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J R Soc Med. 2006 November; 99(11): 546–547.
PMCID: PMC1633564

Gustave Dore's Ogre

I read with interest the article by Aronson and Ramachandran,1 who suggest that the ogre in the illustration by Gustave Dore for Charles Perrault's fairy tale Tom Thumb has exopthalmos (Figure 1). I think their suggestion is unlikely. Dore's obese, bloated gargantuan would surely be more likely to suffer with noninsulin dependent diabetes mellitus, hypertension and metabolic syndrome than ophthalmopathy. Dore's illustration of the violent, drunk and overweight bully was no doubt intended as a caricature and parody of male behaviour consistent with Perrault's presumed wish to use this tale in part as an allegory for domestic violence. Another illustration of the same ogre appears not to show exopthalmos (Figure 2).

Furthermore, the authors in their opening sentences list the extensive bibliography for which Dore provided illustrations. Surprisingly, they omit to mention the story of Blue Beard (Barbe Bleue), which Dore also illustrated for Perrault. Blue Beard too was an extremely unpleasant character who murdered his seven wives and kept their dead bodies in a secret room in his castle. As is easily seen from Dore's illustration, Blue Beard's eyes look very similar to the ogre's (Figure 3).

I suspect that this was simply Dore's visual metaphor for the popular notion of the madness of staring eyes.

Notes

Competing interests None declared.

References

1. Aronson JK, Ramachandran M. The Diagnosis of Art: exopthalmos - Gustave Dore's ogre. J R Soc Med 2006;99: 421. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine are provided here courtesy of Royal Society of Medicine Press