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Gnarly Gargoyles Get Golden Tickets....

G is for Grotesque.....

The standard definition of Grotesque is anything that can be described as strange, fantastic, ugly, incongruous, unpleasant or disgusting... in other words, it's anything of a weird or distorted form. The gargoyles perched above the grand cathedrals have such twisted countenances that it's sometimes difficult to remember they are, in fact, affixed to the structure for protection.

In the context of literature, the Grotesque refers to something/someone that simultaneously evokes a feeling of bizarre disgust and deep empathy. We are equally repulsed and sympathetic. Some specific grotesque characters include, the hunchback of Notre Dame, Dr. Frankenstein's monster, Gollum from The Lord of the Rings. We can't help but be terrified by these creatures, and yet..... our hearts go out to them.

Like their gargoyle counterparts, most of these literary characters are visually unappealing. But, there is another characteristic of the Grotesque in literature, one that can't be captured in the static sculptures atop Notre Dame--- cringe-worthy social behavior.

So, I offer, as a study in social Grotesque, Willy Wonka. The mild physical form of Roald Dahl's most memorable character is hardly to be categorized with the likes of the hunchback or Gollum. It is not the physical form of Willy Wonka that is Grotesque, but his social nature.

This originally reclusive individual can be seen casually munching on a jelly sweet or remarking on the nature of imagination and fun as one-by-one the children in his tour group fall victim to their own vices. Does he terrify us? Yes. Does he disgust us? Yes. Then why is he so endearing to us? Because he is right.

When we learn of his true intentions to find one honest child to pass on his secrets to and realize that he has hidden himself away--not so much because of the candy-maker spies, but because he has lost his hope in humanity--we pity him. We empathize.

He may not have a twisted physical form, but his enjoyment in watching horrid children destroy themselves is indeed twisted beyond doubt. As much as he wished to find the one honest child, his introduction of the Golden Tickets as the means to uncovering that honest child, pointed to the world's greed and gluttony, shining light on the Grotesques of society.

He would have fared better if he'd passed his tickets out to the cathedral gargoyles.

If you were to find a Golden Ticket, what would your ticket say? What vice would be your demise in the lair of the Grotesque Candyman?


  1. Now that's an interesting question: if I had to pick a character trait that's my own undoing, what would it be.


    I very much like that idea. And at the same time, it's unsettling.

    That said, I'm afraid my primary fault would be the same found in many: an underlying fear that what I do, what I write or photograph, the images I create through words or light, aren't good enough. That they don't matter. That others can do the same, better, faster, more gracefully, with ease.

    As for the prize the golden ticket would offer, that's simple enough. I'd know in my heart of hearts that none of the aforementioned lot is true. Easy to please, I am.

    Anyway, that's quite a bit to print on a ticket. Could be you'd need a king sized candy to do it.

    Now then. Your turn. What's the errant thread in your weave that, if pulled, makes you ravel?

    By the way: I love gargoyles. Particularly those that brood on dark buildings...

  2. Gargoyles are so scary. Even now they freak me out to some degree. I suspect the worst in my personality is that I don't truly know what it is. While I have many faults, any number of them might be categorized as grotesque depending on the circumstances and who's view point it is taken from.
    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium.

  3. this is a great 'g'post. I love gargoyles and used to always check them out on Medieval cathederals back in the UK

  4. @Joe--- My tragic flaw would probably be my crippling anxiety or fear, whatever it is that stops you cold. It's the one thing that prevents me from doing some of the things I would love to do....
    That being said, my Golden Ticket would probably free me of that anxiety :-) Oh, and it would probably assure me that I will be published one day, lol

    @N.R.--- I agree that some gargoyles are overdone in the freak department, but I could still handle them better than a roomful of creepy dolls....

    @David--- Thanks! I've always loved gargoyles as well and I would LOVE to one day visit them in their natural habitat :-)


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