The term "wise children" occurs in two other novels by Angela Carter: The Bloody Chamber and Nights at the Circus.
Throughout the novel, there are numerous references to the works and impact of William Shakespeare. At the beginning of the novel there are three quotations, two of which allude to Shakespeare: "Brush Up on Your Shakespeare", a song title from the musical Kiss Me, Kate based on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, and the quote "How many times Shakespeare draws fathers and daughters, never mothers and daughters" by Ellen Terry, an English stage actress. In an interview on the subject of Wise Children, Angela Carter stated "[I wanted] to have a transparent prose that just ran, I wanted it to be very funny, and at the same time I wanted the complex ideas about paternity and the idea of Shakespeare as a cultural ideology." 
There are also various other theatrical quotations, for example there is a "paper moon" motif, symbolising the spot-light, and indicating a sense of illusion. Also present are instances of magic realism, which is when a scene is exaggerated to an extent when the reader cannot possibly believe it, but does because of the realism of the rest of the novel. This is known as the willing suspension of disbelief.