Those Old Hags

In Chapter 6, we finally meet the Duchess that we have read about. We meet her and she is the ugliest thing imaginable, according the context and Tenniel’s illustration. Tenniel is said to have somewhat copied from Quentin Matsys’ painting, which is regarded as the portrait of duchess Margaret of Carinthia and Tyrol. Then, in Chapter 8, we meet the Queen of Hearts, and she isn’t (at least in Tenniel’s illustration) the most attractive woman ever, though more attractive than the duchess.

So far, I have noticed that all the “older” women have been very unattractive. Carroll may have told Tenniel to draw the women a certain way-to make them look old and ugly. Alice, on the other hand, looks older than only 7 (we are told that she is 7 in an annotation in Chapter 7). So, did Tenniel have no creative direction from Carroll? Or did Carroll tell Tenniel specifically to make the older woman just dreadful looking? Yes, we know that Carroll had an obsession with Alice, so did this contribute and spew over in the illustrations?

2 Responses to “Those Old Hags”

  1. I like this question that you have asked. I never thought much about the drawings of the Duchess or the Queen, until now. As I saw the drawing by Tenniel in chapter 6 of the story, the thought crossed my mind on why she was so ugly, but I never put much thought into it. I don’t believe that Carroll told Tenniel what to make them look like, but I definitly think that Carroll mentioned something about them needing to be being ugly. I also believe his love for children helped plan out what each character would look like. Because of his love for children I think that in his mind he wanted all children to be pretty and all others to be ugly. I also agree that Alice does not look seven. Over all I think that Carroll gave Tenniel some creative direction and his obsession with Alice contributed to the Tenniel’s drawings.

  2. Meighan A. Says:

    I agree with what you present here, but I think it is that Carroll thought young girls to be pretty and when they grew up, not so much. So maybe he wanted the older women ugly to show how he didn’t think girls were as pretty when they changed and became old.

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