The Night Circus Discussion Questions

December 31, 2017

The Night Circus

by Erin Morgenstern


1. What did you think of the story? Did you like it? Love it? Hate it? What made you lean that way?

2. The novel opens with a quote from Oscar Wilde:

A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he seems the dawn before the rest of the world.

How is this explored in The Night Circus? Who in this novel is a dreamer? What is their punishment for being so? How do you as the reader feel connected to this quote?

3. Did any of the characters speak to you? Did they seem real and believable? Who was your favorite character? Your least favorite?

4. This novel explores themes of destiny, fate, and free will. How do you see these themes portrayed? What are your personal beliefs around these themes? How do your personal beliefs change your interpretations of the characters?

5. The chapters follow a non-linear fashion. How did this add or detract from your reading experience? Why? How would this tale be told in chronological order change it?

6.  What role does time play in this novel? What examples of time’s passing, or lack thereof, did you see?

7.  In what ways are Marco and Celia’s magic different? How are they similar? How does this reflect the differences and similarities in their personalities?

8. How does this quote apply to both the circus and the competition?

Chandresh relishes reactions. Genuine reactions, not mere polit applause. He often values the reactions over the show itself. A show iwthout an audience is nothing, after all. In the response of the audience, that is where the power of performance lives.”

9. Are Alexander H and Hector, Isobel and Tsukiko, or Poppet and Widget any more or less important to the circus than Marco and Celia? In what way do these pairs influence the circus?

10. Celia and Marco consistently talk about the circus being a delicate balance. Who is control of this balance? What are the factors affecting it? Does it really exist?

11. How of you view the morality of the circus in regards to the performers and developers being unknowing pawns in Celia and Marco’s competition? Should they be told? Why or why not?

12. Friedrick Thiessen thinks of himself,

Not as a writer so much as someone who provides a gateway, a tangential route for readers to the circus.

What role does he play in keeping the circus alive? What is the role the rêveurs play in the circus and its longevity?

13. What did you think of the introductions to each section of the novel written in the second person? Why did you feel this way? How did this enhance or detract from your experience?

14. How did you feel when you finished the novel? Were you satisfied? Surprised? Disappointed?

15. What do you think the message of this book ultimately is?

16. This book falls into the genre of magical realism. Do you enjoy magical realism? What other books does this remind you of? What are your favorite magical realism novels?

17. What are your reflections on the competition? How long do you think it has been going on? Does it matter that the rules are not shared with the competitors? Does it matter that this interferes with the lives of others?

18. Who would you recommend this novel to? Why?

19. Erin Morgenstern wrote this novel as part of National Novel Writing Month. She has no other published works. Does this surprise you? Why or why not?

20.  What is your favorite part of the circus? Which tents would you want to visit? Would you be someone who spends most of their time in a single tent on each visit, sometimes who spends focused time in a handful of tends, or someone who tries to visit as many as possible? Why?

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