When Something Wicked This Way Comes was published in 1962, Ray Bradbury already had a solid reputation as an author of supernatural stories. In the mid-1940’s, he published many such tales, some of which were included in his first book, Dark Carnival (1947); another collection, The October Country (containing many of the same stories, some with revisions), followed in 1955.
Many reviewers saw the book as an undistinguished allegory about the battle between good and evil. Some also noted its dreamlike quality. Indeed, it is less an allegory than a dream landscape steeped with self-reflective psychological implications. Although the title is taken from a witch’s speech in Macbeth, and although an obvious inspiration is Charles Finney’s The Circus of Dr. Lao (1935), Something Wicked This Way Comes has more in common with Franz Kafka’s The Trial (1925), including the conflict between father and son, the attempted reconciliation of opposites, and a young man’s search for individual wholeness within the dreamlike projection of his own psyche.
Bradbury began writing the book in 1957, when his father was dying of cancer. It is his last-ditch attempt to both honor and reconcile with a father from whom he had often felt alienated. Growing up, Bradbury had established his own individual ego by distancing himself from his father’s expectations. As he shifted more toward a world of...
(The entire section is 453 words.)