Children's Literature in Education

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 111–123 | Cite as

“Without Contraries is no Progression”: Dust as an All-Inclusive, Multifunctional Metaphor in Philip Pullman's “His Dark Materials”

  • Anne-Marie Bird


Drawing on John Milton's Paradise Lost and on motifs found within Gnostic mythology and the poetry of William Blake, this article explores Philip Pullman's reworking of the Judeo-Christian myth of the Fall. At the centre of this investigation is ‘Dust’: a conventional metaphor for human physicality inspired by God's judgment on humanity. This article suggests that Dust is re-presented in the trilogy in a more positive manner through the development of Milton's metaphor of the ‘dark materials’ into a ‘substance’ in which good and evil, and spirit and matter—conceptual opposites that form the basis of religious dualism—coexist.

Philip Pullman John Milton William Blake dualism gnosticism dark materials 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne-Marie Bird

There are no affiliations available

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