January 31 2013
The Golden Compass: Philip Pullman’s Apocalyptic Story
Finishing up with Narnia
1. Edmunds’s tendency to lie and wreak havoc, teasing his sister.
2. Second novel is too cure Edmund of this treachery, child and adult to be able to learn the
lessons of forgivness.
3. Through Aslan’s self sacrifice, Edmund is saved of the White Witch’s wrath. From traitor
to soldier. To change, to repent.
4. Central theme of awakenings, landscape. Land is woken from winter to spring. Thaws
and flowers begint o appear. Aslan awakens the statues from the White Witches
palace.Asaln expierences a great awakening. (resurrection)
5. Edmund transforms into “King Edmund the Just” = novel emphasizes importance of
6. Gifts - Advocating for children to arm themselves against the issues they will be exposed
to in the real life reality. Well controlled atmosphere.
7. Father Christmas does not give them materialistic items. He gives them gifts that will
either save their lives or benefit others.
8. This order of stability is achieved through defeating the White Witches Army.
9. There is no gender roles that are not solidified.
a. Chivalric Norms – an idealized code of civilized behavior that combines loyalty,
honor, and courtly love. Peter and Edmund are able to be soldiers, the women
are left to become nurses to those in the battle.
b. Gender Sterotyping – Women are either saints or evil women. Mrs. Beaver is
domestic, the house mother. Recieves a sewing machine as her gift. Lucy is the
first to recognize that the robin is good. “Lucy the Valiant.” Lucy receives a
healing gift, to heal people throughout the series. She is pursued by many
princes, but never marries. Marriage would destroy the virtue that Lucy
epitomizes. Susan is also virtuous. She has a level of sophitcation that is not
found in Lucy. “Stop trying to talk like mother.” Susan is shut out of Narnia
because she prefers nylons and lipsticks. She has lost the ability to dream, to be
c. Lewis tends to use females as examples as evil. Ie. White Witch. Her evil is
marked by many arcitval elements. The Snow queen, a winter thar may never
end. Whiteness, death, cruelty, barrenous, she is the opposite of the maternal
figure. No love relations, no children.
d. Mythological – Medusa – Can turn animals into stone.
e. “White like snow, or paper, or icing sugar, except for her red mouth” Suggests a
mask she wears. Sickly sweet, an emotion felt by Edmund when he overeats
f. Capacity of deceit begins with her appearance, and her food is what draw
Edmund in when he meets her.
g. Because of such beauty, she deceives him into believing she is the true ruler,
and she deceits herself thinking she can put Aslan to death.
Pullman and On writing for Children
Fantasies as Christian Allegories
The Nature of Childhood En 3174
January 31 2013
His Dark Materials Trilogy
Golden Compass or Northern Lights (1995)
The Subtle Knife (1997)
The Amber Spyglass (2000)
Hybrid: fantasy, mystery, physics, metaphysics, philosophy, theology
a. Investigation of Dust,
b. Pullman’s novel is also a hybrid – invokes fantasy, mystery, but also ideas of
physics and metaphysics, philosophy, theology, spirituality.
Inversion of Milton’s Paradise Lost
a. Celebrating humanity for its greatest flaw, original sin, whereas Milton
was one whom saw it as a flaw.
b. Negative portrayal of organized religion – the church. Priests, cardinals,
c. Represents the church as powerful, repressive, oppressive, determined
to root out sin and control weak human beings. Christian beliefs of fall
into sin and the afterlife and questioned within the series.
d. Known as the golden compasses. Comes from a line from Paradise Lost.
e. This figure is down, measuring.
f. In the UK, Pullman changed it to “Dark Materials.”
g. Harry Potter Series is not the first one to undergo renaming in the editing
and publishing stages.
Pullman on Writing for Children
• Dual audience: child and adult
a. Invites readerly involvement
b. Fear tactics – animals and religion
c. Children are victimised in a way they are not in LWW
d. Emphasizes development, coming of age.
e. Lyra must exercise agency on her own fate
f. Pullman awknowledges the interest in children, and those that are metaphysical
address adults; only difference between writing for children and adults: Children
are not expected to know so much, must explain. For Pullman, it’s not important
for children to be aware of intricate details. The story itself will carry meaning.
Emancipatory writing of contemporary and challenging issues.
g. Deconstruction of complex Christian beliefs
• Advocates writing “up” to a child
a. Marketed to young adults, not children.
• An up-front tackling of challenging issues
• Pullman challenges entire complex of Christian beliefs
Pullman and Milton’s Paradise Lost
• Long poem about Judeo-Christian story of the Fall of Man
– Temptation of Adam and Eve by Satan
– Expulsion from Garden of Eden
– To create a powerful my