City of Bones Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

City of Bones Symbols, Allegory and Motifs


The name Pandemonium is the title of the first chapter and also the name of the club where Clary meets the Shadow hunters for the first time. The name Pandemonium was invented by John Milton and it appears for the first time in Paradise Lost. In Milton’s epic, Pandemonium is the name given to the capital of Hell. The term comes from Greek and it has been interpreted as the demon place. In The City of Bones, Pandemonium is the place were Clary realizes that the world she lives in is far more complicated that she believes and that there are things lurking in the shadows that is doesn’t understand. By entering Pandemonium, Clary begins her journey into a world filled with creatures that until then she believed as being only fairy tale characters.


Runes refer to the Old Norse alphabet used starting the second century in the Germanic countries. It was believed that they had a magical power and were used only by people who were believed to have magical powers. In the book, runes are used to protect people, heal and enhance natural abilities and were meant to be used only by a certain group of people. The same things apply to the runes in the book, which can be used only by Shadowhunters and if other people use them or receive them, they can die or are turned into a forsaken.

The Raven

The symbol of the raven appears in various instances in City of Bones. Hugin is Hodge’s raven and it used to belong to Valentine before he was forced to ran away and hide. In many ways, Hugin is a representation of Valentine. Ravens symbolize intelligence and wisdom and are often found in mythologies when talking about acquiring intelligence. Valentine is described as being extremely intelligent and charismatic, able to convince his peers to follow him and even worship him. He knows how to manipulate people to get what he wants and is an extremely skilled liar. Ravens are also often considered omens of death and bad luck. For the characters in the book, Valentine is the reincarnation of evil. He uses his power and his ability to manipulate in order to make the others what he wants. His intelligence rises above his emotions and he is driven by the promise of a greater goal rather than his love for his family. Valentine is cold and detached and thus feared by everyone. His name is a taboo in the Shadow World as it is linked with the pain he cause during the time he was the leader of the Circle. Even so, when characters talk about Valentine, a reference is always made to his intelligence and charisma implying that even if he was feared, he still remained an iconic figure in the Shadow World because of his convincing powers.


When referring to Downworlders, they are mentioned as being isolated and considered as being unsure and inferior to the Shadowunter race and the human race. Because the Downworlders are species created by mixing human blood and different types of demon blood, Shadowhunters will protect themselves and the human kind even if that was in the detriment of the Downworlders. Valentine’s view regarding the Downworlders is a radical one: he thinks that all Downwrolders are evil and thus should be killed, not accepted and protected. In his view, Downworlders represent a danger for the human kind and for the Shadowhunter race. We could say that Downworlders can be a symbol regarding the discriminated races in our modern world. Just like the Downworlders, they are often pushed away and isolated. Their death is sometimes seen as insignificant matters regarding discrimination are ignored because they are not seen as something valuable to the society they live in.


The name Morgenstern means falling star and makes reference to Valentine’s fall from grace. Valentine is in many ways a Lucifer that came down to earth. Lucifer managed to gather a group of followers that rebelled against the old ways and thus were cast away from Heaven. Lucifer was a good angel in the beginning but he was blinded by his own ideas and he continued to pursue them even after his fall from grace with the remaining followers. In the same way, Valentine started off as being a good person, keen on protecting the Shadow World and the human race. His ideas however, slowly started to shift and become radical. He managed to convince a group of Shadowhunters to follow him and he started to gather more power and influence. He slowly started to fall from grace and he ended up being an outcast. However, a loyal group of followers remained by his side and Valentine slowly started gathering power again.

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