Who is The Mysterious Cheshire Cat?

There are a few different thoughts as to the origin of the mysterious creature known as the Cheshire Cat. To many he’s the always-grinning character in Alice in Wonderland that floats about without a care in the world and is largely interested in his own self-preservation and speaking in riddles whenever possible. Yet there are a few explainable origins for the cat outside of the book and the movie adaptations that have taken place over the years. He might look creepy and be one of the least helpful creatures in the story but he does have his roots in the real world, in a way.

One playful origin has the name beginning in the county of Cheshire in England, where there were many dairy farms. It is said that the cats there all grinned because the cream and milk were both good and plentiful. Another origin has to do with an unfortunate painter that was attempting to paint a family crest for a very influential family. Unfortunately the picture that was supposed to look like lion turned out to look like a madly grinning cat. While none of the origins that have been given have been substantiated the influence of the Cheshire has been felt ever since its appearance in Alice in Wonderland largely because it is such a mysterious creature.

There have never been any other creatures like it and honestly this is what gives the cat its sense of mystery and mystique, as well as the madness that seems to lie within its grin. Many renderings have been drawn and painted of the Cheshire that make it look cute, cuddly, and even dangerous and demonic in some cases. Throughout every rendition however there is always the quality that is always pervasive in the character. It is a creature born of madness and strange purpose that knows why it exists and why things happen as they do but is compelled to speak in maddening riddles that are fit to drive people crazy and not trust it.

Of course many of the characters and creatures in Lewis Carroll’s book tend to be a bit crazed, as chaos is the order of the day in the realm of Wonderland. In later versions however the Cheshire has taken on a more positive lean and been a great deal more helpful in its endeavors to see that Alice is successful in her quest. It has even been shown to be susceptible to something finally as it was in Through the Looking Glass. While the Cheshire has been show to be almost impervious to anything that might affect a mortal creature it is not untouched by time and anything that has to do with the temporal quality of its world.

Like everyone else the Cheshire was frozen in time when the great clock finally stilled, halted forever even as he tried to disappear yet again. His cryptic statement “Time’s up” was telling not only for the rest of them, but for him as well. The Cheshire has been an important character for quite a while thanks to Alice in Wonderland, but perhaps the best quote of all is one that I find near and dear to my heart.

“Most everyone’s mad here…”

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