Alice is to escape a stuffy Victorian soiree, an engagement to an obnoxious boy, & a life of quiet desperation. This is why she goes to Wonderland. Whatever she sees there, when she comes back, she becomes an adventurous merchant, like her father. It would seem that the South Pacific can offer her a freedom that England cannot; her newfound daring astounds her father’s business partners as much as it reminds them of him.
Back to Wonderland. Wonderland is in turmoil. The two queens are fighting, both ridiculous & unaware, neither exactly evil. The White – politically incompetent; the Red – insane. Perhaps these are two forms of innocence… The former dabbles in death; everything in her court is faded, unwilling to fight to survive.
The latter is ignorant of her tyranny. She cannot distinguish flattery from admiration; she does not know some are not slaves. Her deformities replace nature. Her pleasures cause suffering, so she cannot expect approval. Whereas she is childish, her enabler, the Knave of Hearts, is evil – an opportunist, a deceiver, a lover of power, hardened, cruel & arrogant. But nobody kills him.
Alice seems plain: neither beautiful nor too insightful. She protests profusely the dream-like quality of the story; apparently, things happen to her, but she never acts herself. Only bad things happen, obviously. If you like this sort of thing, the White Queen may be likened to the super-ego, the Red Queen to the ego, the nameless monster to the id…
She is Alice, but maybe not the Alice; she is an Alice; she seems to have forgotten herself, but she must save Wonderland. One wonders whether Wonderland has any purpose but to help her find herself. At the end, she has to kill a terrifying dragon which is never an actor in the story, and is helpless to prevent a scrawny girl from feats of arms resounding with thrusts and screaming.
The Mad Hatter, on the other hand, is an anti-hero, but trapped in a comedy. That may be fitting, for comedy showcases his eccentric individuality. Wonderland has gone mad & even when it is rescued, the mad hatter ends up dancing contortedly.
His faith in Alice & his helping her might belie his madness, if his means matche his ideal, if he had a reasonable chance of success. However, he appears to be the modern artist: His madness is called creativity.
We are told the madness of Wonderland caused the Mad Hatter’s madness; there is good reason to doubt that. He does not wish to be otherwise than mad, though he is aware he faced great suffering. One wonders whether he would fit in Wonderland were it not mad, ugly, its very conventions decrepit.
Johhny Depp & Tim Burton’s most popular film. See it, if you’re a fan