The Golden Compass

by

Philip Pullman

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The Master Character Analysis

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 when she secretly witnesses the Master try to poison Lord Asriel. He, however, tells the Librarian in private that protecting Lyra from Lord Asriel is extremely important. This is, in part, because the Master is aware of the prophecy concerning Lyra. It appears to pain him that he can't impart much information to Lyra because of the parameters set out in the prophecy.

The Master Quotes in The Golden Compass

The The Golden Compass quotes below are all either spoken by The Master or refer to The Master. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of The Golden Compass published in 1995.
Chapter One Quotes

"I didn't have anything in mind, and well you know it," she snapped quietly. "But now I've seen what the Master did, I haven't got any choice. You're supposed to know about conscience, aren't you? How can I just go and sit in the library or somewhere and twiddle my thumbs, knowing what's going to happen? I don't intend to do that, I promise you."

Related Characters: Lyra (speaker), Pan, Lord Asriel, The Master
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Two Quotes

Ever since Pope John Calvin had moved the seat of the Papacy to Geneva and set up the Consistorial Court of Discipline, the Church's power over every aspect of life had been absolute. The Papacy itself had been abolished after Calvin's death, and a tangle of courts, colleges, and councils, collectively known as the Magisterium, had grown up in its place.

Related Characters: The Master, The Librarian
Related Symbols: Dust
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

"Yes. Lyra has a part to play in all this, and a major one. The irony is that she must do it all without realizing what she's doing. She can be helped, though, and if my plan with the Tokay had succeeded, she would have been safe for a little longer."

Related Characters: The Master (speaker), Lord Asriel, The Librarian
Related Symbols: The Alethiometer
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Four Quotes

The Master sighed. In his black suit and black tie he looked as much like his dæmon as anyone could, and suddenly Lyra thought that one day, quite soon, he would be buried in the crypt under the oratory, and an artist would engrave a picture of his dæmon on the brass plate for his coffin, and her name would share the space with his.

Related Characters: Lyra, The Master
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Seven Quotes

"And the Church in recent times, Lyra, it's been getting more commanding. There's councils for this and councils for that; there's talk of reviving the Office of Inquisition, God forbid. And the Master has to tread warily between all these powers. He has to keep Jordan College on the right side of the Church, or it won't survive."

Related Characters: John Faa (speaker), Lyra, Farder Coram, The Master
Page Number: 127
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Seventeen Quotes

"If he's got Dust and you've got Dust, and the Master of Jordan and every other grownup's got Dust, it must be all right. When I get out I'm going to tell all the kids in the world about this. Anyway, if it was so good, why'd you stop them doing it to me? If it was good, you should've let them do it. You should have been glad."

Related Characters: Lyra (speaker), Mrs. Coulter, Pan, The Master, The Gobblers
Related Symbols: Dust
Page Number: 283
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Golden Compass PDF

The Master Character Timeline in The Golden Compass

The timeline below shows where the character The Master appears in The Golden Compass. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter One
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
...heads. Pan hisses for Lyra to hide. From behind an armchair, they watch as the Master and the Butler enter and discuss that Lord Asriel hasn't arrived yet. The Butler points... (full context)
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
...Asriel is her uncle, and she both admires him and is afraid of him. The Master pulls out a folded piece of paper, takes the stopper out of the decanted wine,... (full context)
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
...wrist and twists them, but lets go when Lyra spits out that she saw the Master poison the wine. Lyra explains to her furious uncle that she came in to look... (full context)
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
Destiny vs. Free Will Theme Icon
...The servants leave, Lord Asriel shoots a searing glare at Lyra, and moments later, the Master enters. (full context)
Chapter Two
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
Destiny vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Lyra watches the Master and his dæmon anxiously glance to where the Tokay was. Lord Asriel greets the Master... (full context)
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
...says that this photo is the regular emulsion, and puts in the next slide. The Master whispers again to the Librarian that they can't let Lord Asriel force a vote. The... (full context)
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
...is. He also refuses to let her look at Grumman's head. Lyra says that the Master looked for the wine before anything else and then asks if she can return to... (full context)
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
After Lord Asriel leaves, the Master and the Librarian sit together with drinks. They discuss that Lord Asriel thwarted the assassination... (full context)
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
Destiny vs. Free Will Theme Icon
The Librarian asks what the Palmerian Professor meant by "Barnard-Stokes." The Master says that the Church teaches that there are two worlds: theirs, and the spiritual world.... (full context)
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
Destiny vs. Free Will Theme Icon
The Librarian believes that Lyra wouldn't listen even if the Master were able to explain things to her, but the Master thinks that Lyra might be... (full context)
Chapter Three
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
...smacks Lyra. The older woman says that Lyra is going to have dinner with the Master and his guests and forces Lyra into her best dress. Five minutes later, Lyra knocks... (full context)
Chapter Four
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
As the guests leave, the Master sends Lyra to his study so they can speak. They discuss Mrs. Coulter and Lyra... (full context)
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
Destiny vs. Free Will Theme Icon
...Lonsdale wakes Lyra before dark the next morning and sends her to knock on the Master's window before she leaves with Mrs. Coulter. The Master lets Lyra in and Lyra asks... (full context)
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
...feels confused, as she promised to keep it secret, but Mrs. Coulter seems kind—while the Master tried to poison Lord Asriel. (full context)
Chapter Seven
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
...Lyra is shocked. John Faa says that Mrs. Coulter must have some power over the Master. Lyra studies John Faa and Farder Coram and then tells them that she saw the... (full context)
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
Destiny vs. Free Will Theme Icon
...alethiometer secret, but the golden monkey found it. John Faa states what they know: the Master did his best to keep Lyra safe; Mrs. Coulter got the Church to help with... (full context)
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
They discuss what the Master intended in giving Lyra the alethiometer. Lyra thinks that the Master wanted her to keep... (full context)
Chapter Seventeen
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
Destiny vs. Free Will Theme Icon
...The golden monkey paces, betraying Mrs. Coulter's impatience. Finally, Mrs. Coulter asks Lyra if the Master gave her an alethiometer. She says that it wasn't his to give, and that it... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-One
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
Destiny vs. Free Will Theme Icon
...Then he dismisses Lyra, insisting that he doesn't need the alethiometer. Lyra wonders what the Master really wanted her to do. (full context)