Once upon a dreary midnight, when I, weak and tired, was meditating on many bizarre and curious episodes Wednesday that this show is full of references to Edgar Allan Poe.
American writer and poet of the 19th century, known for his macabre tales of mystery, grief, madness, murder, ghosts, and revenge, such as Crow, The tell-tale heartas well as Fall of the House of Usher, plays a major thematic role in Tim Burton’s quintessentially creepy teen series. Poe is the most infamous student to have attended the fictional Nevermore Academy, which was attended by our sinister protagonist Wednesday Addams.
Wednesday Review: How Tim Burton Is Transforming Teen TV With Wednesday Addams
“Edgar Allan Poe said“Believe nothing you hear and half of what you see,” says Wednesday in Episode 2. “Obviously the most famous Nevermore alumni picked it up here. No wonder he became a crazy drug addict.”
Like in fairy tales Wednesday based on mystery, monsters and chaos – with a final twist worthy of a gothic writer. And while Wednesday quotes his love Agatha Christie and nemesis Mary Shelley more frequently during the series, Burton throws a cask of amontillado into his series to lift it up.
It’s on, Shelley.
In this enviably stunning gothic setting, Burton finds ways to use the author’s gothic associations to Wednesday– change the elements of a typical teen series, from school dances (The Rave’N) to annual canoe races (Po Cup). Here are just a few references to Poe in the Netflix series – maybe you’ve spied more?
Central academic institution WednesdayNevermore Academy is named after Poe’s most famous poem, written in 1845. Crowin which a majestic ebony bird torments the grieving writer by perching over the door of his chamber and repeatedly shouting one sinister, maddening word: “The Raven has said: ‘Never again.’
Just to be that guy, the fictional Nevermore was founded in 1791, as our favorite pastel-haired werewolf Edith Sinclair explains in the series, “to educate people like us. Outcasts, freaks, monsters, fill your favorite marginalized group here.” But Poe himself was born only in 1809 and did not write the poem of the same name for another 54 years.
Yes, yes, this is a TV show, I’ll wait. But speaking of the clumsy bird…
The midnight visitor from Poe’s most famous poem, Crow, represents the protagonist’s overwhelming grief and loss of his love, Lenore. If you took a picture every time the raven is mentioned or appears on the screen during Wednesdayyou’d be drunk long before the monster’s identity is revealed.
From the crow-studded wrought-iron gates of the Nevermore to the stuffed raven perched on Principal Weems’ desk, ravens soar throughout sequences all the way to The Rave’N’s annual school dance. Wednesday sees ravens in his vision of Rowan’s death, and Xavier draws a colossal raven on the courtyard wall. There is even an Island of Crows on campus. Morticia describes Wednesday’s psychic power style as “rave”, leaning towards darker lenses, as opposed to her own positive “dove” style. In these visions, Wednesday’s ancestor Goody Addams refers to her as “the raven in my bloodline”.
“The path of the Raven is lonely. In the end, you are left alone, unable to trust others, seeing only the darkness within them,” Goody says on Wednesday.
But Crow is not the only Poe story directly referenced by “Wednesday”…
Every team name is Poe’s story.
Obviously, every magical school needs an annual inappropriately lethal sports tournament. An annual Nevermore tradition dating back 125 years and named after “Nevermore’s most famous alumni”, the Po Cup is part canoe race, part chase, with no rules. Each residence should choose Poe’s story as inspiration for their team name, canoe decoration and costumes as they sail to Crow Island, grab the flag from the Joseph Crackstone Crypt and race back. Here is a summary of the team names and their associated Poe stories:
Pit and pendulum
One of the two-headed ax canoe teams is named after Pit and pendulum, an 1842 Poe story about helpful rats in a sticky situation. In the tale, a prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition is tortured and then sentenced to death in a small cell with a deep dark pit and a swinging, slowly lowering pendulum blade. The protagonist can enlist the help of the rats in the cell to gnaw through his chains and avoid being cut, but then the walls begin to move…
The Sirens’ team, playing the dirtiest game in the Poe but looking the most glamorous in their glittering beetle ornaments, choose an 1843 story. golden beetle, which is essentially a code-breaking and treasure-hunting story. However, there are some problematic elements in Poe’s story, as the protagonist William Legrand is a former South Carolina planter who was bitten by a gold bug, and his servant Jupiter is a former enslaved man whose image was dubbed by modern critics as “minstrel’s mate”.
Enid and Wednesday’s team takes its name from Poe’s 1843 story. Black cat, an exploration of violence and guilt in which the protagonist abuses his own cat by cutting out its eye and hanging it from a tree (it’s pretty grim). When his house burns down, he finds another black cat, which awakens the same murderous plot in the protagonist, and while trying to kill her, he accidentally kills his wife. When he tries to cover up his crime by burying his wife’s body in his basement wall, he is killed by a cat – when the police investigate, the cat was also hidden in the wall, and his incessant screams sent this asshole straight to jail. .
Come on, black cats!
Barrel of Amontillado
The team of Xavier and Ajax, dressed as terrifying jesters, take their name from Poe’s 1846 revenge story. Barrel of Amontillado. Set in Italy during a carnival, the story follows Montresor, a nobleman who plots to kill the wine expert Fortunato, who apparently insulted him (deal with it, man) while wearing a jester costume. Montresor lures Fortunato to his family vaults with the promise of a rare amontillado, then traps him and buries him alive.
Xavier also references Poe’s many stories of people being buried and buried alive, sharing on Wednesday the story of how they first met during a game of hide and seek, in which Xavier was on his way to a live cremation in his grandmother’s coffin.
The man himself appears in Wednesday, like, like, something like. There is a statue in the cloisters of Nevermore depicting Poe with a “prudish grin”, holding a book and a raven, but which also serves as the entrance to Nightshade. Wednesday Notes Po’s legendary penchant for riddlesand makes his way to the secret door with the Addams Family’s gleeful double-click.
This may be a stretch, but the name of Nevermore’s Nightshade Secret Society may be a reference to Poe’s 1935 short story. Morella. According to the Baltimore Society of Poets, “morel” – one of the names of the poisonous black nightshade, from which the belladonna medicine comes. Given the importance of nightshade poisoning in history, this cannot be a coincidence.
These are the main references to Poe that I was able to see, but you may have seen even more among the murders and riots taking place in Nevermore. Break the boards!
Wednesday currently streaming on Netflix.(will open in a new tab) Read the spoiler-free Mashable review right here.