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Literary References in A Series of Unfortunate Events

16 Sneaky Literary References in Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events

The first season of Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events is littered with Easter eggs that every major fan will excitedly gobble up. However, while most of those allude to the ASOUE book series, there is a whole slew of additional Easter eggs that reference other famous works of fiction. Easily missed, these literary references can be found in character names, settings, witty dialogue, and more. Take a look below to see the ones we spotted!

The Bad Beginning (Episodes one and two)

  1. The last name Baudelaire is a nod to 19th century French poet Charles Baudelaire. His most notable work is a collection of poems entitled Les Fleurs de Mal, or The Flowers of Evil, which considered how to find the beauty in miserable circumstances. Furthermore, one of the poems in the collection is titled "La Beatricé," which could be where the Baudelaire's matriarch got her name.
  2. Mr. Poe is a reference to the famous American poet Edgar Allan Poe. His two sons, Edgar and Albert, are variations of the name, or could also be an allusion to poet Edgar Albert Guest. When the Baudelaire children join Mr. Poe and his family for dinner, his sons debate what they're eating, arguing, "It's a raven!" "It's a crow!" (Their mother informs them that it's simply chicken). "The Raven" is one of Poe's most famous works. Also, have you been wondering why Mr. Poe is constantly coughing? It's suggested that Edgar Allan Poe suffered from a bad case of consumption (now known as tuberculosis). One of the symptoms is incessant coughing.
  3. The Baudelaire children are spending the day at Briny Beach when Mr. Poe arrives with the news of their parents' deaths. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll used a "briny beach" as the setting in his poem "The Walrus and the Carpenter."

The Reptile Room (Episodes three and four)

  1. One of the snakes in Uncle Monty's collection is the Virginia Woolfsnake, which he warns should never be allowed near a typewriter. Virginia Woolf was one of the most famous English writers of the 20th century.
  2. Both Count Olaf's alias, Stephano, and the ship to Peru, SS Prospero, are named after characters in Shakespeare's The Tempest.
  3. When devising a plan to expose Stephano as Count Olaf, Violet asks Sunny if she understands her role, to which she replies, "Roger!" In the books when Sunny is asked this question, she replies, "Ackroyd!" The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a novel by mystery writer Agatha Christie.

The Wide Window (Episodes five and six)

  1. When the Baudelaires first arrive to the town of Lake Lachrymose, Mr. Poe struggles to pronounce the name of the dock. Violet assists him, saying, "It's pronounced Damocles." Her brother Klaus chimes in, "After the probably apocryphal figure in Sicilian mythology." The Sword of Damocles is a myth about the dangers that come with power.
  2. Hurricane Herman is a reference to author Herman Melville. Furthermore, in the scene when the Baudelaires take a cab to Aunt Josephine's house, the taxi driver openly discusses the metaphors in Melville's work, as well as Henry David Thoreau. When asked his name, the driver replies, "Call me Ishmael," which is the first line in Melville's most famous novel, Moby Dick.
  3. In Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, business cards are used as a symbol of duplicity and false identities. Count Olaf's alias, Captain Sham, uses business cards to prove his identity, which we all know is . . . well, a sham.

The Miserable Mill (Episodes seven and eight)

  1. When leaving a meeting with Sir and Charles, Klaus repeats to Violet, "It'll build character," something Sir most likely said about working in the mill. Sir is loosely based on Mr. Sir from Louis Sachar's Holes, who tells children that digging holes builds character.
  2. Dr. Georgina Orwell is a nod to George Orwell, author of the dystopian novel 1984. One of the novel's characters, Big Brother, symbolizes overbearing government surveillance. It's only fitting that Dr. Orwell is an optometrist, keeping a watchful eye on people's . . . eyes.
  3. The sign in front of Dr. Orwell's office takes its imagery from F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Klaus points this out to Phil, who asks if it represents an optometrist. Klaus says, "It represents the eyes of God staring down and judging society as a moral wasteland," to which Phil replies, "Oh, that sounds like a fun book." Fun, indeed.

Bonuses

  1. While not a literary reference, Uncle Monty's name alludes to the British sketch comedy group Monty Python. Python is a snake breed and Uncle Monty is an herpetologist.
  2. Though not mentioned in the TV show, the book version of The Bad Beginning states that Count Olaf lives off of Doldrum Drive. Referenced in The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, the Doldrums are "a colorless place where nothing ever happens." In the Netflix series, Count Olaf's house is black and gray, lacking the color of other houses on the block, such as Justice Strauss's.
  3. In his note to the editor at the end of The Reptile Room book, Snicket mentions Café Kafka. Franz Kafka was a famous 20th century Austro-Hungarian writer. The last short story he ever wrote is titled "Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk" (translated from German). In the story, it's questioned if Josephine truly sings or just whistles. Not only is Josephine the name of the Baudelaire's fierce and formidable aunt, but her husband was named Ike Anwhistle. Get it? I can whistle.
  4. While not a literary reference, it's suggested that the Baudelaire children are named after members involved in a scandalous 1979-80 court case. British socialite Claus von Bülow was accused of the attempted murder of his wife, Sunny. Arlene Violet was the first female attorney general in the United States, who also happened to work on the case.
Image Source: Netflix
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