Friday, May 14, 2021

Northen Lights

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A Specialist Study of the character of "Lyra" and how she develops in the novel "Northern Lights" by Philip Pullman.

Colin Campbell.

I have recently enjoyed studying a novel by Philip Pullman entitled "Northern Lights". I was particularly interested in the characterisation of the main character, Lyra, and how she develops throughout the course of the novel. I found her at first to be naive and headstrong, but as her character develops she learns more about how the world works. There is one thing in her, which I feel does not develop. This is her courage. I feel that she is consistently courageous to the extent of the plot.

When the reader is first introduced to Lyra, her background story is told.

Cheap University Papers on Northen Lights

"She (Lyra) was proud of her College's eminence, and liked to boast of it to the various ragamuffins she played with by the Canal or the Claybeds."

Jordan College adopted Lyra, when she was very young, as her mother and father had died. She likes to think of it as "her college" and is very proud of it. However, she is not educated at the college and therefore has a lot of spare time, which she uses to play with streetchildren. This shows her character to be of a young, naïve and mischievous nature.

"In many ways Lyra was a barbarian. What she liked best was clambering over the College roofs with Roger, the kitchen boy, who was her particular friend."

This backs up previous comments about her character's childishness and mischievous nature. It also elaborates on her exact friendships i.e. out of her many and "various" friends she has chosen one who is her "particular" friend. This quotation (and its context) also shows that she can form strong friendships. Another aspect of her character covered by this quotation is her apparent courage or perhaps lack of fear as she crawls around the high rooftops of the College. Either this or inversely she is just childlike and does not realise the possible consequences of her actions. Interesting vocabulary in this quotation includes "clambering" which suggest to me the impression of a child's un-deliberate movement, "particular friend" use of this suggests to me a possible foreshadow in the relationship between these two characters.

Further on in the text, Lyra runs away from a woman who has captured her and is on the street at night.

"Going to meet my father."

"And who's he?"

"He's a murderer."

"He's what?"

"I told you, he's a murderer. It's his profession. He's doing a job tonight. I got his clean clothes in here, 'cause he's usually all covered in blood when he's finished a job."

"Ah! You're joking."

"I en't…"

"Good night," she said. "I can see my father coming now. He looks a bit angry.

She runs into trouble in the form of a dodgy looking old man who is trying to encourage her to drink some of his brandy. She promptly lies and makes up a story about her father so that the old man leaves her alone. This shows that the man did not fool her and her character has grown from being naïve to being sensible and no longer childlike. It also displays her newfound talent for lying. In this quotation she is also using informal language, trying to fit in to her surroundings, another interesting character trait.

"You've done your part Lyra."

"But I e'nt done nothing yet!" Lyra protested, as she followed the others.

This quotation is taken from a part of the text where Lyra is joined with a people called "The Gyptians". She is convincing them to go North with her to try and find out where all the children have been taken and also where her Uncle Asriel is. The Gytians are trying to tell her that she should not come, as it would be too dangerous for her. However, she rebels and ends up forcing her way with them. This shows her stubbornness and again her apparent courage or lack of fear.

Near the climax of the story, Lyra is in sort of a prison camp for children in the Artic, but the government does not run it. Lyra is trying to find out who would run such an awful place, so she spies on a meeting from the air duct above the room.

"Lyra was trembling. The blood was pounding in her ears"

She is listening in on the conversation of the heads of the facility. She hears blood-curdling things of what they do to children. This shows that she has no lack of fear but that she can control her fear. She is courageous. She is heard in the air duct and captured by her enemy. This is the climax of the story when she promptly escapes from them again.

"A moment later she had turned on all the gas taps and flung a match at the nearest burner. Then she dragged a bag of flour from the shelf and hurled it at the edge of a table so it burst and filled the air with white, because she had heard that flour will explode if treated like that near a flame."

This is Lyra destroying a building as a distraction to escape from her enemy. It shows great creativity and a benefit of her "patchwork" upbringing. In this quotation I feel that the use of the word "white" is very skilled as it allows the reader to picture exactly what her actions are, at a part of the story where, I feel, things are moving so fast that it is hard to keep up.

From my study of the characterisation of Lyra, I have concluded that, throughout the course of this novel, she matures significantly as a person. Her initial character traits were naivet, being headstrong, being childlike and courage. These are now replaced (only courage is the same) by traits such as maturity, courage and sensibility. I think that the author has employed great skill and achieved a great goal in the creation of Lyra.

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