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Gender Roles: “Alice in Wonderland” (2010)


While women achieved some degree of equality with men in terms of economic, political, and social issues, their position remains stereotyped in many cases. The women’s movement that started in the 1960s allowed females to understand that they deserve equal rights and attitudes. Popular culture is one of the areas that reflect various approaches to treating women and men. This paper aims to examine the presentation of female characters in Alice in Wonderland (2010) by Tim Burton. Compared to other films that are produced by Disney, this one focuses on a progressive female that strives to explore the world around her rather than be engaged in domestic duties.

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Discussion of Gender Stereotypes and Revolutionary Changes

Alice in Wonderland is based on a novel by Lewis Carroll, depicting the adventures of a girl named Alice in a fantasy genre. The film includes a range of female characters, including Alice, two Queens, flowers, and maids, while various male characters are also present. The character of the Hatter can be noted as the most important and extravagant, and his ideas seem to be insane compared to the normal expectations of society. Both male and female characters are not only named and speak about various issues but they are also induced with special roles. For example, one of the Queens symbolizes evil, and the other one embodies well. While male characters are also given, the greater emphasis is placed on the character of Alice that can be identified as a feminist.

The majority of movies that are produced by the United States and Disney, in particular, demonstrate women like princesses and girls who sit at home and wait for a prince to come. In turn, males are described as courageous, strong, and dominant persons. These gender stereotypes are broken in Alice in Wonderland, where the main character behaves in a way that is not expected by society. From the very beginning of the film, Alice decides to avoid marrying the Lord by escaping in the rabbit hole, considering that she does not want to tie her life with her groom. This scene shows that Alice is clever and brave to make independent decisions. This escape means that the female character decided to choose her own path despite social prejudices. At the same time, such behaviors and thoughts are different from the ones of Cinderella or, for example, White Snow, who relied on men.

Another scene that confirms the feministic tone of the film is associated with handling a beast. When she stands before the crowd and takes a warrior role, the viewers understand that she is not a typical princess but a female with personal values and attitudes to life (Hermansson and Zepernick 136). However, there are some details that point to the fact that Alice is not yet free of stereotypes, and her self-identification is not yet complete. For example, across the movie, Alice states that she cannot possibly fight, without explaining the reasons. This detail can be understood as she did not yet decide who she is, which means that she is still dependent on gender stereotypes to some extent.

Today, the development of cinema is a way of developing visual means of expression to become dominant. Alice in Wonderland activates the work of the imagination of a viewer, appealing directly to the emotional reaction operating with communication codes. In this movie, the appearance of Alice can be noted as one more aspect of gender roles. Namely, the image of Alice strengthens the American ideals about beauty since the girl has a slim body and long blond hair, the features of stereotyped femininity. After the transformation in Underland, the appearance changes dramatically.

Clothing is used by Burton as a tool to stress revolutionary changes in the appearance of Alice. It seems that the customers of the film deliberately choose the most clichéd costume of the Victorian era. It is important for the authors of the film to emphasize Alice’s “strangeness” and inconsistency with etiquette and standards (Park 84). Alice’s transition and getting stuck between the childhood and adult worlds is emphasized by her dress and the attitude of adults to her. At that time, society was dominated by the idea of ​​childhood as a period of innocence as children were brought up in ignorance of the relationship between sexes. They were thought to be clean and perfect, and all the children’s shortcomings were perceived as a lack of oversight from parents. This explains why the relatives of Alice are so worried, who, apparently, has always been distinguished by strange behavior and judgments.

Since the authors of the film needed to play around with clothes, at the very beginning, they demonstrate that Alice can imagine herself without some elements. In the scene in the carriage, it turns out that this young lady does not look at the comforts and decencies in clothes. Her refusal from the corset and the question of the right to set the norm and freedom to follow it prepares the viewer for further rejection of stereotypes, showing that this girl can go beyond the boundaries. In turn, the appearance of male characters is traditional: all the men are dressed in dinner jackets and have usual accessories. The Hatter is the only exception from this order, but his image reflects craziness in the context of traditional perceptions. In fact, this character has logic and rational arguments, which allows questioning the traditional way of organizing society.

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To conclude, Alice in Wonderland depicts a feminist character of Alice, who represents the overcoming of gender stereotypes. The idea of escaping from the wedding, as well as the changing appearance of the main character, confirms that she is not submissive to male domination. However, it is important to note that Alice is still impacted by society as she cannot yet identify herself. As for male characters, they are given in a stereotyped manner, for example, Alice’s groom. The Hatter, as a representative of the Underland, is distinctive and seemingly crazy in comparison to other men. Compared to the popular culture of America, Alice in Wonderland can be identified as revolutionary in terms of feminism.

Works Cited

Hermansson, Casie, and Janet Zepernick. The Palgrave Handbook of Children’s Film and Television. Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.

Park, Hyewon. “Costume Colors Follow Story Structure on Fantasy Film Alice in Wonderland by Tim Burton.” Journal of Fashion Business, vol. 20, no. 2, 2016, pp. 78-96.

Reflection on Writing

When I reread my paper, I understood that I did well with the instructions of this assignment since I discussed the way the film presents female and male characters. The paper has a consistent flow and clear ideas that reflect my thoughts about how the character of Alice embodies feminism. In my opinion, my critical thinking skills allowed me to detect and develop several important scenes of this film. My grammar, punctuation, and spelling skills seem to be good. However, I believe that I should improve my vocabulary by enriching it and develop the ability to express my point of view clearer so that it would be comprehensible to readers.

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