Symbolism of His Dark Materials
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Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy is an anti-religious literary work and the author frequently uses symbolism to convey his criticism of organized religion. First of all, the primary antagonist of the books is the Magisterium, a powerful organization that symbolizes the Catholic Church. The Magisterium requires absolute obedience and does not allow criticism or independent thought.
Daemons and Symbolism
Daemons are another important symbol within the works. Daemons are animal beings that are spiritually connected to the human characters. They symbolize the individual's soul. Children's daemons change shape constantly, which represents the process of a child's character development. Once an individual's character is fixed through maturity, the daemon takes a permanent form. The animal form says much about the character of the person. For example:
- Mrs. Coulter's daemon is a golden monkey, which suggests her intelligence and cunning.
- Lord Asrael's daemon is a formidable snow leopard, which indicates his physical and mental strength.
In Phillip's first book of the series, The Magic Compass, the Magisterium experiments with the development of a new surgical procedure called intercision. This procedure separates children from their daemons. Intercision is a symbol for circumcision. Male circumcision is frequently practiced by Christian and Jewish families while female circumcision is practiced by some Muslim families.