The 4th of July. It’s that time of year that conjures feelings of patriotism, national pride and family honor. It also brings iconic images of classic Americana like apple pie; bike rides in the warm evening and most importantly carnivals. The Dark Carnival in Something Wicked This Way Comes is probably one of the most well known carnivals in literary history. Or at lest the one that has made the biggest impact on me.
I, like many people, went to the Maceline county fair last weekend. The sights, smells and tastes, (mostly tastes) have attracted me since childhood. Scientists say that food is one of the strongest triggers of memory. Sweet smell of cotton candy, funnel cake and caramel apples resonates throughout the entire park and fills me with nostalgia. This basic simple concept of nostalgic hometown life radiates throughout much of Ray Bradbury’s writing. This feeling of happiness and wonder is twisted within the Dark Carnival to become a reflection of the darker elements of human nature.
One of the most well known elements of the Dark Carnival is the carousel. When I went to the Maceline fair I saw many small children happily riding the carousel watched over by diligent parents. As the horses, frozen in time, ran in an endless loop I thought of the dark carousel. This perverted icon of childhood happiness was imbued with the ability to control age. If the rider road forward, they would grow old, ride backward and they would grow young. Even though so many of us may think that growing young again would be a blessing, Bradbury stress in the novel that it’s not. Then that person would be out of place, a young person with an old mind or vise versa would not fit in either with the young or old. So we have to make do with what age we are.
So in conclusion, happy (belated) 4th of July!