Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
The Golden Compass: Introduction
The Golden Compass: Plot Summary
The Golden Compass: Detailed Summary & Analysis
The Golden Compass: Themes
The Golden Compass: Quotes
The Golden Compass: Characters
The Golden Compass: Terms
The Golden Compass: Symbols
The Golden Compass: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Philip Pullman
Historical Context of The Golden Compass
Other Books Related to The Golden Compass
- Full Title: The Golden Compass
- When Written: 1993-1994
- Where Written: Oxford, England
- When Published: 1995
- Literary Period: Contemporary
- Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
- Setting: Europe in a parallel universe
- Climax: Lord Asriel sacrifices Roger
- Antagonist: There are a number of antagonists, most of whom are aligned with the Magisterium (the church) and/or the "child cutters."
- Point of View: Third person omniscient
Extra Credit for The Golden Compass
Too Much of a Good Thing. Lyra's fascination with the fact that people can't consume polar bear livers isn't a fact that's only true in her fictional world, as polar bear livers contain an amount of vitamin A that's poisonous for humans (this is also true for a number of Arctic predators, like bearded seals and arctic foxes). The real-life early polar explorers who ate polar bear livers died horrific deaths: their skin peeled off, they fell into comas, and they died within a few days.
Long Live the Library. As one of his many causes, Pullman got involved with a campaign to push back on a 2011 attempt to close 600 libraries across England. In addition to calling books the second-most important piece of technology after the wheel, he also stated that keeping libraries open and books accessible are essential weapons in the "war against stupidity."