Red Queen (Through the Looking-Glass)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Red Queen is a fictional character in Lewis Carroll's fantasy novella, Through the Looking-Glass.

With a motif of Through the Looking-Glass being representations of the game of chess, the Red Queen could be viewed as an antagonist in the story as she is the queen for the side opposing Alice. Despite this, their initial encounter is a cordial one, with the Red Queen explaining the rules of Chess concerning promotion — specifically that Alice is able to become a queen by starting out as a pawn and reaching the eighth square at the opposite end of the board. As a queen in the game of Chess, the Red Queen is able to move swiftly and effortlessly.

Later, in Chapter 9, she appears with the White Queen, posing a series of typical Wonderland/Looking-Glass questions ("Divide a loaf by a knife: what's the answer to that?"), and then celebrating Alice's promotion from pawn to queen. When that celebration goes awry, Alice turns upon the Red Queen, whom she "considers as the cause of all the mischief", and shakes her until the queen morphs into Alice's pet kitten. In doing this, Alice presents an end game, awakening from the dream world of the looking glass, by both realizing her hallucination and symbolically "taking" the Red Queen in order to checkmate the Red King.

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Confusion with the Queen of Hearts

She is commonly mistaken for the Queen of Hearts in the story's predecessor, Alice in Wonderland, but in reality shares none of her characteristics other than being a queen. Indeed, Carroll, in his lifetime, made the distinction of the two Queens by saying:

I pictured to myself the Queen of Hearts as a sort of embodiment of ungovernable passion - a blind and aimless Fury.
The Red Queen I pictured as a Fury, but of another type; her passion must be cold and calm - she must be formal and strict,
yet not unkindly; pedantic to the 10th degree, the concentrated essence of all governesses!

The 1951 animated film Alice in Wonderland perpetuates the long-standing confusion between the Red Queen and the Queen of Hearts. In the film, the Queen of Hearts delivers several of the Red Queen's statements, the most notable being based on her "all the ways about here belong to me". Both characters say this to suggest importance and possible arrogance, but in the Red Queen's case it has a double meaning since her status as a Chess-queen means that she can move in any direction she desires.

In both American McGee's Alice and Tim Burton's film adaptation of the books, the characters are also combined, leading to further popular misconception. Also, Jefferson Airplane's song "White Rabbit" contains the lyric "and the Red Queen's off with her head", another instance of the two characters combined or mistaken for one another.

In science

The evolutionary concept of the The Red Queen's Hypothesis originates from her statement about the Red Queen's race: "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!".

In business

“Red Queen marketing” is defined as the business practice of launching new products in order to replace past failed launches while the overall sales of a brand may remain static or growth is less than fully incremental (Donald Kay Riker, 2009). The concept is important since traditional financial metrics, such as sales and revenue growth, do not adequately describe a company’s efficiency at product development and marketing. In a perfectly efficient development process the sales of a new launch would contribute entirely incremental growth; however, if that launch simply replaces prior launches, or cannibalizes related brand offerings, the company is practicing a form of Red Queen marketing. Companies that launch new products at an increasingly high rate over time to maintain the status quo are likely practicing Red Queen marketing.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Red Queen (Through the Looking-Glass)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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