The Golden Compass
by Philip Pullman
The Golden Compass Fate and Free Will Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"It's almost like talking to someone, only you can't quite hear them, and you feel kind of stupid because they're cleverer than you, only they don't get cross or anything.... And they know such a lot, Farder Coram! As if they knew everything, almost! Mrs. Coulter was clever, she knew ever such a lot, but this is a different kind of knowing.... It's like understanding, I suppose...." (9.87)
Here Lyra describes her relationship with the Golden Compass. The alethiometer can tell her the "truth" in a sense. It has access to information about events before they happen. What does this suggest about fate?
"The witches have talked about this child for centuries past," said the consul. "Because they live so close to the place where the veil between the worlds is thin, they hear immortal whispers from time to time, the voices of those beings who pass between the worlds. And they have spoken of a child such as this, who has a great destiny that can only be fulfilled elsewhere – not in this world, but far beyond. Without this child, we shall all die. So the witches say. But she must fulfill this destiny in ignorance of what she is doing, because only in her ignorance can we be saved." (10.111)
Word of Lyra's destiny certainly has gotten around; here we see that the witches have known about her for centuries. She may even be known about in other worlds.
"We are all subject to the fates. But we must all act as if we are not," said the witch [Serafina Pekkala], "or die of despair. There is a curious prophecy about this child: she is destined to bring about the end of destiny. But she must do so without knowing what she is doing, as if it were her nature and not her destiny to do it. If she's told what she must do, it will all fail; death will sweep through all the worlds; it will be the triumph of despair forever." (18.19)
Ow, ow, ow! Shmoop's brain hurts. If it's possible for Lyra either to succeed or fail, does that mean that the future is already written? Does this prophecy contradict the idea of fate?