitting gold crown immediately appears on her head. The Red Queen appears in the square to the right of Alice (WK8). With the White Queen at WQB8, this creates a triple alignment of queens. (Tenniel's profile of the Red Queen resembles The Duchess and the White Queen looks like Victoria.) The Red Queen belligerently interrogates Alice with nonsense questions to see if she qualifies as royalty. She asks Alice for the French translation of fiddle-de-dee, a possible reference to the behind-the-curtain involvement of Charles IX of France during the Wars. The White Queen reveals that she can read "words with only one letter." This could be a possible reference to the use of secret codes, especially by Catherine of Aragon, ex-wife of Henry the VIII, during her years in confinement. The Red Queen inquires about the cause and effect of thunder and lightning (alluding to warfare). The Red Queen then accuses Alice of having a nasty, vicious temper and the White Queen notes that Alice is in a state of denial except that she can't exactly figure out what to deny. This equates to Edward IV's secret marriage to Elizabeth Woodville and Warwick's exposure of the scandal. The Red Queen (Margaret Lancaster) observes that the White Queen is of lesser genealogical origins (Cicely Neville and Elizabeth Woodville). The two Queens then invite Alice to attend a formal dinner party but both fall asleep on Alice's lap, intimating the loss of political influence by Margaret and Cicely. Alice exclaims that no one ever had to care for two sleeping queens "...in all the History of England...because there never was more than one queen at a time." Besides other possible examples, this may refer to the dual sovereignty of Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn's illustrious marriage to Henry VIII.
At the Red Queen's castle, Alice is confronted with an arched doorway with two bells, Visitors and Servants. Though she rings and knocks many times, she is denied admittance until a Frog dressed in yellow frock coat with enormous boots and a funny accent kicks at the door. This may be a reference to the aid given to Henry Tudor by Charles IX. Inside the hall is a coronation feast attended by various animals and the two Queens. Alice is introduced to the main course, a leg of mutton which stands up and bows. Alice offers to slice the mutton for the Red Queen but she vehemently rejects the offer, stating that it isn't proper to cut someone to whom you've been introduced. This is in direct contradiction to the actions of the royal personages during the Wars, especially Richard the Third. The two Queens promise to support Alice as she addresses the attendees. When she arises however, the two Queens mash up against her from both sides, squeezing her alarmingly. A great wind starts to blow and the White Queen warns her that something is about to happen. Suddenly all the candlesticks and dishes start flying around the room as if in the midst of a tornado. The White Queen has been replaced by the leg of mutton but the Queen suddenly disappears down the soup tureen, moving to WQR6.
In a fit of pique, Alice grabs the table cloth and gives it a great pull, upsetting all the dishes. All these portents represent the unpredictable fortunes of war. The Red Queen then shrinks down to the size of a doll. Alice captures her by moving to WK8 and checkmating the Red King. Alice begins shaking the little Red Queen accusingly. However it turns into the black kitten as Alice awakes from her Looking-Glass dream. The story ends with a poetic paean to Alice Liddell, an acrostic that spells out her name.
Another British musical adaptation was filmed in 1972 with Ralph Richardson, Peter Sellers and Dudley Moore in the cast. Like the other cinematic productions, this one also lacked creative spark. A Russian version was released in 1981 and a filmed performance of Papp's musical was released in 1983. A Japanese animated cartoon was also released that year, followed by an animated adaptation made in Australia in 1988. The first television adaptation was presented live in the U.S. as a Hallmark special in 1955 by director George Schaefer. The BBC aired an odd Victorian gothic variation in 1966 featuring John Gielgud, Peter Sellers, Michael Redgrave and Leo McKern portraying the Duchess. The music was performed by Ravi Shankar. Despite these attractions, the show was frustratingly slow. Japanese TV produced a cartoon series in 1983. Kirk Browning directed a production for American TV in 1985 and the BBC aired a TV serial in 1986. Disney also produced a series from 1991 through 95. Another TV movie was broadcast in 1999 with an all-star cast of Whoopi Goldberg, Ben Kingsley, Christopher Lloyd, Robby Coltrane, Pete Postlethwaite, Martin Short, Miranda Richardson, Peter Ustinov, George Wendt and Gene Wilder. In 2009, the SyFy Channel mounted a mini-series, a modernized and bizarrely twisted take on Wonderland starring Kathy Bates and Colm Meany. It had little connection to Carroll's tales. While all of these films and TV shows were mainly based on Alice in Wonderland, some elements from Looking-Glass were included. Almost all of the productions demonstrated a limited ability to convey Dodgson's droll intelligence.Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland
After a brief opening sequence, the script jumps ahead thirteen years and Alice's father, Charles Kingsleigh (Martin Csokas), has passed away in the interim; thus the absence of the White King in the movie. Alice's mother Helen (Lindsay Duncan)is represented by the White Queen, Mirana (Anne Hathaway; Mirana means wonderful, peace or prosperity). The Dormouse (Barabara Windsor) represents Alice's sister Margaret (Jemma Powell) because they are both nosy, intrusive female characters. Margaret's fiancé Lowell (John Hopkins) plays the role of Ilosovic "Igor" Stayne, the Red Knight (Crispin Glover). This name probably derives from "ichor stain." Alice's intended Hamish (Leo Bill) has no apparent parallel in Wonderland (called Underland by the inhabitants).
Hamish's mother Lady Ascot (Geraldine James) rules Wonderland as Erasabeth the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), Mirana's older sister. Her name is probably a combination of Erasmus the heretical English philosopher with Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry the VIII and famous for "erasing" her rival cousin, Mary Queen of Scots. It also evokes the near homonym "irascible." Hamish's father (Tim Pigott-Smith) would naturally play the role of the Red King but the Red King has been slain by his wife and only appears as dead faces in the castle's moat. The fact that both the White King and Red King are already deceased in Burton's film is significant in two ways. It reflects the insignificant roles these characters played in Dodgson's novels. It also represents the perilously fleeting mortality of royalty during the Wars. However at the end of the movie, Lord Ascot demonstrates fond compassion for Alice and his friendly advice may correspond to the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry) which paralells Dodgson's affection for Alice Liddell. The Chattaway twins (Eleanor Gecks, Eleanor Tomlinson) are obviously Tweedledum and Tweedledee (Matt Lucas). Bayard the bloodhound (Timothy Spall) portrays Aunt Imogene (Frances de la Tour) because of their amazing, dual hang-dog appearance. The White Rabbit (Mike Sheen), Absolem the Caterpillar (Alan Rickman), the Bandersnatch, the Jubjub Bird and the Jabberwocky (Christopher Lee) do not have counterparts in the real-world frame tale of the film.
The movie contains many references to the Wars of the Roses though these allusions are not strictly systematic. Some of the references are direct while others are oblique. Since the script contains several flashback episodes, the allusions to the Wars do not appear in chronological sequence and lengthy periods in the chronology of the Wars are simply omitted. Dodgson's overriding theme of a contest between White Rose and Red Rose is necessarily conspicuous. The opening scene of Burton's movie in which Charles Kingsleigh reveals his risky financial scheme is a direct allusion to the Duke of York's original plot to wrest the throne from Henry and Margaret Lancaster. The death of Charles connotes Richard's demise after the Battle of Wakefield. As with Dodgson's novels, the Red King and Queen are representative of Henry VI and his wife, Margaret. The Red King's manifestation as faces in the castle moat is indicative of Henry's mental incapacity and his status as figurehead for Margaret's intent to remain in power. Hamish's digestive problem may be a reference to the execution of Margaret's son Edward, Prince of Wales. The dowager Aunt Imogene is forever awaiting a Prince Charming to renounce his throne. This is probably a reference to Eleanor Cobham but it may also allude to Richard's wife Cicely Neville and the aspirations of the House of Salisbury. The wayward, roving eye of Margaret Kingsleigh's fiancé Lowell is reminiscent of the Earl of Clarence being lured into Warwick's plot by the temptation of betrothal to Isabella Warwick. In the end, both Lowell and Clarence return to their first allegiance.
The arranged betrothal of Alice is indicative of the common practice of allying with a political faction through familial intermarriage. However, the immediacy of this surprise frightens Alice and she runs away, chasing the White Rabbit. She returns to Wonderland (Underland) where everything is upside down, backwards or the wrong size. This designates the fickle fortunes of the Houses of Lancaster and York during thirty years of civil war. Alice then endures the same Eat Me - Drink Me folderol as Alice in Wonderland. Once through the miniature door, she meets Absolem the Caterpillar who shows her the irraculum, foreordaining her fate. This would be indicative of the expectations placed upon the heirs of powerful families at an early age. In the Bible, Absalom was the son of King David who was banished for fratricide and rebellion, both of which have relevance to the Wars of the Roses. In addition, the name also conjures up allusions to Dryden's satire "Absalom and Achitophel" in which the biblical tale is used as a illusory frame for the Duke of Monmouth's attempt to unseat James Duke of York, the rightful heir to throne, in 1685. Thus Burton has masterfully copied Dodgson's practice of alluding to more than one era of English history in his work.
Alice is then attacked by Igor Stayne the Red Knight, aided by the Bandersnatch and the Jubjub Bird. Alice is viciously slashed by the hyena-like Shakespearean dog-of-war. This refers to the setback suffered by the House of York at the Second Battle of St. Albans. The Bandersnatch and the Jubjub do not seem to have any specific parallel with famous persons involved with the Wars but could be indicative of the use of Scottish mercenaries by Margaret and French conscripts by the House of York. The detaining of the White Rabbit by Red soldiers signifies the arrest of the Duke of Salisbury after the Battle of Wakefield. The capture of Tweedledum and Tweedledee by the Jubjub may be synonymous with the imprisonment of Edward IV's two sons. The meaning of the removal of the Bandersnatch's eyeball by the Dormouse is uncertain but there are several other allusions to eyeballs in the movie, so it may signify the historical practice of holding hostages to guarantee security.
Meanwhile, Alice manages to escape the raid with the aid of the Cheshire Cat. This alludes to several instances where members of both Houses were forced to flee to foreign territories. The Cat leads Alice to the Tea Party where she meets the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse (contrary to Dodgsons novel, the Dormouse is very energetic, combative and valiant especially for her size; her name Mallymkun can be interpreted as little badass). The landscape of the surrounding country has been wretchedly blasted and the houses burned. The Mad Hatter relates the story of how the White Queen's court was taken by surprise and savagely attacked by the Jabberwocky. The White Knight was killed and the crown and Vorpal Sword were captured by Stayne. This would equate with the Battle of Wakefield at which Richard of York was slain. The general devastation refers to the decimation done to the English countryside and common populace during the first half of the Wars. During the telling of this tale, the Hatter and the Hare lapse into Scottish accents while the Cat denies any responsibility. This alludes to the merciless predation of Margaret's Scottish soldiers of fortune upon helpless English civilians during the Second St. Albans campaign and to Scotland's desperate crusade to wrest its freedom from the thrall of English monarchs. The Cat's denial of blame signifies William Catesby's support for Richard the Third.
At the palace, the Red Queen is engaged in interrogating the suspects in the case of her missing tarts. This is synonymous with the quashing of plots by disloyal clans within both Houses. A frog is caught with jam on his lips. This may be a reference to French king Charles IX's duplicitous meddling in English affairs during the Wars. When the Red Queen learns that Alice may have returned to Underland, Bayard the bloodhound is forced to sniff her out due to the incarceration of his family (another reference to the holding of hostages). Stayne and his troops quickly arrive at the Tea Party and capture the March Hare and the Dormouse but the Mad Hatter gives Alice a sip of the shrinking potion and she escapes by riding on his hat. They are hemmed in but with Alice aboard, the Hatter flings his top hat towards the Red Queen's castle, Salison Gran (this name could allude to Margaret Lancaster's confiscation of the Salisbury holdings from the son or grandson but there is no proof of this). Then the Hatter is also captured. Bayard finds Alice and takes her the rest of the way to the castle. Bayard's role as covert conspirator is clearly relevant to the Wars but definite identification isn't possible.
Alice crosses the moat by using the Red King's dead faces as stepping stones. Besides Henry's diminished mental state, this is also symbolic of his imprisonment in the Tower of London and the use of sacrificial figureheads as stepping stones to power. Alice squeaks through a crack in the castle wall while Bayard flings the top hat over the wall. The White Rabbit then gives Alice a nibble of his enlarging cake. The now towering Alice uses the alias Um of Umbrage (referring to umbrage and Umbria, the ancient Roman name for England). Stayne is romantically attracted by the Brobdingnagian Alice. This refers to the secret marriage of Edward IV to the beautiful Lancastrian noble Elizabeth Woodville. A croquet match is in progress and the hedge hogs' paws are tethered, a symbol of medieval thralldom. It tells Alice that the Vorpal Sword is hidden in the Bandersnatch's lair. She enters its den but the Bandersnatch won't let her near the Sword until she returns his stolen eyeball. In reparation, the Bandersnatch cures her wound by licking it and allows her take the Sword. This equates with the House of York's recovery of the throne at Mortimer's Cross. It also refers to two features of the Wars: warreparations as huge estates were confiscated by the victors and lickspittle groveling by the losers.
Meanwhile, the Red Queen is having fun tormenting her new captives. The members of her court all wear outlandish prosthetics in deference to the Queen's enlarged head. This is indicative of the traditional court practice of currying favor by turning a blind eye to any regal failings. Several portraits imitating famous paintings of English royalty hang in the hallways, notably Henry the VIII. Alice tries to make good her escape but is discovered by Stayne. He tries to arrest her on the charge of unlawful seduction (sedition) and the Bandersnatch has to rescue her. This alludes to several instances of important people switching their allegiance during the Wars. They both head for Marmorial Castle, home of the White Queen Mirana (the Red Queen pronounces her name as Me Wanna). Marmoreal means marble but also invokes Balmoral, ancestral palace of the Tudor family. In revenge, the Red Queen sentences the Hatter and the Dormouse to be beheaded. The Cheshire Cat reveals its longstanding desire for the Hatter's headgear, a reference to the territorial craving for neighboring fiefdoms. On the chopping block, the Hatter turns into the Cheshire Cat, emulating the Earl of Warwick's conversion to the Lancastrian cause. The Cat escapes by whirling away into the sky. The real Hatter suddenly appears and incites the spectators to revolt against Erasabeth's dictatorial oppression. The false prosthetics of Erasabeth's courtiers fall off, an allusion to the desertion of Richard III's allies at Bosworth. In the confusion, the Hatter, the March Hare, the White Rabbit, the Dormouse and Bayard's family all escape and head for Marmorial Castle. This represents many cases of escape from incarceration or battle by members of both Houses, resulting in subsequent rebellion. The Cat returns the Hatter's chapeau, bidding it a Shakespearean "Goodbye, sweet hat."
The White Queen then mixes up a shrinking potion for Alice, returning her to normal size. Mirana asks Alice to become her royal champion and attempt to slay the Jabberwocky single-handed. The irraculum is consulted and Alice runs off in dismay, mimicking her desertion of Hamish in the gazebo. She meets the Caterpillar again hanging upside down, transforming into a chrysalis. Absolem advises her that lifes changes can not be avoided and perforce must be accepted. This sparks Alice's recollection of her prior visits to Wonderland and she resolves to accept the challenge. Absolem advises her to never let go of the Sword, recalling the occasions when Richard of York, Edward IV, the Earls of Warwick and March and Henry Tudor were required to steadfastly hold to their cause in the face of great odds. The next day is the long anticipated Frabjous Day and the two armies march out to do battle upon a chessboard field. The Red army resembles the playing card soldiers from Alice in Wonderland while the White army are chess pieces from Looking-Glass. Mirana pleads with her sister to make peace but Erasabeth vehemently declines. The battle is symbolic of the Battle of Bosworth when Richard the Third desperately tried to retain his dominance.
Erasabeth calls out her champion, the Jabberwock. The Jabberwocky is a generic emblem for the terror and carnage of the Wars of the Roses. However, it also epitomizes the monstrously homicidal horror that was Richard of Gloucester. Alice arrives in the nick of time aboard the Bandersnatch, girt in the shining armor of the slain White Knight. The Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Tweedle twins, the Dormouse, the Cheshire Cat, Bayard and the White Rabbit all support Mirana's cause. This signifies the widespread support drawn by Henry Tudor's crusade. Besides the Jabberwock, the Jubjub Bird is the only ally of Erasabeth; thus the Jubjub implies Richard's sole ally, the Duke of Norfolk. To steel her resolve as she engages the Jabberwock, Alice reminds herself of six impossible things she has encountered in Wonderland: a shrinking potion; an enlarging cake; animals that can talk (at which point she cuts off the Jabberwocky's tongue); a disappearing cat; the dreamlike existence of Wonderland; and that she can slay the Jabberwocky beast.
When the Jabberwock whiplashes Alice with its tail, Alice negligently drops the Sword. The Hatter quickly provides a diversion by stabbing the tail while Alice retrieves her weapon. This equates with the Earl of Warwick's critical reinforcement of Edward IV at the Battles of Mortimer's Cross, Towton and Hexham. Bayard carries the Dormouse into battle and as the Jubjub Bird attacks, she flings her small sword at it, puncturing its eyeball. The Bandersnatch topples a line of Red soldiers like a house of cards, triggering a medieval catapult. The boulder thuds down upon the Jubjub's head, smashing it flat; this signifies the defeat of the Duke of Norfolk at Bosworth. Strangely, the March Hare and the White Rabbit do not seem to take part in the combat, a possible reference to the Earl of Northumberland's neutrality at Bosworth. Erasabeth orders Stayne to kill the Hatter but the Hatter stabs him in the eye with a needle. Alice retreats up a ruined spire chased by the Jabberwock. At the summit, she jumps upon the monster's neck and severs it with one chop of the Vorpal Sword. The head bounces down the stairs and lands at the feet of Erasabeth. Her crown is then transported through the air to Mirana by the Cheshire Cat, signifying the pivotal role at Bosworth of Lord Stanley of Cheshire. The crown denotes the circlet of gold that fell from Richard's helmet when he was slain. The Red army soldiers quit fighting like the desertion of many of Richard's supporters before the battle and Alice's triumph equates with Henry Tudor's victory at Bosworth, bringing an end to the Wars of the Roses.
Mirana sentences Erasabeth of Crims (meaning crimson and Bloody Mary Tudor, Henry VIII's younger sister) to banishment permanently chained to her lackey Ilosovic. This symbolizes Margaret's imprisonment after the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471 and the confinement of Mary, Queen of Scots, by Elizabeth the First 97 years later. In dread of this punishment, Stayne draws a dagger to stab Erasabeth but the Hatter darts him with a pair of scissors, disarming him. The pair are dragged away screaming. The Hatter once again poses his paradox about ravens and writing desks. Alice realizes there is no answer, logical or illogical, for the unfathomable nature of life. Mirana then collects some of the Jabberwocky's blood and tells Alice that like the Ruby Slippers, this potion will take her home. The Hatter suggests that Alice stay in Underland but heeding Absolem's counsel, she responds that there are situations she must resolve back in the real world. She drinks the potion and awakens from her adventure climbing out of the rabbit hole, still bearing the scars of the Bandersnatch on her arm.
She returns to the Ascot garden party and fervidly declines Hamish's proposal of marriage, the answer Anne Neville should have given to Richard of Gloucester. She warns her sister Margaret that she rules her own life and Margaret is never to interfere again. This would have been meaningful advice from Edward IV for the Earl of Warwick. She also cautions Lowell that he is lucky to be affianced to Margaret and that she will be watching him closely to see that he treats Margaret favorably, the same vigilance that Edward IV should have taken with Warwick. Then Alice kindly advises Aunt Imogene that she must accept the reality that there is no Prince Charming, a realization that the Earl of Clarence did not divine. Finally, she promises her mother Helen that she will lead a useful life, an assurance that Elizabeth York could have made to her mother Elizabeth Woodville. Alice then approaches Lord Ascot with the notion that her deceased father's financial venture would still be a good idea if it were expanded. Physically resembling the White King, the White Knight and Charles Dodgson himself, Ascot is highly impressed by Alice's bravura and hires her as an apprentice, a metamorphosis that Henry Tudor underwent when he became king and symbolic of the unification of the two Houses. The film ends as Alice boards a ship bound for China accompanied by a blue butterfly, a fitting simile for the embarkation of the House of Tudor's sovereignty for the next 200 years and the onset of England's world encompassing conquest of an empire.RETURN TO STARWARSTIKA MENU
|CHARACTER||ROLE||ACTOR||WONDERLAND||Wars of the Roses||ACTOR|
|Charles Kingsleigh||father||Marton Csokas||White King (deceased)||Richard of York||none|
|Helen Kingsleigh||mother||Lindsay Duncan||White Queen (Mirana)||Cicely Neville?||Anne Hathaway|
|Alice Kingsleigh||herself||Mia Wasikowska||White Pawn; W Queen;|
|Margaret Kingsleigh||sister||Jemma Powell||Dormouse||???||Barbara Windsor (voice)|
|Lowell (no surname)||Margaret's|
|John Hopkins||Red Knight|
|Earl of Warwick (turncoat);|
Clarence + Isabella
|Hamish Ascot||betrothed||Leo Bill||???||Edward Prince of Wales?|
|Lord Ascot||father||Tim Piggott-Smith||Red King (deceased)||Henry VI||none|
|Lady Ascot||mother||Geraldine James||Red Queen (Erasabeth)||Margaret of Anjou||Helena Bonham Carter|
|Alices aunt||Frances de la Tour||Bayard (eyes)||Eleanor Cobham?||Timothy Spall|
(voice of Bayard)
|supporting clans||Matt Lucas (voice)|
|???||White Rabbit||Mike Sheen (voice)|
|???||Absolem the Caterpillar||none?||Alan Rickman (voice)|
|none||Jabberwocky||civil wars; Richard III||Christopher Lee (voice)|
|???||Mad Hatter||Earl of Warwick||Johnny Depp|
|???||March Hare||Earl of March (Edward IV)||Paul Whitehouse (voice)|
|???||Jubjub Bird||Duke of Norfolk||Michael Gough (voice)|
|???||Cheshire Cat||Lord Cheshire;|
|Stephen Fry (voice)|