Sophie’s World


Jostein Gaarder

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on Sophie’s World makes teaching easy.

Sophie’s World Characters

Sophie Amundsen

The titular character and protagonist of Sophie’s World, Sophie Amundsen is a young teenager about to celebrate her 15th birthday. Sophie is a lonely girl, and with the exception of Joanna Ingebritsen, she… read analysis of Sophie Amundsen

Hilde Møller Knag

The other protagonist of Sophie’s World, Hilde Møller Knag is a teenaged girl—the same age as Sophie—who, we learn, is reading Sophie’s story in installments sent by her father, Albert Knag. Hilde… read analysis of Hilde Møller Knag

Alberto Knox

Alberto Knox is Sophie Amundsen’s friend, teacher, and—when they realize they’re fictional characters in Albert Knag’s novel—partner in escape. Alberto is an immensely intelligent, well-educated person, who has no trouble rattling off obscure… read analysis of Alberto Knox

Albert Knag / The Major

Hilde Møller Knag’s father Albert Knag is an intelligent, quick-witted man, who understands the importance of teaching his daughter the history of Western philosophy. Even during the course of his work for the United… read analysis of Albert Knag / The Major

Dad / Sophie’s Father

Sophie’s Dad is a mysterious, elusive character who never appears in the novel. We’re told that he is the captain of an oil tanker, and is often at sea. In the second half of… read analysis of Dad / Sophie’s Father
Get the entire Sophie’s World LitChart as a printable PDF.
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Mom / Sophie’s mother / Helene Amundsen

Sophie Amundsen’s Mom is a pleasant but slightly dull woman, who shares none of her daughter’s interest in philosophy or reason. In a sense, Mom isn’t a character so much as a warning sign… read analysis of Mom / Sophie’s mother / Helene Amundsen

Hilde’s mother

Hilde’s mother is a confusing character. She only interacts with Hilde a few times in the text—for the most part, Hilde is too busy reading Sophie’s World to spend time with her mother. Since we… read analysis of Hilde’s mother
Minor Characters
Joanna Ingebritsen
Sophie Amundsen’s best friend, who shares some of her curiosity, if not her interest in philosophy.
Sophie Amundsen’s grandmother.
Sophie Amundsen’s cat.
A classmate of Sophie Amundsen.
A classmate of Sophie Amundsen.
The Labrador retriever who delivers messages from Alberto Knox to Sophie Amundsen.
A family friend of Hilde Møller Knag, who lives in Copenhagen.
A family friend of Hilde Møller Knag, who lives in Copenhagen.
An ancient Greek philosopher who believed the world was made of water.
Ancient Greek philosopher who believed that the world was made of one unknowable substance.
Ancient Greek philosopher who believed the world was made of air.
Foundational Greek philosopher who introduced ontology (the study of the nature of being) and rationalism into Western thought.
Ancient Greek philosopher who believed the world was in a constant state of change.
Ancient Greek philosopher who believed the world was made of earth, air, fire, and water.
Ancient Greek philosopher who believed the world was made of tiny, intermingling parts.
Ancient Greek philosopher who believed the world was made of small indivisible units called atoms.
Ancient Greek philosopher whose student, Plato, transcribed his teachings in the Platonic dialogues. Socrates was known for declaring his own ignorance, and for questioning others to draw out their innate wisdom.
Ancient Greek philosopher whose Platonic dialogues raised important questions of ontology (the nature of being), epistemology (the nature of knowledge), ethics, and politics, and arguably remain the key works of Western philosophy.
Ancient Greek philosopher who made major contributions to logic, ethics, literary criticism, ontology, and many other philosophical areas.
Neo-Platonic philosopher who celebrated the mystical side of the intellect.
Saint Augustine
Important Christian thinker credited with merging Greek philosophy with Christianity.
Saint Thomas Aquinas
Scholastic Christian philosopher celebrated for his analysis of Christian thought using the works of Aristotle and Plato.
Hildegard of Bingen
Medieval mystic, philosopher, and Christian scholar.
Rene Descartes
Important rationalist philosopher who used systematic doubt to analyze the world in terms of mind and perception.
Baruch Spinoza
Important rationalist philosopher who challenged conventional definitions of free will by arguing that the material world and the world of ideas are just two sides of the same coin, and both are reflections of God.
John Locke
English philosopher whose theories of liberty paved the way for the American Revolution, and who also argued that the mind is a “blank slate” that gradually acquires experiences and ideas over a lifetime.
David Hume
Important Enlightenment figure who was interested in empiricism—the doctrine that the world can only be understood through careful observation and personal experience—and acted as a “janitor” for Christian and rationalist thought of the late Middle Ages.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Enlightenment philosopher who critiqued civilization and popularized (but did not invent) the idea of the “noble savage.”
Olympe de Gouges
Early French feminist and abolitionist writer who was executed following the French Revolution.
George Berkeley
Scottish philosopher who built off of Hume’s empiricism to study the mind’s perception of the world.
Immanuel Kant
Important Enlightenment philosopher who proposed that the mind perceives the external world through a series of pre-determined categories, such as space and time.
Enlightenment philosopher who defended the governmental balance of powers.
Enlightenment philosopher who defended freedom of speech.
German Romantic philosopher.
George F.W. Hegel
Important German Romantic philosopher who popularized dialectical reasoning and proposed that human history progresses to a state of unity called the World Spirit.
Søren Kierkegaard
Important 19th century Danish philosopher who paved the way for Existentialism by disavowing the kinds of universal truths proposed by Hegel.
Karl Marx
19th century German thinker who popularized dialectical materialism—the analysis of history and culture in concrete, economic terms—paving the way for Communist revolutions in Russia and China.
Charles Darwin
19th century English biologist who developed the theory of evolution and natural selection, which explains the origin and growth of species.
Sigmund Freud
Viennese doctor and the founder of psychoanalysis, the study of the unconscious mind.
Friedrich Nietzsche
19th century German Romantic philosopher who criticized Christianity and the Christian forms of morality.
John Rawls
Political philosopher whose thought experiment about the formation of a perfect society is mentioned at several points in Sophie’s World.
Jean-Paul Sartre
20th century Existentialist and the lifelong companion of Simone de Beauvoir. He criticized prior European philosophy on the grounds that it presupposed a human “essence” and neglected the basic facts of existence.
Simone de Beauvoir
20th century Existentialist and companion of Jean-Paul Sartre. She criticized the supposed differences between the sexes on the grounds that they wrongly presupposed a feminine “essence.”
Albert Camus
20th century Absurdist author who was influenced by Jean-Paul Sartre.
Ancient Greek epic poet.
Ancient Greek historian.
Ancient Greek historian.
Ancient Greek physician.
Alexander the Great
Ancient Greek conqueror and dictator.
Jesus Christ
The founder and central focus of Christianity.
Important Christian thinker and spokesperson who, after the death of Jesus Christ, popularized the doctrine of Christ’s divinity, original sin, and conversion.
Nicolas Copernicus
Early modern astronomer who proposed that the Earth revolves around the Sun.
Martin Luther
Religious and political leader of the early Renaissance who launched the Protestant Reformation by challenging the authority of the Catholic Church.
Galileo Galilei
Italian scientist who popularized experimentation and observation in science, paving the way for Sir Isaac Newton.
Sir Isaac Newton
English scientist and mathematician who paved the way for Deism by showing that the universe is governed by a set of unbreakable, universal laws of motion.
William Shakespeare
Famous playwright who bridged the gap between the Renaissance and Baroque eras.
Brutal leader of France following the French Revolution of 1789.
Louis XVI
King of France during the French Revolution.
Lord Byron
A famous English Romantic poet.
A Romantic writer who died young. Heloved a girl named Sophie, who died shortly after turning 15.
Thomas Malthus
English thinker whose population studies influenced Charles Darwin.
Brothers Grimm
19th century German philologists who compiled German folklore into a series of stories.
Hans Christian Andersen
19th century scholar who compiled Scandinavian folklore.
Friedrich Engels
The intellectual partner of Karl Marx.
German polymath and the author of Faust, one of the greatest German works of literature.
Thomas Hardy
English poet and author who was influenced by Charles Darwin.
Josef Stalin
Dictator of the Soviet Union.
Vladimir Lenin
Early dictator of the Soviet Union and important leader of the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Samuel Beckett
A 20th century author who was influenced by Jean-Paul Sartre.
An ancient Greek mythological character and symbol of the inevitability of fate.
Ebenezer Scrooge
The miserly protagonist of the novel A Christmas Carol.
The Match Girl
A character from a popular fairy tale of the 19th century.
The protagonist of Lewis Carroll’sAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
The protagonist of one of the tales of the Arabian Nights.
Little Red Riding Hood
A fairy tale character who tries to escape a wolf.
The Emperor
A fairy tale character whose subjects are too intimidated to tell him that he’s naked.
A magical goose from the book The Adventures of Nils.
An adventurous boy from the book The Adventures of Nils.
The ancient Norse god of thunder.
The ancient Norse king of the gods.
Ancient Greek god of the sun.
Ancient Norse goddess of the sun.
Sherlock Holmes
The fictional detective from the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Mickey Mouse
A Disney cartoon character.
Donald Duck
A Disney cartoon character.
Winnie the Pooh
A fictional children’s character.
Peter Pan
A fictional children’s character created by author J. M. Barrie.
The first human being, according to the Bible.
The second human being and first woman, according to the Bible.
Biblical figure who saves mankind from the Great Flood.