Something Wicked This Way Comes | Study Guide

Ray Bradbury

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Something Wicked This Way Comes | Dedication and Epigraph | Summary




Bradbury dedicates the novel to Gene Kelly, whose performances "influenced and changed" his life.


The epigraph contains three quotations. One is from poet W.B. Yeats about how man "loves what vanishes." The second is a biblical proverb about those who "eat the bread of wickedness." The third is a quote from the character Stubb in Herman Melville's novel Moby-Dick (1851), who says he doesn't know the future but he plans to "go to it laughing."


Gene Kelly (1912–96) was a well-known American actor, dancer, and director who starred in a number of film musicals, including An American in Paris (1951), Singin' in the Rain (1952), and Brigadoon (1954). As Bradbury explains in his Afterword, Kelly was instrumental in bringing about the writing of Something Wicked This Way Comes.

The three quotes of the Epigraph each relate to a different aspect of the novel. The Yeats quote relates to the human preoccupation with what "vanishes"—the past, one's youth, the hours and years of one's life. In the novel, it is this longing after what is gone that allows the carnival to tempt people with youth or more years of life. The biblical quote relates to the way Mr. Dark and the carnival feed on the fears and sins of people, and the novel's theme of goodness versus wickedness. The Melville quote relates to the ultimate weapon used by Charles Halloway against the Dust Witch and the carnival: laughter signifying acceptance and contentment with reality.

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