The Night Circus Literary Elements

The Night Circus Literary Elements


A novel, fantasy

Setting and Context

Although the majority of the events take place in the 19th century London, the author doesn’t adhere to perfect historical accuracy . The story starts in 1873, in New York, when Prospero the Enchanter finds out that he has a daughter and there is no one to take care about her but him. When the man finds out that his daughter is also magically gifted, he makes up his mind to start a competition between his daughter and any other student of A. H. The setting changes constantly after that. The author also includes a reader in the story by addressing a reader from time to time. It is possible to assume that this story is an open-ended one, for it is said that the circus has been still functioning.

Narrator and Point of View

The story is told from the third point of view by an omniscient narrator

Tone and Mood

Both tone and mood vary. Tone changes from fascinating and mysterious to anxious and depressing to hopeful . Mood varies from gloomy to romantic and from desperate to peaceful

Protagonist and Antagonist

Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair are the protagonists of the story, while Hector Bowen and A.H. are the antagonists.

Major Conflict

There are two major conflicts. The first one is person vs. person, for neither Celia nor Marco joins the competition voluntarily. The decision is made for them and they have no opinion on it. Were they free to do what they want, they would definitely not compete. The second conflict is person vs. self. Celia’s story is the perfect example of it. Her commitment to the circus prevents her from doing what her heart wants and causes an inner conflict.


The moment, when Celia and Marco step into the bonfire is the climax of the story


When the narrator mentions that it is an unusual circus and describes it as a really mysterious place , she foreshadows the plot of the novel.


When he decides that she is too tall to be an adorable accessory, he begins abandoning her in dressing rooms or hotels.
Depicting such an inappropriate parental behavior, the narrator shows that Hector cares about Celia no more than he would care about a dog. The casual tone only enhances the effect of understatement.


The Tempest by William Shakespeare


The author uses imagery to the fullest in order to depict how different the Night Circus is. It is also used to portray emotions of the characters


But Hector Bowen still tours, in a manner of speaking, even if Prospero the Enchanter does not .
It is an example of paradox, for Hector Bowen was Prospero the Enchanter


People see what they want to see.
Repetition of the verb see is an example of parallelism

Metonymy and Synecdoche

It is the middle of the day and the circus sleeps quietly, but Celia Bowen stands in from of the Carousel, watching as black and white and silver creatures file past, suspended on coordinating ribbons .
The circus is an example of synecdoche, for it denotes people, who sleep in the tents.
Every eye in the crowded ballroom turns in their direction.
An eye is metonymy, which denotes attention.


The circus left him behind, sailing forth, and yet he cannot turn away from the shore.
As an inanimate object, the circus itself can’t leave anyone behind

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