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Coraline vs. The Cuckoo
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Okay. So I just saw Coraline this afternoon and, yes, I adored it. Also, I have completely geeked out over it and I can't stop thinking about some odd parallels the story draws from other Gaiman work. I want to see if anyone else can fan the flames, as I am a machine that runs purely on identifying parallels.

*Deep breath*

Coraline is a girl's story. It's not "girls only" by any means, anyone with eyeballs to watch or read would enjoy it. After seeing the movie, I read the fact in an essay Neil wrote, "All Books Have Genders," in which he identifies Coraline as being, in essence, female. (http://www.neilgaiman.com/p/Cool_Stuff/Essays/Essays_By_Neil/All_Books_Have_Genders). Neil goes on to write that The Sandman starts off male and then switches over to female.

I thought this was very interesting and sparked something remembered about A Game of You. I grabbed my copy and flipped through (okay, so I reread the entire TP) until I got to book 5. Over the Sea to the Sky. Quoth The Cuckoo:

"Boys and girls are different, you know that?

Little boys have fantasies in which they're faster, or smarter, or able to fly. Where they hide their faces in secret identities, and listen to the people who despise them admiring their remarkable deeds.

Now, little girls, on the other hand, have different fantasies. Much less convoluted. Their parents are not the partents. Their lives are not their lives."

What do you think? Is the story of Coraline a direct continuation of this theme? It seemed too right on not to be.

And as if that weren't enough to get my gears spinning, a page after The Cuckoo explains the difference between boy play and and girl play, I read this:

The Cuckoo: "And I've got a right to live, haven't I? And to be happy?

Princess Barbie: "Of course you have..."

Cuckoo: "And I'm awful sweet, aren't I? I'm awful cute.

Barbie: "You're... cute ... as ... a ... button."

Cute as a button, hmmmmmm. On second thought, that's probably not significant, but still kind of an amusing coincidence.

Thanks for reading! ^_^
 
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hi joe.

welcome to the board, i have nothing productive to add as it's early on a sunday morning (that's my excuse Wink) but i think you have some very valid and interesting points and i didn't want you to feel ignored.


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ETA: I re-read your post and realised what I wrote had nothing to do with what you wrote. So I'll just echo Smaug and say Welcome Aboard!


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Originally posted by tabletop_joe:
Now, little girls, on the other hand, have different fantasies. Much less convoluted. Their parents are not the partents. Their lives are not their lives."



Ooooh!!! *FABULOUS* find! I think you may be spot on.

And, you know, you could also apply that to Mirrormask (which is, at the roots, pretty much the same story line).


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*Spoilers. Read on if you dare.*

Those are some very interesting parallels. Especially when, yes, you add MirrorMask into the mix as well.

Coraline, The Cuckoo in A Game of You, and Helena Campbell are characters that in some way all play with the notion of identity and the different realities formed around them. All three have to do with young girls (or women who were young girls) trying to understand and deal with a reality at a turning point in their lives.

Coraline is beginning to understand the world and find out what it is and what it isn't while protecting herself and her identity. In A Game of You (which is a really apt title considering the centrality of identity in it), Barbie and The Cuckoo are both at points in their lives where they need to move on and transition from the stage that they are in. This also includes the different explorations of identity with regards to Foxglove, Hazel, the Spider Sisters and Wanda.

And then you have MirrorMask, where Helena Campbell is at stage between child and adult and rebelliousness, and she finds herself in another world as well which challenges not only her own identity (through the Anti-Helena usurping her place back in her own world), but that of her mother as well (through the Queen Light and the Queen of Shadows).

So yes, as Amypata said, you could definitely compare MirrorMask and Coraline. Both Coraline and Helena have Other Mothers, but Helena has an "Other Helena" and she also has in a way "two Other Mothers," each different sides of the Mother archetype. Both of these stories also explore how mothers relate to the identities of their daughters (though I wonder if Coraline's Other Father has any relation to her in this way too. I also recall that there were versions of Helena's father -- such as the Prime Minister in the City of Light as well, though that was the same actor I believe).

There are so many studies you can do on all three stories. These are really cool points to bring up tabletop_joe. Smile


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Thank you! I didn't even think of Mirrormask.

And thanks to everyone for the welcome.
 
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Little boys have fantasies in which they're faster, or smarter, or able to fly. Where they hide their faces in secret identities, and listen to the people who despise them admiring their remarkable deeds.



Now let's flip it and do the male stories: Shadow in American Gods mostly fits the description.

Who else?

ETA: Scratch that. I just reread that again. Instead of two separate examples (hide in secret identity; listen to people) I think it's meant to be one: first they hide in secret identity and then they go listen to people (I guess like Odysseus returning?).


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Originally posted by Other Mythos:
(though I wonder if Coraline's Other Father has any relation to her in this way too. I also recall that there were versions of Helena's father -- such as the Prime Minister in the City of Light as well, though that was the same actor I believe)


The Other Father really intrigued me. He was really just as afraid of the Other Mother as all the other prisoners in that realm.


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I'd argue that in the beginning stories, Morpheus is very much a male fantasy sort of character, albeit a postmodern one. I mean, even though he's in threat of his life much of the time, he's always in control and he always has a way out.

Also, Richard Mayhew.


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quote:
Originally posted by other aitapata:
quote:
Originally posted by Other Mythos:
(though I wonder if Coraline's Other Father has any relation to her in this way too. I also recall that there were versions of Helena's father -- such as the Prime Minister in the City of Light as well, though that was the same actor I believe)


The Other Father really intrigued me. He was really just as afraid of the Other Mother as all the other prisoners in that realm.


I was always led to believe that the Other Father was a construct of the Other Mother, just as her entire realm was an extension of her. Everything was there to serve her purposes.

What I found interesting actually was that Neil actually has an origin story to the Other Mother, which is something mentioned in an interview in the back of my copy of the book. But he never says what her origin is. I actually have my suspicions as to who or what The Other Mother is, but that may be besides the point here.

As for Neil's male characters that fit his words from A Game of You ... well, if interpret it as being a hero like Odysseus you definitely have Nobody Owens from The Graveyard Book. The name is very reminiscent of the "Nobody" moniker that Odysseus takes with the Cyclops in The Odyssey. Nobody Owens had another name, but it was lost with his living parents. And he definitely had the capacity to hide and listen to people and anyone who he chose to see him underestimated him considerably.

It's harder to find that reference with Neil's male characters. Hmm ...


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Originally posted by Dweller in Darkness:

Also, Richard Mayhew.


I don't know if I agree with that. If we're going with the "male story" criteria from the Cuckoo, I'd say Richard Mayhew is more female than male.


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quote:
Originally posted by Dweller in Darkness:
I'd argue that in the beginning stories, Morpheus is very much a male fantasy sort of character, albeit a postmodern one. I mean, even though he's in threat of his life much of the time, he's always in control and he always has a way out.

Also, Richard Mayhew.


Interesting. I think that with a lot of Neil's male protagonists, they start out with their original identity and then you watch them begin to assume their new one and begin to change. A lot of them don't call attention to that change and even downplay it or accept it as a given.

There is in Anansi Boys Fat Charlie's transformation and maturity into just Charlie -- coming into his own as it were. But I wonder if this is the same thing we're talking about or that Neil meant with that quote from A Game of You.


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Originally posted by other aitapata:
quote:
Who else?


I'm not sure that Shadow is good as direct comparision, since he is an adult. A less complicated comparison is Tim Hunter from The Books of Magic.

other aitapata: Other Father was absolutely horrifying. I loved him and his death was, by far, the highest point of drama in the film IMHO.

Also, I'm not sure that I agree that Other Father was an extension of Other Mother, as Mythos conjectures. While they were created by Other Mother, both Other Father and Other Wybie were sympathetic to Coraline, betraying Other Mother and causing her to punish them. If they were an extension of Her, without free will, wouldn't She be betraying Herself by proxy?
 
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Originally posted by tabletop_joe:
If they were an extension of Her, without free will, wouldn't She be betraying Herself by proxy?


Now that's an interesting thought, whichever way it goes. A) They (Other Father, Other Wybie) were created AT THE SAME TIME as Other Mother, but she somehow grabbed power. B) OF and OW had succumbed to her charms like the ghost children, but unlike the ghost children, they were designated into a different sort of prisoner or C) they were created by the Other Mother, and she was unconsciously setting herself up for a fall.

I don't really like option B -- I don't think OF or OW were ever real people who had gotten sucked into her nightmarish world, like the ghost children did. I think they always belonged in that world.


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I think option C is most likely. OM probably sewed them up (or grew OF, he's a pumkin!) to use them as pawns. But she lost control. OM doesn't seem to be omnipotent, just some kind of weird spider witch. I think it's really neat that she can't resist games. I wonder if she's an invention of Neil's or if she's mythological?
 
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*Spoilers*

See, that is interesting.

Just tonight I actually saw the movie for the first time and I can see your point, tabletop_joe. I was more thinking about the Others in the book. As much as the Other Father didn't really want to hurt Coraline, he still followed orders there.

The Other Wybie and the Other Father in the film though really show some sentience and even independence from her. I wonder if, somehow, that is part of the games which she likes to play.


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Originally posted by tabletop_joe:
I wonder if she's an invention of Neil's or if she's mythological?


Aha! We already addressed her existence a few years ago (totally forgot about that).


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C) they were created by the Other Mother, and she was unconsciously setting herself up for a fall.

I didn't see it as her setting herself up for a fall as much as it showed the limitations of her power. She created them, controlled them to a great degree, but isn't powerful enough to be all things in her world all at once. Recall that the discretion by OF and OW were when she was not present (though OM catching OW with a frown, hmmm...) anyway... I saw it more as a limitation of her power, she had a lot going there to make the Other World (and recall how it didn't exist outside of some perimeter).


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I know that at least in the film, she needed a period of rest -- which is how Coraline was able to talk with the Other Father with her not around. And communicate with Other Wybie as well. She seems to not favour what passes as day in her realm. I wonder if more can be said about this.


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Originally posted by other aitapata:
quote:
Who else?


I'm not sure that Shadow is good as direct comparision, since he is an adult. A less complicated comparison is Tim Hunter from The Books of Magic.
other aitapata: Other Father was absolutely horrifying. I loved him and his death was, by far, the highest point of drama in the film IMHO.

I'm not sure that Shadow is good as direct comparision, since he is an adult. A less complicated comparison is Tim Hunter from The Books of Magic.

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