|“||'Memento Mori ("remember you will die")||”|
— The school motto
Prufrock Preparatory School, also known simply as Prufrock Prep, is a gloomy boarding school that serves as the setting for The Austere Academy.
Unfortunately for the Baudelaires, Prufrock is not a fantasy school where students learn exciting and fun topics such as magic, interact with mythological creatures, play sports which defies the laws of nature, eat feasts for dinner, etc. Those interested in such a tale may be happier reading some other series.
Prufrock exemplifies all the very real, horrible and negative aspects about school: pedantic, biased and strict teachers who play favorites, bullying, awful cafeteria food, tons of stressful homework and exams, boring lessons with material that most students will never actually use in real life (such as constantly measuring objects and memorizing details of stories), etc. 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.
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.
In the TV series, it mentioned that that the school suffers from budget cuts, which is why Vice Principal Nero can not afford an administrative assistant, and why the library is out-of-date.
It eventually closes down and goes defunct, after one teacher Mrs. Bass is arrested for bank robbery.
|“||Here's a fun bit of trivia. The architect who built this school was severely depressed.||”|
— Mr. Poe on the architecture
It is made up of several buildings (32 in the TV series) that resemble tombstones and sits on a brown lawn. There is a cafeteria, an administrative building, a student dormitory, a library, an auditorium for Nero's violin recitals, and a tin shack for orphan students. A stone archway at the school's entrance is inscribed with the motto "Memento Mori", which is Latin for "Remember You Will Die."
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.
The shack was called "The Orphans Shack" since 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.
In the TV series, their mascot is a dead horse as a result of the expression, "You can't beat a dead horse."
Rules and punishments
The school enforces strict discipline and punishments:
- 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 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.
- 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 goes to the administrative building without an appointment, they are forced to eat their meals without silverware.
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.
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 and having dead parents.
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 that 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.
- Vice Principal Nero - Vice principal
- Mr. Remora - Language arts teacher
- Mrs. Bass - Metric system teacher
- Miss K (Kit Snicket disguised, as revealed in Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography) - Teacher
- Ms. Tench - Previous gym teacher who "fell" out of third story window
- Coach Genghis (Count Olaf in disguise) - New gym teacher, short time only
- White-Faced Women - Two cafeteria workers in disguise, short time only
- Larry the Waiter - Cafeteria worker in the TV series
- Sunny Baudelaire - Nero's administrative worker and secretary, short time only
- Librarian (mentioned in Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography). Confirmed to be a V.F.D. member)
- In the TV series, the librarian is Olivia Caliban
- Carmelita Spats
- Duncan Quagmire
- Isadora Quagmire
- Violet Baudelaire (short time only)
- Klaus Baudelaire (short time only)
- Unnamed students
- Count Olaf (former student, revealed in TV series)
- Lemony Snicket (former student, revealed in TV series)
- Larry the Waiter (former student, revealed in TV series)
- 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)