Moulton Lava

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Friday, January 30, 2009

A Pack of Cards, A Moiety of Trolls, and Thou

Here is a brief post from a blog called The Baheyeldin Dynasty by Khalid...

Symbolism in Lewis Carroll's 'Trial of the Knave and The Queen of Hearts'

Submitted by Khalid on Mon, 2004/12/27 - 17:18

In Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll always made thinly masked critiques of the Victorian age he was living in. Once such criticism is the Knave's trial and the Queen of Hearts attitude: sham trials with guilt being pre-determined.

The Knave of Hearts is accused of allegedly stealing the Queen of Hearts' tarts, where in fact it was Alice who did so. The Queen of Hearts had made up her mind and wanted the Knave to be beheaded.

A trial is set, but it is only a sham trial. Those in power have pre-determined the outcome, and only having the trial to pretend that justice is being done.

Here is how the dialog goes, from Chapter 12:

'Let the jury consider their verdict,' the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.

'No, no!' said the Queen. 'Sentence first - verdict afterwards.

'Stuff and nonsense!' said Alice loudly. 'The idea of having the sentence first!'

'Hold your tongue!' said the Queen, turning purple.
'I won't!' said Alice.

'Off with her head!' the Queen shouted at the top of her voice.
As you can see, the Queen wants "sentence first, verdict afterwards!".

Alice protests loudly, but the Queen now turns on her, and wants those who voice opposition and tell the truth to be the ones who are to be punished.

That memorable passage, from the closing chapter of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, is the last straw for Alice. She throws up her hands and exclaims, "Who cares for you? You're nothing but a pack of cards!" (whereupon the whole pack rises up in outrage and comes flying down upon Alice).

The lesson, I imagine, is that it's rather pointless to extend one's empathy and concern to such shallow and unredemptive characters.

It's a conundrum that reprises itself in teh intarwebs when dealing with similarly unredemptive trollish characters who do not respond to good faith expressions of concern and guidance.

One longs for an I/Thou Relationship with authentic souls whose lives are changed for the better as a result of a chance online encounter. Alas it doesn't always have a happy ending. Like Alice, one just receives a rude awakening at the end of a Kafkaesque nightmare, wondering what the devil went haywire.

Some insights and epiphanies will just have to wait for a more auspicious day.


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