Monday, December 7, 2009

Parenting and His Dark Materials

Since discussion during my group's went a little longer I was unable to really say much of my points on the theme of parenting in His Dark Materials, so I'm going to do so in this blog.

I'd like to start this blog out with a quote from Navigating the Golden Compass: religion, science and damonology in His Dark Materials by Glenn Yeffeth, which is the same quote I started out with in class.
"The construction of Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter subverts the ideology of the benevolent parent common to the children's fantasy tradition and at the same time embodies His Dark Materials' key arguments: that adults are not perfect, that there is no reason to believe that they will always act more correctly or make better choices than children will, and that therefore the adult social hegemony can be a dangerously unfair structure."
This quote pretty much sums up the parental theme of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. The two parents of Lyra are not perfect, and in fact are probably the most flawed characters of the trilogy.

The theme of parenting in the trilogy seems to be prevalent throughout. Lyra and Will both have parental issues that keep them going and also hinder their progress.

Starting with Lyra:
She begins the tale seemingly without parents. The college scholars take care of her but do not guide her like a parent would. Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel both show very little care for her.

Mrs. Coulter is the evil figure throughout the first 2/3 of the trilogy and Lyra wants nothing to do with her after finding out who she truly is. In the second book we see more of her as a strictly evil character pursuing Lyra with almost a hatred for the girl. We only see her love and devotion to the girl in The Amber Spyglass as she takes care of Lyra in the cave.

Lord Asirel starts off as a strong parental figure but quickly becomes another villain to Lyra after killing Roger. At the beginning of the third book he tells Mrs. Coulter that he doesn't care for Lyra at all. In the end we see them both sacrafice themselves not only for victory but to save Lyra from death.

They both have significant roles in her journey. They are both the reason why Lyra started on her journey and ended up where she did in the end. Her detest for them made her a stronger character.

Moving on to Will:
Will has learned to grow up fast and become a leader because of his sick mother and the lack of a father figure. He is a natural caretaker, which we see during his journey with Lyra and as he defends his mother against the men.

His father left Will when he was very young, much like Lyra's parents did to her. The absense of a parental figure in Will's life has made him a strong person both emotionally and physically. We see his strong emotional side when he thinks of his mother and breaks the subtle knife. He also brings this out during the end of the Amber Spyglass with his confession of love toward Lyra.

The parental theme seems to be a moving force for Will as it is for Lyra. He discovers another world because he killed a man to protect his mother and goes on his journey to find his father. He then continues his journey because of his father's words before being killed.

As the quote said, parents are not perfect and His Dark Materials shows that point to the extreme.

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