Author Archives: blarkin

Angels and Daemons

In the novel “The Golden Compass” humans hold a strong emotional and physical bond between some sort of animal called a daemon.  In the novel these daemons are said to act like a person’s manifestation of a soul and reveal character traits as well as emotions they currently experience.  Coincidentally, there is a point where the daemon “settles” on an animal form that most resembles that of the person.  In some instances they can be like a conscience and provide a voice of reason on the subject at hand. Unlike our own souls these daemons are external and can provide different feelings through their own experiences such as when Lyra’s daemon, Pan, swims with dolphins and brightens her mood through its own joy.

Not only can a person feel the daemon’s emotions but its pain as well.  On multiple instances Lyra’s daemon is attacked and she feels every scrape and bruise that her daemon does and vice versa.  Although he daemons are external they cannot stray far from their hosts.  The novel mentions how children will test the “pull” of the bond between daemon’s and people to see how far apart they can bear to be without one another.  Both parties experience significant pain in the chest area as if their heart is being ripped from their torso.  The bond between the two is so strong that the permanent separation will result in death.

As mentioned before, the daemons will take on a permanent animal form that most resembles their person’s character traits. this most likely symbolizes an actual soul which is envisioned to become lighter or darker with each decision made during a person’s lifetime.  The daemon also tends to take the form of what the person will be like in the future as well.  For instance all servants have dogs as their daemon but depending on the hierarchy in the world, each daemon will take on the shape of what is most relevant to that person.

Home Sweet Home

In the novel titled “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien, the main character, Bilbo Baggins, seems to often get a little homesick as he is out on his adventure with the dwarves and Gandalf.  As hobbits are not explained by Tolkien to not be the adventurous type it is only natural that Bilbo would constantly wish he were in the safety and comfort of his own home, rather than encountering the dangers he faces along his travels in the novel.  As the story progresses there appears to be a pattern as to when and why Bilbo reminisces about his cozy little house in the hill.

At the start of the adventure, Bilbo is quite content with how the easy the journey appears to be.  He enjoys the nice ride on the back of a pony through the nice, warm summer weather.  But all good things must come to an end and soon Bilbo and his companions experience some unpleasant weather.  This begins Bilbo’s desires to be back in his home by the fireplace with the tea kettle coming to a boil.  Bilbo constantly refers back to his hobbit-hole whenever he experiences an unfortunate circumstance.  Not only does he wish to be back home, but he thinks about what would make him feel the most comfortable.  When it was raining he thought of his fire and tea, when he was tired he reminisced about his comfortable chair, and when he was hungry he envisioned his many pantries stuffed with food.

These reminders of his home serve as motivation for Bilbo to survive.  He is not interested in the gold, he just wants to return to his hobbit-hole in one piece.  That is rewarding enough for him.  The memories of his house and comfortable old life keep him moving forward in his adventure with the dwarves and Gandalf.

Bilbo Baggins is just like any other normal person who would much rather be in the safety of their own home than to be put under the excruciating tasks he is faced with on his journey.  But it is only during these difficult incidents that he finds himself wishing to be back in his little home in the hill. If he had wished he were home every second of the adventure, then he more than likely would have abandoned the dwarves and Gandalf as soon as he could.  That would obviously not have made for a very good story.


You Win Some, You Lose Some

In Hans Christian Andersen’s account of “The Little Mermaid”, there can be multiple interpretations of a happy ending.  Sure the little mermaid dies and is unable to win over the Prince but she is still given the opportunity to earn an immortal soul, which was her ultimate quest.  One out of two isn’t too bad.  In baseball that’s a pretty good day.

Although it is unfortunate that she couldn’t get exactly what she wanted, it provides a lesson for children, who were the most likely intended audience for the story.  This lesson would be something a long the lines of: You can’t always get what you want.  Or that life is full of disappointments.

Just because the little mermaid didn’t receive her happy ending, it doesn’t mean no one else did.  The Prince seemed pretty happy about finding the girl he believed to have saved his life.  He even expresses his joy with the quote “Oh I’m too, too happy” (page 230) upon meeting her again.  Besides, the Prince was completely in love with this girl despite not even knowing her, and only cared for the little mermaid because she reminded him of her.  So would the little mermaid really have been content knowing she was his second choice as a wife despite the fact that she completely adored him?  That could have been possibly problematic.  As mentioned before he only loved her “…as one loves a dear, good child.” (page 228)

Ultimately the little mermaid seemed to accept her fate since she cared more for the prince than she did herself.  She had the opportunity to kill him to save herself but chose not to.  This was a wise decision on her part because then neither of them would have had a happy ending.  Since he was happy, she too was happy.  She shows her joy on page 232 as she floats towards the sky.  “Unseen, she kissed the forehead of the bride, gave a smile to the Prince, and then with the other children…”

In a way the little mermaid did receive her own happy ending.  She was able to spend time with the Prince and live amongst the humans and was able to find a way to receive an immortal soul.