I Can Slay the Jabberwocky! Disney’s New Alice Serves as a Strong Role Model for Girls
Warning: Film Spoilers!
No longer a coy and naively curious little girl, visionary Tim Burton’s new Alice character presented a refreshingly strong role model for young women the world over. Whether you saw the 3-D version or not, you didn’t need special glasses to recognize an instant ability for girls to be able to relate to Alice, played by Australian actress Mia Wasikowska. Amazing CGI technology that blended seamlessly with live-action, over the top costuming, and big Hollywood names may have given Walt Disney Pictures the right to boast over huge box office sales, but it was the character played by Wasikowska that perhaps should be the ‘take home’ for female fans.
Within the first five minutes of the film we see Alice emerge as a relatable young adult, when questioned by her Mother about not being dressed properly Alice voiced her protest against proper dress: “If everyone decided that wearing a codfish on your head was ‘proper,’ would you do it? That’s what a corset is to me, a codfish.” After their horse & buggy arrives at a lavish Victorian estate it soon becomes obvious to Alice that she’s there to attend her own engagement party. Unimpressed by her family’s choice of betrothed, ailment-ridden Hamish Ascot, Alice escapes off to the forest where her fate is met after falling down the proverbial rabbit hole.
Alas, teenaged rebellion, running away from reality, and talking back to your Mother does not a role model make. It wasn’t until Alice advanced through her adventures in Underland, with a cast of outlandish beastly friends, did a transformation begin to happen.
Questioned by nearly all the residents of Underland as to whether she was the real Alice or not, Wasikowska’s character was forced to decide who she really was inside and face her purpose in this unique world. Making emotional connections to her new friends she found the strength to help them fight the wicked Red Queen and return harmony back to Underland. Putting her fears aside Alice bravely faced the razor-toothed, claw slashing Bandersnatch who guards the one sword that can help Alice slay the Red Queen’s vicious beast fighter, the infamous Jabberwocky, on Frabjous Day. Frabjous Day is the day of anticipated battle between the White Queen and the Red Queen, and the real Alice is believed to be the only person able to conquer the Red Queen’s fierce Jabberwocky thus returning rule back to the peaceful White Queen.
Quoting her deceased Father, who owned an innovative & successful trade company, Alice adopts the motto, “Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” It was this belief, confidence in choosing her own path, and commitment to helping her friends that brought Alice into a visually & emotionally impressive suit of armor on Frabjous Day. Standing alone to face the huge, dragon-like, jaw-snapping Jabberwocky, Alice takes the Vorpal Sword in hand and recites the following:
“I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast. Count them, Alice. One, there are drinks that make you shrink. Two, there are foods that make you grow. Three, animals can talk. Four, cats can grin. Five, there is a place called Underland. Six, I CAN SLAY A JABBERWOCKY!”
Alice, in fact, did conquer the Jabberwocky, and whether she was wearing frilly dresses or a full suit of armor, her character proved a modern example of heroism and strength. When Alice returned to reality from this strange ‘dream,’ she was able to respectfully decline the marriage offer by Hamish & his family. Alas, not one to walk away, Alice then formed a partnership with Hamish’s father to continue her deceased father’s Trade Company, bringing it into an “impossible” location: China.
Coming away as an entrepreneur, partnering with the father of her rejected betrothed, proving strong enough to conquer giant obstacles, staying loyal to her friends, believing in the impossible, wearing both frilly party dresses and suits of armor with ease, and staying focused on creating her own path, Alice provides something bigger than can be viewed in 3-D: a modern female role model. Given the trend in recent media of the “mean girl” attitude, an air of teenaged entitlement, and self-absorption, seeing Alice’s character unfold on screen was like a breath of desperately needed fresh air. Lots of things in this world may seem “impossible” right now, but Alice gave girls and young women alike a taste of inspiration and confidence in their paths.