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  • 1. THE PORTRAYAL OF ORGANIZED RELIGION IN “HIS DARK MATERIALS” A Literary RS Project by Michelle Lee (20), Joelle Tan (25), and Wong Kwang Lin (30)
  • 2. INTRODUCTION Our project focuses on the popular series of children’s books, the “His Dark Materials” trilogy by Phillip Pullman We aim to show the way in which organized religion is portrayed negatively within the books, as well as the specific religious elements which come under the most criticism within the books.
  • 3. CONTENTS: Introduction Background Reading Methodology Findings and interpretations Limitations Conclusion Bibliography
  • 4. CONTENTS (FINDINGS AND INTERPRETATIONS) Portrayal of The Authority The Magisterium and the General Oblation Board Representatives of the Magisterium The Church in Will’s world: Mary Malone Angels against the Authority Dust
  • 5. METHODOLOGY We read through the books and identified the passages which concerned elements of organized religion, then analysed them We also researched on the views of literary critics, as well as what Pullman himself has to say about his portrayal of religion
  • 6. BACKGROUND READING The Golden Compass The Subtle Knife The Amber Spyglass
  • 7. BACKGROUND READING His Dark Materials did garner some support even from Christian elements, such as the Archbishop of Canterbury It earned the most criticism from Christian and Catholic groups Some felt the writing style was compromised by the message
  • 8. BACKGROUND READING Philip Pullman expressed his point of view regarding organized religion quite blatantly in several interviews However, the point of His Dark Materials was not to prove his point, but it was merely a story influenced by his ideals
  • 9. RESEARCH FINDINGS: PORTRAYAL OF THE AUTHORITY In Lyra’s world, The Authority is “God” However, he is actually the first angel formed from Dust, and he deceived the angels that came after him into thinking that he was the creator of all things Although he was highly intelligent, he was also tyrannical and oppressive, wanting total control of the angels He sets up the Church so that he is able to control the humans as well
  • 10. RESEARCH FINDINGS: PORTRAYAL OF THE AUTHORITY From the start, the Church (which in the book represents all organized religion) was simply a tool to achieve personal glorification and power This is one aspect in which Pullman criticizes organized religion - that it uses religion to manipulate people and as an excuse for tyranny.
  • 11. RESEARCH FINDINGS: THE MAGISTERIUM AND GOB The Magisterium and the General Oblation Board perform “intercision” on children as they approach puberty: the act of separating them from their dæmons with the intention of sparing them from original sin. After this, however, the few that do not die live miserable half-lives. Even after the Authority becomes senile, the Church continues to use his will as a reason for whatever they do.
  • 12. RESEARCH FINDINGS: REPRESENTATIVES OF THE MAGISTERIUM Father MacPhail Mrs. Coulter
  • 13. RESEARCH FINDINGS:ANGELS AGAINST THE AUTHORITY The Authority oppressed the angels and when one who was wiser than him, Xaphania, exposed his lies, he banished them from the Cloudy Mountain The rebel angels join in the fight against him and they accompany and protect Will on his search for Lyra in The Amber Spyglass
  • 14. RESEARCH FINDINGS: DUST Dust is supposed to be a form of sentient subatomic particles. The aim of the Magisterium throughout the series is to eradicate Dust, as they believe it is original sin. Will and Lyra deliberately choose to discover the origins of Dust to oppose the Magisterium.
  • 15. RESEARCH FINDINGS: MARY MALONE The only representative of the Church in Will’s world is Mary Malone, a lapsed nun who is portrayed positively. In the Amber Spyglass, she tells Will and Lyra about the reasons she made the decision to stop believing in Christianity. She is possibly a representation of Pullman’s own views on Christianity as many of her views appear to correspond with his.
  • 16. INTERPRETATIONS Pullman’s books could still be interpreted as not directly critical of the Church, only critical of an organisation that is too controlling Perhaps Pullman was pointing out that the rigidity of religious dogma as a symptom of modern culture, which does not allow fluidity of interpretation.
  • 17. LIMITATIONS Argument is one-sided, due to extreme viewpoint portrayed in books In one of our slides, we mentioned the issue of differing interpretations of texts, and the point Philip Pullman might be making about it, but due to time constraints we have not expanded it as much as we would like to in the presentation, so we will include it in the report
  • 18. CONCLUSION We believe that the hypothesis has been proved correct
  • 19. BIBLIOGRAPHY Squires, C.S. (2006). Philip Pullman: master storyteller: a guide to the worlds of his dark materials. London: Continuum Simpson, Paul. (2007). A rough guide to Philip Pullman's his dark materials. New York: Rough guides Pullman, P. (1995). The golden compass. Del Rey. Pullman, P. (1997). The subtle knife. Del Rey. Pullman, P. (2000). The amber spyglass. Del Rey. www.surefish.co.uk/culture/features/pullman_interview.htm www.news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/arts_and_culture/7774176 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/3613962/The-Dark-Materials-debate-life-God-the-universe....html http://catholicinsight.com/online/reviews/books/article_763.shtml http://www.apologeticsindex.org/639-phillip-pullman
  • 20. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We would like to thank our RS mentor, Mr. Tan, for his invaluable guidance, support, and unwavering faith in us!
  • 21. THANK YOU!