The Duchess is a criminal?
We know that somehow for some reason the Duchess is on the Queen’s bad side because she was imprisoned. We never find out what it is she has done wrong though.
It was in the notes of The Annotated Alice that I learned the Knave had his nose shaded red to signify he was a criminal. It said they did this because Victorians saw criminals as heavy drinkers, and shaded noses showed someone was a drinker.
When I was looking through the illustrations I noticed in the picture where the Duchess is walking with Alice that she had a shaded nose. Now it was one thing for the Queen to have imprisoned her for something silly like talking to loud or some such thing; like her threats to behead her guests that she never carried out. But it is an entirely different thing for the Duchess to be actually guilty of something where she would deserve punishment.
Originally, I thought of the Duchess as a slightly mad fat old lady who had offended an equally fat and crazy woman-who was-unfortunately for her, the Queen. Now I feel a slight dread in having been tricked into thinking she was sweet and just a little ‘off her rocker’. I feel I have been betrayed, either that or she really is not the criminal she appears to be, but appears not to be at the same time. It could be she is still a criminal and has only good intentions when speaking with Alice. Like a prisoner who gives worldly advice, though they themselves didn’t follow it.
Either way, I hope for the sake of the voice in me wishing that the Duchess is a good old lady, that she isn’t the criminal she is portrayed as. I would feel quite foolish in having been duped by a character in a children’s book. Although as a criminal, if she really is one, I wouldn’t put it past her to have that talent of tricking people as gullible as me. For the sake of the image of the ‘good’ Duchess, that she could be, I will keep denying the subtle evidence of her character.