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Philip Pullman's novel, Northern LightsThe bond between human and daemon offers to each, reciprocal protection, understanding and love and these are so strong that they make the human relationships seem pale by comparison

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Introduction

Interaction between humans and d�mons to show the ambiguities and complexity of character, motivation and behaviour Philip Pullman's novel, Northern Lights, offers an impressive alternative reality which has similarities with the present day, and differences too. The story starts in Jordan College in Oxford but it is an Oxford unlike ours: the technology and the culture of the people give the impression that it is set in the late 19th century. It is a fundamentally different universe in several respects - most evidently, all humans have d�mons. The main character in the story is young girl called Lyra Belacqua. She is a half-wild, half-civilized girl left among the Jordan College scholars by chance. Her d�mon, Pantalaimon, frequently takes the shape of a brown moth or an ermine. Every person is accompanied throughout their life by a d�mon, which takes the form of some kind of animal. Those of children can switch forms at will, but as they grow older this happens less and less, and at puberty the d�mon fixes into a single form for the rest of the person's life. This form tends to reflect the personality and nature of the person, but sometimes, a d�mon's personality counters their human's in some ways. For instance, if a person was highly dependant on others, their d�mon might strive to show them their independent side. D�mons cannot change once a person hits puberty because as people get older the age of innocence disappears. ...read more.

Middle

Her d�mon is a monkey with fur that is 'long and silky and of the most deep and lustrous gold' (p42). The description of Mrs Coulter and her d�mon uses positive words but they seem almost too perfect and suspicion arises in the reader. Although both Mrs Coulter and her d�mon are strikingly beautiful and eye-capturing, the d�mon has 'perfect horny claws'. Claws suggest damage and destruction and indicate that Mrs Coulter's character is not all good. Nevertheless, to the children, Mrs Coulter appears trustworthy and compassionate. This gives her an advantage in catching them as they are glad to go with her. Mrs Coulter is first introduced into the book in chapter 3 where she is capturing Tony Makarios - a simple slum child. His d�mon, in the form of a sparrow, is not very cautious of the golden monkey and can't resist fluttering onto the monkey's hand. When Tony first realises the lady is there he is alarmed but, when he hears his d�mon chirp, he believes the woman means no harm and he is safe. 'He's lost already. He was lost the moment his slow-witted d�mon hopped onto the monkey's hand' (p43). Tony is not the only child to be taken in by her charm, there are many other's who are in awe of the woman: 'They all gazed, suddenly shy. They had never seen a lady like this; she was so gracious and sweet and kind that they felt they hardly deserved their good luck, and whatever she asked, they'd give it gladly so as to stay in her presence a little longer' (p44). ...read more.

Conclusion

(p317) Lyra tells Iofur that she is a d�mon and Iofur, consumed by his self-indulgence and desires, believes her. Lyra flatters Iofur by telling him that he is 'passionate and strong as well as clever' (p339). She comes up with an elaborate story and quite easily tricks the bear King: 'The great bear was helpless. Lyra found her power over him almost intoxicating, and if Pantalaimon hadn't nipped her hand sharply to remind her of the danger they were all in, she might have lost all sense of proportion' (p343). It is clear throughout the book that Pullman uses d�mons to say things that he cannot say through humans. This is particularly evident at the end of the book where he uses the interactions of d�mons to show the feelings between Lord Asriel and Mrs Coulter. The two d�mons show a strong passionate engagement, allowing the reader to see the animal instincts of Lord Asriel and Mrs Coulter: 'The monkey's tail was erect, the snow leopard's swept powerfully from side to side. Then the monkey reached out a tentative paw, the leopard lowered her head with a graceful sensual acknowledgment, they touched' (p393/4). To conclude, in Northern Lights, Pullman captures the readers' imagination in a dramatic way by using d�mons to give information. He has discovered a most novel and ingenious way of showing the ambiguities and complexity of character, motivation and behaviour and achieved an immense degree of success. Emma Foley Page 1 18/12/2007 ...read more.

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