Pan's Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth Essay Questions

  1. 1

    How does Ofelia manage to return to the underworld?

    The faun tells Ofelia that she must spill some of her baby brother's blood in order to gain entrance to the underworld, but she refuses, and is promptly killed by a bullet from Vidal's gun. However, her blood spills into the labyrinth, and she is enough of an innocent that it gains her access to the underworld once more. While the mortals on earth, like Mercedes, mourn the girl's death, the viewer sees that she is returned to her rightful place on the throne of the mythical underworld.

  2. 2

    Why does the faun give up on Ofelia halfway through her journey?

    Ofelia tells the faun that she made a mistake while she was in the lair of the Pale Man. By accident, she went against the magic book's orders and ate some of the food on the nearby banquet table. She thought no one would notice, but the faun is furious and tells the young girl that it has completely compromised her ability to finish the tasks and return to the underworld.

  3. 3

    What does Vidal's watch symbolize?

    Vidal's watch symbolizes his obsession with order and tidiness, which is an extension of his fascist political affiliations. He is less interested in the well-being of other people than he is in the upholding of order and obedience. We also learn that Vidal's father had a pocket watch that he smashed at the moment of his death so that his son would know the exact moment that he died. Thus, Vidal's watch also represents his connection with his father, and the fact that his philosophy was passed down to him.

  4. 4

    What is ironic about Carmen's death?

    Carmen dies after she finds the magical mandrake root under her bed and throws it into the fire. As she does, she tells Ofelia that she has to stop believing in fairy tales and face the realities of life. She sees the mandrake root as a symbol of her daughter's alienation from reality. The irony, then, is the fact that the mandrake root was actually keeping her alive. By throwing it into the fire and dismissing it as nothing more than nonsense, Carmen ensures her own death.

  5. 5

    What are the two conflicts in the film?

    The main conflict is the question of Ofelia's escape from her horrible life living with Vidal. Part of this conflict is the fact that Vidal is trying to kill guerrilla rebels who are hiding in the forest and has particularly ruthless and evil methods. The second conflict is Ofelia's attempt to complete the task in the faun's book, which will allow her to escape from her life and rejoin her royal family in the underworld.