Coraline Review

‘Coraline’ by Neil Gaiman was published in 2002 to great critical acclaim. The story follows young Coraline Jones as she fights the evil Other Mother and rescues her parents from danger.

Having received several awards as well as appreciation from fans across the world, Coraline is one of Neil Gaiman’s most popular works. It is a children’s story that is loved by people of all ages. In the novella, Coraline Jones, a young girl chances upon a mysterious corridor in her house that leads to a parallel universe. She discovers that the parallel universe is very similar to her own. However, she soon finds the parallel universe creepy and returns to her house only to find her parents missing. Coraline discovers that her parents have been kidnapped by the Other Mother, and she realizes that it is up to her to rescue her parents. 

Coraline Review


Coraline as a Role Model for Children 

When Neil Gaiman first wrote the story, Coraline, he was determined to have a female protagonist. He wished for the story to bring forth a fresh perspective and act as inspiration to children across the world. Young Coraline Jones, therefore, is designed as a character for children to look up to. 

Coraline is bold and adventurous right from the beginning, and she has an extremely vivid imagination. She is not afraid to go exploring on her own and is pretty adroit at amusing herself. However, her life is dull, especially when her parents do not pay her any attention. This is why at the beginning of the novella, Coraline wishes for a better life, full of adventure and color. 

Unlike the wishes of any other child in the world, Coraline’s wishes come true in the form of the Other Mother and the parallel universe. However, Coraline soon realizes that the grass is not always greener on the other side. She begins to long for her old life back and recognizes the importance of appreciating what she has. She begins to feel a deep love and connection towards her parents and is determined to restore her family and make it whole once again. 

As such, Coraline sets off to rescue her parents from the clutches of the Other Mother. She undergoes many trials in the parallel universe all of which help her to grow as a person. Her parents’ advice proves to be her guiding light in many situations. For instance, she remembers what her father had told her about bravery, and decides to be brave like him. This is what keeps her going even in the face of danger and fear. 

Several things happen along Coraline’s journey, all of which help her progress in some way or the other. For example, she meets the souls of the three ghost children and feels empathy and compassion towards them, so much so that she decides to set them free as well. She sticks to her guns despite the dire warnings of the ghost children and is confident in her abilities to outwit the Other Mother.

Coraline is quick-witted and clever, and she is capable of thinking on her feet in tough situations. She comes up with a swift and ingenious plan to escape from the Other Mother while also rescuing her parents and the ghost children. Though she is frightened every step of the way, her courage and self-confidence allow her to emerge victorious in the end.

That being said, Coraline is not painted as a “perfect” character in the novel. She has her flaws of her own. For instance, Coraline is shown in many vulnerable situations, with doubts and fears at every stage. This is especially seen when the Other Mother tries to convince her that her real parents do not love her anymore. The beldam shows Coraline an image of her parents feeling relieved to finally be rid of their daughter. Coraline has a nagging doubt that this might have been true and almost believes the false image conjured up by the Other Mother. However, she ultimately remembers that her parents love her and want her as their daughter.

Coraline is also shown as a compassionate character. Although she seems a little disgruntled and resentful towards her parents for neglecting her, she still loves them deeply and would go to any lengths to rescue them. Gaiman shows that Coraline can be compassionate towards her enemies as well. When Coraline is trapped alone with the Other Father, she discovers that the Other Father is being controlled by the Other Mother and feels sorry for the creature. She encourages him to stand up to the Other Mother and tells him that he can lead an independent life. At this moment, we are shown how Coraline can put aside her own sentiments and help others in need.

Coraline is also a morally virtuous young girl. She never thinks about cheating her way out of the other world and is determined to win the game fair and square. She even calls the Other Mother out on her unjust methods during the game, telling her to “play fair.” Ultimately, Coraline puts all of her skills, values, and morals on the line and ends up defeating the Other Mother. Thus, with great difficulty and tremendous perseverance, she accomplishes her goal.

This is why the character of Coraline Jones is deemed to be an incredible role model for young children (especially girls) across the world. She is highly relatable which makes it easy for children to picture themselves in her shoes. At the same time, she undergoes enormous growth and development, which acts as an inspiration to any child who reads the novella.

FAQs

What age is Coraline suitable for? 

Coraline by Neil Gaiman is a children’s fantasy novella but with an element of horror in it. There are several terrifying aspects to the story, including the wicked Other Mother, her unreadable button eyes, her long fingernails, and her unruly hair. Even the parallel universe is strangely familiar which makes it creepy to both Coraline and the reader.

Is Coraline supposed to be a horror story? 

Coraline by Neil Gaiman is a children’s fantasy novella but with an element of horror in it. There are several terrifying aspects to the story, including the wicked Other Mother, her unreadable button eyes, her long fingernails, and her unruly hair. Even the parallel universe is strangely familiar which makes it creepy to both Coraline and the reader.

How is Coraline treated by her parents?

Coraline is often neglected by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, who both work from home and are extremely busy in their lives. They do not have any time to entertain the whims and fancies of a young 9-year-old daughter. This is why they often leave Coraline to amuse herself. They also do not seem to express too much affection towards their daughter. However, at the end of the day, they are loving, caring, and supportive parents.

What is the hidden message in Coraline

Neil Gaiman has hidden a message of compassion and empathy in Coraline. When Coraline meets the three ghost children, she immediately feels empathetic towards them and decides to set their souls free. She also shows compassion towards the Other Father when she realizes that he is under the control of the Other Mother and desires to be free like anyone else.

Coraline Review: An evergreen novella loved by children and adults alike
  • Story
  • Characters
  • Setting
  • Writing Style
  • Dialogue
  • Conclusion
  • Lasting Effect on Reader
4.3

Coraline Review

Neil Gaiman’s novella, Coraline is a wonderful piece of children’s literature. The novella follows the story of young Coraline Jones as she discovers a mysterious parallel universe at the end of a corridor in her house. Gaiman has managed to successfully portray Coraline as a strong protagonist and an inspiring role model for children from across the world. She is brave, clever and quick-witted, and can outsmart the Other Mother successfully. In this evergreen novella, Gaiman has managed to craft an incredible setting in the form of the sinister “other world”, which so uncannily resembles Coraline’s own universe.

Pros

  • Coraline is a well-rounded protagonist and a role model for people who read the book.
  • Simple language that is easy for children to understand.
  • A brilliant creation of place and setting.
  • Great application of the concept of the uncanny.

Cons

  • Might be too simplistic for adults.
About Neesha Thunga K
Neesha graduated in 2020 with a degree in MA English. Before that, she has spent several years teaching English and writing for various organizations. As a lover of English literature, she truly believes that crafting stories through words is the greatest achievement of mankind. She is now pursuing her passion for literature as an Expert on the Book Analysis team.
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