The books > Does John Tenniel's "beamish boy" look like Alice

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Does John Tenniel's "beamish boy" look like Alice

Postby aliceaficionado » Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:51 pm

I was reading TTLG and I was looking at Tenniel's drawing of the Jabberwock. I noticed that the guy who kills the Jabberwock had particularly long hair. I looked at the cover, and I saw Alice's hair. I could recognize those long gleaming locks anywhere! Does she look like Alice to you?

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Postby Simbabbad » Thu Apr 29, 2010 12:28 pm

There's really nothing that points to it. Jabberwocky was a parody of medieval dragon tales, and young men were always portrayed with long hair in those times. Besides, "beware the Jabberwock my SON"... "come to my arms my beamish BOY"... in context Alice was never intended to be a dragon slayer, a woman slaying a dragon just wasn't thought of at the time, and it doesn't fit anything that Alice does or is.

Also, putting a woman in such cloths would be seen as just WRONG:

Image

It's just the way Tenniel draws hair.

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Postby The Queen of Hearts » Thu Apr 29, 2010 3:03 pm

Also, putting a woman in such cloths would be seen as just WRONG:
Much too much leg "showing" for either the Medieval or Victorian period (Women have legs?! Shocking and scandalous!) woman to wear something like that.

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Postby Beautiful Soup » Thu Apr 29, 2010 4:02 pm

Also, putting a woman in such cloths would be seen as just WRONG:
Much too much leg "showing" for either the Medieval or Victorian period (Women have legs?! Shocking and scandalous!) woman to wear something like that.
I'm not sure that this is true.

There is a long tradition in Britain of 'the principal boy' in pantomime - which is a male character who is played by a female who traditionally wears a short tunic and tights or leggings.

Apparently this was quite common in the Victorian era and would have quite strongly resembled the above picture.

And there's Sarah Bernhardt's famous 1880s portrayal of Hamlet of course

http://woodwardshakespeare.files.wordpr ... hamlet.jpg

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Postby The Queen of Hearts » Thu Apr 29, 2010 7:12 pm

I'm not sure that this is true.

There is a long tradition in Britain of 'the principal boy' in pantomime - which is a male character who is played by a female who traditionally wears a short tunic and tights or leggings.

Apparently this was quite common in the Victorian era and would have quite strongly resembled the above picture.

And there's Sarah Bernhardt's famous 1880s portrayal of Hamlet of course

http://woodwardshakespeare.files.wordpr ... hamlet.jpg
I didn't even consider pantomimes when I posted, I was just considering regular dress standard, so you do have a point there. :-)

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Postby Beautiful Soup » Thu Apr 29, 2010 7:38 pm

The difficulty I have with the OP's question is that (now that s/he's drawn my attention to it) I DO think that the beamish boy's hair causes him to resemble Alice, but I'm extremely loathe to admit it because of that Tim Burton movie.

I can just see Woolverton thinking, "Ooh, doesn't that boy's hair make him look like a girl - that could be Alice," and after the way she mangled Carroll's stories, and heinously renamed the Jabberwock, 'the Jabberwocky' I'm reluctant to align myself to anything she may have thought.

(I do think it though - gack!)

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Postby Simbabbad » Thu Apr 29, 2010 11:43 pm

There is a long tradition in Britain of 'the principal boy' in pantomime - which is a male character who is played by a female who traditionally wears a short tunic and tights or leggings.
That's pretty convoluted though.

Nothing at all points to that character being Alice at all, or any girl for that matter. Why would it be a girl dressed as a boy in pantomime, and why would it be Alice? It's just a random medieval boy fighting the beast described in the poem, and it's just Tenniel's style with hair.

Even if Tenniel wanted to suggest a resemblance with Alice, which isn't the case, that still would say nothing about Carroll's intention. Carroll specifically asked Tenniel NOT to represent the White Knight as being old or having a moustache in "Through the Looking Glass", and Tenniel did just that.

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Postby Beautiful Soup » Fri Apr 30, 2010 12:19 am

^^ Convoluted? In what way?

I was just pointing out that it wasn't so extraordinary for women to be portrayed in such a way during the Victorian era.

I wasn't suggesting that Tenniel's illustration was intended to be Alice, or even female, and I don't think the OP was either.

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Postby Beautiful Soup » Fri Apr 30, 2010 12:37 am

Oh, and another thing...
a woman slaying a dragon just wasn't thought of at the time.
As for female dragon-slayers, a Middle English text composed between 1200 and 1230 tells this tale of Saint Margaret of Antiochia. Governor Olybrius wanted to marry the young maiden. When she refused, he tortured and imprisoned her. In prison the devil tempted her, first as a charming young man, then as a hideous dragon who threatened to devour her. Margaret slew the dragon by praying to the Lord while holding up a cross
http://www.knowledgehouse.info/njfkdragons.html

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Postby The Queen of Hearts » Fri Apr 30, 2010 6:02 am

I wasn't suggesting that Tenniel's illustration was intended to be Alice, or even female, and I don't think the OP was either.
And neither was I in my response to Beautiful Soup's response. Hair that looks the same is not exactly an uncommon thing :p and I think this is one of those cases.

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Postby Lenny » Fri Apr 30, 2010 7:11 am

Carroll specifically asked Tenniel NOT to represent the White Knight as being old or having a moustache in "Through the Looking Glass", and Tenniel did just that.

[offtopic] I didn't know that. What's your source?

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Postby NeVaR aSk » Fri Apr 30, 2010 1:45 pm

^ If I'm not mistaken that is recorded on Collingwood's bio. Also it appears on Gardner's.

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Postby Simbabbad » Sat May 01, 2010 8:30 am

@Beautiful Soup: yes, obviously there were stories of women killing dragons in history before Alice was written. Never with a sword, though, certainly not dressed as boys, and it wasn't thought of at the (Victorian) time, which is what I said.

Also, the OP asks if the boy looks like Alice from the hair, so it's logical to assume he/she takes this as a clue it could be meant to represent Alice, an alas frequent question. Otherwise I don't see the point.

@Lenny: it was said in the introduction of one of my editions, I can't remember which. It was talking about the Wasp in the Wig and other matters discussed in letters written between Dogson and Tenniel, so it's legit. I think this is pretty much proof the White Knight is meant to represent Dogson. I'm liking the "Through the Looking Glass" 1998 adaptation all the more for it since Ian Holme plays the character that way.

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Postby We'reAllMadHere » Sat May 01, 2010 11:09 am

AHEM. One phrase: Pre-Raphaelite.

We all know that the women in their paintings are beautiful beyond belief with flowing copper hair. But the men in their paintings too had long hair that does indeed resemble the hair of the Beamish Boy. In their depictions of Arthurian knights you will find such hair. Even Rossetti had tangled and wild hair:

http://www.artinthepicture.com/artists/ ... /self.jpeg

Now, we know that Carroll was friends with the Pre-Raphaelite circle and even had a painting of theirs in his quarters. Considering his influence over Tenniel's illustrations, to me it seems that he would want the Beamish Boy to be depicted as a Romantic hero in a suit of shining armour and flowing locks.

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Postby Beautiful Soup » Sat May 01, 2010 3:28 pm

@Beautiful Soup: yes, obviously there were stories of women killing dragons in history before Alice was written. Never with a sword, though, certainly not dressed as boys, and it wasn't thought of at the (Victorian) time, which is what I said.
Ok then. It wasn't clear that you meant that from what you wrote. Of course, if female dragon slayers were thought of in the middle ages, and they're thought of now, then they would also have been known about in Victorian times, don't you think? - as would women heroes dressing as boys (see pantomimes and also Joan of Arc)


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