Lyra as a HeroineBefore deciding whether or not Lyra has the capabilities that allow her to be the heroine in Philip Pullman’s novel “The Northern Lights” the term heroine should be defined first. The term heroine is defined as a female protagonist of a novel, movie or a play who is admired for her courage, bravery and noble qualities, Lyra fits this description. There are many different types of heroes in literature but Lyra is considered to be an anti-hero due to her character flaw. She tends to overly exaggerate her tales as she tells them to other characters in the story, just like many children her own age. This so called flaw ends up saving her from peril towards the end. Her name has significance in the novel “Lyra” is known to be the name of a star constellation, stars are frequently associated to destiny and fate, the plot of the story revolves around the mystery of other world in the sky. This connects her name with the destiny that she has to fulfill in the story. There are three major settings in the novel the first being Oxford, the second being Bolvangar and the final setting being Svalbard.

The settings within the novel are crucial considering Lyra’s appearance changes in each one. The aim of this essay is to show how she develops and grows as the story progresses in regards to the three main settings in the novel. The initial segment of the novel is set in the scholarly universe of Oxford, a college which is comprised of a gathering of schools. Oxford is a genuine, magnificent university. It has colleges like St.

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Cross, yet tragically there’s no Jordan College. Chapter 3 gives the description of Jordan College through Lyra’s eyes. She sees it as being “the grandest and the richest of all the colleges in Oxford… the final effect was one of jumbled and squalid grandeur.

” (Pullman 34). Oxford is a world filled with politics and power, an example of this is when Lord Asriel tries to exploit the scholars of Jordan College as Lyra view this exchange through the wardrobe. Oxford is not just a place of power and politics but more importantly Jordan College is Lyra’s home and represent her innocence and her childhood. It’s a place where she used to spend most of her time exploring the catacombs that lies beneath the college, playing on the roof and also waging war on the Gyptians children.

As the setting of Oxford progresses there’s this distinct feeling that everything seems to be changing, getting dark, as a result Lyra must change also as mentioned by narrator “This was her world. She wanted it to stay the same for ever and ever, but is was changing before her, for someone out there was stealing children.”(Pullman 63).  Lyra ultimately changes when she realizes that her best friend Roger goes missing and is determined  to find him, supposedly he’s been taken by the “Gobblers”  this just proves how brave she is. Even though at this point in the story Lyra is clueless about what the Gobblers do with the children they have taking, also the recurring mention of dust sticks to her mind. But at this point we have some insight that Lyra does not which is that ” Ms Coulter is most likely the cause of the recent disappearance of Lyra’s best friend, Roger the kitchen boy.

” (Wood 272). Before Lyra sets off from the college with Ms. Coulter, the Master of Jordan College gives her the alethiometer, he tells her to Keep it hidden from Ms. Coulter.

Before he could explain why, a knock on the door is heard and he sends Lyra hastily away. As she lives with Ms. Coulter, Lyra realizes that she’s not as charming and graceful as she once thought. She also suspects that Ms.

Coulter daemon the golden monkey might be spying on her and her daemon Pan. After the mention of the dust and The Oblation Board (which Lyra figures out is the same thing as the Gobblers) at a party, she escape into the city to resume her hunt for Roger.The second part of the story takes place in Bolvangar, also known as “The Gobblers Headquarters”, her innocence is gone by the end of the second part. Lyra travels far up north to reach Bolvangar with the Gyptians who accompany her on her mission to save Roger and the other children that have been taken away.

Her interaction with John Faa and Farder Coram gives her some insight into who her parents are, she feels frustrated in accepting this new truth. Lyra could accept Lord Asriel as her father, but it was an entirely different thing to see Ms. Coulter as her mother.

Lyra also learns what the alethiometer really is, from Farder Coram. In chapter 7 he tells us that it’s ” a Greek word, I reckon it is from aletheia, which means means truth. It’s a truth measure.

“(Pullman 126).Lyra is able to read the alethiometer without the assistance of a guidebook and it helps her as she tries to save Roger and her father. As she continues on her journey she encounters Iorek Byrnison. Lyra and Iorek excursions are profoundly interwoven.

She helps him retrieve his armor, which he describes as being his soul just like how Lyra can not live without Pan, Iorek can not live without his armor. Since she retrieved his armor Iorek accompanies Lyra to the medical facility also known as Bolvangar. Once there lyra is horrified as to what the Gobblers actually do with the children. The children have their daemons severed from them. Daemons in the novel take many forms until a child has reached puberty ” dust accumulates around people when their daemons stop changing – that is, when they go through puberty and grow up.” (Shmoop Editorial Team). Ms.

Coulter who is the head of the Oblation Board wants the kids to say innocent, removing their ability to sin. Lyra find this repulsive and hates what’s being done to the children and their daemons and grows more distant from her mother . As she saves the children, the building catches on fire and sets everything ablaze.  Svalbard which is the final setting in the novel is home to Iorek Byrnison and the armored bears known as panserbjørne, whom live farther up north then Bolvangar, which is completely covered in ice and snow. The current king of Svalbard is Iofur Raknison.

He managed to dethrone Iorek with the help of Ms. Coulter. The flaw that was mentioned in the introduction comes to play here. Lyra uses the experience she has gained up to this point and the alethiometer to trick Iofur into having a fair fight with Iorek.

Lyra feels like she betrayed Iorek when she sees the condition that he is in compared to Iofur. When the fight between the bears comes to an end and Iorek wins, Lyra begins telling him how she tricked Iofur. Iorek gives her the nickname Lyra “Silvertongue”. Lyra finally meets her father, Lord Asriel. At first he is disappointed to see Lyra but then realizes that Roger had accompanied her. I find it Ironic that Both Lord Asriel and Ms.

Coulter are willing to sacrifice the children and Roger but they could not even fathom doing the same to Lyra. Meaning that they would let Lyra “sin” then to severe her daemon. As soon as Lyra awakes and sees her father missing is when she becomes aware of what she has done. She saved Roger to ultimately seal his again fate, which results in Lord Asriel cruelly separating Rogers daemon from him resulting in his untimely death. Roger becomes a character that is wrongfully sacrificed and also becomes a symbol of Lyra’s unforeseen betrayal. Lyra’s goal of saving Roger was a noble one but resulted in his tragic death. In conclusion Lyra is a heroine in the novel.

She has all the qualities that a hero in a novel possess for example bravery, courage , sacrifice etc…  .She changes as she progresses throughout the story. Her encounters with the other characters shape her opinion on certain things.for example her opinion on dust changes from not understanding what it is to thinking that it could be a good thing. We can visibly see her innocence develop into experience. This is noticed most when she comes into contact with Bolvangar medical center in the north, and sees how horrible that place truly is.

Another significant change in Lyra is when she realizes she sacrificed Roger accidentally to her Father. Children are not innocent but lack experience and Lyra gained experience which is also considered knowledge by the end of the book. With all that is said and done Lyra represents change, someone that both children and adults could admire.                                                                 Work CitedPullman, Philip. Northern Lights. Scholastics, 2011.Montgomery, Heather, and Nicola J. Watson.

Children’s Literature: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends. Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.Shmoop Editorial Team.

“Dust (and Original Sin) in The Golden Compass.” Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov.

2008. Web. 12 Aug. 2017.



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