A.L. Taylor’s Alice in Wonderland Essay

“Chess and Theology in the Alice Books” echoes Falconer Madan’s regret that the game of chess in Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass” is not properly worked out. As is, it contains multiple errors such as the White side being allowed to move nine consecutive times and Queens castling. Dodgson wrote his defense in 1887, admitting that his adherence to the rules of chess are lax and that the book is based on a demonstration of moves, not a full game.

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A.L. Taylor’s Alice in Wonderland Essay
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Taylor goes on to theorize that the game serves as a metaphor for life, with Alice, a pawn, searching for knowledge, which lies at the eighth square when she becomes a queen. This bears resemblance to, but is not necessarily in conjunction with the metaphor of growing up. In any case, until Alice reaches the eighth square, she has a limited view, and is only able to visualize the things that happen directly around her. It is rather abrupt, then, when Taylor begins discussing the Red and White Queens as two factions, the Rationalist faction, and the extreme High Church Party.

According to Taylor, the Red Queen demonstrates multiple parallels to demands of the dogmatic Church which remains rooted in tradition more for show than anything else. The White Queen represents, Dodgson mused, was gentle and stupid with a bewildered air that suggested imbecility. In her crooked guise, Taylor believes she represents the Protestant side of the Church of England, attempting to re-interpret religious ideas. So, if the two Queens are opposing sides of the Church, Alice must be a compromise.

She represents the thing that both Red and White sides have been overlooking. Taylor simplifies it as love, but it may be better understood as the True Church. The reason people came to gather and worship together in the first place. It is here that Taylor’s essay ends, without a proper clarification of his points, instead spiraling into yet another allegory concerning the black and white kittens of Dinah, Alice’s black and white cat.

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