My Favorite Characters: #5 – Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events)

Lemony misses the point a lot. He defines words in ways that only work in the context they’re used. His idea of morally justifiable theft is eating anything you steal, however valuable. The moral of Snow White, to him, is “never eat apples”. His biggest failure is probably his constant warning to his readers: “Don’t read this book”. People are going to read it. In a world of incompetent adults, Lemony Snicket is one of the strangest and most sympathetic.

He wasn’t always like this. In the All The Wrong Questions series, he’s a curious youth just like the Baudelaires, brought down by wicked and/or incompetent adults around him. He’s a living demonstration of the disconnection and lack of sympathy that the story’s world seeps with.

While he’s wrong, he’s not dull. He’s sharp-witted, empathetic, and well-meaning. He may be trying to make things up to a lost love, but he does everything he can not to step on toes while he does it. He loses family over the course of the series, and he continues on. He’s a wanted criminal for much of the series, but he does everything he can for his mission’s sake.

I like Lemony because he always chooses the right words. The right words to describe a certain feeling, or make a reader chuckle, the right words to be wrong in the best way. The right words to tell a story while also being himself.

It’s not that his great intelligence or goodness makes him a great character. It’s more his ability to entertain while getting these things across in a story that he barely ever appears in. The fact that he as a character is intertwined with his series, that if the series were a person it would be him. While he does get four novels and an autobiography as himself, it hardly adds to what he gives in the main books.

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