The Bad Beginning Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 22 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Bad Beginning.
This section contains 508 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Bad Beginning Summary & Study Guide Description

The Bad Beginning Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket.

The Bad Beginning is the first book in A Series of Unfortunate Events. In this book, the reader is introduced to four central characters, Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire as well as Count Olaf.

The book begins with, of course, a very bad beginning. As the Baudelaire children are enjoying a gloomy day at the beach, they are informed that both their mother and father have perished in a fire that destroyed their home. The three children stay at the home of Mr. Poe, who is a friend of the family and the executor of the Baudelaire fortune. It is his responsibility to place the children with a guardian and to take care of their money until Violet turns eighteen. Mr. Poe's first choice for the children's guardian is Count Olaf, a distant relative. It is immediately obvious that he is not fit to take care of the children, but Mr. Poe seems to be oblivious to this fact and leaves the children in his care.

During the children's stay with Count Olaf, they are forced to put up with less than satisfactory living conditions, a very dirty home and a myriad of chores. Justice Strauss, a neighbor of Count Olaf, provides the one bright spot in the orphans' lives. She lets them use her library and help her with her garden, and she becomes quite close to the children.

The reader soon realizes that Count Olaf has plans to take the Baudelaire fortune and will stop at nothing to get it. He becomes increasingly more violent, and his chore demands increase. Things come to a head at a dinner party where the children meet the unsavory characters that make up Count Olaf's acting troupe.

Count Olaf develops a plan to steal the Baudelaires' fortune, and he begins to implement it immediately. He has decided to put on a play called The Marvelous Marriage, in which he will play the bridegroom and Violet Baudelaire will play the bride. However, the marriage is to be legal, so that Count Olaf can control the children's money. When the orphans discover Count Olaf's true motives, they refuse to take part in the production. Count Olaf strikes back by taking Sunny prisoner and tying her up in a birdcage in his tower. Violet and Klaus have no choice but to go along with his plan. The children find out that Justice Strauss will also be performing in the play and attempt to enlist her help. Unfortunately, she is too star-struck at the prospect of performing on the stage to be of any assistance.

The Baudelaire children must concoct a solution that will get them out of this predicament and save Sunny at the same time. Violet and Klaus team up, using their unique skills to think up a solution as the curtain goes up on The Marvelous Marriage. Just as Count Olaf thinks he has succeeded, Violet drops a bombshell that reveals the one weakness in his plan. Sunny is rescued, and Count Olaf's true designs are revealed.

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This section contains 508 words
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