A Series Of Unfortunate Events By Lemony Snicket: Monsters In Literature

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A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, what began as a best-selling book series quickly developed into a hit Netflix series with a near perfect Rotten Tomatoes score. A creatively fictitious twist on three young siblings’ journey to escape custody from their evil uncle Count Olaf. What begins as an upper-class Baudelaire family living in a mansion informally known as the heart of their small town, quickly shifts plot to an unexplained house fire killing both their parents whom only left behind their fortune to be inherited. That is as long as they escape their inevitable future of living with Lemony Snicket (Count Olaf) their evil distant relative with a murderous past. The siblings are entirely unaware of Olaf’s secret ingenious motives to marry Violet the eldest of the Baudelaire siblings and steal their family fortune for himself. As each novel unravels the siblings seem to always outsmart Olaf’s monstrous and cruel tasks. In order to ultimately ending in the orphans becoming stranded on a lonely island finally absent of Olaf and his cruel intentions. Although we aren’t finished with Count Olaf quite yet, an analysis of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, through the lens of gender reveals Count Olaf is truly a monstrous character within literature influenced by his male, powerful gender and manipulative ways, who is entirely too dangerous to these young orphan siblings.

Olaf being the series main antagonist or “monster” proves to be a terrible guardian whose interest in stealing the children’s fortune overtakes the young kids’ happiness making him a monster. After his scheme was soon exposed Olaf loses guardianship of the kids causing his monstrous side to engulf his persona. He then begins a series of villainous attempts to regain control through various disguises carrying out complicated plots often involving murder. These actions reflect his gender being manipulative, aggressive, and controlling are common stereotypical aspects of male personalities. The irony in the series being the children can see right through all of Olaf’s disguises without fail, while the adults around them continuously are tricked and are of little to no help. As the books unfold Olaf grows more and more frustrated with his failed attempts and develops more of a monstrous mentality in hopes to finally succeed. Specifically, in the fifth book where the children explain their situation “Count Olaf is an abusive monster who’s hit Klaus, given them only one bed, makes them do ridiculous chores, drinks too much, and is always asking them about their enormous fortune” (A Series of Unfortunate Events). In this book series Count Olaf is justifiably “Othered”, the process in society where “…dividing people into two categories, the supposedly good ‘us’ and the evil, other ‘them” (Blake). He is choosing to be evil towards the kids due to his manipulative self and bad intentions to acquire the family’s fortune for himself. The thought of himself becoming rich is causing him to become controlling and a monstrous guardian to these innocent siblings whom house recently burned down, and parents sadly passed away. This scenario while glorified in fictitious literature is a very real thing in society where orphans have no choice but to live with monstrous guardians.

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What is interesting about Count Olaf specifically is he doesn’t fit the usual stereotypical features or descriptions of monsters. However Lemony Snicket acknowledged his inspiration for the series as realizing all the terrible things that can happen to orphans. Which adds to Olaf’s character at first glance he seems like a distant uncle, until the reader comes to the realization “the more we might see that those faces are uncannily similar, and that similarity might be the most frightening thing of all” (Blake). Count Olaf may not be an ogre or demon but his ability to slide under the rug from society while being able to put these kids who deserve so much more through a terrible childhood is seemingly his way of expressing power. Lemony Snicket is able to use vivid language where Olaf lacks in descriptive traits. “Does this seem like a nightmare? A bad dream? Because that’s the effect I was going for” (A Series of Unfortunate Events). Olaf made life so miserable for the orphans they were willing to do whatever it took to escape his captivity. Never the less Count Olaf was able to exercise a monster’s purpose which is to cause fear, and without a doubt does into each and every one of the orphans. Even though Olaf was by no means monstrously looking descriptive wise. As the main villain of the series and also being a male play a major role in his character traits such as violent, terrifying, and frightening along with him being a psychopath and sociopath.

Count Olaf the main antagonist in A Series of Unfortunate Events clearly depicts the power of gender and the dominance a male has as a villain. Olaf shows countless actions of manipulative stunts, an aggressive personality, and controlling characteristics all conforming to distinctive male patterns of behavior. By taking a closer look at his gender the audience is able to see how Olaf is capable to be seen as a more intimidating villain to readers due to his gender and the power that has over situations especially involving children. The Baudelaire orphans were closely bonded throughout this experience by a series of efforts or ‘unfortunate events’, trying to escape their evil uncle and his male power while doing their best to reveal his real traits to anyone and everyone who would listen to them.


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