Klaus Baudelaire

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Klaus Baudelaire
A Series of Unfortunate Events character
Klaus B.jpg
Klaus on the cover of The Vile Village. Drawn by Brett Helquist.
First appearance The Bad Beginning
Last appearance The End
Created by Lemony Snicket
Portrayed by Liam Aiken
Information
Gender Male
Occupation Orphan
Amateur researcher
Family Violet Baudelaire (sister)
Sunny Baudelaire (sister)
Beatrice Baudelaire (mother, deceased)
Bertrand Baudelaire (father, deceased)
Beatrice Baudelaire II (adoptive sister)
Relatives Count Olaf (third/fourth cousin four times removed/uncle, deceased)
Monty Montgomery (cousin's brother-in-law, deceased)
Josephine Anwhistle (second cousin's sister-in-law, deceased)
(Among others, see also Baudelaire family)
Religion Jewish[nb 1]

Klaus Baudelaire /ˈkls ˌbdəˈlɛər/ is a fictional character and one of the three protagonists of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events series who appears in all thirteen novels. Klaus is the middle child of the Baudelaire orphans; he has an older sister named Violet and a younger sister named Sunny. His sister Violet is the family inventor, Sunny is the family biter (and later chef) and Klaus is the researcher. He is twelve years old at the beginning of the series, and turns thirteen in The Vile Village.[2] By the end of the series, he is fourteen (fifteen years old if you count in Chapter 14). Klaus is the "bookworm" of the family, and his love of books has often helped him save himself and his sisters.

Interests and skills[edit]

Klaus is an avid reader with an eidetic memory. His favorite book is The Water Cycle, Volume 196, but he also enjoys books dealing with multiple wars. He remembers virtually everything he reads, retaining information which often helps the Baudelaires to escape from situations that their archenemy, Count Olaf, leads them to and places them in. As a result of this appetite for books, he speaks many languages. Klaus always seems to know the definition of words that leave others baffled, though there are certain words that even he does not know the meaning of, such as in loco parentis (mentioned in The Bad Beginning by Mr. Poe) and xenophobe (mentioned in The Ersatz Elevator by Jerome Squalor). Prior to the demise of Klaus's parents, his father used to take him to the Akhmatova Bookstore as a special treat. He revisits it with Jerome Squalor in The Ersatz Elevator.

In The Austere Academy, Klaus and Isadora, one of the Quagmire triplets, seem to be finding an interest in each other,[3] but in the eleventh book, The Grim Grotto, Klaus receives his first kiss (and first heartbreak) from Fiona, a mycologist.

Biography[edit]

The Bad Beginning[edit]

Main article: The Bad Beginning

In the beginning of the series, his parents, Bertrand and Beatrice Baudelaire, die in a fire which destroys their family home, leaving Klaus and his sisters orphaned. Mr. Poe, the banker in charge of the Baudelaire orphans' affairs, sends the three siblings to their new guardian, the evil Count Olaf.[nb 2] Count Olaf is a greedy man who will try to steal the enormous Baudelaire fortune from the orphans, using various nefarious schemes. Violet and Olaf almost get married during the production of his play (which he wrote under the pen name Al Funcoot), The Marvelous Marriage, but Violet signs the marriage document with her left hand, and as she is right-handed, the ceremony is declared to be invalid. After this, Olaf and his associates go on the run as fugitives.[4]

The Reptile Room[edit]

Main article: The Reptile Room

Following their disastrous stay with Count Olaf, Klaus, Violet and Sunny are moved to the house of Dr. Montgomery "Monty" Montgomery. Dr. Montgomery is Bertrand Baudelaire's cousin's brother-in-law. The Baudelaires went to live with him at the start of The Reptile Room, where Klaus finally feels appreciated for his researching talents, as Dr. Montgomery requires a researcher to research Peruvian snakes. Klaus spends time researching for the expedition, reading mainly about Peru and its human and serpentine inhabitants. Klaus admits he is happy in the home of Dr. Montgomery, but he also wishes his parents were still alive and his home still stood. Violet responds with the following: "I think we can miss them without being miserable all the time. "[5] Soon after Violet makes this remark, Count Olaf arrives, disguised as an Italian doctor named Stephano. They try to warn Monty, but to no avail. Eventually, Monty does realize Stephano is evil, but believes Stephano to be an impostor sent to steal the Incredibly Deadly Viper. Stephano threatens the children privately later, hinting at a plot he has for them when they reach Peru. On the day they are to leave for Peru, they discover Monty's dead body in the Reptile Room. He has two tiny puncture holes on his forehead, and Stephano claims that he has been bitten by a snake. The children realize that no-one will believe that Stephano is Count Olaf, so they devise a plan to prove it. Their plan succeeds, but Olaf manages to escape. Although Klaus felt responsible for not being able to save Dr. Montgomery, he realized that he has once again proved instrumental in defeating Count Olaf's plot.

The Wide Window[edit]

Main article: The Wide Window

In The Wide Window, Mr. Poe sends Klaus and his siblings to live with Josephine Anwhistle, whom they refer to as Aunt Josephine, despite the fact that she is their second cousin's sister-in-law. Klaus does not have such a large role in this book, but he does prove instrumental in deciphering a message left by Aunt Josephine in her alleged suicide note. Klaus' researching skills led the Baudelaires to Curdled Cave. Klaus also proved to be an expert navigator, guiding his siblings through a treacherous hurricane to reach Josephine.[6]

The Miserable Mill[edit]

Main article: The Miserable Mill

Count Olaf's evil plans in The Miserable Mill involve a new trick: hypnotism. Olaf orders Georgina Orwell to hypnotize Klaus and use him as a puppet to gain the Baudelaire fortune. Over the course of the book, Klaus is un-hypnotized twice, when nearby people utter the word "inordinate," the counter-attack on this event of hypnosis. The bald man, one of Olaf's associates, tries to control Klaus through uttering the word "lucky," and at one point a hypnotized Klaus breaks their friend Phil's leg. This was a distraction, to try to get his sisters to think "lucky" was the word used to hypnotize him, when it wasn't. Klaus feels guilty afterward, but the ever-optimistic Phil makes light of the situation to make Klaus happy. Klaus also displays a knack for inventing in The Miserable Mill when he saves Charles from being sliced into boards by the bald man.[7]

The Austere Academy[edit]

Main article: The Austere Academy

Count Olaf's scheme in The Austere Academy involves disguising himself as a P. E. teacher and forcing the orphans to run hundreds of laps each night (he calls them "Special Orphan Running Exercises", or S.O.R.E.). The object of Olaf's scheme is to make the Baudelaires exhausted so that they would not attend classes. Olaf (as Coach Genghis) plans to "home-school"/adopt the Baudelaires in the event of their expulsion, thus seizing control of their fortune. The Quagmire triplets Duncan and Isadora assist the exhausted Baudelaires by sharing research with them, helping the orphans pass their classes. The triplets also discover a horrifying secret about V.F.D., but Count Olaf abducts them and takes their notebooks before they can share their findings. Out of his siblings, Klaus is the only one to run forth and attempt to rescue the Quagmires, a remarkable feat due to his relative exhaustion from running for nine nights. Soon Olaf captures Duncan and Isadora and they do not appear in the next book.[3]

The Ersatz Elevator[edit]

Main article: The Ersatz Elevator

While the Baudelaire siblings stay with Jerome and Esmé Squalor[nb 3], Klaus finally overcomes his fear of Count Olaf in order to search for the Quagmire triplets throughout 667 Dark Avenue. Klaus, once again, proves instrumental in discovering Count Olaf's plot when he makes an important discovery: the building's elevator is fake.[nb 4] Klaus and his sisters descended into the elevator's depths, finding the Quagmire triplets locked in a cage. They are unable to save the triplets, not having tools to cut the bars of the cage, and the triplets are auctioned off inside a statue of a red herring. The story ends with Jerome being forced to give the Baudelaires up because he is too cowardly to help them.[8]

The Vile Village[edit]

Main article: The Vile Village

In The Vile Village, Klaus and his sisters receive messages from a terrified Duncan and Isadora, and although Klaus mis-deciphers the word/hint "initial" as meaning "first," he later realizes that the messages are in the form of an acrostic spelling out the word "fountain". This discovery leads him to the location of the Quagmires, allowing Klaus and his sisters to rescue the Quagmires. The plan goes horribly wrong, thanks to Esmé Squalor, and only the Quagmires escape.[2]

The Hostile Hospital[edit]

Main article: The Hostile Hospital

During the siblings' stay at Heimlich Hospital, Count Olaf captures Violet, and Klaus discovers that Count Olaf is going to perform a cranioectomy (an operation which, when translated from Latin means the removal of the head) on Violet. Klaus goes to extreme lengths to save his sister, even disguising himself as one of the white-faced women in Count Olaf's troupe. He succeeds, and the three siblings escape alive.[9]

The Carnivorous Carnival[edit]

Disguised as Chabo the Wolf Baby and "Beverly and Elliot, " the Baudelaires infiltrate the Caligari Carnival and almost discover what V.F.D. stands for. They are interrupted yet again by Count Olaf before they can discover the meaning of the mysterious acronym.[10]

The Slippery Slope[edit]

Klaus isn't such a big character in this novel, but he does decode the V.F.D. code in the ruins of the V.F.D. headquarters and provide vital information which reveals that V.F.D. is attempting to contact a mysterious person named J.S., who turns out later to be Justice Strauss, or Jerome Squalor, depending on who the messages were for. He is notably the only one to scream Sunny's name when Count Olaf is about to throw her off the mountain, whereas Violet just screams "No!"

The Grim Grotto[edit]

Klaus' role is expanded in this novel immensely, as he decodes the maps which Captain Widdershins gave him in the Queequeg submarine and he also falls for Fiona Widdershins, the stepdaughter of the captain. He goes with her and his sisters to attempt to find the sugar bowl but is unable to, and they unfortunately find the medusoid mycelium instead. Klaus realizes that Fiona and her brother are enemies of V.F.D. when Fiona defects and joins Olaf, and he receives his first betrayal from someone he loves. His sisters comfort him and he deciphers Quigley's code which directs them to Kit Snicket and Briny Beach.

The Penultimate Peril[edit]

Klaus is hired as a concierge in this novel, and he and his sisters embark as concierges in their roles throughout the confusing and mysterious Hotel Denouement. They each encounter an important mystery. Klaus, unfortunately, encounters Ernest Denouement, one of the three identical managers (who are brothers) and is told to stop V.F.D. obtaining the sugar bowl, but he doesn't know he is talking to Ernst and obeys. Klaus realizes his mistake later, but doesn't regret it, because he realizes all of V.F.D. are just as pathetic and corrupt as the enemies are. He flees the hotel with his sisters and Count Olaf to end up in a sail boat in the sea when Sunny and Count Olaf set the place aflame - Sunny's plan was to tell V.F.D. their hopes were lost.

The End[edit]

Main article: The End (novel)

Although Beatrice shipwrecked in the last book of the series, it is stated in the Reptile Room that after many years Klaus still wished he called the taxi driver to take Stefano back, implying Klaus's survival. The final page of "The End" has an image of The Great Unknown.

Disguises[edit]

A recurring theme in the series is the Baudelaire children's disguises.[citation needed] At the end of The Vile Village, they are falsely accused of murder. From this point on, they have no more guardians, and are on the run from the police. While running from the police, Klaus assumes the following disguises:

Film adaptation[edit]

Klaus as portrayed by Liam Aiken in the 2004 film.

In the movie version of the first three books, Klaus, portrayed by Liam Aiken, doesn't wear glasses unless he is reading, whereas he always wears glasses in the books. His clothes are different; he wears a blue sweater and a tan button-downed shirt with only part of the collar shown. He is shown to be more self-asserting in the movie than in the books, with a somewhat more pessimistic outlook on the Baudelaires' situation, although he becomes more optimistic towards the end of the movie. It is suggested that Klaus is afraid of heights, when he is climbing the rope to save Sunny. In the movie, Klaus is taller than Violet, while in the books, he is shorter.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In February 2007, Lemony Snicket stated that the Baudelaires are Jewish[1]
  2. ^ Count Olaf is either the Baudelaires' third cousin four times removed or their fourth cousin three times removed, and he was their closest (geographically) living relative at the time of their parents' death.
  3. ^ Esmé adopted the children because orphans were considered "in" during the events of The Ersatz Elevator.[8]
  4. ^ The book's name is a reference to this elevator, as the word ersatz means fake.

References[edit]