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Ironic Contradictions

I'm a long time reader - since way back when I was seven. That makes it over three quarters of my life that I will be a reader for. But it is worth it. When I'm not reading or wasting my time online on here or Goodreads I'll be off playing video games, studying teaching and messing around with friends and pop culture. Or reading some more.
Coraline - Dave McKean, Neil Gaiman
Social change? What has it got to do with Coraline?

What is it that drives social change? What is it that leads to positive revolution and reform? I recently read an article where someone argued that the emotion of anger was the major driving force. I would argue that perhaps there are greater forces which can lead to a desire to change. Among them love with all its desire and passion and also an unequivocal sense of boredom. Anger might make us feel resentment or injustice but anger on its own may lead to rash action and martyrdom. I understand that revolution is such a complex issue and no one can easily say what it is that leads to such grand social changes. I merely want to open this review with a little questioning and a proposition that love and boredom are keys to change.

For in my eyes love and boredom are key aspects to the change that occurs in our protagonist Coraline. Coraline is a child with parents focussed on their work (which involves sitting at a desk and typing on a computer). In fact they're too focussed to entertain her. So Coraline (not Caroline) is left to solve her own boredom. So she does so through visiting the other odd people who share her house. And she eventually finds another strange world just beyond a door that at first seems to lead to nowhere. And later, in a Narnian type of twist, that leads to another world. But unlike the fun other worlds of [b:Peter Pan|34268|Peter Pan|J.M. Barrie|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1337714526s/34268.jpg|1358908], [b:Alice in Wonderland|13023|Alice in Wonderland|Lewis Carroll|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1166512952s/13023.jpg|2933712] or [b:The Chronicles of Narnia|11127|The Chronicles of Narnia|C.S. Lewis|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348864262s/11127.jpg|781271] this other world is a world of nightmare. One exactly the same as Coraline's normal house but with her 'other mother' and 'other father'. And once she goes in there's no coming out. She's always hungry...


In this story we get the sense that Coraline is loved by her family but is abandoned on the whole. Which leads to the interesting way she responds to her 'other mother' a monster with button eyes which claims to love her but really only wants to be loved by Coraline. In the end Coraline's love does win out in a way that the reader may not expect. Love and all its aspects are clearly responsible for change in my mind. When love is forbidden it perhaps leads to rebellious attitudes. When love exists in the other forms of forbidden passion and desire then it too can be responsible for great change. Love, to me, tends to be more active than passive where anger can be more passive at times. Or when anger is active it is active in a way that it was not intended to be. Moreover I find love is more often proactive than reactive whereas I find anger seems to be in reverse.


Boredom is what I'd consider as another motivator of social change. In Coraline's world she has no siblings and no one who wants to help her keep occupied. As a result this leads her into the other strange world. One she'd been warned against visiting. Perhaps if she had entertainments (the internet, books, movies or video games) she might have stayed away from that world. However in a house with nothing to do the temptation of seeing what was behind the door proved too much. In our reality boredom can drive us to change through seeing that . It's one reason I feel that there is a greater sense of apathy in our developed nations. We have so much entertainment to keep us occupied. In Roman times they had what the satirist Juvenal called 'panem et circenses' or bread and circuses. In other words they had the circuses where they watched blood sport and they had the gifts (usually of bread) given to them there to keep them satisfied. It's the idea of give the people what they want and they will rarely question you. Whereas if people are bored or I extend the idea, dissatisfied, rebellion or change will be on their minds.

The horror, the horror...

Part of the appeal to the horror and the story of Coraline is in how Gaiman appeals to the common desires and fears of children. No child wants to be ignored; no child wants to lose their parents; no child wants to be lost in a creepy house; no child wants to discover hidden monsters; children want to explore; children want activities to do; children want above all to be loved. But as Coraline points out, "What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything that I wanted? Just like that and it didn't mean anything?"


I admit that I like Neil Gaiman's writing. It's charming, British and so reminiscent of other authors. In fact that is what Gaiman is praised for, the ways he summons to mind the spirits of other authors while inventing his own unique fairytales. He is, to my mind, one of the essential authors around ad a definite favourite. I recommend this if you want to see the world anew through the lens of a child or if you're looking to read more Gaiman stories. I also recommend [b:The Graveyard Book|2213661|The Graveyard Book|Neil Gaiman|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1303859949s/2213661.jpg|2219449], [b:Neverwhere|14497|Neverwhere|Neil Gaiman|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348747943s/14497.jpg|16534] and [b:Stardust|16793|Stardust|Neil Gaiman|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328433738s/16793.jpg|3166179] emphatically.