Thursday, 17 July 2008

Alice's Caterpillar



I'm rather intrigued by the notion (which, I'm surprised and a little ashamed to confess, has only just occurred to me) that Tenniel's Alice's Caterpillar is a satirical dig at the British judiciary. Martin Gardner notes how Tenniel made the first two rows of caterpillarian legs the being's nose and chin, which is very neat; and I remember thinking as a child how like a treble clef the curling of the hookah's line is. But to look at the image is to note the resemblance of the caterpillar's back to a judicial wig (Ede and Ravenscroft's Legal Habits: a Brief Sartorial History of Wig, Robe [pdf] makes plain that in the nineteenth-century (and unlike today) Judges wore 'a larger full-bottomed stle of wig' where attorneys and lawyers wore 'bobwigs' and 'pigtails' respectively); and the sleeve looks very like the sleeve of a judicial gown. The question is whether Tenniel had any larger point, beyond linking Judges with the indolence and orientalism associated with the hookah?

2 comments:

mahendra singh said...

Something along the lines of justice being the larval state of truth.

Adam Roberts Project said...

Or 'the legal profession is full of insects and drug-addicts'.