Literary References in Netflix’s ‘Unfortunate Events’

Have you been watching A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix? Well, if you’re a mega-fan like me, you’ve finished it already! I remember binging each of the 13 books when I was younger, loving all of the mystery and misery of the Baudelaires, and hoping they would finally escape the clutches of Count Olaf. 

If you read the books, you know that Lemony Snicket would periodically stop and explain certain words, or throw in facts that related to something Klaus Baudelaire had read in a book. In the Netflix series, I was thrilled to find that this was translated on screen. In addition to Snicket coming on screen to give us a narrative voice, there were also numerous literary references thrown into the show. 

I’ve compiled a list of some of the literary references found in the books and the show!

Episode 1 & 2 – The Bad Beginning

– The Baudelaire name comes from French poet, Charles Baudelaire

– Mr. Poe finds the children at Briny Beach, which is a setting Lewis Carroll used in his poem, “The Walrus and the Carpenter” 

– Mr. Poe and his family are a tribute to Edgar Allan Poe. HIs sons are named Edgar and Albert and when they’re first introduced in the show, the sons scream back and forth, “It’s a raven”, “It’s a crow!”


Episode 3 & 4 – The Reptile Room

– Uncle Monty named one of his snakes Virginia Woolfsnake! An ode to Virginia Woolf

– The ship Monty and the children are meant to go on to Peru is the SS Prospero, which hints at Prospero, a character from Shakespeare’s Tempest. Also – Olaf’s character Stephano is a character from the Tempest!

– Mr. Poe exclaims, “Goodness golly, Good God, Mary and Joseph, Zeus and Hera, Nathaniel Hawthorne!” in this episode 


Episode 5 & 6 – The Wide Window 

– Upon arriving at the dock at Lake Lachrymose, Mr. Poe has a problem pronouncing the name, “Damocles Dock”. Violet help him and Klaus says, it’s named “After the probably apocryphal figure in Sicilian mythology” (The Sword of Damocles). 

– The quirky taxi driver talks about Hurricane Herman, which is named for Herman Melville, who wrote Moby Dick and even discusses the novel and Henry David Thoreau. When asked his name, the driver says, “Call me Ishmael,” which is the famous first line from Moby Dick


Episode 7 & 8 – The Miserable Mill

– Dr. Georgina Orwell is the on-site optometrist who specializes in hypnosis, as you probably can tell, she’s named for George Orwell.

– Klaus references the eye from The Great Gatsby when he sees the office of Dr. Orwell 


Did I miss any? Which ones did you catch?  


Featured image courtesy of IMDB