Some Unfortunate Characters: “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” by Edward Gorey

Some Unfortunate Characters: "The Gashlycrumb Tinies" (blog by Brenna Pierson)

Last month, one blog post pondered the idea of authors basing characters and plots on unfortunate horoscopes and predictions.

That lead me to thinking about unfortunate characters in general, and that made it impossible to avoid The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey coming to mind. (On a side note, does anyone else make the mistake of trying to think of them as “The Tinycrumb Gashlies”?)

These are perhaps 26 of the most unfortunate characters in literature that are all found in one piece of work. Not only do they generally meet terrible ends, but they are too young to have such early demises. Like many popular works, The Gashlycrumb Tinies has even inspired photography and crafts, such as this Gashlycrumb Tinies diorama that was on Etsy for $8,500.00.

While the concept is obviously morbid, the Gashlycrumbs are very popular, nonetheless. It’s probably a mixture of the unique drawings and the “plot” put together that makes them strangely appealing.

Some favorites include:

“E is for Ernest who choked on a peach.” It’s hard to say if the idea here is that no one eventually bothered to cut the peach for Ernest and he truly did try to swallow the entire thing whole. Either way, you can’t help but notice this child seemingly sitting in a dark room with an overpowering dining table in a chair that appears to be much too towering, even for an adult.

“J is for James who took lye by mistake.” What was this child actually trying to reach when he got up on the stool to get into bottles that were clearly not a child’s consumption?

“N is for Neville who died of ennui.” Hopefully, this post is not making you nearly die from ennui at the moment.

It’s interesting how such a morbidly creative work could spawn dioramas and such an immense following. Who wouldn’t love The Gashlycrumb Tinies? (Well, there are probably people who don’t.) Perhaps a former co-worker said it best when he complimented Gorey, saying, “That guy rules!”

 

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