Lemony Snicket: A Biblical look through his books

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic

In this essay I will discuss some examples of biblical themes, specific references to Scripture and discuss their signifigance.

I grew up reading Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. I've re-read the series so many times and each time I do, I love how I spot more and more references to authors and their works. Snicket refers to The Walrus and the Carpentar poem from Alices Adventures in Wonderland with his Briny Beach setting and sets the foundation for a series born on references. In this essay I will discuss some examples of biblical themes, specific references to Scripture and discuss their signifigance.

There are a lot of specific references to the Bible and the stories it teaches. Snicket showed his bravery when he wrote Violet out to ask Klaus to "pray this works" in The Eratz Elevator when the were trying to get to the Quagmires at the bottom of the elevator shaft. The Baudelaires surname was named after Charles Baudelaire who famously said "The best trick of the devil is to persuade you that he doesn't exsist". As I read that quote I couldn't help but think of Olaf who throughout the whole series disguises himself and fakes his death. More specific than that, if you were wondering who they may be praying to, in TPP, Kit Snicket told the Baudleaires that tea should be "as bitter as a wormwood and sharp as a two-edged sword" which is a direct quote from Proverbs 5:4. Proverbs 5 is dedicated to warning against adultery saying "but in the end, she (the adultress) is as bitter as wormwood ad as sharp as a two edged sword". So if the volunteers should drink their tea bitter, they are avoiding the temptations of worldly adultresses. Maybe, having bitter tea is an allegory for not trying to cover up sin.

Continuing our look at specific references, I urge you to re-read the 6th book The Eratz Elevator in which the newest atagonist, Esme Squalor, resides at 667 Dark Ave. 667 is a number that was referred  to as "neighbor of the beast" (next to 666, the number of the Enemy) 666 is a number associated with demonology as a complete mocking of God's Holy Trinity. This 667 address could refer to the Baudelaires ever-closeness to danger.

The End the final book in the 13 book series, is really where the most blantant references lie. I'll take this paragraph, and the next few speficially to look through this book. At the beginning of the book, the Baudelaires survive a storm on a boat with Count Olaf and become castaways on an island along side him. There, they met Ish, the islander's cultivator who doesn't do the island's work for himself. He credits this to his inured feet, which he keeps in "healing clay". The island had to take care of the island for him, avoiding responsibility, he faked his inury. Daniel 2:33 describes a dream King Nebbechandezar had and Daniel's interpretation of this dream. It states " the head of {a} statue was made of pure gold, it's cest and arms of silver it's belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron but feet partly of iron and oartly of clay... a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. it struck the statue at it's feet. Then... the clay {was} broken to peices. Chapter two continues to say in verse 41 that "this will be a divided kingdom". a Schism! The island also broke out and retaliated against Ish . It continues to say "as the toes were partly of clay and partly of iron so will this kingdom {or island} be partly strong and partly beittel. that is the reason for both the island's and Babylon's ill-fate.

Ish himself needs a whole new paragraph. I can see him as a cultist, anti-Christ, false god. He promises his people a good life and he takes the good for himself. Instead of tending to the sheep like The Good SDhepherd, who tends to His sheep, Ish uses his sheep to carry him around; he uses them. Jesus restores us Ish filled his people with "the opiate of the poeple" as Snicket refers to the coconut cordial in The End. That is a reference to a Karl Marx quote, when he stated that "organized religion {was the} opium of the people". This is the idea that organized religion had a practical function in the world that reflected he oeffects of opium in the sick and injured. It reduces the immediate suffering. Religion, different than a relationship with Christ, can be a bandaid or an opiate a temporary relief. See, Ish is taking advatage of his people yet Jesus washed the feet of His disiples in John 13:6. We see where Ish fell flat.

Now let's fast forward to the end of The End in which Sunny is desperately trying to everyone from the mass poisoning of the Medusoid Mycelium. So what's the cure? An apple from the tree! As Sunny is dying from the spores who ofers her saving?! A snake? Yes, Ink comes up with the apple in his tail. Take a look at Genesis 3:5 "surely you will not die". Now picture little Sunny running up to the posioned peoples floating away screaming "GenTreeFive"! All of this is a huge allegory to the beginning of good and evil and the entering of sin into this world. I find this very interesting in the light of Snicket's emphasis on  the Baudelaires struggle to truly do right.

So, knowing Snicket knows The Word, but may contort it slightly, let's look at some general themes of Judaism/ Christianity in the series. I personally love Sunny's babble, which are often backwards words, merging of multiple words, or even Yidish words.  She uses words like "Oy" and "Yomashoash", after being threatened by the Medusoid Mycelium for the second time,  which she said to mean "never again". Yomashaoash is a Jewish holiday of remembrance for the Jews lost during the Holocust. A bigger theme is that people aren't good or bad but  in Snickets words are like " a chef's salad with good things and bad things with a vinagerette of confusion and conflict." Lets examine that biblically.

Romans 3:23 states that "alll have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God" And we can't understate the importance and physical weight of our sins, however, the Bible also says that we can and should do good like in Matthew 25 where Jesus tells the paracble of those who gave to those who had nothing. Galatians 6:9 instructs us "not to grow weary of doing" Yet in Jeremaiah 17:9 he states "the heart is decietful above all things and beyond cure". Snicket describes an overall feeling of "wringing of hands" as he says in an interview, a phrase which here means "the physical showing of a feeling of guilt".  There are plenty of times in which the Baudelaires feel guilty; when the helped light Heimlich Hospital on fire, when the went against their own judgement and didn't yell at the cab driver in The Reptile Room which kept Klaus "awake for years afterwards". We all  feel guilty as human beings, because we are! I think Snicket emphasises that through his eyes as a Jewish man.

Another theme we see throughout the series is the destroying of books and testiments, and written material. From the fire that destroyed the Baudelaire library in The BB or the fire that destroyed the FVD headquarters atop the Mortmain Mountains in TSS. The Baudelaires are always missing infor. Think of all the books of the bible that were excluded lost, worn out, forgotten. Think of The Book of Enoch, Gospel of Mary Magdelene, The Book of Jasher. These all get destroyed and forgotten. The keeping of testaments was a difficult thing for the Jewish people and the Baudelaires. 
The Baudelaires are ever-wandering orphans like all Jews were in the first testiment; looking for a home and a family . Duet 24:21 instructs us to "care for the orphans" Psalm 68: 5-6 tells us that God is "father to the fatherless". The orphan's perserverance , conscienceness , love for eachother and ernest desire to do what is right reflects the benefits we get as God's Children that help us not become so defeated by our circumstances but be victorious over our enemy as the orphans were victorious in some way over Olaf in the end.

This theme of placing refereces to faith continued as Netflix debuted their adaption of the series last January. Justice Strauss calls cooking for family a "blesing, a mitzvah" and the awesome fact that season two airs March 30th, which is Good Friday this year. For those who don't know, Good Friday is the day that commomerates the day Jesus died on the cross for the sins of mankind, past and present, by being the final blood sacrifice that covers all our sin. Three days later, on Easter Sunday, is the day we celebrate that He is Risen, and our Lord who was and is and is to come one day will retun to earth again. I encourage all who , fans of ASOUE or not, Christian or not, to read the series and look for more references with a scurinizing eye.

Submitted: March 28, 2018

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