The Queen of Hearts is a character from the book Alice in Wonderland by the writer and mathematician Lewis Carroll. She is a foul-tempered monarch, that Carroll himself pictured as "a blind fury", and who is quick to decree death sentences at the slightest offense. Her most famous line, one which she repeats often, is "Off with their heads!"
The Queen is referred to as a card from a pack of playing cards by Alice, yet somehow she is able to talk and is the ruler of the lands in the story, alongside the King of Hearts. She is often confused with the Red Queen from the sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, although the two are very different.
Alice is recommended, by three gardening playing cards (who are painting roses so that they are the right color for the Queen), to drop down on the ground to avoid being confronted by her. She is confused, and having never met the Queen, ignores this advice. When the Queen arrives and asks Alice who is lying on the ground (since the backs of all playing cards look alike), Alice tells her that she does not know. The Queen then becomes frustrated and commands that her head be severed. She is deterred by her comparatively moderate husband by being reminded that Alice is only a child.
Generally, however, as we are told by Carroll:
- The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. 'Off with his head!' she said, without even looking round.
One of the Queen's hobbies - besides ordering executions - is croquet, however it is Wonderland croquet, where the balls are live hedgehogs and the mallets are flamingoes. This is presumably with the aim that the birds' blunt beaks should strike, but, as Alice observes, it is complicated by the fact that they keep looking back up at the players- as well as the hedgehogs' tendency to scuttle away without waiting to be hit. The Queen's soldiers act as the arches (or hoops) on the croquet grounds, but have to leave off being arches every time the Queen has an executioner drag away the victim, so that, by the end of the game in the story, the only players that remain are the Queen herself, the King, and Alice.
Despite the frequency of death sentences, it would appear few people are actually beheaded. The King of Hearts quietly pardons many of his subjects when the Queen is not looking (although this did not seem to be the case with The Duchess), and her soldiers humor her but do not carry out her orders. The Gryphon tells Alice that "It's all her fancy: she never executes nobody, you know." Nevertheless, all creatures in Wonderland fear the Queen. In the final chapters, the Queen sentences Alice again (for defending the Knave of Hearts) and she offers an interesting approach towards justice: sentence before verdict.
Modern portrayals in popular culture usually let her play the role of a villain because of the menace the character exemplifies, but in the book she does not fill that purpose. She is just one of the many obstacles that Alice has to encounter on the journey, but unlike other obstacles, she makes a higher potential threat.
The Queen is clearly a caricature of Queen Victoria, with elements of reality that Dodgson felt correctly would make her at once instantly recognisable to parents reading the story to children, and also fantastical enough to make her unrecognisable to children.
Her identity was hammered home for the purposes of popular culture in the 1966 live-action film, where she and the King of Hearts are portrayed without any attempt at fantasy, or disguise as to their true natures or personality.
Confusion with the Red Queen
She is commonly mistaken for the Red Queen in the story's sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, but in reality shares none of her characteristics other than being a queen. Indeed, Carroll, in his lifetime, made the distinction of the two Queens by saying: "I pictured to myself the Queen of Hearts as a sort of embodiment of ungovernable passion - a blind and aimless Fury. The Red Queen I pictured as a Fury, but of another type; her passion must be cold and calm - she must be formal and strict, yet not unkindly; pedantic to the 10th degree, the concentrated essence of all governesses!"
The 1951 animated film Alice in Wonderland perpetuates the long-standing confusion between the Red Queen and the Queen of Hearts. In the film, the Queen of Hearts delivers several of the Red Queen's statements, the most notable being based on her "all the ways about here belong to me". Both characters say this to suggest importance and possible arrogance, but in the Red Queen's case it has a double meaning since her status as a Chess-queen means that she can move in any direction she desires.
In the American McGee's Alice adaptation of the books, the characters are also combined, leading to further popular misconception.
In the Disney animated feature Alice in Wonderland, the Queen appears as Alice puts it in a moment of temper, a "fat, pompous, bad tempered old tyrant". Her presence is all the more striking because of how tiny her husband the King is (he barely comes up to her knee). Similar to the book, Alice meets three cards painting the roses red, since they planted white roses by mistake. When the Queen arrives, she orders those three cards beheaded, then politely challenges Alice to a game of croquet. The game is eventually spoiled by the Cheshire Cat. The Queen blames Alice for it, but before she can give the order, the King suggests holding a trial for Alice. The Queen, grudgingly, agrees.
The Queen calls the March Hare, the Mad Hatter, and the Dormouse to witness, who hold an unbirthday party for her and cheer her up considerably. During the party, the Cheshire Cat reappears and upsets the Dormouse. The Dormouse runs all over, and in an attempt to crush the mouse, the King of Hearts manages to hit the Queen with the gavel. The Queen, of course, blames Alice for it, and is going to have her beheaded. But Alice eats mushrooms she had procured earlier, which make her grow bigger. Although Rule #42 says that anyone more than a mile high must leave the court immediately, Alice feels free to call the queen a "fat, pompous, bad tempered old tyrant". Unfortunately, she subsequently shrinks down to her normal size, but flees and is able to escape.
Of interest is the fact that Disney's Queen of Hearts seems to be an amalgamation of the Queen from the book, the Duchess, and the Red Queen of Through The Looking-Glass. When pleased, she can be quite pleasant, but can almost at once change to enraged.
The Queen of Hearts exacted her revenge upon Alice in the game Disney's Villains' Revenge where she stole the ending page of the story and changed the ending, so Alice lost her head. Jiminy Cricket, the player, and Alice's headless body retrieve the head and escape the labyrinth of the Queen. They meet one last time in the final battle and she surrenders.
She is also a greetable character at the Walt Disney World Resort. In Disney's House of Mouse, The Queen of Hearts appears as one of the villain guests of the House of Mouse, voiced by Tress MacNeille.
The Queen appears in the Square-Enix/Disney video game Kingdom Hearts, in her homeworld. As in the film, she holds Alice on trial, only this time for attempting to steal her heart. The main heroes in the game, Sora, Donald and Goofy, intervene, telling the Queen that Alice is innocent. The Queen challenges them to provide proof of their theory, and with help from the Cheshire Cat, the three are able to do so. The Queen, however, enraged at being proven wrong, orders them executed and Alice imprisoned in a cage on the roof. The three are able to fight off the Queen's guards and destroy the cage controls, but Alice is kidnapped, before they can save her. The Queen orders a search for Alice, and temporarily pardons Sora, Donald and Goofy, requesting that they look for Alice as well.
She returns in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, only this time as a figment of Sora's memories. Again, she holds Alice on trial, this time for attempting to steal her memories. Sora, Donald and Goofy intervene and prove Alice's innocence by defeating the Trickmaster Heartless, the real culprit. The Queen congratulates Sora for solving the mystery, and once again demonstrates her bi-polar personality by pardoning Alice.
The Queen of Heart is portrayed as a large, fat woman. She wears a regal gown that has two skirts with white lining on the first skirt. The rest of the gown is black and red. It has a tall white collar that reaches her ears, and she wears gold earrings. The two skirts are inverted on each side. The left side of the first skirt has a red skirt, red sleeve, black cuffs,and black abdomen. The right side is vice versa, black skirt, black sleeve, red cuffs,and red abdomen. The left side of the second skirt is black with yellow lines, however, the right side is gold instead of yellow, with black lines. The second skirt is can be only seen in the front, as most of it covered with the first skirt. Also, she wears a white undies that reaches her knees with red heart prints and white tights (it can be seen when The Cheshire Cat plays a prank on her in the middle of the croquet game (The Queen of Hearts is unaware about this). Her nose is round. She also wears a small gold crown. Her hair is black and tied into a tight bun with red ribbon. A few loose bangs dangle on front of her forehead, and she is always seen carrying a small wand with a red heart on the tip.
Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010)
American McGee's Alice
In the video game American McGee's Alice, the Queen of Hearts is the final boss and the reason for Wonderland's decay. When Alice fights her, she discovers that the Queen is her dark side – an embodiment of her insanity; the Queen must be destroyed for Alice to become sane once more. The Queen's appearance is different in American McGee's Alice than in the book: she appears first as a faceless entity having tentacles for arms, legs, and hair. It is later revealed that this is a mere puppet and that the true Queen of Hearts is a horrible monster in the image of a real anatomical heart.
She is called both the Queen of Hearts and the Red Queen interchangeably throughout the game. No mention is made of the Red Queen from "Through the Looking Glass." However, the White Queen is seen for only a moment, as her head is chopped off by the enemy in The Pale Realm.
The Looking-Glass Wars
In The Looking Glass Wars, the ruling dynasty of the Wonderland is the Heart family. The title of Queen of Hearts is a hereditary title for the Queen of Wonderland. The Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland is reimagined as Queen Redd, the enemy and aunt of the heroine, Alyss. She kills Alyss' parents and usurps the throne of Wonderland.
It should be noted that the true Queen of Hearts in this story is Genevieve Heart, Alyss's mother as an apparent re-imagining of the White Queen. Alyss is, therefore, the Princess of Hearts.
Alice in the Country of Hearts
In the manga Alice in the Country of Hearts, the Queen of Hearts is known as Vivaldi. She isn't as much a main character, though, and she has very few parts in the current books. Vivaldi rules Heart Castle and is feuding with the other territories over Wonderland. She is beautiful with black hair, unlike other adaptations. She speaks in the majestic plural, I.E, "We are happy you are here to see us." As discovered through Heart no Kuni no Alice the game by Quinrose (the predecessor to the manga) Blood Dupree (The Hatter) is Vivaldi's little brother though it is alluded to be a romantic interest for Vivaldi until Alice discovers the secret.
SyFy TV miniseries
In the two part series Alice, hosted by the SyFy Channel, the Queen of Hearts is portrayed by Kathy Bates as a refined but ruthless drug lord. The miniseries is set one hundred and fifty years after Alice's first visit to Wonderland and the Queen is (as usual) the primary villain of the series. As is customary, the Queen is depicted as narcissistic, declaring herself as "the most powerful woman in the history of literature" and obese. Her calm, cold demeanour suggests that she too is a mixture of the Queen of Hearts and the Red Queen.
Other versions and adaptations
- In various film and television versions of the novel, The Queen has been played by May Robson, Ronald Lang, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Eve Arden, Jayne Meadows, and, In the 1999 Alice in Wonderland television movie, Miranda Richardson, whose portrayal is strongly reminiscent of her role as the spoiled Queenie in Blackadder.
- In the 1982 musical/dance adaptation of the novel, Alice at the Palace, the Queen of Hearts is played by Debbie Allen.
- In an episode of Wizards of Waverly Place parodying the novel, Alex is in court and becomes smart with the Queen of Hearts. The Queen of Hearts is played by Maria Canals Barrera.
- In the 1991 Disney channel series Adventures in Wonderland, the Red Queen was played by Armelia McQueen, appearing as a short-tempered and childish but basically benevolent ruler.
- In Sandra the Fairytale Detective, her name is Theressa.