Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes begins by talking about the months of the year and how they relate to young boys life. The prologue starts with, “October, a rare month for boys.” This sentence alone pulls the reader in by making them start to wonder; why is October “rare”? What does Bradbury mean by “rare”? Why is it rare specifically for boys?
The topic quickly shifts from explaining months to the mischievousness of a youth’s pranks during the month dominated by Halloween.
The anticipation for Halloween is heavy in the air, “Everything smoky-smelling and the sky orange and ash gray at twilight,”. This sentence shows the feel October has surrounding it; a soft yet spooky tone in the air.
The reader than meets the two main characters; Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway. It is revealed, for them, “Halloween came early”. Halloween came for the two thirteen-year-old boys on October 24. Bradbury states that on that week of October, they “grew up overnight, and were never so young anymore…” The tone of the setting and the characters are interesting and easily grasps the reader’s focus.
The ending of the prologue effortlessly makes its audience want to know more about what happens to the two friends and what is so jarring to Jim and Will that they “grow up” so hastily.
The title that relates to the plot Finished with the book 12/06/18 The title is a nod toward Shakespeare’s Macbeth. In Act 4, Scene 1, one of the witches in the play says: “By the pricking of my thumb’s, something wicked this way comes” then Macbeth enters.
It is Macbeth who is deemed as wicked. Now in Ray Bradbury’s novel, Something Wicked refers to Cooger and Dark’s Carnival of freaks that has come to Green Town, Illinois. In chapter thirty-seven Charles Halloway can feel that something is off, “There is only one thing for sure.
Two lines of Shakespeare said it.”(171) By using this line as the title, readers become entranced and want to know what wicked the story holds. The theme of good versus evil is prevalent throughout the entire novel and evil is the carnival. The carnival has the ability to turn dreams into nightmares, which makes them truly wicked. The carnival thrives off admitting fear throughout communities that it comes through. The fear is first felt by Jim and Will the first night of the carnival’s arrival at 3 in the morning. As they look out onto the carnival being set up both boys progressively become more on edge. This then becomes our first interaction with the carnival; fear. Contains thought-provoking components Autumn people are described as having worms ticking in their heads, being from dust, and ‘they sift the human storm for souls, eat flesh of reason, fill tombs with sinners’ (177).
All in all, we, the readers, understand that autumn people are not the greatest people. A common theme in Something Wicked is good versus evil and the autumn people would most definitely be the evil component. During chapter thirty-eight, Mr. Halloway states that ‘There are times when we’re all autumn people.’ (177). Does the statement go as far as to say that we can all be a little evil or could he mean this in a more mundane tone, such as simply being a bad person? All people can be bad at some point in their lives and some more than others but evil describes something a bit more sinister. So is it evil or bad; those two things can be very different. Effective use of symbolism Finished with book 12/19/18 The novel begins with a lightning rod salesman, whom we come to know as Tom Fury.
He cations Jim and Will that a storm is approaching. He also warns that lightning will strike Jim’s house and end up killing him as well as his mother. Before he leaves the two boys he gives Jim a free lightning rod which is put on his house but evidently before the carnival comes he takes it down. The storm doesn’t come until later in the book, but a not so traditional storm hits Green Town in the form of an evil traveling “carnival of freaks”. Like Fury had predicted the storm would strike Jim’s house, although, as we see in the novel, it is not lightning that endangers Jim but his curiosity, which makes him more susceptible to the carnivals temptations, therefore, making him more endangered than Will had been. When the reader thinks of the storm the thought of dark and destructive comes to mind and that’s exactly what the carnival is; a dark and destructive force.
To symbolize the carnival as a storm was both brilliant and thought-provoking in Bradbury’s novel. Characters relatability Finished with book 12/22/18 How well can Something Wicked’s characters be relatable? At first glance of the novel, the answer may seem not at all but with a closer look into the characters, the answer does change. Although we see Will’s point of view more often than Jim’s we come to an understanding that in a sense we, the readers, have all been Jim at some point in time. Jim is a thirteen-year-old boy who is consumed by his own curiosity and wants to grow up. Like Jim, all kids are curious about most things and that can often lead to trouble as it does for Jim. He is also lead by his want to grow up as much of one’s youth is spent wishing to be older. Although, there are many youth-related traits that a reader can relate within these characters there are many things that can not. How many people would still be tempted to do something that would cause a dangerous outcome: very few.
In the case of Jim Nightshade, this something is still riding a time warping carousel after seeing the horrors of what it and the carnival can do.
Time is a major theme in Something Wicked and clocks are a big deal in Bradbury’s novel; they are mentioned so often it’d be hard to miss. The clock imagery helps in understanding the meaning of time in the novel. The town clock often let us know what time it is in the novel and these times have different meanings. Day time is good and safe whereas night is where evil hides. Specifically, three in the morning is the hour when ‘the soul is out’ and ‘you are the nearest to dead you’ll ever be save dying’ (56) says, Charles Halloway.
Three a.m. is also when the carnival arrives into town; getting the interest of the main character when they are at their most vulnerable time of day. Even people are described as clocks “what strange wonderful clocks women are.” (56) or when the witch is told “The janitor’s clock. Stop it.” meaning to stop his time on Earth or in a simpler phrase; kill him. The carousel winds a person forward and backward like altering a clock. Clocks are always going forward at a normal speed, like life, whereas the carousel interrupts this process and invokes more horror than happiness.
As readers we can understand Jim; he is curious and slightly angsty. Jim is believable but what about Will. Will is in no hurry to grow up and is perfectly happy as he is. When Charles Halloway breaks the Mirror Maze we, the readers, find out the key to shattering the carnival’s dark power over him is just self -acceptance. This perhaps, is why the carnival has such little effect on Will. Will becomes a little unbelievable with his contentment with himself. What kid doesn’t want to grow up? With pointing this out there are some components of Will’s character that is believable such as his want to stay on the safe side and often following Jim around saying or thinking, “that’s not a good idea” or “hey we shouldn’t be doing this”.
All kids have had those or were those friends. Jim is also quite mischievous, for example, at the beginning of the novel Jim wants to and does look inside a “theater’s” window (this is actually somebody’s house window) which Will doesn’t think is a good idea. It is also implied that he had spied into the window much more than once. He can take his mischievousness to far and do things that could land him in serious trouble but that doesn’t seem to stop Jim. Jim has this natural mischievous nature as do most children. Gives a clear understanding of time, place, and atmosphere Bradbury is clear and concise with the time, place, and atmosphere in his novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes.
The town clock is constantly striking the different hours of the day, letting us know exactly when we are in the novel. A specific and meaningful time in the novel is three in the morning which is said to be when “the soul is out’ and ‘you are the nearest to dead you’ll ever be save dying’ (56). This is also the time of night when the carnival comes to Green Town, Illinois. Bradbury also often bluntly states that Jim, Will, or Charles are at “the library”, “walking down the streets”, or on “carnival grounds”, so there are no questions to where their actions are taking place.
As well as being so clear with stating time and place, the entire atmosphere of the novel has a constant ominous tone. This ominous atmosphere starts at the end of the prologue of the novel when it is stated. “Halloween came early” and that week of October the boys “were never so young anymore”. This tone carries through up until Jim’s demise where it becomes calmer seeing as the carnival “vanished”.
The quote “He gathered the boy somewhat closer and thought, Evil has only the power that we give it. I give you nothing. I take back. Starve. Starve. Starve.” (249) suggests that we do have the power to control whether evil affects us or not. This is how the reader should see the carnival; the characters may be tempted, but they do have control over how the evil persuades them. This is demonstrated when Charles Halloway is being tempted by evil and eventually accepts himself and this causes the mirrors in the Mirror Maze to shatter around him.
Will is not tempted by the carnival at all do to his contentment with himself and his age whereas Jim allows himself to be consumed by the evil because of his curious nature and his want to grow up fast is so strong. Uses imagery that creates vivid mental pictures Finished with the book 01/03/19 Between the description of the carnival, the evil “freaks” that roam in the carnival, and the constant game of tug-of-war between Will and Mr. Dark over Jim, Something Wicked This Way Comes is a brilliant novel chalked full of imagery. The story begins with Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway who are constantly, by Bradbury, being described as opposites. Quoting that, Will’s hair “blonde-white as milk thistle” and eyes “bright and clear as a drop of summer rain” where on the other hand Jim’s eyes “were mint rock-crystal green” and hair “was wild, thick, and the glossy color of waxed chestnuts”.
With little description, the readers are able to view the physical appearances of the boy and have an insight into the boys differentiating personalities. Will is even compared to “the last peach, high on a summer tree” (18). When the antagonist, Mr. Dark, is introduced the description is extensive and states that he is tall, slim, pale, and that his “eyebrows, his hair, his suite were licorice black” (70). His vest is even styled “the color of fresh blood”.
Bradbury is letting the reader know from the first interaction that Mr. Dark is not one of the good guys. By these simple portrayals of characters, readers easily create vivid pictures in one’s mind.