Coraline Literary Elements



Setting and Context

Coraline Jones and her parents move into a new flat, where she finds a strange door that goes nowhere. A curious and determined child, she makes up her mind to discover what is beyond the door. The story is set in the apartment and in the "other world" beyond the door.

Narrator and Point of View

The story has a third-person narrator and follows Coraline's perspective.

Tone and Mood

The narrator’s tone is direct and sharp. The mood is ominous.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Coraline Jones is the protagonist of the story. The antagonist is the "other mother," also known as the beldam.

Major Conflict

Coraline must find a way to free her parents, the souls of the three ghost children, and herself from the beldam's other world.


The climax of the story occurs when the cat attacks the other mother and Coraline steals the snow globe from the mantelpiece. She quickly closes the door, thus solidifying her victory against the beldam.


Miss Forcible and Miss Spink read the tea leaves at the bottom of Coraline's cup. They discover that she is in grave danger.


“I don’t really mind what you do,” said Coraline’s mother, “as long as you don’t make a mess.” This is an understatement, as Coraline's parents clearly care that their daughter remains safe and healthy. This is also ironic, as Coraline ends up getting herself into a bigger mess than she ever intended to.


The story alludes to The Chronicles of Narnia and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.


The dream sequence is riddled with visual imagery. In addition, the smell of "old tobacco and wine" that is prevalent when she descends into the corridor exemplifies olfactory imagery.



When Miss Forcible and Miss Spink act in their home theater in the otherworld, their performance parallels their eccentricity in the real world.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

An example of synecdoche is evident when Coraline discusses how the other mother exerts control. She explains that "she uses [the mice] as her eyes and hands…" In this example, "eyes" and "hands" signify help/assistance.

An example of metonymy is when the other mother tells Coraline that she has her heart.


An example of personification is the cat. It possesses human qualities, including sarcasm and emotion.