Friendship in the Wind in the Willows and the Golden Compass

Friendship in the Wind in the Willows and the Golden Compass

The theme of friendship gains explicit illustration in the books, the Wind in the Willows and the Golden Compass. Kenneth Grahame’s the Wind in the Willows and Philip Pullman’s the Golden Compass illustrate fantasy and imaginative tales with a different narrative. Nonetheless, a similarity between the pair of fantasy novels involves the theme of friendship or camaraderie among the characters in the books as well as the stories’ plots. While both books are written by different authors, they bear a common theme of deep-seated friendship that traverses material and ideological obstacles. By outlining the strong aspect of friendship among the fictional characters in the Wind in the Willows and the Golden Compass and progressing to assess their significance, the analysis of the two publications offers insight into the current state of the isolated society.

Overview of Literature

Kenneth’s Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows

The novel, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, provides the lucid tales of four animal characters and the challenges that they face in articulating their friendship. The book commences with Mole, a peaceable diminutive animal performing spring-cleaning. After familiarizing themselves through countable picnics and gracious experiences by the river, Mole and Ratty choose to visit Ratty’s friend, Toad. An obsessive character, Toad expresses his obsession for material pleasantries such as a cart and a horse. Subsequently, the three characters travel together but their journey ceases to continue when a speeding automobile damages their cart. Irrespective of expressing anger towards the car, Toad exudes obsession and desires an automobile just like the respective one.

Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass

The novel, The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman, illustrates the journey of Lyra Belacqua and her friend, who is also an animal daemon, Pantalaimon. The main character, Lyra and her animal daemon, Pantalaimon, embark on a journey towards the North in order to search for her kidnapped friend, Roger. At one time while Lyra was exploring Jordan College, she stumbles upon a mysterious element described as Dust. The substance is attracted to adults but does not exhibit similar attraction towards children. Furthermore, Lyra comes to understand that the unexplained substance possesses unexplained associations with the Snowy North.

Analysis of Friendship in the Novels

Irrespective of the two fantasy novels embracing different plots and storylines within their structure, it is evident that the theme of friendship appears significantly within both publications. The characters in the books might be fantastical in nature but they have been used to bring out highly relevant themes that reside in the relationships between human beings. In Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, an instance of the bond of companionship is evident where Mole encounters Ratty for the first time. At this point, the reader exposed to an aspect of friendship that enables the characters to have a different perspective towards life. In the beginning of the book, the author informs us that Mole is taking a leave from spring-cleaning and decides to migrate from his home and ends up at the river, a place he had never encountered in his whole life. At that point, Mole meets Ratty, who incidentally indicates his displeasure for boats. This is evident in the book where he states to Mole that, “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing-absolutely nothing-half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats” (Grahame, 8). The two immediately strike a friendship based on their mutual dislike for marine life and activities.

The theme of authentic friendship also receives significant illustration in Pullman’s The Golden Compass. In the novel, the bond of companionship is evident in the associations shared between persons and their daemons. In addition, the daemons represent disparate animals towards the humans and denote a contrasting illustration of their humans’ personality and behavior. Consequently, the daemons comprise the souls of humans, which possess the ability to engage in communication with their proprietors. In addition, the daemons, especially those for the children, possess the ability to change their animal outline based on the needs of their humans. Nonetheless, the bond of friendship in The Golden Compass is evident whereby the distance between humans and daemons can affect the relationship between the two. For instance, if the distance between a daemon and a human is extensive, it leads to an experience of emotional hurt and distress between both beings. Pullman introduced aspects of reality within his fictional publication in a fashion that is very complex. The relationship between daemons and humans as illustrated by Pullman shows close similarity to the normal relationships shared by human beings. Even though daemons were fictional, they showed great similarity to the friendship shared by human beings.

Through the perfect union of different animal characters, the author attempts to bring out the bond of friendship in the two novels by implying that the strong bonds were enough to overlook the considerable differences among the characters. As seen in The Wind in the Willows, the four friends, who comprise, a mole, a water vole, a toad and a badger are actually different species of animals. Furthermore, the four friends possess different types of characters within their groups. For instance, Mole receives the description of a peaceable animal that is good natured and home loving. Ratty, on the other hand, is mischievous and obdurate especially in performing tasks that do not suit his lifestyle. Toad is actually intelligent, materialistic, impulsive and obsessive while Badger is solitary, gruff and wise. As such, the differences in their personalities and characters are absent due to their bond of friendship, which allows them to associate in agreement and unison. Pullman attempted to illustrate the importance of individuals having different perspectives and yet still coexist. The different personalities in the Toad, Badger, Mole and Ratty were used in a symbolic manner to represent different people in society who had diverse characters but were unable to coexist with other people. Again, Pullman and Grahame exhibit their dexterity in inserting pockets of complex ideas such as friendship within simple publications.

Furthermore, the notion of friendship in both novels is evident whereby characters within both novels assist in establishing their protagonist tendencies through the assistance of their friends. For instance, during winter when Mole and Ratty spent most times in each other’s company, Mole expressed the desire to visit Badger who lived in the Wild Wood. Unaware of the danger he was in, Mole decides to sneak out of Ratty’s premises in order to visit Badger in the Wild Wood. However, Mole becomes lost, afraid and fatigued due to the dangerous nature of the Wild Wood and the winter season. As such, when Ratty realizes that Mole is absent and that he is in the Wild Wood, he decides to search for him further risking himself. Nonetheless, Ratty finds Mole and together they discover Badger’s home.

Furthermore, the evidence of community and unified friendship is evident in The Wind in the Willows whereby Mole, Ratty and Badger display their power of their friendship in standing by Toad amid his troubles. They reprimand Toad for his actions since they express worry towards his welfare. An example of this is evident where Badger scolds Toad by stating that, “Independence is all very well, but we animals never allow our friends to make fools of themselves beyond a certain limit: and that you’ve reached” (Grahame, 125). However, this is absent in The Golden Compass whereby Lyra, in trying to save Roger, uses her sheer efforts without the assistance of other persons except her daemon. Moreover, Lyra’s society exhibits selfishness based on the assertion that characters want to satisfy their needs without caring about any other person.

The element of symbolism is also clearly brought out in both novels and serves to enrich the quality of the publication as well as bring out other sub-themes and concepts. The use of animation style in the storylines make the books interesting but even more importantly, they take on the character traits of human beings and through their animated nature, the reader is able to see their true intention that is to pass a message of authentic companionship. In The Wind and the Willows, Kenneth Grahame uses a mole and a rat as the main characters. He proceeds to award them human like qualities such as names and personalities and uses them to pass on the idea of instant friendship.

In Pullman’s book, he uses a combination of fictional characters and real life animals to reproduce the same effect. In The Golden Compass, Pullman used several animals with different know character traits to bring out the different natures of human beings. By bringing together these diverse animals, Pullman intended to use symbolism to show that just like the animals united in a common friendship, so could human beings. It is also interesting to perceive the moral recommendations that Pullman cleverly inserted into the fantastical publication. On one hand, Pullman used fictional characters that made the book look simple while introducing complex themes of friendship and oneness.

After assessing both books separately, it is imperative to bring out any similarities and difference between the two publications. The theme of friendship is quite evident in both Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in The Willows and Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass and both indicate a moral standpoint among the authors. Indeed, the camaraderie illustrated in both novels provides the reader with an avid depiction of the way friendship assists in the resolution of issues explicated within the disparate fantasy worlds. Furthermore, regardless of the difference in plots and characters, the reader is actually to interpret a sense of camaraderie in both books through an allegory of the four animals in The Wind in The Willows and the strong relationship between Lyra and her daemon, Pantalaimon in The Golden Compass.

From the above analysis, it can be concluded that both authors made extensive use of symbolism to illustrate several aspects of human life particularly the aspect of friendship. The authors developed both books with a younger generation in mind but were careful to instill positive values in the material. The element of real friendship was particularly stressed throughout both books. In Kenneth Grahame’s book, the first time encounter between two characters that transpires into a tight companionship as well as Pullman’s unique friendship between four very diverse characters stresses the significance of true friendship among human beings. Through the development of such material, both authors intended to influence the society in several ways besides developing material for entertainment purposes.



Works Cited

Grahame, Kenneth. The Wind in the Willows. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 2000. Print.

Pullman, Philip. The Golden Compass. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. Print.

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