The Golden Compass Ideas for Reports and Papers
by Philip Pullman

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Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

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1. Metaphor and allegory are important in Pullman's story. The daemon is both a metaphorical figure and serves an allegorical function. Explore the daemons of at least four major characters, including Lyra, and look at the characteristics of their daemons as metaphors for the nature of the human they serve. What does the author tell you about their daemons, and what do you know about them as a result of descriptions of deamons? In addition to Lyra, select from these characters: Lord Asriel, Mrs. Coulter, John Faa, Serafina Pekkala, Iofur Raknison.

2. The entire story is a religious allegory about the fall from grace of human beings. Allegory is defined as a story in which people, things and happenings have another meaning. Which people and things further the allegorical meaning in this story? Describe what additional meanings, besides an adventure story, you think Lyra's adventures convey. What are the big crises and decisions in her life?

3. Pullman sharply contrasts the world of children and adults. It has been especially remarked that many of his adults are immoral and specifically that they treat children as if they are only property. How would you describe the adults in this novel? Pick some examples of who you would consider to be moral and immoral adults and compare and contrast them. How does their social standing and political power affect these people?

4. Pullman has made a great effort to create a setting which can call upon our knowledge of modern day Oxford for background details and create an entirely different city of Oxford. Look up details in the history and current status of Oxford and compare them with differences in the Oxford of Lyra's story. What are the major differences? What do these differences do for the story?

5. Pullman's story mixes what we know as science with practices that we associate with magic. What are some key differences between the technological features of Lyra's world and ours? What devices do they have in common with us, and what devices do they not they have? What devices do we not have? Do you think...

(The entire section is 530 words.)