The Golden Compass
How we cite our quotes:
On Lyra's other side Mrs. Coulter sat working through some papers, but she soon put them away and talked. Such brilliant talk! Lyra was intoxicated; not about the North this time, but about London, and the restaurants and the ballrooms, the soirées at embassies or ministries, the intrigues between White Hall and Westminster. Lyra was almost more fascinated by this than by the changing landscape below the airship. What Mrs. Coulter was saying seemed to be accompanied by a scent of grownupness, something disturbing but enticing at the same time: it was the smell of glamour. (4.90)
Lyra is fascinated by Mrs. Coulter's glamorous adult world. She's even more interested in her than in the airship she's riding. Mrs. Coulter represents many obvious facets of being a grown-up: sophistication, money, and feminine charm. But as we soon learn, she is not what she seems.
And finally, there were other kinds of lessons so gently and subtly given that they didn't feel like lessons at all. How to wash one's own hair; how to judge which colors suited one; how to say no in such a charming way that no offense was given; how to put on lipstick, powder, scent. To be sure, Mrs. Coulter didn't teach Lyra the latter arts directly, but she knew Lyra was watching when she made herself up, and she took care to let Lyra see where she kept the cosmetics, and to allow her time on her own to explore and try them out for herself. (5.20)
Mrs. Coulter ushers Lyra into maturity by teaching her how to put on makeup and make herself physically attractive. She enforces her notions of what it is to be an adult, which are pretty stereotypically girly. Note that Mrs. Coulter often uses her own physical attractiveness to gain power.
"Why do daemons have to settle?" Lyra said. "I want Pantalaimon to be able to change forever. So does he."
"Ah, they always have settled, and they always will. That's part of growing up. There'll come a time when you'll be tired of his changing about, and you'll want a settled kind of form for him."
"I never will!"
"Oh, you will. You'll want to grow up like all the other girls. Anyway, there's compensations for a settled form." (10.25-22)
Like Peter Pan, Lyra never wants to grow up. But the book points out that there are actually plenty of benefits to becoming an adult. What are they?