Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

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The Queen of Hearts Character Analysis

terrorizes Wonderland with constant threats of execution, though we soon realize that these threats are ineffectual. Though she holds a trial for the Knave of Hearts, she would rather go straight to the sentencing and the proceedings turn into a charade. Alice remembers that the Queen’s threats are nonsense, not to mention that she is flat and thin as a playing card, and overcomes her in the end. The Queen seems to symbolize or embody the sometimes nonsensical commands and punishments handed out by adults.

The Queen of Hearts Quotes in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

The Alice's Adventures in Wonderland quotes below are all either spoken by The Queen of Hearts or refer to The Queen of Hearts. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Childhood and Adulthood Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Bantam Classics edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland published in 1984.
Chapter 8 Quotes

The players all played at once without waiting for turns, quarrelling all the while, and fighting for the hedgehogs; and in a very short time the Queen was in a furious passion, and went stamping about, and shouting 'Off with his head!' or 'Off with her head!' about once in a minute.

Related Characters: The Queen of Hearts
Related Symbols: The Garden
Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:

The Queen of Hearts enters this fury during a game of croquet, in which the flamingos and hedgehogs function as mallets and balls and which Alice is expected to pick up without having been informed of any rules.

Much like the “Caucus-Race” of Chapter 3, the game entirely lacks order—with the merit of the players dependent on changing rules that are ultimately assured only by the autocratic Queen. Yet if the caucus race offered a lighthearted critique of politics with prizes for all, this scene is a cruel counterpoint, in which no player can correctly follow the shifting rules and thus all can easily lose the right to their heads. “Off with her head” is likely an allusion to Shakespeare’s Richard III (a play about a famously murderous king), which Carroll would cite explicitly in a 1889 letter.

It is notable that the symbols and roles here should all be indicators of gentility: croquet is a slow game played on stately fields, cards are a similarly calming pastime, and royalty like a Queen and a Duchess ought to be stately in their behaviors. Thus Carroll has taken the stereotypical symbols of good English society, placed them in a romantic, Oxford-esque garden, and yet he has rendered them bloodthirsty and unordered. This furthers the presentation of Wonderland as a place where Alice uncovers the scruples in adult society. Reality is not nearly as ordered as it purports to be, and Alice continues to struggle to orient and reassure herself amidst the madness.

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The Queen of Hearts Character Timeline in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

The timeline below shows where the character The Queen of Hearts appears in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6 - Pig and Pepper
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...a frog. They are exchanging invitations. The Fish footman hands the Frog one from the Queen to the Duchess to play croquet and the Frog delivers the same invitation in reverse.... (full context)
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The Cat asks Alice if she is going to play croquet with the Queen today but Alice hasn’t been invited. Nevertheless, the Cat says he will see her there... (full context)
Chapter 7 - A Mad Tea-Party
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...plays music. This upsets the Hatter greatly. It reminds him of a time at the Queen’s concert, when he had to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, little Bat”, an almost-recognizable nursery rhyme, and... (full context)
Chapter 8 - The Queen's Croquet-Ground
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...a white rose tree by accident and are trying to amend their mistake before the Queen arrives. At that moment, they spot the Queen approaching and spread themselves on the floor... (full context)
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Alice decides not to genuflect like the gardeners have done, and the Queen notices her and asks for her name. Alice decides she needn’t be afraid of a... (full context)
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The Queen lets the matter go and orders the gardeners to be overturned and to explain themselves,... (full context)
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...the Rabbit starts to explain the strange series of events, he is interrupted by the Queen ordering everybody to their places and a flurry of excitement as the cards double themselves... (full context)
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...and Alice waits for its ears to arrive, before telling it her qualms with the Queen’s version of croquet. The Cat asks what she thinks of the Queen, but the Queen... (full context)
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...Cheshire Cat, who is causing quite a stir between the executioner, the King and the Queen because it's body has disappeared, leaving only its head behind. The executioner thinks he can’t... (full context)
Chapter 9 - The Mock-Turtle's Story
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...Alice and boasts about her powers of moralizing, until she suddenly trails off – the Queen has appeared before them, furious to see the Duchess with her head still on. (full context)
Chapter 10 - The Lobster Quadrille
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...themselves immensely but before the Mock Turtle can begin a repeat of the chorus, the Queen’s voice is heard in the distance, announcing the beginning of “the trial”, and the Gryphon... (full context)
Chapter 11 - Who Stole the Tarts?
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The arrive at the court, where the King and Queen are seated on thrones and the kingdom is assembled and there is a table of... (full context)
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...and reads the accusation that the Knave of Hearts has stolen the tarts that the Queen made. He calls the first witness, the Hatter, who comes in still finishing his tea... (full context)
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...with the Hatter’s testimony and tells him to stand down and be gone before the Queen’s officers can behead him. (full context)
Chapter 12 - Alice's Evidence
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...no signature. The King takes this to be a sure sign of guilt, and the Queen agrees. The crowd at the trial applauds. (full context)
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...about the “she” in the poem having a fit, which, he claims, doesn’t “fit” the Queen at all. (full context)
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The King tells the jury to yet again consider their verdict. The Queen thinks the sentence should come before the verdict, to which Alice complains that she is... (full context)