Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Libraries: The unsung heroes in A Series of Unfortunate Events

This January, Lemony Snicket’s first four critically acclaimed novels of the A Series of Unfortunate Events were adapted as a Netflix original series, starring Neil Patrick Harris. Although famously known as a book series built upon three children’s misery and misfortune, the stories do contain one consistent factor on which the kids can always rely: the library. To stay consistent with the current season available on Netflix, here is how the libraries in these first four books are the unsung heroes in A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Libraries help the Baudelaires foil the evil Count Olaf’s plots

In the first book, The Bad Beginning, the Baudelaire children take advantage of their neighbor’s home library. The library provided them with necessary information to properly prepare a dinner for their at-the-time guardian, Count Olaf, and his acting troupe, and it was also the place that allowed them to find a way to nullify a marriage that would have changed their lives drastically. Had it not been for Klaus discovering a book on Nuptial Law, Violet Baudelaire would have been forced to marry Count Olaf and thereby give him all the rights needed to obtain the Baudelaire fortune.

Libraries offer the children an escape from their miserable reality

In the second book, The Reptile Room, the library takes the form of a reptile center where the kids are able to not only read about all of their uncle’s findings on reptiles, but also play and interact with them. It’s moments like these that offer a short respite from the relentless melancholy that has an unyielding grip on the Baudelaire children.

Libraries advance the plot

The third installment of the series, The Wide Window, is the first time the children acquire some clues that aid them in solving their parent’s murder. Inside their Aunt Josephine’s library, they find a picture where they see their parents and family friends standing outside of Lucky Smells Lumbermill. After successfully escaping, once again, from Count Olaf’s clutches, the children stow away on a truck in hopes of reaching the mill in the picture. The children are desperate for answers and are hopeful that the mill will have the information needed for them to finally solve the mystery behind the fire that killed their parents.

Libraries aid the children in discerning lies about their parents

In the fourth installment of the series, The Miserable Mill, the Baudelaire children arrive to Lucky Smell’s Lumbermill where they are told that their parents caused a massive fire that left the mill in its current, decaying state. Unwilling to accept that their parents were capable of such a horrible action, the children turned to books for more information. Using the landowner’s small, quaint library, Violet Baudelaire finds an untainted copy of the lumber mill’s history, where she reads that her parents were, in fact, saviors of the mill rather than arsonists. Thanks to this library, the Baudelaire children were able to acquire the trusted information needed in order to restore their family name.

Lemony Snicket’s libraries play a quintessential role in the lives of the Baudelaire children. They not only keep the children well-informed, but they also keep them safe and free from Count Olaf’s evil clutches. Without the libraries, this book series would have concluded after the first installment with the children succumbing to Count Olaf’s nefarious affairs. Thank you libraries for the various ways you help these children carry on with their despair-plagued lives!

Featured image credit: “Library” by Unsplash. CCo Public Domain via Pixabay.

Recent Comments

  1. thnidu

    (Last scene)
    “You call that a knife? That ain’t a knife. Now, THIS is a knife!”

  2. […] Dewey Denouement from The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony […]

Comments are closed.