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Death also known as The Grim Reaper or the Angel of Death is a figure briefly referenced in the Haunted Mansion attraction

Origins

The cultural figure the Grim Reaper is the personification of Death itself. The ideology behind the Grim Reaper figure goes back to the bubonic plague outbreak of the 14th century where, "The Black Death" became so common that it would come to be portrayed as a wheat-farmer reaping mortals like crops.

Notable Disney Appearances

  • A figure resembling the Grim Reaper appears in the 1929 Mickey Mouse cartoon, The Haunted House where he throws a party for skeletons and forces Mickey to play piano for them.
  • The Grim Reaper appears in the Silly Symphony cartoon The Golden Touch (1935) when the short's main character King Midas realizes he can't touch food without it turning to gold. The king realizes he will starve to death, causing the Grim Reaper to appear and confirm the king's fears.
  • An incarnation of the Grim Reaper appears during the Town-Meeting sequence of the Tim Burton's the Nightmare Before Christmas (1993).

Appearances

Death appears in an illustration on page 1312 of Madame Leota's spell-book. The figure is a cloaked, skeletal figure holding a staff and has a face greatly resembling the leering head. By the illustration of the entity is the number 13 and the words Memento Mori, a latin expression meaning, "A reminder you will die".

Opposite to the illustration on page 1313 is, "A Spell to Bring to your Eyes and Ears one who is Bound in Limbo" of which the main article of the chapter which Death's illustration is featured in. Under the title, there is an incarnation which reads, "Kree Kruh Vergo Gaba Kalto Kree", which is taken directly from the 1968 Disney film, Blackbeard's Ghost where the spell is used to materialize the ghost of the notorious Captain Edward Teach aka Blackbeard. The page also recites Madame Leota's chant heard in the ride within the scene the book is found in.

Development

The term, "Grim Grinning Ghost" which is frequently used in the mansion's theme-song, was originally used by William Shakespeare to describe the personification of death in his poem Venus and Adonis (1593). The quotation from the poem being said by Venus following the death of her lover Adonis as:

And, sighing it again, exclaims on Death. ‘Hard-favour’d tyrant, ugly, meagre, lean, Hateful divorce of love,’—thus chides she Death,— ‘Grim-grinning ghost, earth’s worm, what dost thou mean?"

Other Appearances

The Ghost Gallery

In the unofficial Ghost Gallery storyline, the Angel of Death makes an appearance in the story dedicated to the past of the Shadow Pianist where the musician had 13 hours to write a ballad dedicated to Death in exchange for more time alive, only to fail and be doomed to compose the melody for eternity.

Seekers of the Weird

In Marvel's Seekers of the Weird (based on the unused concepts made by Rolly Crump for the Museum of the Weird), the Grim Reaper is made into a composite character with the Grandfather Coffin Clock but is here known as "The Reaper King". The Reaper King is death incarnate and was imprisoned within the Coffin Clock after killing 60% of Europe during the Black Plague and subsequently stashed away in the Museum of the Weird. The Reaper King's immortal follower Despoina spends the story trying to free her master from the clock only for the Reaper King to be ungrateful and rob Despoina of her powers and immortality before getting trapped again.

Trivia

  • There used to be a live-performed character in the Haunted Mansion attraction who was modelled after the Grim Reaper with a real scythe. This character was referred to as the Phantom of the Haunted Mansion.
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