Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl Essay Questions

  1. 1

    Technology is an important theme that extends throughout the book. Analyze two different characters' relationships with technology. Are they different, or the same? Why or why not? What does this tell us about the rest of the characters' personality? Does it tell us anything, if at all, about technology?

    Artemis is very skilled at using human technology and is able to use it in innovative ways. Similarly, Foaly is a genius when it comes to fairy technology and has designed almost all of the LEP's technology. Both of these characters are geniuses in their own right; however, Artemis uses technology for criminal enterprises while Foaly is solidly on the right side of the law. Throughout the novel, the ways in which Artemis and Foaly use technology clash with each other, as each character tries to outsmart the other. For example, Artemis is able to outfit the security cameras in his house to see fairies even when they are using their shields. However, he does not realize that Foaly has fed those same security cameras a loop, which allows Mulch Diggums to break into his house. In the end, we learn that the technology each character uses is only as powerful or innovative as the characters themselves. Artemis is able to defeat Foaly's blue rinse not by using technology; he, Butler, and Juliet simply fall asleep.

  2. 2

    Holly does not let her gender come in the way of completing her duties as an LEP officer. Despite this, there are several moments when her gender complicates her life or changes the situation she is in. Give one example of one of those moments. How does gender work in this scene? Does it serve to help Holly, or does it put her life in danger? Who is paying attention to gender—Holly herself, or someone else?

    One instance where Holly's gender comes into play is when Artemis and Butler first kidnap her in the moonlit field. Artemis is caught off guard at the look on Holly's face when Butler hits her with the tranquilizer dart: "Artemis saw the pain in the creature's eyes as the hollow hypodermic plunged into her body. And for a moment he experienced misgivings. A female. He hand't expected that. A female, like Juliet, or Mother. Then the moment passed and he was himself again" (75). In this scene, Holly's gender surprises Artemis. He had been expecting a male adversary, not a female one. It causes him a twinge of guilt, as he can see the similarity between Holly and two people that he cares deeply about, Juliet and his mother. Nevertheless, he suppresses these feelings and continues with his evil plot.

  3. 3

    Throughout Artemis Fowl, the humans fight with the fairies. In general, it is assumed that the humans (led by the incorrigible Artemis Fowl) are the "bad guys" and the fairies are the "good guys." How does this idea become complicated over the course of the novel? Are there more similarities between humans and fairies than either side would like to admit?

    Humans are reviled by the fairy race because of their abuse of nature and animals. Before the novel even starts, they are already seen as a hostile threat; the People are forced to live underground as a result of the Mud People's complete domination of the surface of the earth. When Artemis Fowl kidnaps Holly Short, all of these tensions come to a head: it is up to the LEP Recon unit to stop Artemis and try to save her life. Artemis is very clearly the "bad guy" in this situation, but there are several details in the story that complicate this categorization. First, as the reader gets to know Artemis, they begin to understand his motivation for doing evil things. Second, there are "good guys" and "bad guys" on either side of the conflict—Juliet Butler is seen as a "good guy" throughout the text, while Lieutenant Cudgeon is very quickly revealed to be a "bad guy." Finally, there are often parallels between the humans and the fairies in Artemis Fowl—they have the same behavior when under pressure, and they often disparage the same things. For example, Commander Root is filled with disgust when aboard the whaling ship, and Artemis feels satisfaction when the whaling ship has exploded.

  4. 4

    Name two characters who are foils or mirrors of each other within Artemis Fowl. In what ways are these characters similar? In what ways do they differ?

    Mulch Diggums is a mirror of Artemis Fowl. On the surface, they could not be any more different: Artemis is a wealthy young human boy from Dublin, Ireland, while Mulch is a middle-aged (meaning centuries-old) dwarf who lives with the rest of the fairy race underground. However, their personalities are quite similar. Like Artemis, Mulch has devoted himself to criminal activity and has a dubious moral code. Similarly, both characters place more importance on individual success over the collective gain of their people. For example, when Holly warns Artemis that bringing together the fairy and human worlds would mean destruction for both races, Artemis tellingly responds, "'I am not concerned with us all, just myself'" (115). Mulch expresses a very similar sentiment to Root when the commander is recruiting him. Root asks him if he cares about the wellbeing of the fairy race, and Mulch responds that he doesn't because no matter the outcome his circumstances would not change: "'Fairy prison, human prison. It's all the same to me'" (164).

  5. 5

    In the final moments of the novel, it is revealed that Artemis asked Holly to save his mother. Many readers see this as an indication that Artemis is, in fact, a good person. Others, like the novel's narrator, are not so sure. In the Epilogue, the narrator tells us: "There is a tendency to romanticize Artemis. To attribute to him qualities that he does not possess. The fact that he used his wish to heal his mother is not a sign of affection. He did it simply because the Social Services were already investigating his case, and it was only a matter of time before he was put into care." What do you think about this final decision? Do you think it was a sign of affection, or, like the narrator, do you simply think it was a cold and calculating move? Use evidence from the novel to back up your decision.

    The fact that Artemis saved his mother is a sign of affection despite the fact that the narrator believes otherwise. Throughout the novel, we see how much Artemis's mother's mental state hurts Artemis and it is clear to any reader that he cares about her deeply. For example, when Artemis finds his delusional mother speaking to a pillow which she believes is Artemis Sr., he has to control his powerful emotional response: "Artemis choked back a sob, his hopes vanishing like a summer rainbow," (113). In this way, despite the fact that the narrator would have us believe that Artemis is purely a cold and calculating individual, he is in fact capable of empathy and love.