What Lemony Snicket Taught Me

Written and Media by Mary Todd Christian.


I can’t contain my excitement at the thought that A Series of Unfortunate Events will be released on Netflix in 2016. I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembers reading the dismal account of the Baudelaire siblings during my middle (and high school) years. Despite the distinct sense of gloom which lingers over the series, the books truly were enlightening for my middle school mind. From the outrageous characters to the constant mystery of V.F.D., I couldn’t put the books down. This is not just because they were well written. Rather, while I was exposed to an alternate and bleak world between the pages, I learned very valuable concepts and lessons about the world in which we live. Here are a few things Lemony Snicket taught me.


Excellent Vocabulary
For a middle-grade series, Snicket brought the vocab. I am absolutely convinced Klaus Baudelaire would have been an English major if he had ever gotten the chance. The idea of using such extensive vocabulary in a middle-grade novel shows great respect for younger readers. Snicket does not underestimate the intelligence of his readers. Instead, he gives them the opportunity to expand upon what they already know.

Happy Endings Aren’t Always a Reality
When it comes to literature, I think the majority of us would agree we prefer happy endings where all ends well and there is closure for the characters as well as for us, the readers.  Snicket completely destroyed any idea of this concept from the very, “bad beginning.” However, Snicket is a fantastic writer and was able to explain this truth in a non-threatening way to his readers. As an English major, this taught me my writing does not always have to have a sense of closure. Sometimes, it’s better to have the reader reconcile the story for themselves and draw their own conclusions in the end.

Adults Don’t Always Know Best & People Aren’t Perfect
Let’s face it, apart from Uncle Monty, the adults portrayed in A Series of Unfortunate Events didn’t exactly bring the Baudelaire siblings much comfort in their situation. This concept was truly an eye-opener for me reading as a 7th grader. It was difficult for me to imagine such outrageous behavior from adults. However, Snicket’s portrayal of the adult characters (as ridiculous as they seemed) made me realize we may place too much pressure on the adults in our lives, and sometimes children have to become the adult figures. Furthermore, it reiterated the truth that people are not perfect. Instead, we are distracted, self-absorbed, and ultimately sinful.


The World is Broken… Yet We Have Hope
Despite the beauty of the literature, I would definitely consider Snicket’s outlook on life a false gospel. The majority of the novels ended without a single glimmer of hope. Even when Count Olaf was “defeated” there was still a sense of emptiness that lingered. Unlike the Baudelaire sibling’s situation, there is a light at the end of our tunnel. In reality, we have a Hope. The Baudelaire children had each other and were placing their hope in people and each other. In the end, we ultimately we need something more than family and close friends. We need Christ. Though this message of good news was absent from the series, this realization quickly shaped my worldview and my faith.

As far-fetched as these realizations may seem, Lemony Snicket taught me and truly shaped my understanding of our world in a way I would have never imagined for myself. Despite the series’ dismal message and outlook on the world, I was continually reminded I have the greatest Hope of all.


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