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The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth


by Norton Juster

The Phantom Tollbooth Theme of Philosophical Viewpoints

In The Phantom Tollbooth, everyone in the Lands Beyond suffers from the loss of Rhyme and Reason. These two princesses, while real characters, could also be seen as symbols of what their names represent. Everyone in the Lands Beyond maintains his own unique philosophical viewpoint, and it seems like the more these folks stubbornly stick to their guns, the less wise they become. Their views of the world suffer without the balance of Rhyme and Reason to make them think practically about the way they live their lives. Nevertheless, as Milo travels through these troubled lands, and encounters all these different philosophies, his mind expands with the addition of these new perspectives. Now the trick is to take all this new knowledge and apply it to his own life.

Questions About Philosophical Viewpoints

  1. Which character's philosophy do you find the most appealing? Which is the least appealing?
  2. Do you see any similarities between real-word philosophies you may have learned about and the philosophies mentioned in The Phantom Tollbooth?
  3. If you could be a member of Alec Bing's family and therefore get a special "point of view," which manner of seeing the world would you want to have and why?
  4. What do you think will be Milo's philosophical viewpoint as he moves forward in his life? What has he learned from his time in the Lands Beyond?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The character with the most well-rounded point of view in The Phantom Tollbooth is Milo, because he is sympathetic to all the other characters' points of view and even temporarily adopts some of them.

When King Azaz and the Mathemagician cast out Rhyme and Reason, they revealed themselves to be as foolish as the demons that populate the land of Ignorance.

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