The Golden Compass

by Philip Pullman

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What are similarities between Lyra's world (from the Golden Compass)and our world in the categories of education and technology?

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As far as technology, Philip Pullman creates an interesting dichotomy in The Golden Compass. The technology employed by any inhabitants of Lyra's Oxford seems to be simultaneously crude, simple, magical, and inexplicably complex. All of their technology somehow resembles technology from our world, however, the two seemingly similar technologies are usually quite different. For example, the Alethiometer itself is similar to a clock and a compass, both technologies familiar to us. Upon closer inspection, the differences become alarmingly obvious. In addition, while the alethiometer seems to work like magic, or perhaps through some telepathic force of the mind, we are reminded that the alethiometer actually operates off of "elementary particles" and "dust" (in our world we call them "atomic particles" and "dark matter"). Although dark matter (and I'm not a scientists so I do not claim any expertise in particle physics) is a substance that is actually being explored in our scientific community.

Education is directly pitted against religion in Pulman's trilogy. Pulman is an atheist and accuses the church in our world of trying to keep people ignorant. In The Golden Compass, in Lyra's world, the church does the same thing. The Church would have preferred it if people dwelled in the state of innocent ignorance forever. Lord Asriel and his compatriots stage their rebellion to ensure that everyone has the right to attain knowledge and become a freethinking adult.

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