A Series of Unfortunate Events - Setting - Allusions

Allusions

To see more examples of allusions to literature and the real world in A Series of Unfortunate Events, see the individual article for any book in the series.

While the books are marketed primarily to children, they are written with adult readers in mind as well; the series features references more likely to make sense to adults, such as references to Monty Python apparent in the series (the Baudelaire children's uncle Monty has a large snake collection, including a python, allusions to the Self Defense Against Fresh Fruit sketch).

Many of the characters' names allude to other fictional works or real people with macabre connections. More obscure literary references abound, perhaps in keeping with the common theme of being "well-read".

For example, the Baudelaire orphans are named after Charles Baudelaire, and Sunny and Klaus take their first names from Claus and Sunny von Bülow, while Mr. Poe may be a reference to Edgar Allan Poe. (One should also take note that Mr. Poe has two sons, Edgar and Albert, a reference to Edgar Albert Guest.) Strangely, Charles Baudelaire met Edgar Allan Poe, and many of Poe's loved ones had died from tuberculosis, a disease involving coughing up blood, and Mr. Poe often suffers from a terrible cough throughout the series. Also, in the seventh instalment, The Vile Village, Count Olaf's disguise, Detective Dupin, is an allusion to C. Auguste Dupin, a fictional detective created by Edgar Allan Poe.

Beatrice may also be an allusion to the poem La Beatrice by Charles Baudelaire. The poem references an "actor without a job," much like the actor Count Olaf. The poem also begins with the line, "In a burnt, ash-grey land without vegetation," similar to the Baudelaire mansion burning down at the beginning of the series.

There are also cultural aspects that would hint towards a pre French Revolution setting. In France, acting was considered a trade for outcasts or shady people. Count Olaf's theatre troupe were portrayed as criminals. Also, comedic literature of this time would have villians that were ridiculously funny. Also: Baudelaire, Poe, Olaf, and Josephine are all examples of French names. However, the books never really give a specific country setting, and there are technological aspects from many eras.

The name Beatrice could also be an allusion to Dante. Dante dedicated all of his works to "Beatrice," who he was obsessed with, who was also dead, like Snicket's Beatrice.

Read more about this topic:  A Series Of Unfortunate Events, Setting

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