The Golden Compass Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

The Golden Compass Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Dust (Symbols)

Dust represents the original sin of the bible, first created by Eve when she disobeyed God and ate from the Tree of Knowledge. It also symbolizes the loss of innocence children go through in puberty when they are recognized by the world as 'grown up', as it is said to gather around Daemons when they stop changing shape for good.

Lying (motif)

The action of lying to those around you, both for good and for bad, comes up again and again within the Golden Compass. Characters lie to and hide things from Lyra (and so the reader) in order to keep her safe or to stop her interference. An example of this is her mother and father posing as other people so that she does not know who her parents are. Lyra herself lies constantly in order to get out of or cause trouble.

The Golden Compass (Symbol)

The most memorable symbol within the story due to it being the name sake of the book. It itself is made up of small symbols each representing something different. With it Lyra is able to find her way, both literally on her quest, and metaphorically as she finds her way through the lies told around her with the compass knowledge.


Daemons are the physical representations of a human's soul in Lyra's world, each symbolizing the nature of their human in their own right. They are used both as symbols in order to foreshadow the nature of characters (such as the vicious golden monkey of Mrs Coulter), and as motifs, as they appear everywhere in Lyra's world and are central to the plot.

Travel and environment

The environments Lyra travels through are often an allegory for her mental journey. At the beginning of the journey she is stuck in a single place, within the confine of the church, only able to grow and explore while playing with the traveling children. The harsher part of the journey emotionally and physically is set in the North Pole, where she learns the truth about her family and must suffer the harsh climate and threatening wild life.

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