The Cheshire cat

Bio Express

  • Names : Cheshire cat, Chafouin or Chester cat.
  • First apparition : in the novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll in 1865. Then in the animated film Alice in Wonderland of the StudiosDisney sorti en 1951.
  • Representation : He often wears a big smile.
  • Personnality : Philosopher and surrealist.
  • Power : Can appear and disappear entirely or partially.
  • Habitat : Lives in Wonderland.

The Cheshire Cat: Its origin before Disney

The name of this iconic cat is a tribute from Lewis Carroll to the county of Cheshire (or Chester) where he was born.

Long before it came to life in the crazy world of Lewis Carroll, we find in 1788 in a classic dictionary written by Francis Grose, an expression that bears his name: “Cheshire cat: smile like a Cheshire cat”. This means that a person smiles while showing teeth and gums!

Who is this Chafouin ?

He is a character who is completely foolish, very philosophical and playful at the same time. But he always understands what is asked of him. He is very complex and mysterious, which is also what makes him fascinating!

In the Disney animated version, he is pink with purple stripes. However, in the live action version, he is blue with shinier stripes. In both versions, he keeps his huge iconic smile.

He likes to disappear, leaving only his big smile visible or his head that he turns over and over. His physical appearance and the way he plays with his power accentuate his eccentricity!

One Cheshire cat but two personalities

In the animated film, we discover a playful and mischievous Cheshire. He even gets Alice into trouble by making himself invisible and making the Queen of Hearts fall backwards!

He is a cat who likes to show off his disappearing skills and philosophical language. However, it is noticeable that he almost always comes to Alice’s aid when she needs it.

In the films Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the looking glass released in 2010 and 2016, we perceive, clearly more friendship and kindness of this zany character. Indeed, he guides Alice, helps the hatter not to be beheaded. He gives the hat back to Tarrant and is present during the final battle to support Alice. It is a cat always mischievous with great phrases, but more endearing than ever.

Artistic evocations and tributes

  • The cat can be found on a stained glass window in the church of Daresbury, the English village where Lewis Carroll was born.
  • In Roger Zelazny‘s The Sign of Chaos (1987), a character (Luke) finds himself projected, after having been drugged, into a universe worthy of Alice in Wonderland where this famous cat constantly appears and disappears.
  • The novel Aliss (2000) by Patrick Senécal features the character Chess, inspired by the Cheshire cat.
  • In Jasper Fforde‘s Thursday Next series, the Cheshire Cat is an employee of Jurifiction, an internal literary police force that watches over all the books in the world.
  • In Quin Rose‘s Alice in the Kingdom of Hearts (2007), the Cheshire Cat is represented by Boris Airay.
  • Many manga and comic books refer to it. As in Hellsing (1887-2008) by Kōta Hirano, embodied by the character of Schrödinger or Black BardThe Minstrel4, as Cherry Blossom Cheshire, vice president of a company. Or in the manga Pandora Hearts, the Chain that keeps some of Alice’s memories, is represented by a young man with cat’s paws living in a parallel dimension.

We can see that this character is so emblematic that he can be found in various universes! It fascinates by its surrealist side, but at the same time sensible!