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The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass

by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Innocence

Loss of innocence is a dominant theme in literature, from the epic fall of mankind into sin in Milton's Paradise Lost to a young child's first experience with death in children's books like Bridge...

Morality and Ethics

Morality and ethics have to do with right vs. wrong. Plenty of people in this novel are doing the wrong thing: Mrs. Coulter and the General Oblation Board, for example, are downright baddies. Other...

Identity

There are different factions in this book: witches, bears, gyptians, and scholars, and each has its own separate and distinct group identity. Then of course there's Lyra, a young girl struggling to...

Fate and Free Will

Are we the masters of our own fates, or does a higher power control our paths? When we make choices, are they actually our own, or is everything predetermined? These are the kinds of brain-tangling...

Power

Ever hear the saying "Absolute power corrupts absolutely"? It means that when people's authority goes unchecked, all that power can go to their heads and lead them to do some pretty nasty things. T...

Lies and Deceit

"Liar": it's kind of a mean word. Nobody wants to be called a liar, after all. To be totally honest, though, Lyra is a liar. She exaggerates quite a lot and often straight-up doesn't tell the truth...

Politics

Where there's power there's politics, and in The Golden Compass there's plenty of both. The book dramatizes the struggle for power and resources among many competing factions: the Oxford scholars,...

Religion

Philip Pullman's books are controversial for their criticism of religious institutions and the power they wield. In The Golden Compass, the vile Mrs. Coulter serves as a kind of poster girl the pow...

Sacrifice

Along with the theme of religion comes the theme of sacrifice. Roger is clearly a figure of sacrifice, and Lyra herself makes many sacrifices in the book. The most compelling and terrible sacrifice...

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