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The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

by Brian Selznick

Analysis: What's Up With the Title?

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Wait a second. The automaton was originally Georges Méliès’ invention, so shouldn’t the title be The Invention of Georges Méliès?

It would certainly make sense, because Méliès is the real inventor here. The thing is, though, Méliès may have made the automaton, but Hugo is the one who literally dragged it from the debris and brought it back to life.

In the end, Hugo makes the machine his own because he’s the only one who seems to care enough about it to put all that work into it. He learns how to fix it, pockets all the parts, steals Isabelle’s key, and carefully puts everything together in order to make the automaton automate. It might as well be his invention after all that hard work.

But the real invention of Hugo Cabret is what’s revealed at the very, very end. It turns out that adult Hugo has made his own automaton:

The complicated machinery inside my automaton can produce one hundred and fifty-eight different pictures, and it can write, letter by letter, an entire book… (P2 12.9)

That’s right. The automaton that wrote this book itself is the real invention of Hugo Cabret. Is your mind blown? Ours is.

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