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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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Eerie Ears and Pointless Points
When young I associated pointy ears primarily with Mr Spock - although I see that Bram Stoker describes Dracula's too as being "extremely pointed", and that's reflected in most portrayals (it must admitted that Dracula's ears have been overshadowed by his teeth). The spitefully spiky pine elves who were the most frightening denizens of my youthful Rupert annuals had pointy ears, I suppose, but then everything about them was pointy.

That elves have pointy ears is one of those things everyone knows, and Peter Jackson has probably helped spread the meme further (there's an interesting discussion here about how and whether Tolkien himself intended his elves' ears to be pointed); but where does the idea originate? Certainly you can see examples in the work of Arthur Rackham and Cicely Mary Barker - but what about earlier artists? And is it purely an artistic convention, or does it have literary corroboration?

Would the players have been gluing points to their ears for the first performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream?


Here's that portrait of Caroline Crachami in her exhibition costume I was talking about. This is at Find A Grave, without the freak-show talk.



Wow. I wonder why they dressed her like that? To make her seem even more alien, presumably.


I thought perhaps Gilligan was trying to make her seem Elizabethan, therefore Shakespearean, therefore Queen Mab-ish, by putting her in a ruff--but actually she's wearing a young lady's dress, perhaps not quite on the cutting edge of fashion. Here is a Mademoiselle Gonin, painted by Jean Ingres, wearing something almost identical three years before Catherine Crachami died: