Alternative Worlds in ABC’s “Once Upon a Time”

The Meaning of Alternative World’s in “Once Upon a Time”

Alternative worlds are common in the apocalyptic genre. The alternative worlds in ABC’s Once Upon a Time[i] are Storybrooke; the Enchanted Forest; Wonderland; China; Boston, Massachusetts; and New York City, New York.

The meaning of Storybrooke in Once Upon a Time[ii] is that Regina’s curse worked; “all of our prisons will be time[iii].” The meaning of Storybrooke in Once Upon a Time[iv] is that Regina had been lured by the power she found in the use of magic from killing her father, to sending her mother Cora to Wonderland. The meaning of Storybrooke in Once Upon a Time[v] is that the Evil Queen, like so many others, had not heeded Rumpelstiltskin’s warning that “All magic comes with a price[vi].”

The meaning of Storybrooke in Once Upon a Time[vii] once Henry found Emma is that good always conquers evil. Even when Henry briefly lost hope he realized what the core truth of the use of magic for evil is, “Good always looses because good has to play fair[viii].” The meaning of Storybrooke in Once Upon a Time[ix] is that oppressive systems of power and their leaders, will always be brought down by the people that they oppress. The meaning of Storybrooke in Once Upon a Time[x] is that true love will always win.

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The Enchanted Forest in Once Upon a Time[xi] is a symbol of hope. In season two of Once Upon a Time everyone’s focus is on getting back to the Enchanted Forest. The Enchanted Forest in Once Upon a Time[xii] is also a symbol of oppression.  The Enchanted Forest in Once Upon a Time[xiii] is a symbol of the Evil Queen’s oppression; she had the king murdered in her search for power, she murdered her father in her search for power, and made multiple deals with Rumpelstiltskin in her search for more power.

The Enchanted Forest in Once Upon a Time[xiv] is a symbol of Rumpelstiltskin’s power. He killed the Dark One and in doing so became the Dark One[xv]. He used his magic for his own good, the magic corrupted him to the point of when he had a chance to walk away from being the Dark One, and he picked magic over love:

Belle:You’re a coward, Rumplestiltskin. And no matter how thick you make your skin, that doesn’t change.
Rumplestiltskin: I’m not a coward, dearie. It’s quite simple, really. My power means more to me than you.
Belle: No. No, it doesn’t. You just don’t think I can love you. Now you’ve made your choice. And you’re going to regret it. Forever. And all you have is an empty heart. And a chipped cup[xvi].

The Enchanted Forest in Once Upon a Time[xvii] is also a symbol of the power of true love. Prince Charming and Snow White always find each other, no matter the Evil Queen does to them, they always find each other. Prince Charming reminded Snow White on numerous occasions that they always find each other, “You never have to worry. I will always find you[xviii].”

The Enchanted Forest in Once Upon a Time[xix] is symbolic of the belief that good always overcomes evil. The huntsman spared Snow White’s life and Snow White and Prince Charming’s daughter, Emma, was the key to breaking the Evil Queen’s curse. The Enchanted Forest in Once Upon a Time[xx] also symbolized that the bond between family, just like true love, are greater than any evil. Hansel and Gretel chose a life with their father over the life of luxury that the Evil Queen offered them[xxi].

 

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Wonderland in Once Upon a Time[xxii] also symbolized the bond between family. When Jefferson is separated from his daughter, because of the Evil Queen, he tries to get back to the Enchanted Forest. His attempt to get back to his daughter turned him into the Mad Hatter[xxiii].

Wonderland in Once Upon a Time[xxiv] is also a symbol of the Evil Queen’s power; Jefferson was trapped there because of her and father was sent there after she murdered him. Wonderland in Once Upon a Time[xxv] was also a symbol of the Evil Queen’s struggle for power. In her struggle for absolute control of the Enchanted Forest, the Evil Queen banished her mother to Wonderland[xxvi]. Wonderland in Once Upon a Time[xxvii] was also a symbol of Cora’s struggle for power.

Cora made her daughter, Regina, queen by using magic and it was Cora’s struggle for power that forced Regina to banish her mother. Wonderland in Once Upon a Time[xxviii] was also a symbol of Cora’s power. After Regina banished her mother to Wonderland, Cora became the Queen of Hearts. Wonderland in Once Upon a Time[xxix] symbolized a land with no hope, a land where the magic was only used for evil.

The use of alternative worlds in Once Upon a Time[xxx] provided hope for the audience. The audience found in hope in all of the counter-cultures that were created in Storybrooke, the Enchanted Forest, and Wonderland.

References:


[i] Once Upon a Time. ABC. 2011-2013

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] “Pilot.” Once Upon a Time. ABC. 2011-2013

[iv] Once Upon a Time. ABC. 2011-2013

[v] Ibid.

[vi] “Pilot.” Once Upon a Time. ABC. 2011-2013

[vii] Once Upon a Time. ABC. 2011-2013

[viii] “Desperate Souls.” Once Upon a Time. ABC. 2011-2013

[ix] Once Upon a Time. ABC. 2011-2013

[x] Ibid.

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] Ibid.

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] “Skin Deep.” Once Upon a Time. ABC. 2011-2013

[xvi] Ibid.

[xvii] Once Upon a Time. ABC. 2011-2013

[xviii] “Pilot.” Once Upon a Time. ABC. 2011-2013

[xix] Once Upon a Time. ABC. 2011-2013

[xx] Ibid.

[xxi] “True North.” Once Upon a Time. ABC. 2011-2013

[xxii] Once Upon a Time. ABC. 2011-2013

[xxiii] “Hat Trick.” Once Upon a Time. ABC. 2011-2013

[xxiv] Once Upon a Time. ABC. 2011-2013

[xxv] Once Upon a Time. ABC. 2011-2013

[xxvi] “Queen of Hearts.” Once Upon a Time. ABC. 2011-2013

[xxvii] Ibid.

[xxviii] Ibid.

[xxix] Once Upon a Time. ABC. 2011-2013

[xxx] Ibid.