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…gave her pause to recognize an air of duality about the place…
A common theme in both of the original books. Everything has some kind of doppleganger there, doesn’t it? White rabbits and March hares, Tweedles and Mock Turtles and Gryphons, and other creatures too…

Where there had first seemed to be nine ladies and seven gentlemen, she could now plainly see that there were five ladies and four gentlemen, which seemed more reasonable despite the remaining imbalance.
“… a report soon followed that Mr. Bingley was to bring twelve ladies and seven gentlemen with him to the assembly…” Chapter 3, Pride and Prejudice

As they ambled past her, Alice saw that the gentlemen were perfectly precise, striking their dark hair and handsomely vague features…
All the princes are so bland and vaguely similar, it’s funny to me.

The only apparent distinguishing feature amongst the women, besides their hair, seemed to be the color of their dresses…
They kind of are, really. Okay, if you really have no idea who the princesses could possibly be, here they are: Aurora, Cinderella, Snow White, Jasmine, Belle, and Ariel. Ta-da. Their dialogue gives hints as to their respective stories.

“Well, this story begins--”
“No, you must start it properly,” interrupted one of the ladies.
“How shall I start, then?”
“Once upon a time,” said the brunette as if this had been perfectly obvious from the outset.
“Very well,” said Alice.

The idea that fairy tale characters insist on stories starting with that phrase is nothing new—remember the miniseries The 10th Kingdom? I think I remember that being a requirement of the prince’s crowning as regnant. He had to “tell the tale” of his adventures and start the story with the classic phrase.

Once upon a time, in a mysterious land very far away, there lived a very beautiful and very cold Princess.
This is the story told in the opera Turandot, which is by Giacomo Puccini and was first produced in 1926. The joke is that Alice couldn’t possibly be aware of operas that hadn’t been written yet, but there’s a subtle hint at later plot details.

“I am afraid we do not understand; are you not the princess of your tale?”
It’s strange that Alice is such a popular figure in Disney lore but remains a non-princess figure, permanently stuck in that 8 year old position.

As if her function were a game, the redhead was untangling Alice's sausage curls with an enthusiasm bordering on ferocity, and, she suspected, a tool other than a proper brush.
I wouldn’t want a stranger brushing my hair with a dinner fork either.

“Thank you,” said Alice, feeling deceitful of the pale princess's approving gaze.
Alice isn’t real comfortable about being a non-princess, either.

“Hang those lanterns high,” said the Hatter by way of parting. He and the lady looked at one another momentarily. Her face, too, glowed in the distant lights, and though it was just before twilight, the stand of trees made the carved out hollows in her cheekbones smooth, but not quite free of worry, Alice could see. The Hatter seemed as though he was going to continue, but the lady before him smiled once more and murmured her farewell.
I get questions about what this means. It means that the Hatter is right in his assessment of these princesses, but Alice doesn’t quite see what’s going on there.

”I've got a whole room full of them and some of them are quite unique, one is shaped like an octopus and there's another that comes apart into quadrants even when the tea is inside which is supposed to be physically impossible so I think there might be cosmic interference--”
The octopus teapot comes from Lily’s drawing of the teashop window. The other teapot defies the laws of physics and hints at just how odd things are.


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May 2009

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