Jack O'Lantern (fretwork figure)

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Exhibit

Jack O'Lantern (fretwork figure)

BTMM map 058.gif
location:
Arch Two , Area 58
Wooden Cutout Figures (display)
Puppet Corner

A wooden figure of Jack O' Lantern, created by an unknown manufacturer.

Unlike the rest of the figures in this cabinet, Jack isn't jointed, and is a simple carved piece of wood.

About the character

Jack O'Lantern is a character from an Irish folk tale. The story has many variations: in some of them Jack is a blacksmith, in others a farmer, or even simply a thief. He is always a rather unpleasant character. There are various versions of the story, but they all end with the Devil buying/coming to claim Jack's soul, and with Jack (as a wily trickster) outsmarting the Devil and trapping him through the use of a cross, only agreeing to let him go if the Devil promises to never try and collect Jack's soul.

Of course, when Jack does eventually die, he has lived far too an immoral life to get into Heaven and the Devil is either unable or unwilling to let Jack into Hell, so he is barred from both afterlives. He bemoans his fate lost in the dark with nowhere to go, and the Devil spitefully throws him an ember of hellfire that will never go out, which Jack puts inside a hollow turnip to use as a lantern to guide his way ... he is doomed to wander forever with his burning light, becoming known as "Jack of the Lantern".

After the mass Irish exodus to America after the Potato Famine, the turnip in the story changes to a pumpkin, which is a more common food crop in the US.

Further Reading