Halloween puts me in mind of an interesting architectural structure. Its very name paints a scene without further description. One that authors and movie makers have used to represent the darker side of life and promote fear. When describing a large old mansion or a castle, we see them. To add a creepy feel to a dark and stormy night lightening might cause their eyes to glow. In the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast a fight between the beast and his archrival takes place on their steep precipices. In the Sorcerer’s Apprentice Balthazar brings the stone creation to life and flies off on it.
Many a scene in literature has the damsel in distress hopelessly trapped on one. Or the hero hanging on by his fingernails as the villain crawls along its cold stony back to finish the hero off. Only to tumble to his own death on the slippery thing. Carole Brown’s debut novel The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman has a heart pounding scene like that.
In the comedy Murder By Death these stone creations fall each time the doorbell rings.
Have you guessed of what I speak?
That’s right, gargoyles. Many medieval structures such as churches have them keeping watch on the walls. Architects of the period used the gargoyles as part of their drainage system to keep rain water from eroding the stone structures. Because the stone had to be carved to accommodate the water artistic figures; often misshapen animals and mythical creatures became the purveyors of rainwater.
Although they take on many shapes, most people picture gargoyles as ghoulish and otherworldly. Therefore, they are the perfect backdrop to a sinister act or a ghost story. I have not read a book that placed gargoyles as beacons of hope. However, the Disney Movie the Hunchback of Notre Dame had three animated gargoyles as Quasimodo’s friends and confidants. Only Disney could make a gargoyle friendly.
Can you name any other movies or books that contain gargoyle references?