Out of the vast array of colourful and imaginative characters in Mervyn Peake's much underrated Gormenghast trilogy, a favourite of mine perhaps in his eccentricty is Dr. Prunesquallor. By looking at releveant nodes about Gormenghast castle itself, one may get an idea of the Byzantine vast castle and its rigid ritual-obsessed society that Peake so convincingly portrays.

The Doctor is a lean man, with thick speactacles, large 'celluloid' head and a very toothy smile. What is most striking about this doctor is his odd way of speaking, which is generally lengthy, complicated and loaded with puns and occasionally insults, the latter however so subtle and harmless in their complicatedness that no one in gormenghast ever took offence. He also has a tendency of going 'ha ha ha ha ha ha ' in the middle of a sentence, laughing at his own jokes too bigh-brow for anyont to get.

The Doctor's sole purposes in life, other than making clever jibes, are taking care of the physical and mental welfare of the Groans and keeping his vain and neurotic sister Irma happy.

In spite of his fastidiosness and vapidity, the Doctor is perhaps the most 'real' of the Gormenghast array of characters. His eccentricity, though quite extreme, is possibly one which the reader can relate to, when compared to the utter oddity of all the other characters, their affectations and abnormal way of thinking.

This may also be attributed to the fact that the doctor seems the most sane of the lot. Although one cannot say the other characters do not display any wit - Steerpike for one might be one of the most conniving and Machiavellian characters in literature - the doctor displays a certain shrewdness and alertness as well as hardcore knowledge which would not seem too odd on a modern-day man-in-the-street type dude.

Gritchka has alson kindly pointed out to me that the doctor is oddly called by two names, 'Alfred' and 'Bernard'.

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