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Examples:

  1. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ec/Hey.diddle.diddle.jpeg
  2. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2e/Jessie_Willcox_Smith_Boys_and_Girls_in_Bookland.jpg
  3. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c2/Alice_par_John_Tenniel_29.png
  4. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/42/The_White_Rabbit_%28Tenniel%29_-_The_Nursery_Alice_%281890%29_-_BL.jpg
  5. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/62/Denslow%27s_Humpty_Dumpty_1904.jpg

I can't put my finger on what exactly it is, but these old illustrations just... freak me out.

I'm quite certain that I'm not alone in feeling like this.

But why?

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to psych.SE. I'm concerned about this question soliciting opinion-based answers, rather than evidence-based. It would be better if you could demonstrate that this is in fact "a thing" rather than assuming that it is commonplace - otherwise, different people will have different opinions. $\endgroup$ – Arnon Weinberg May 20 at 19:03
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    $\begingroup$ It's potentially interesting to understand how the perception of "scary" depends on cultural context, but the question needs more groundwork, eg. which specific aspects you find scary, if this is typical for the time and if there's any research on how people perceive them. Your examples are all from "fantastic" stories like "Alice in Wonderland" that have unusual characters (talking eggs etc.) in them, so they naturally show unusual features and objects, and I don't find them scary at all but just how I roughly imagine the characters in the story. $\endgroup$ – Stephan Matthiesen May 21 at 7:14

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