A Series of Unfortunate Events: Why you should read it in spite of the sinister warning

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“If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and a very few happy things in the middle. This is because not very many happy things happened in the lives of the three Baudeaire youngsters. Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire were intelligent children, and they were charming, and resourceful, and had pleasant facial features but they were extremely unlucky , and most everything that happened to them was rife with misfortune, misery and despair. I’m sorry to tell you this, but that is how the story goes. ”

Would you read a story that began with this sinister warning saying that this was a story of merely downs and no ups? Well yes, if you are an adult who takes some sadistic pleasure in the pains of children, you would. There is also one more reason to read this woeful tale- the intelligent, charming and resourceful Baudelairs. Some children are made to read one or two of this collection of thirteen stories as a part of their academic syllabus and even if they don’t want to complete the series and are flooded with tears somewhere in the middle of the story where anything and everything goes terribly wrong, they continue because of their loyalty to the Baudelaires. And I am genuinely proud to say that I have stood by these extremely unfortunate children throughout their journey(not that this was of any help to the Baudelaires who still lived very miserable lives anyway).


You must be completely lost without a short summary of this work by Mr. Lemony Snicket as a very few people, from where I come from, have read it. The story starts one day on the Briny Beach when the Baudelaires are rudely awoken to the reality of their misery. A man named Mr. Poe, whom in the later run, they understand, is only reliable in the area of coughing, informs them of a fire in their mansion that had claimed the lives of their parents. They are transported to Count Olaf, the villain of the story and their legal guardian who begins a tireless quest in snatching away the Baudelaire fortune from the children which they would inherit once they were 18 years old. They are saved from his clutches but I must warn you this, do not expect this story to get any happier than this.

It may be a little saving grace that you don’t really have to worry about spoilers in these books. Lemony Snicket is not a miser when it comes to giving away his secrets about the ending but the problem is that, the ending barely makes any sense without the denouement(which is why The Penultimate Peril takes place in Hotel Denouement). The children travel from one legal guardian to the other until they finally realize the incompetence of the adults in protecting them and roughly around book seven ‘The Vile Village’ they realize that they are better off on their own.


Of course, the adults don’t stop trying to protect them and impose their ‘more experienced’ outlooks on life but this is purely unnecessary and hinder the lives of the Baudelaires further. Out of the many things that I should call attention to I would like to point out the author’s brilliance in capturing the moods and behaviors of the adults through exaggerated stereotypes. Even Lemony Snicket is a stereotype. In the beginning we ask ourselves the question of why he is interested in the Baudelaires in the first place. Is he too one of those sadistic adults who simply likes to shed tears and do nothing? Actually, his purpose for documenting the life of the Baudelaires is thankfully, much more selfish. Everyone in this story has their own agenda and they are quite unapologetic about it. No one’s purpose of life is taking care of the Baudelaire children after they have lost their parents. They have their own lives and they entertain the Baudelaires while they entertain them back and whenever they become too much of a fuss with Count Olaf chasing after them, they are thrown out.

I found some characters in the book who are worth a special mention. The first is of course, Mr. Poe. We learn to hate this man very early on in the story even though he is supposed to be one of the good guys. A purely materialistic banker who does not even care for the Baudelaires, is assigned the duty of finding them a suitable guardian and taking care of the enormous Baudelaire fortune till Violet turns 18. His constant naivety becomes extremely annoying when he, in spite of clear evidence, does not want to believe that it is Count Olaf who has disguised himself as other people to harm the Baudelaires. But a question is raised towards the very end when we learn that he too had a stage name once, was he connected to Count Olaf in some distant past? Since everyone in this story is somehow connected through a special network, this is highly possible and this would explain his callous behavior perfectly.


But one thing that we easily ignore in the story is the ultimate hint that Lemony Snicket places right in front of our noses. The story does start with that sinister warning but something comes even before that. The dedication:
“To Beatrice,
darling, dearest, dead.”
And it is indeed this mysterious Beatrice, who is very dead, who holds the answer to everything. Even though Lemony Snicket is masterful in leaving subtle hints and clues, I am not, so I won’t take the chances of revealing a spoiler(something that Game of Thrones fan vehemently hate). I’ll just say one thing- read this book not because you are a sadistic adult or a child who is being forced to read it(Lemony Snicket defines lots of difficult words in this book and simply for that reason adults somehow deem this book fit to be read by unwilling and extremely morose children), read this book because it is ultimately a tale on lost love.

Okay well, maybe a hint or two would not hurt.
1. The fire was not an accident.
2. Count Olaf was not responsible for the fire.