The Night Circus

by

Erin Morgenstern

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Celia Bowen Character Analysis

Celia Bowen is an illusionist with Le Cirque des Rêves, the titular night circus; her performances in the circus are part of her competition with her fellow magician, Marco Alisdair. Celia met her father, Hector Bowen, when she was five years old, after her lovesick mother committed suicide. He took little interest in Celia until he recognized her immense natural talent for magic and realized that she could be of use to him in his longstanding rivalry with another old magician, Mr. A.H. Celia and Marco then find themselves involved in a mysterious competition without their consent, left to fulfill their guardians’ wishes and compete until only one of them is left standing. Before realizing that Marco is her competitor, Celia begins to feel a strong connection to him through his magical creations in Le Cirque des Rêves. With the help of Mr. Barris, the circus engineer, Celia and her opponent begin to collaborate; eventually, Marco reveals himself, and he and Celia fall in love despite their guardians’ protests. To be together, they must break the binding rules of the competition. Risking their lives, Celia and Marco jump into the bonfire at the center of Le Cirque des Rêves to escape the consequences of the competition, and end up together in a state of semi-immortality within the confines of the circus itself.

Celia Bowen Quotes in The Night Circus

The The Night Circus quotes below are all either spoken by Celia Bowen or refer to Celia Bowen. 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

“You might be interesting.”

Related Characters: Hector Bowen / Prospero the Enchanter (speaker), Celia Bowen
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

“You would wager your own child?”

“She won’t lose.”

Related Characters: Alexander / Mr. A.H. (speaker), Hector Bowen / Prospero the Enchanter (speaker), Celia Bowen
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

“[…] with whom have you studied?”

“With my father, Hector Bowen. Though perhaps he is better known as Prospero the Enchanter.”

Related Characters: Celia Bowen (speaker), Marco Alisdair (speaker), Hector Bowen / Prospero the Enchanter
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: Illumination Quotes

“Working with others will only drag you down. These people are not your friends, they are inconsequential. And one of them is your opponent, don’t forget that.”

Related Characters: Hector Bowen / Prospero the Enchanter (speaker), Celia Bowen
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:

“How much do you know?”

“How much do I know about what?”

“How much has Miss Bowen told you?”

“You’re her opponent. I never would have guessed.”

Related Characters: Marco Alisdair (speaker), Ethan Barris (speaker), Celia Bowen
Page Number: 188
Explanation and Analysis:

“I spent the first several years of my life watching my mother pine for him, steadfastly. Loving and longing far beyond the time when he had lost what little interest in her he ever held. Until one day when I was five years old and she took her own life. When I was old enough to understand, I promised myself I would not suffer so for anyone. It will take a great deal more than that charming smile of yours to seduce me.”

Page Number: 275
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3: Intersections Quotes

“Thirteen years with barely a word and now you wish to speak with me?”

Related Characters: Marco Alisdair (speaker), Celia Bowen, Alexander / Mr. A.H.
Page Number: 307
Explanation and Analysis:

“If you ever need anything from me, I would like you to ask. I am tired of everyone keeping their secrets so well that they get other people killed. We are all involved in your game, and it seems we are not as easily repaired as teacups.”

Related Characters: Lainie Burgess (speaker), Celia Bowen, Tara Burgess
Page Number: 340
Explanation and Analysis:

“Are you looking for this? It was made by a ring when I was fourteen. It said something in Latin, but I don’t know what it was.”

Esse quam videri. To be, rather than to seem. It’s the Bowen family motto. My father was very fond of engraving it on things. I’m not entirely sure he appreciated the irony.”

Related Characters: Celia Bowen (speaker), Marco Alisdair (speaker), Hector Bowen / Prospero the Enchanter
Related Symbols: Rings
Page Number: 348
Explanation and Analysis:

“She will win. Do not try to avoid the fact that she is a stronger player than yours and has always been.”

Page Number: 383
Explanation and Analysis:

“I tried. I thought I might be able to fix it. I’ve known him so long. That maybe it would be like setting a clock to make it tick again. I knew exactly what was wrong but I couldn’t make it right. He was so familiar but it… it didn’t work.”

Related Characters: Celia Bowen (speaker), Marco Alisdair, Friedrick Thiessen
Page Number: 385
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 4: Incendiary Quotes

“You are willing to sacrifice me for this. To let me destroy myself just so you can attempt to prove a point. You tied me to this game knowing the stakes, and you let me think it was nothing but a simple challenge of skill.”

Related Characters: Celia Bowen (speaker), Hector Bowen / Prospero the Enchanter
Page Number: 397-398
Explanation and Analysis:

“Do you love him?”

“I do.”

“Do you believe he loves you? Love is fickle and fleeting. It is rarely a solid foundation for decisions to be made upon, in any game.”

Related Characters: Celia Bowen (speaker), Tsukiko (speaker), Marco Alisdair
Page Number: 406
Explanation and Analysis:

“You said there was a rule about interference.”

“Interfering with you or your opponent. I can interfere with anyone else as much as I please.”

“Your interfering got Friedrick killed!”

“There are other clockmakers in the world.”

Related Characters: Celia Bowen (speaker), Hector Bowen / Prospero the Enchanter (speaker), Friedrick Thiessen
Page Number: 426
Explanation and Analysis:

“Our instructors do not understand how it is. To be bound to someone in such a way. They are too old, too out of touch with their emotions. They no longer remember what it is to live and breathe within the world. They think it simple to pit any two people against each other. It is never simple. The other person becomes how you define your life, how you define yourself.”

Page Number: 458
Explanation and Analysis:

“You told me love was fickle and fleeting.”

“I lied. I thought it might be easier if you doubted him. And I gave you a year to find a way for the circus to continue without you. You have not. I am stepping in.”

Related Characters: Celia Bowen (speaker), Tsukiko (speaker), Marco Alisdair
Page Number: 461
Explanation and Analysis:

“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

“You think being imprisoned marvelous?”

“It’s a matter of perspective. They have each other. They are confined within a space that is remarkable, one that can, and will, grow and change around them.”

Related Characters: Alexander / Mr. A.H. (speaker), Widget Murray (speaker), Celia Bowen, Marco Alisdair
Page Number: 502
Explanation and Analysis:
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Celia Bowen Character Timeline in The Night Circus

The timeline below shows where the character Celia Bowen appears in The Night Circus. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: Primordium
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...waiting for him with a note pinned to her chest. The girl is his daughter, Celia, and the note is from her mother, who has just committed suicide. He reads the... (full context)
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London, 1873: Hector and Celia meet with a mysterious man in a gray suit, whom Hector calls Alexander, although that... (full context)
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1875-1880: Both Celia and the nameless boy go through a series of lessons in magic. Celia travels all... (full context)
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...Finally, one day the man gives the boy a ring, just as he did with Celia, and it shrinks and burns into his finger, as well. Mr. A.H. tells the boy... (full context)
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Hector Bowen has retired from the stage and has devoted himself full-time to training Celia and hiring her out as a spiritual medium. Celia finds the experience excruciating and argues... (full context)
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Hector eventually decides to stay in New York rather than traveling with Celia, and he spends most of his time alone, locked in the parlor. One day Celia... (full context)
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Meanwhile, in New York, Celia Bowen is opening sympathy cards and flowers in memory of her father Hector, who has... (full context)
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London, 1886: The circus organizers are holding auditions for an illusionist, and Celia Bowen is one of the candidates. Marco is supervising the auditions, and when he sees... (full context)
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Marco is visibly shaken by his meeting with Celia, and Chandresh sends him home. He hurries back to search his books to try to... (full context)
Part 2: Illumination
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Celia, for her part, is enjoying the first night of performances, and she feels much more... (full context)
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Meanwhile, at the circus, Celia is standing in front of the Carousel when Hector appears to tell her that he... (full context)
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Celia wants to know who her opponent is, but Hector insists that the opponent’s identity doesn’t... (full context)
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...frustrated by the letters he gets from Isobel because he wants to know more about Celia than Isobel can possibly tell him. He wants to know about her life, her preferences,... (full context)
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Celia is excited to visit the new tent, as new tents are rare in the circus.... (full context)
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...eight years old, even though Widget argues that he should consider their combined total age. Celia is chaperoning them this evening, a rare event and one that the twins welcome. (full context)
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...get impatient and ride the Carousel twice and then get popcorn, though Poppet isn’t hungry. Celia asks her if anything is wrong, and she responds vaguely that she doesn’t “want the... (full context)
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As Celia digests this new information about Poppet and Widget, she looks past them towards the courtyard... (full context)
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...wishes.” Marco does not share in her wonder at that moment—he knows that it is Celia’s creation and is unnerved. When Isobel asks how he can be certain Celia created it,... (full context)
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...possible. Marco tells her she is being helpful already, that she is his advantage over Celia. According to Isobel, Celia has not reacted in any perceptible way to the competition. She... (full context)
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...the work of impressive mechanics, just as the Carousel must be infused with some of Celia’s magic, as well, giving the animals life. Isobel quietly asks if Marco made a wish,... (full context)
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...up outside, most of the performers go out to visit friends and enjoy the city. Celia stays behind in her cozy backstage suite, which is filled with books and old furniture,... (full context)
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As Celia is enjoying the atmosphere of the Dinner, she notices a movement in the hall and... (full context)
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During the dinner, Celia enjoys her food and observes her fellow guests in an attempt to discern the relationships... (full context)
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As the evening goes on, there are lighthearted jokes about unlacing Celia’s corset, and even the usually reserved Marco chimes in this time. As Celia leaves with... (full context)
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...seems to know the circus more personally than most, and he begins to correspond with Celia Bowen. (full context)
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...question: “How much do you know?” After some thought, Mr. Barris realizes that Marco is Celia’s opponent, and acknowledges that she told him about the competition, though only the most basic... (full context)
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...new tent. But first, Mr. Barris must agree to keep Marco’s secret and not let Celia know that he is her opponent. Mr. Barris swears to keep Marco’s secret and remain... (full context)
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Celia is delighted as she walks through the hallway of the new tent, enjoying the feel... (full context)
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...due to inclement weather, and while many of the performers are enjoying an inclement-weather party, Celia decides to take her umbrella and go into the city, getting her gown soaked along... (full context)
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At the mention of reading, Celia asks Isobel if she has her cards with her, and Isobel offers to read for... (full context)
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...of swords, La Papessa, and Le Bateleur, which makes Isobel gasp a little. Isobel tells Celia that she carries many burdens with her, and that she is in some sort of... (full context)
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Outside of the café, Celia is also thinking about her reading and the impending revelation that it promised. She hopes... (full context)
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Celia stares at Marco, putting the pieces together in her mind: his ability to blend seamlessly... (full context)
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...with fire and something red, and a man with no shadow. She has not told Celia yet, because the vision makes no sense to her and she is waiting to understand... (full context)
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...Herr Thiessen is awaiting the arrival of the circus, as well as a visit from Celia Bowen, with whom he has been corresponding for years now. When she arrives at this... (full context)
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The two examine the clocks in Thiessen’s workshop, and Celia is particularly interested in one that reminds her of the bonfire. It is not working,... (full context)
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...quiet this evening, despite the fact that a number of circus performers are present, including Celia. At the end of the evening, Celia has misplaced her shawl and searches for it... (full context)
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Celia and Marco begin to talk about magic, or “manipulation,” as she calls it, starting with... (full context)
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Marco notes that his charm does not seem to have worked as effectively on Celia, and she tells him about how her father, Hector, seduced her mother and then discarded... (full context)
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Celia tells Marco that he reminds her of her father, Hector, who also manipulates perception. She... (full context)
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Marco offers Celia a tour of Chandresh’s house, and they begin in the game room, which houses both... (full context)
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...deck of cards, and they perform small magic tricks for one another. Marco notes that Celia is better at physical manipulation, and she admits to having a natural talent for it.... (full context)
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Marco brings Celia into a sunken garden room that he has made for Chandresh, in order to give... (full context)
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They sink into cushions together and share their favorite tents—Marco’s favorite is Celia’s, of course, while Celia loves the Ice Garden because she feels like she is walking... (full context)
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Celia asks Marco how he keeps everyone from aging, and he asks her how she moves... (full context)
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...outside the circus, like the late Tara Burgess, the way the bonfire protects the performers. Celia did not realize that the bonfire was protective, and admits that she neglected to consider... (full context)
Part 3: Intersections
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As Celia passes by Marco in the hall, he grabs her hand, and they are both taken... (full context)
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...that he doesn’t really want to speak with him—he only wanted to separate him from Celia. Marco takes the opportunity to ask if he is doing well in the competition; Mr.... (full context)
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...the room, past Isobel who heard the entire conversation, and into the ballroom to find Celia. She is dancing with Herr Thiessen, and Marco pulls her away, kisses her on the... (full context)
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Lainie meets with Celia at the Pera Palace Hotel in Constantinople. After some small talk, Lainie launches in with... (full context)
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...take another sip of her tea, she lets go of the cup, letting it shatter; Celia immediately puts the pieces back together and pulls the liquid back into the cup, and... (full context)
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Dublin, 1901: After the end of the illusionist’s performance, one man stays behind. Marco asks Celia if she likes the Cloud Maze, which she does, and she asks if Mr. Barris... (full context)
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Celia steps closer to Marco. He puts his hand around her waist and spins her around... (full context)
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Celia agrees that she has learned very little about the competition, especially when she asks about... (full context)
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Marco asks Celia to explain what happened to Hector, and she explains that he is overambitious and wasn’t... (full context)
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Hector still visits Celia, though he lacks solidity and it bothers him. Celia notes that he might have been... (full context)
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Celia looks down at the fingers of Marco’s right hand, and he reveals the scar on... (full context)
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Marco asks Celia if Mr. A.H. gave the ring and scar to her, and she says yes, when... (full context)
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...two hold on to each other as the wind and waves die down around them. Celia apologizes for not letting Marco kiss her, telling him that she has spent her life... (full context)
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Marco doesn’t understand, so Celia asks him to imagine them leaving the circus and the competition and starting over. Marco... (full context)
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Marco smiles through the pain, delighted that Celia wanted to run away with him. He laughs, noting that he did not imagine his... (full context)
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Marco asks what is stopping them from being together, and Celia reminds him that there are many people tangled up in their competition, and she worries... (full context)
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London, 1901: When the circus arrives in London, Celia wants to go to see Marco immediately, but instead goes to the Midland Grand Hotel.... (full context)
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...the beaded curtain. He has come to tell her that he is in love with Celia, which Isobel has come to expect, because she has read it in her tarot cards... (full context)
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...how Marco told Mr. A.H. that everything he has done in the circus was for Celia, and how Isobel has been helping him, keeping them balanced. She pulls the ribbons apart... (full context)
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...her that she didn’t hide it very well. Poppet asks Widget if he talked to Celia, and he says he told Celia that Bailey was supposed to come with them and... (full context)
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...black smoke, and Poppet’s kitten falls on its back with a howl. In her performance, Celia suddenly feels faint and needs assistance from the audience to stay on her feet. Marco... (full context)
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...the circus’s movement only keeps them apart, and if they were together from the start, Celia would have won already. (full context)
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Mr. A.H. notes incredulously that perhaps Hector hasn’t noticed that Marco and Celia are in love, and that it only would have happened sooner if they were in... (full context)
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...But Mr. A.H. amplifies the sounds coming from near Thiessen, so that Hector can hear Celia sobbing over the man’s corpse. He asks if that sounds like a strong player, noting... (full context)
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Celia is in the doorway looking disheveled, her gown covered in blood. She comes in and... (full context)
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Marco tells Celia that something threw everything off balance, but he does not know what it was. Celia... (full context)
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He doesn’t know why Mr. A.H. was at the circus, but Celia tells Marco that she invited him because she wanted a verdict. She wanted him to... (full context)
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Celia looks around at Marco’s work and asks him what it is. The books are full... (full context)
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...that he didn’t know Thiessen as well as she did, but he admired his work. Celia tells him that Thiessen showed her the circus in a way she hadn’t seen it... (full context)
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Marco leads Celia into the adjoining room, which he has filled with models of tents made from newsprint,... (full context)
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Celia finds the tent where she performs, and sees that it is made of pages of... (full context)
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Celia asks Marco to stop talking about the competition. She says that she is tired of... (full context)
Part 4: Incendiary
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Celia is lying in Marco’s arms, wishing this moment would never end. She manages to slow... (full context)
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Celia takes Marco’s notebook with her as she leaves Marco’s flat, and as soon as she... (full context)
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Celia asks Hector if this is the point of the game, to see how each of... (full context)
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Celia begins to put together the clues in her mind, thinking of all of the vague... (full context)
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Celia asks what will happen to the circus after the competition is over, and Hector reminds... (full context)
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...London to Munich, traveling silently and puffing clouds of grey smoke. On board the train, Celia changes out of her bloody gown and puts Marco’s notebook away among her own. Wearing... (full context)
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Once Isobel is gone, Tsukiko offers Celia tea and tells her that the past hours have been difficult for everyone. She has... (full context)
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Celia asks to see Tsukiko’s scar, and the contortionist lowers the neckline of her kimono to... (full context)
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Celia then asks why Tsukiko came to the circus in the first place, and she responds... (full context)
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Tsukiko asks Celia if she loves Marco, and Celia says that she does. Tsukiko then asks if she... (full context)
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Celia is heartbroken and can’t decide which is more upsetting: that one of them will have... (full context)
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Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
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Celia wonders if the circus could continue after the challenge has ended, and Tsukiko notes that... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
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Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
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Tsukiko tells Celia that there is much work to do if she wants the circus to survive. Celia... (full context)
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Montreal, 1902: After Celia finishes her performance and her audience leaves, there is one man sitting, waiting for her.... (full context)
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Celia tells Marco that she is trying to make the circus independent, to untie it from... (full context)
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Marco realizes that Celia is not looking him in the eye, and asks if she doesn’t trust him. She... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
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Time and Mortality Theme Icon
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Marco asks if Celia thinks he is cruel enough to do such a thing to her, and she ignores... (full context)
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Celia tells Marco that the competition has to kill one of them, and when Marco doesn’t... (full context)
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Marco tells her that he doesn’t want to win, he just wants Celia, even though she doesn’t believe that. Incredulous, he asks her how she can believe that... (full context)
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Celia pulls away and tells him that she is sorry. Marco holds on to her, begging... (full context)
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Back in her room, Celia attempts once again to decipher Marco’s notebook. The raven caws, and Celia addresses her father,... (full context)
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Hector replies that Celia is special, and well beyond the kind of magic that  Marco is doing. There is... (full context)
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He mentions Chandresh, and Celia realizes that it was Hector who told him that Mr. A.H. would be at the... (full context)
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Celia throws a volume of Shakespeare at Hector, and it goes right through him and hits... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
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...Mr. A.H. When he arrives, he stands in the hallway expectantly. Marco tells him that Celia thinks one of the competitors has to die for the game to be over, and... (full context)
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Time and Mortality Theme Icon
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...or are simply reading or having quiet time in their compartments. Widget and Poppet find Celia’s compartment and knock softly on the door to tell her that there is a problem:... (full context)
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As Poppet gets more anxious, Celia tells her that she is also very upset by what happened the year prior, but... (full context)
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Celia demands that Poppet tell her what she saw in her vision. Poppet closes her eyes... (full context)
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Poppet’s eyes follow the pocket watch Celia holds in front of her, and Poppet starts to sway and then falls backwards. Widget... (full context)
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Celia asks Poppet what the man looks like, and she explains it is a tall man... (full context)
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...thing that the twins don’t understand the scope of, is a game of some sort. Celia smiles and tells him she is disappointed that it took him so long to figure... (full context)
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Celia apologizes for not being completely honest with them, and asks them to trust her when... (full context)
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...be in the United States. She tells him that she left the circus, and that Celia gave her permission. She asks if she can come up to his flat, and he... (full context)
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Isobel knew Celia was in love with someone, but she thought it was Thiessen, and didn’t realize until... (full context)
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...actually meant to meet. Marco apologizes for not telling her sooner about his feelings for Celia. But he doesn’t know what else to tell her. (full context)
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...she read for recently, and everything was in his cards. It was like reading for Celia—his future was the future of the circus. She thought maybe he could save Marco, that... (full context)
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...difficult to explain. He wonders why the tents did not burn, and she notes that Miss Bowen must have fireproofed them. He asks who Miss Bowen is, and she tells him that... (full context)
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...they become necessary to each other to go on. She then asks if Marco loves Celia, and he tells her that he loves her more than anything in the world. She... (full context)
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Marco tells her he is sorry, and Tsukiko informs him that Celia was planning to do something similar for him to let him win. She does not... (full context)
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At that moment, Celia arrives and asks Tsukiko what she is doing. She tells Celia to return to the... (full context)
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Tsukiko gave Celia a year to find a way for the circus to continue without her, but she... (full context)
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...bows to him and flicks her lit cigarette at the fire. They do not see Celia run towards Marco and leap into his arms. He pulls her close, and as the... (full context)
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Celia chooses a location that is familiar to her, and brings herself back to her tent... (full context)
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They hold each other as Celia tells Marco that she couldn’t let him go without her, and he asks her how... (full context)
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Celia welcomes Bailey, calling him by name and introducing herself. He asks how she knew he... (full context)
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Bailey is about to accept this new responsibility when Celia stops him, because she wants to make sure that he is making a free choice... (full context)
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Bailey finds Celia’s room in the circus and searches through the books to find Marco’s notebook. He pulls... (full context)
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Bailey mumbles some of Celia’s instructions, wraps the items up in the yarn, and throws it in the cauldron. He... (full context)
Part 5: Divination
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...Chandresh. Chandresh asks why Marco left, and Poppet replies that he left to be with Celia, which makes Chandresh happy. He proposes a toast, but he doesn’t have any champagne. (full context)
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...asks how many languages Widget speaks, but Widget cannot remember exactly. He tells him that Celia helped him learn some of the patterns, and Mr. A.H. says he hopes she was... (full context)
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...time the competitions became more complex. This most recent one was interesting, he notes, and Celia found a clever way to get them out of it. He misses his student, however,... (full context)
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Widget explains to Mr. A.H. that Marco and Celia are not dead, and they are inside of the circus. When Widget describes this as... (full context)
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...would like to be able to accept the inevitability of mortality, just as he hopes Celia and Marco will. (full context)