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Analysis

The Golden Compass Allusions & Cultural References

When authors refer to other great works, people, and events, it’s usually not accidental. Put on your super-sleuth hat and figure out why.

Paradise Lost

The Golden Compass is the first installment of Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, three books that set out to rewrite John Milton's epic 17th century poem Paradise Lost. Milton's poem is famous for dramatizing in poetry Satan's pride, the story of humans being booted out of the Garden of Eden, notions of original sin, and loss of innocence. If you get familiar with Paradise Lost (we recommend the Shmoop learning guide, of course), you may notice some similarities between the two stories. For example, Lord Asriel often resembles Milton's Satan, and Lyra has a bit of Eve about her. Milton's Paradise Lost is explicitly referenced in The Golden Compass' epigraph.

The Bible

The Bible makes an appearance specifically in Chapter 21, when Lord Asriel reads the portions of Genesis where Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit and are kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Do note, however, that the "Bible" Asriel quotes from is not quite the Bible we know – but you probably guessed that when you read about Adam and Eve's daemons. Want to read the read the original version? Check out Genesis 3 here.

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