Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. 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 sees the dawn before the rest of the
world." How is this sentiment explored in The Night Circus? Who in the novel is a
dreamer? And what is their punishment for being so?
2. The novel frequently changes narrative perspective. How does this transition shape
your reading of the novel and your connection to the characters and the circus? Why do
you think the author chose to tell the story from varied perspectives?
3. The narrative also follows a nonlinear sequence—shifting at times from present to
past. How effective is this method in revealing conflict in the novel?
4. There are a number of allusions to Shakespeare throughout the text: Hamlet, Romeo
and Juliet, The Tempest and As You Like It. Explain these references—how does each
play reveal itself in the novel?
5. What role does time play in the novel? From Friedrick Thiessen's clock to the delayed
aging of the circus developers to the birth of the twins—is time manipulated or fated at
6. "Chandresh relishes reactions. Genuine reactions, not mere polite applause. He often
values the reactions over the show itself. A show without an audience is nothing, after
all. In the response of the audience, that is where the power of performance lives." How
does this statement apply to both Le Cirque des Rêves and the competition? Which
audience is more valuable: one that is complicit or one that is unknowing?
7. Chandresh is portrayed as a brilliant and creative perfectionist at the beginning of the
novel, yet he slowly unravels as the competition matures. Is Chandresh merely a puppet
of the competition—used solely for his ability to provide a venue for the competition—or
do his contributions run deeper?