The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
We continue our four part series of middle-grade speculative fiction from our pasts with The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket, the first book of A Series of Unfortunate Events. In this episode we dive into the unique tone and framing device The Bad Beginning exemplifies.
In this episode we discuss
- Consistency of Tone. Horror and absurdity blended together. Snicket in the story has a way of dictating the events that occur and then is able to bring narration to generalize these actions, horrors, and humor to a statement on the human condition. The setting exemplifies this tone by taking characters to the extreme. In this world all adults are either idiots or evil.
- The world against the Baudelaire children. When not fighting against the obvious villains of Count Olaf and his henchmen, the Baudelaire children are having to fight off seniority. Mr Poe, who should be an ally, is often dismissive. Justice Strauss, who is a judge, becomes completely starstruck by the possibility of playing a judge in a play. Through these two adult characters Snicket shows the often real result of children needing to handle adults.
- The Narrative Style of third-person past, but that Lemony Snicket is his own character. As a framing device Lemony Snicket is an active narrator. Snicket uses rhetorical devices of breaking the fourth wall and absurdity to say more than simply what the words are saying. Style is intensionally used. For example at least once per book a word is defined, or a rhetorical device and wordplay is illustrated in the word. Though Snicket does not appear in the story, Snicket intentionally plays his own character role, as an active framing device.
- Reflection of A Series of Unfortunate Events as an adult. How Isaac and Reid read this series multiple times growing up and now re-reading with a perspective of an older reader. Discussion of target audience.
- 3/1/21 – Episode 59, The Giver by Lois Lowry
- 3/15/21 – Episode 60, Macbeth by Shakespeare
Middlegrade Re-Read Series
- The Forests of Silence by Emily Rodda, book 1 of Deltora Quest
- The Invasion by KA Applegate, book 1 of Animorphs
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