|“||'Memento Mori ("remember you will die")||”|
— The school motto
Prufrock Preparatory School, also known simply as Prufrock Prep, is a gloomy and awful boarding school that serves as the setting for The Austere Academy.
Prufrock exemplifies all the very real, horrible and negative aspects about school:
- Pedantic, biased and strict teachers who play favorites
- Awful cafeteria food
- Tons of stressful homework and exams
- Boring lessons with material that most students will never actually use in real life (Klaus had to constantly measure objects. Violet had to memorize the insignificant and unimportant parts of Mr. Remora's boring self-stories such as how many miles a donkey ran)
The school also has poor treatment of students with unfortunate backgrounds (i.e. orphans), forcing them to live in an small uncomfortable shack known as the Orphans Shack.
The school is likely meant to symbolize a school that is preparing students to die, "killing" their free will and independent thought, and teaching them to become mindless obedient workers who respect and submit to authority.
One could theorize that the school is probably a V.F.D.-related place. It is likely that after The Schism, it became controlled by the fire-starting side of the organization. In the TV series, it is confirmed the school was controlled by V.F.D as sort of a VDF training facility for young volunteers.
|“||Here's a fun bit of trivia. The architect who built this school was severely depressed.||”|
— Mr. Poe on the architecture
- Outside entrance: It is made up of several buildings (32 in the TV series) that resemble tombstones and sits on a brown lawn. A stone archway at the school's entrance is inscribed with the motto "Memento Mori", which is Latin for "Remember You Will Die."
- Sports field: Where pep rallies are held, and where the Baudelaires are forced to do S.O.R.E.
- Cafeteria: Self-explanatory. The food seen in the series is dismal-looking, and some is even rotten. Something rather disturbing is that a rabbit corpse can be found in the freezer, making one wonder if the school is secretly serving such things in their lunch meat.
- Administrative building: This is where Nero's office is.
- Classrooms: Self-explanatory.
- Student dormitory: The dormitory is a gray building, entirely made of stone and shaped like a big toe. Inside is a huge living room with a brick fireplace, a game room, and a large lending library. Every student has his or her own room, with a bowl of fresh fruit placed there every Wednesday. However, in order to live in the dormitory, a student must have a permission slip with the signature of a parent or guardian. Since the Baudelaires' parents are dead, and their previous guardians are dead or fired them, they are forced to live in a tin shack.
- Library: The Library has outdated books and is only opened for a short time. This is where Olivia Caliban works in the TV series.
- Auditorium: This is where Nero's violin recitals are held.
- Orphans Shack: A tin shack for orphans. The Quagmires lived there. Bales of hay serve as beds, tiny crabs scurry around, the wallpaper is horrible, with hearts arranged in an unappealing pattern, and orange fungus (green in the TV series) oozes from the ceiling. When the Baudelaires arrive, the Quagmires were "upgraded" to a broom closet. The Orphans Shack was knocked down by Count Olaf during his escape in the TV series.
Rules and punishments
The school enforces strict discipline and punishments:
- If anyone is late for class, their hands are tied behind their back during meals. The student must lean down and eat their food like a dog.
- If a student is late to the cafeteria, their cups and glasses are taken away and the beverage is served in large puddles.
- If a student goes to the administrative building without an appointment, they are forced to eat their meals without silverware.
- If a student misses one of Nero's 6-hour violin recitals, they are forced to buy him a large bag of candy and watch him eat it.
Gym teacher evaluations are worth 51% of a student's grade, meaning if a student isn't very good at doing physical activities and sports, their overall grades can dramatically worsen to the point they may be expelled, which occurred to Count Olaf. For example, if a student is a regular straight-A student in all classes, but has a D in gym, their overall grade can sink to a C.
The Austere Academy
Prufrock Preparatory School is a school that the Baudelaires attend in The Austere Academy. Klaus and Violet enroll as students while Sunny becomes an administrative assistant to Vice Principal Nero. Klaus's teacher is Mrs. Bass and Violet's is Mr. Remora. There, they meet Duncan and Isadora Quagmire, who become their friends, and Carmelita Spats who bullies them for being orphans.
During their stay Count Olaf disguises himself as a gym teacher named "Coach Genghis" and hatches a plot to steal their fortune. This involves forcing the Baudelaires to run hundreds of laps each night known as S.O.R.E. Because constantly doing this every day makes them tired, the Baudelaires can't help but sleep in class due to exhaustion, and their grades suffer. Genghis has told Nero that he will adopt and homeschool the Baudelaires if they flunk out of school. Although his plan is foiled, the Baudelaires are expelled because they "cheated" on the S.O.R.E. exams.
After The Austere Academy
According to Lemony Snicket's autobiography after the Baudelaires were expelled, Kit Snicket went to Prufrock Preparatory School disguised as a teacher (Ms. K), replacing Mr. Remora after he choked on a banana and retired. She had her students read books relating to V.F.D. Vice Principal Nero fired her when he read an article in The Daily Punctilio supposedly given to him by Mr. and Mrs. Spats, that forbade the particular list of books. When Nero informed her of his decision, Kit grabbed two orphaned students by the ankles and ran off, recruiting them into V.F.D. It is unknown who the students were or if they are featured in the books at any point.
In the TV series, the school is depicted as being located in the middle of nowhere, possibly in the Hinterlands. A fence around the perimeter makes the school reminiscent of a prison. It is mentioned that that the school suffers from budget cuts, which is why Vice Principal Nero can not afford an administrative assistant without resorting to child labor, and why the library is out-of-date. Their mascot is a dead horse as a result of the expression, "You can't beat a dead horse."
The episode "The End" revealed that Ishmael used to be the principal of Prufrock Preparatory. When he noticed children with a "gleam" in their eye, he would recruit them into V.F.D in order to stand up against the ignorance and injustice in the world, making it a quieter, safer place.
- Ishmael - Former principal (TV series), and possibly also a chemistry teacher according to the books
- Vice Principal Nero - Vice principal
- Mr. Remora - Language arts teacher
- Mrs. Bass - Metric system teacher
- Miss K (Kit Snicket's disguise as revealed in Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography) - Teacher
- Ms. Tench - Previous gym teacher who "fell" out of a third story window
- Coach Genghis (Count Olaf in disguise) - New gym teacher (briefly)
- White-Faced Women - Two cafeteria workers in disguise (briefly), Cheerleaders (TV series)
- Fernald, The Hook-Handed Man and The Bald Man with the Long Nose - Mascot performers
- Henchperson of Indeterminate Gender - Teacher for indeterminate studies
- Larry the Waiter - Cafeteria worker (TV series)
- Sunny Baudelaire - Nero's administrative worker and secretary, briefly
- Librarian (mentioned in Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, confirmed V.F.D. member)
- In the TV series, the librarian is Olivia Caliban
- Carmelita Spats
- Duncan Quagmire
- Isadora Quagmire
- Violet Baudelaire (briefly)
- Klaus Baudelaire (briefly)
- Unnamed students
- Count Olaf (former student, revealed in TV series)
- Lemony Snicket (former student, revealed in TV series)
- Jacques Snicket (former student, revealed in TV series)
- Kit Snicket (former student, revealed in TV series)
- Larry the Waiter (former student, revealed in TV series)
- V.F.D. (Volunteer Fire Department) (revealed in TV series)
- Jacques Snicket ( former students )
- Kit Snicket ( former students )
- The school is named after "J. Alfred Prufrock" of T. S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
- In the TV series, it is mentioned the school was founded by Sir Barrymore Feint. "Barrymore" may be a nod to producer Barry Sonnenfeld. "Feint" may be an allusion to Ellington Feint and Armstrong Feint.
- There is a contradiction introduced in Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, where we see a letter written by Vice Principal Nero that was written after Series of Unfortunate Events was published in-universe, and in The Austere Academy, Lemony Snicket claims that Prufrock Preparatory has closed down, meaning that Nero could not have sent the letter with the picture of the students, who shouldn't have been there due to the school being closed.
- Also, the existence and content of the letter proves that Nero, Remora, Bass, and Carmelita survived the Hotel Denouement Fire, although it does not mention it directly.
- The Austere Academy
- Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography (mentioned)
- A Series of Unfortunate Events (TV series)