The Mysterious Marisa Coulter
Phillip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” introduces a new twist on the old villainess character to the world of fiction. Mrs. Marisa Coulter is an almost purely evil character. Despite her charming and persuasive demeanor, Mrs. Coulter is the greediest, most power-hungry character in the trilogy. In Pullman’s world, every human has a daemon—a visible version of the soul that takes on an animal form. Mrs. Coulter’s daemon, a vicious little golden monkey, reflects its owner’s personality. “Only a few seconds, and the monkey had overmastered him: with one fierce black paw around his throat and his black paws gripping the polecat’s lower limbs, he took one of Pantalaimon’s ears in his other paw and pulled as if he intended to tear it off. Not angrily, either, but with a cold curious force that was horrifying to see and even worse to feel.” (Pullman, 65) Just as the monkey, in book three, enjoys torturing and killing bats in the cave in which Mrs. Coulter keeps Lyra, Mrs. Coulter enjoys toying with people before she kills them. She shows no remorse after tearing people to pieces or torturing them to death. Mrs. Coulter, according to Lord Asriel, wanted to be involved in the religious hierarchy. However, being female, this was denied her. Mrs. Coulter is very intelligent and clever, but usually works for her own ends. She is manipulative and a very convincing liar. Every act of kindness or consideration is for her benefit only. Mrs. Coulter’s daemon attacks Lyra’s daemon in an attempt to subdue Lyra into doing her bidding. Immediately following this act Pullman writes, “‘What do you think of the flowers, dear?’ said Mrs. Coulter as sweetly as if nothing had happened” (65). She has no sense of compassion and will do almost anything to reach her goals. She is not sympathetic or sentimental, and does not particularly care how her actions affect other people. She has tortured, killed, and torn children in half all for the sake of raising...
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