The Night Circus

by

Erin Morgenstern

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Bailey Clarke Character Analysis

A young boy from Concord, Massachusetts, Bailey becomes obsessed with Le Cirque des Rêves and eventually becomes the new proprietor after Celia and Marco disappear into the bonfire and can no longer run the circus. On a dare, Bailey sneaks into the circus before it opens, meeting Poppet for the first time. When he actually attends the circus when it is open, he befriends Poppet and Widget, who eventually give him a lifetime pass to the circus so that he can visit any time he wants. For Bailey, the circus becomes a fantastic escape from his life on the farm, where his family disagrees about whether he will become a family farmer, like his dad, or will attend college at Harvard, as his grandmother wishes. Neither of these options is attractive to Bailey, and he finally decides to run away from home and join the circus. Poppet has foreseen the destruction of the bonfire that keeps the circus running, and knows that Bailey will be the one to re-light it. He is in the right place at the right time, and accepts responsibility for the future of the circus, re-lighting the bonfire and taking over as proprietor. The novel ends with a note from Bailey, along with an email address, suggesting that at least another hundred years have passed since the young man ran away from home at the turn of the twentieth century.

Bailey Clarke Quotes in The Night Circus

The The Night Circus quotes below are all either spoken by Bailey Clarke or refer to Bailey Clarke. 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:
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Anchor edition of The Night Circus published in 2012.
Part 1: Primordium Quotes

“Follow your dreams, Bailey. Be they Harvard or something else entirely.”

Related Characters: Bailey Clarke
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: Illumination Quotes

“Do you like the circus, Bailey?”

“It’s like no place I’ve ever been […] Not that I’ve been many places. But I think the circus is wonderful. I like it very much.”

“That would help.”

“Help with what?”

Related Characters: Isobel Martin (speaker), Bailey Clarke (speaker)
Page Number: 220
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3: Intersections Quotes

“You’re joking.”

“I’m not, I swear I’m not. I wanted to wait until I was sure it was the right thing to ask, the right thing to do, and I’m sure now. It’s important.”

“What do you mean? Important how?”

“I know you’re supposed to come with us. I know that part for certain.”

Related Characters: Poppet Murray (speaker), Bailey Clarke (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Bonfire
Page Number: 356
Explanation and Analysis:

“Staying here won’t make me happy. It will make you happy because you are insipid and boring, and an insipid, boring life is enough for you. It’s not enough for me. It will never be enough for me. So I’m leaving.”

Related Characters: Bailey Clarke (speaker)
Page Number: 380
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 4: Incendiary Quotes

“But I’m not […] special. Not in the way they are. I’m not anyone important.”

“I know. You’re not destined or chosen, I wish I could tell you that you were if that would make it easier, but it’s not true. You’re in the right place at the right time, and you care enough to do what needs to be done. Sometimes that’s enough.”

Related Characters: Celia Bowen (speaker), Bailey Clarke (speaker), Widget Murray, Poppet Murray
Related Symbols: The Bonfire
Page Number: 478-479
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 5: Divination Quotes

“I’m not going to give you your memory back. I don’t know if I could even if I tried, though Widge could probably manage it. At this point, I don’t think you need that weight on you. I think looking forward will be better than looking back.”

Related Symbols: The Bonfire
Page Number: 498
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Night Circus LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Night Circus PDF

Bailey Clarke Character Timeline in The Night Circus

The timeline below shows where the character Bailey Clarke appears in The Night Circus. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: Primordium
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Concord, MA, 1897: A young boy named Bailey sits in an oak tree with his sister and their friends, playing Truth or Dare.... (full context)
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Concord, MA 1902: Bailey, the young boy who snuck into the circus, is at the center of a family... (full context)
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Bailey would like to attend Harvard, and he discusses this with his mother and father, to... (full context)
Part 2: Illumination
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Concord, MA, 1902: Bailey waits anxiously for the sun to set so that he can go to the circus... (full context)
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Bailey walks into a tent promising “Feats of Illustrious Illusion” and sits down. He notices a... (full context)
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Concord, MA, 1902: Bailey continues to wander the circus, stopping to watch the bonfire and then buy a bag... (full context)
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Isobel continues Bailey’s reading, and tells him he is looking for Poppet. She suddenly pays him more attention,... (full context)
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Concord, MA, 1902: Bailey leaves Isobel’s tent and wanders into a small crowd watching a performance. He can make... (full context)
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Bailey watches the rest of their performance, paying more attention to the girl than the kittens,... (full context)
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Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Widget splits off to get cinnamon sticks, and while Bailey is alone with Poppet, he asks her how she knew his name the first time... (full context)
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Poppet mentions that Widget can see the past, and he and Bailey discuss how it works. Bailey asks if he will read his past, and Widget tells... (full context)
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...and Widget explain that they have another show at midnight and should be getting back. Bailey is surprised it’s so late—he should have been home hours earlier. Before he leaves, Poppet... (full context)
Part 3: Intersections
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Concord, MA, 1902: Bailey is back at the circus, and is exploring the Labyrinth with Widget and Poppet. They... (full context)
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Bailey enters a new tent to find tables covered in jars and bottles, and when he... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Bailey leaves the tent and goes to find Poppet and Widget, but first he comes across... (full context)
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Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Bailey tells Poppet about the tent with the bottles, which Poppet explains is Widget’s tent. As... (full context)
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Concord, MA, 1902: Bailey is having trouble herding his sheep in the field when he hears a voice behind... (full context)
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...that he is supposed to go with them, and that she knows this “for certain.” Bailey is confused—he wants to know why him, and what he would do, without any special... (full context)
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Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Poppet explains that if Bailey doesn’t go with them, the circus will never be back; there will be no circus... (full context)
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Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Poppet reminds Bailey of the time they were in the birdcage room of the Labyrinth and couldn’t get... (full context)
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Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Bailey is surprised that his unhappiness at home is so obvious, and he asks if Widget... (full context)
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Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Poppet tells Bailey to arrive before dawn, and he says that he has to think about it. Poppet... (full context)
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...the circus gates as the clock chimes three o’clock in the morning. Poppet worries that Bailey was upset that she asked him not to come to the circus if he wasn’t... (full context)
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Poppet asks if Widget remembers riding the Stargazer with her and Bailey when she saw something bright but couldn’t tell what it was. Widget remembers, and Poppet... (full context)
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Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Concord, MA, 1902: Bailey is preparing to leave, and he stops at the oak tree to look through his... (full context)
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Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Bailey is startled by his sister’s voice asking him what he’s doing—she’s in the doorway in... (full context)
Part 4: Incendiary
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Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Concord and Boston, 1902: Bailey walks into the empty field, not fully believing that the circus left without him. There... (full context)
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The woman asks Bailey if he is okay, because he is panting, and he asks if they are following... (full context)
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Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Bailey asks them how they find out, and they tell him that rêveurs have their methods.... (full context)
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Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
When they arrive in Boston, they ask Bailey where he is staying, and he tells them he will probably just stay at the... (full context)
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Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
The following day, Victor and Lorena take Bailey out to buy a suit. He is measured and fitted for a grey suit that... (full context)
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Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Bailey listens to all of their stories of the circus, amazed to be among people who... (full context)
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Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...that Thiessen made her a clock that looks like the Carousel that she absolutely loves. Bailey asks why the circus has not been the same since Thiessen’s death, and wonders if... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...compartment and knock softly on the door to tell her that there is a problem: Bailey was supposed to come along with them. Poppet says that they waited for him and... (full context)
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
...and tells her that she saw something bright, that everything was on fire, and that Bailey was there. Celia asks for more, but Poppet says that she can’t see any more... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...both there and not, though Poppet cannot explain what she means by that. And then Bailey is there, after the fire. (full context)
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Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Bailey takes the first train to New York, and while he sits and watches the scenery,... (full context)
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Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
They arrive in New York, and Bailey is struck by how strange everything looks to him and how far from home he... (full context)
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Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
In New York, Bailey arrives at the circus, which looks exactly as it did back in Massachusetts, except that... (full context)
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It is the contortionist, and she asks him if he is Bailey. He says yes and wonders how everyone knows his name. She tells him that he... (full context)
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Bailey asks what happened, and Tsukiko tells him it is a long and complicated story that... (full context)
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Tsukiko tells Bailey she is only the messenger, and she must bring him to meet with someone. Despite... (full context)
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Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Bailey enters the tent, which only days before had seemed endless; now, without the mist, he... (full context)
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Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
As they are about to leave the tent, Bailey asks where they are going, and Marco tells him that someone else wants to speak... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Marco leads Bailey into the acrobat tent, but instead of the wide-open space he is used to, he... (full context)
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Time and Mortality Theme Icon
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Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Celia welcomes Bailey, calling him by name and introducing herself. He asks how she knew he was coming,... (full context)
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Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Bailey is about to accept this new responsibility when Celia stops him, because she wants to... (full context)
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Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Bailey realizes that this is a bigger commitment than Harvard, or even the farm, but he... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Bailey finds Celia’s room in the circus and searches through the books to find Marco’s notebook.... (full context)
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Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Bailey mumbles some of Celia’s instructions, wraps the items up in the yarn, and throws it... (full context)
Part 5: Divination
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...at the list of names, noting Mr. Barris and Lainie Burgess, and he asks who Mr. Clarke is, and Poppet explains that he is a dear friend who will take excellent care... (full context)
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
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...the person a business card with The Cirque des Rêves on one side and Mr. Bailey Alden Clarke, Proprietor on the back, along with his email address. The person thanks the... (full context)