The Golden Compass

by

Philip Pullman

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Golden Compass can help.

The Golden Compass Characters

Lyra

The 11-year-old protagonist of the novel. Lyra is skinny, blond, and scrappy. She detests being clean and wants only to run wild with her friends at Jordan College and in Oxford. While her dæmonread analysis of Lyra

Mrs. Coulter

The primary antagonist of the novel. It's never stated how old Mrs. Coulter is, but she looks young and is extremely beautiful, with pale skin and dark hair. Her dæmon, a golden monkeyread analysis of Mrs. Coulter

Iorek Byrnison

A panserbjørne (armored bear) from Svalbard who was once a prince. Years before the start of the novel, Iorek wrongfully killed another bear in a suspicious incident, and as punishment was banished and had his… read analysis of Iorek Byrnison

Pan

Lyra's dæmon; his full name is Pantalaimon. Though he can still change his form since Lyra hasn't yet reached puberty, Pan spends much of his time as an ermine or wildcat—or, when he… read analysis of Pan

Lord Asriel

Lyra initially believes that Lord Asriel is her uncle—in reality, he's her father. A tall, imposing, and wild-looking man, Lord Asriel was once a very powerful and well-connected person in politics. He lost everything, however… read analysis of Lord Asriel
Get the entire The Golden Compass LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Golden Compass PDF

Lee Scoresby

A balloonist from Texas whom John Faa hires in Trollesund. He's a lean and scrappy man with a similarly scrappy hare dæmon. He has, in the past, sold his ballooning services and fought in… read analysis of Lee Scoresby

Roger

Lyra's best friend; he and his family work in the kitchens at Jordan College, but he spends most of his time playing with Lyra. He's utterly devoted to her, though he's a far more… read analysis of Roger

Farder Coram

A wise, old gyptian man. While his mind is still very sharp, Farder Coram's body is failing him. He trembles and walks with two canes. The beauty and health of his cat dæmon, Sophonaxread analysis of Farder Coram

Serafina Pekkala

A beautiful witch who, 40 years prior to the start of the novel, fell in love and had a child with Farder Coram. They met when he saved her from an attack by a… read analysis of Serafina Pekkala

John Faa

The king of the gyptians. John Faa is a huge and imposing man, but Lyra discovers quickly that he's very warm and kind. His sense of morality is finely-tuned; he shames gyptians who suggest… read analysis of John Faa

Iofur Raknison

The illegitimate king of the bears. Iofur is even bigger than Iorek, and desperately wants to be a human. This desire (and his related discomfort with his identity as a bear) means that he's… read analysis of Iofur Raknison

Tony Makarios

The novel's tragic poster child for the horrors of intercision. A poor boy from Oxford, Mrs. Coulter draws him in by promising him hot chocolate. He was selected for intercision after being caught experimenting sexually… read analysis of Tony Makarios

The Master

The head of Jordan College. He's an old man in his 70s with a raven dæmon. The Master is kind and protective of Lyra, though Lyra struggles to see how true this is… read analysis of The Master

Dr. Grumman

A scientist who, 18 months before the start of the novel, took an expedition to the North to presumably study Dust and, Lord Asriel believes, the city that's visible through the Aurora. Things went wrong… read analysis of Dr. Grumman

Ma Costa

Billy and Tony Costa's mother. She's a large and imposing woman known for both walloping naughty children and giving them sweets. Lyra has a healthy fear of Ma Costa—the summer before the novel begins… read analysis of Ma Costa

Kaisa

Serafina Pekkala's gray goose dæmon. Witches' dæmons can travel far from their humans, which gives Lyra quite a shock the first time she sees Kaisa. Like Serafina Pekkala, Kaisa is extremely wise. He… read analysis of Kaisa

The Gobblers

The name that laypeople assign to the mysterious entity that steals poor and gyptian children. Among laypeople, the Gobblers are thought of as an urban legend, if a terrifying and real one, and parents use… read analysis of The Gobblers

The Palmerian Professor

A professor at Jordan College whose area of expertise seems to be the North. Jotham Santelia, the scholar held by the bears at Svalbard, suggests that the Palmerian Professor is a self-important upstart who… read analysis of The Palmerian Professor

The Golden Monkey

Mrs. Coulter's dæmon; a small golden-colored monkey with luxurious fur. The narrator never gives the monkey's name. Unlike most dæmons, the monkey seems to be able to stray from Mrs. Coulter's side. He… read analysis of The Golden Monkey

Tony Costa

Billy Costa's older brother. He's a strong young man and is fiercely protective of Lyra. He and his friends rescue Lyra when she runs away from Mrs. Coulter, and he's one of… read analysis of Tony Costa

Jerry

A sailor on the ship that the gyptians engage to take them to Trollesund. He and Lyra become friends. He assures Lyra that all dæmons have to settle and that it's a normal part of… read analysis of Jerry
Minor Characters
Dr. Martin Lanselius
The consul for the witches in Trollesund. He's a fat man with an expressive face and a bright green serpent dæmon. He shares what he knows about the Gobblers and their activities in the North with Farder Coram and suggests that the gyptians engage Iorek Byrnison.
The Intercessor
A Scholar at Jordan College who, before the start of the novel, took an interest in Lyra's spiritual wellbeing, but eventually gave up on her. He continues to express concern that she doesn't have female or highborn friends.
Adèle Starminster
A reporter who sneaks in at one of Mrs. Coulter's parties and pulls Lyra aside to speak with her privately. She's overcome with fear when Mrs. Coulter catches her, but she seems suspicious about what Mrs. Coulter is doing and specifically, how she treats Lyra.
Billy Costa
A gyptian boy whom the Gobblers kidnap. Prior to his kidnapping, he was one of Lyra's seasonal playmates and rivals. He helps Lyra keep watch and gather information while at Bolvanger and escapes without undergoing intercision.
Benjamin de Ruyter
The head of one of the gyptian families and the man put in charge of conducting spy work. He and his crew are ambushed while trying to infiltrate the Ministry of Theology and he doesn't survive the ordeal.
Sister Clara
A nurse at Bolvanger who, Lyra comes to discover, has undergone intercision as an adult. She's lifeless, blank, and dedicated to her duties, and her white terrier dæmon seems similarly disinterested in the world.
The Librarian
The librarian at Jordan College. He's in league with the Master and agrees that they need to protect Lyra, but he finds the Master's attempt to poison Lord Asriel extremely disturbing.
Jacob Huismans
A young man under Benjamin de Ruyter who survives the ambush at the Ministry of Theology long enough to return to the Fens and tell Farder Coram and Lyra what happened.
Sophonax
Farder Coram's dæmon. She's a larger-than-life, tawny cat with luxurious fur. Her obvious good health indicates that Farder Coram's mind is still sharp, even if his body is old and failing.
Jotham Santelia
A scholar imprisoned at Svalbard. Though he appears mentally unstable when Lyra meets him, he was formerly an expert in the North and a rival of the Palmerian Professor.
Lord Boreal
A scientist and high-level government official who explains what the General Oblation Board is to Lyra. Lord Asriel reveals later that Mrs. Coulter is sexually involved with Lord Boreal.
Søren Eisarson
An old bear counselor who tells Lyra and Iorek about Mrs. Coulter's mysterious hold over Iofur.
Thorold
Lord Asriel's manservant. While he seems relatively loyal to Lord Asriel, he does alert Lyra to Lord Asriel's strange and suspicious disappearance with Roger.
Stelmaria
Lord Asriel's snow leopard dæmon. She's strong, powerful, and imposing.
Hugh Louat
One of Lyra's playmates in Oxford.
Simon Parslow
One of Lyra's playmates in Oxford.
Mrs. Lonsdale
The harsh housekeeper at Jordan College.
The Butler
The butler at Jordan College.
The Steward
The steward at Jordan College.
The Porter
The porter at Jordan College.
Annie
A girl being held at Bolvanger.
Ratter
Tony Makarios's dæmon.
Dr. Rusakov
The scientist who first discovered Dust.