Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl Literary Elements



Setting and Context

The story begins in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam at the beginning of the 21st Century. The majority of the rest of the novel is set at the Fowl Manor, just outside Dublin, Ireland, over the course of a single night.

Narrator and Point of View

The novel is written from the perspective of an omniscient third-person narrator. The prologue and the epilogue are written by Dr. J. Argon, who has compiled the contents of the novel for the LEP Academy files.

Tone and Mood

The tone throughout most of the novel is humorous. The mood is serious and suspenseful.

Protagonist and Antagonist

The two protagonists of the novel are Artemis Fowl and Holly Short. However, Artemis also becomes an antagonist as the novel progresses and he kidnaps Holly.

Major Conflict

There are several major conflicts throughout the novel.

The first is Technology vs Nature. The fairy race hates humanity for the ways that it has harmed mother nature as a result of industrialization and human greed.

The second is humans vs fairies. These two groups exist in an antagonistic relation to each other. This conflict is heightened when Artemis discovers the fairy Book and uses it to trick the fairies out of a large sum of gold.

The third conflict is good vs evil. Many characters throughout the novel are not necessarily "good" or "evil," though there are larger evil forces at work (such as greed and destruction of the environment).


The climax of the novel occurs in Chapter 9, when Cudgeon replaces Root as acting commander of the mission to save Holly and releases a troll in Fowl Manor. At this moment, all bets are off, and Holly punches Artemis in the face. She then risks her life to save Butler and Juliet, who would have otherwise been killed by the troll. It is a moment of chaos where Artemis loses his upper hand.


There are two notable examples of foreshadowing in Artemis Fowl. The first occurs near the beginning of the novel, when Holly sets out to do some recon on the escaped troll: "Root was right to be nervous. if he'd known how this straightforward Recon assignment was going to turn out, he would probably have retired then and there. Tonight, history was going to be made. And it wasn't the discovery-of-radium, first-man-on-the-moon, happy kind of history. It was the Spanish Inquisition, here comes the Hindenburg, bad kind of history. Bad for humans and fairies. Bad for everyone" (40). In this moment, readers are notified that the story will quickly spin out of control to disastrous effects, though they don't know exactly how that will happen.

The second moment of foreshadowing occurs when Artemis and Holly converse with each other for the first time. Holly tries to intimidate Artemis: "'Oh really. Tell me, boy, have you ever met a troll?' For the first time, the human's confidence dropped a notch. 'No, never a troll.' Holly showed more teeth. 'You will, Fowl. You will. And I hope I'm there to see it'" (119). Little does Holly know that Cudgeon will soon be releasing a troll within Fowl manor and she will have to fight it all over again. However, it foreshadows this moment, which is also the moment when Artemis realizes that he is not in complete control.


There is one example of understatement in the novel. This occurs when Artemis sends Butler out to meet the first wave of LEP officers outside of Fowl Manor. In reference to the officers, Artemis tells Butler: "'I prefer scared to dead. If possible,'" (127). In response, Butler simply nods. This is an example of understatement because Artemis is implying to Butler that it is okay for Butler to kill the LEP agents if necessary. However, this does not need to be said aloud, because Butler understands the implication behind Artemis's words.


While Holly flies over Europe, there are several allusions to Celtic mythology (pages 67-9). Go to the "Quotes and Analysis" section of this guide for an explanation of each of the allusions in this passage.


There are many evocative examples of imagery throughout Artemis Fowl. Because Colfer is building a world that has many mythical creatures that we have never before seen, he goes to great lengths to describe their appearances and mannerisms to us. Often, this includes imagery. One example of such imagery is the following description of LEP Retrieval One: "Retrieval One crept together, making slightly less noise than a silk spider" (129). In this passage, Colfer uses the sense of hearing to describe the sound that these highly-trained officers make when they are on the job. Though perhaps we have never heard a silk spider move in real life, it is easy to understand that this is a soft and delicate sound. This passage also contains alliteration, meaning that there is repetition of the "s" sounds in "slightly," "silk," and "spider." In this way, the passage itself models the soft, slithering noise of Retrieval One as they inch towards Fowl Manor.



Metonymy and Synecdoche


As Artemis works to translate the Book, his computer is personified: "The computer hummed and whirred, converting all the information to binary. Several times it stopped to ask for confirmation of a character or symbol. This happened less and less as the machine learned the new language" (27).