|LITERARY ANALYSIS ON THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA “THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE ” BY C.S. LEWIS
Julio Uribe U.
Magister in Literature
Universidad de Playa Ancha
In spite of the fact that “The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe” has been considered children’s literature through the years, it is possible to appreciate that it contains several religious elements that may only be grasped under the scope of a profound analysis. These elements are not only present in the characteristics of the personages of the book, but also in the way the story evolves, having a lot of similarities with the bible. These will be analysed in the further sections of this paper.
Escaping from the air-raids in London during the war, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are due to move to an old house in the heart of England. Playing around the house they discover the existence of an old wardrobe that magically led into another world called Narnia. In this fabulous world, they are informed by its inhabitants that they have come as part of a prophecy which says that when the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve enter Narnia, King Aslan will come back and the evil White Witch will perish.
Chapter one: Lucy looks into a wardrobe
Four siblings, whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are sent away from London during the war to the house of an old Professor. One day, playing hide and seek around the house, Lucy finds a room with nothing inside but a bottle and a wardrobe. Thinking that the wardrobe was a good place not to be found, she steps into it realizing that it was deeper than it looked and that it actually led into another world in which the season was winter. Therein, she meets a strange creature who was carrying an umbrella on one hand and some parcels on the other.
Chapter two: What Lucy found there
The creature that Lucy met in Narnia was half a man and half a goat and his name was Tumnus. He was very excited about meeting the first human in his life (or daughter of Eve as he calls Lucy) so he invites Lucy to drink some tea at his house. In that place, they had a very nice conversation until he admits to have betrayed her. Tumnus told Lucy that he was due to catch the first daughter of Eve he would ever find and hand her out to the White Witch, who was nowadays reigning Narnia; however, he feels sorrow for his actions and decides to let Lucy go back into the wardrobe.
Chapter three: Edmund and the wardrobe
Once back, Lucy tells her siblings about her adventure, so they decide to step into the wardrobe to check the issue themselves. To her surprise, they notice that the wardrobe actually had a back cover and suspect that Lucy has lied to them. Lucy, trying to convince them about her visit to Narnia, insists on telling them how her trip was, but since there was not any way to prove otherwise, she is treated as a lier. Days later, Lucy decides to go back to Narnia, but this time she is followed by Edmund who runs into the Queen of Narnia very abruptly.
Chapter four: Turkish delight
Edmund starts a conversation with the Queen who offers him some turkish delight as he talks about his siblings and Lucy’s previous experience with the faun. The Queen tells him that he is welcome to visit her castle, but only on the condition that he goes with his siblings, and if he obeys, he will have as much turkish delight as he wishes and will also be named Prince and eventually the King of Narnia. Excited about the Queen’s offering, Edmund comes across Lucy, running from the other side of the forest. Thus, they go back to the wardrobe to tell the rest this new experience; however, on his way home, Edmund makes up his mind and decides to keep this secret for himself.
Chapter five: Back on this side of the door
Very excited, Lucy tells Susan and Peter that she has entered Narnia again and that this time Edmund has too, but when he is asked to corroborate this, he denies it and treats Lucy as a childish lier. These were the worst days for Lucy, as well as for Peter and Susan who could not imagine how Lucy had dared invent such stories out of nowhere. The Professor advices them that they should not mistrust Lucy because she was a trustworthy girl, who had never lied before, so there was not any logical reason not to believe her. Thus, games around the house continued until one day, they all found themselves at the wardrobe again.
Chapter six: Into the forest
Once the four of them were hidden back in the wardrobe, they started moving forward among the hanging coats until they found a way out and saw the lamp post Lucy had described. Here, Susan and Peter apologized for not having believed her. Thus, Lucy led them all towards Tumnus as they could meet him too. To their surprise, they found that when they got there, there was a note nailed on the carpet of the floor which said that Tumnus had been arrested for having treasoned the Queen of Narnia. Then, Lucy explained to them that she was not an actual Queen, but the White Witch and that they were due to help the faun out of prison because he had risked himself for having saved her.
Chapter seven: A day with the beavers
All of a sudden, they all saw a strange creature moving behind the trees and decided to follow it. Minutes later, they realized it was a beaver who had the skill to speak as a human. He confirmed that Mr. Tumnus had been imprisioned by the White Witch for not having caught Lucy the days before. As they walked towards his place, they were told about the prophecy which established that when two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve entered Narnia, Aslan would come back and the evil Witch would perish.
Chapter eight: What happened after dinner
At the Beaver’s, the four siblings begin to understand that they have a purpose other than rescue the faun. They have come to Narnia to free the country of the Witch’s spell and to occupy their place at Cair Paravel as part of the new kingdom of Narnia. In the meantime, they are informed that they will not be alone in this task because “Aslan”, the magical king is on his way to help them out. Since everbody was very attentive to the Beaver’s speech, nobody realized that Edmund had gone to tell everything to the White Witch, hence Peter realized that Edmund had acted as a traitor.
Chapter nine: In the Witch’s house
When Edmund arrived at the Witch’s castle he got amazed by the many statues that lied on the front yard of the house. They all looked very alive that they scared him a bit. At the far gate, a similar sleeping wolf protected the entrance of the house. When the fierce wolf woke up, he asked Edmund what he was doing there, so he replied that he had been invited by the Queen, and the wolf let him in. Once in, the Queen asked him where the others were, and he replied that he had done as much as he could to bring them in, but they were very naughty so they had stayed at the Beaver’s listening to his story about them becoming kings and Aslan coming back. Annoyed, the Witch ran towards the Beaver and ordered to imprison Edmund in a cage next to the faun.
Chapter ten: The spell begins to break
As soon as the siblings realized that Edmund was gone, the Beaver ordered to escape, so Mrs. Beaver packed up some food for the journey and off they went. On their way, they ran into Father Christmas who gave each of them very useful gifts and told them that Aslan would come soon. This was the first hint to notice that the spell of the Witch was vanishing, since Father Christmas was now free, after having been caught for a long time.
Chapter eleven: Aslan is nearer
In this way, The White Witch went out of the castle and ordered Edmund to go with her. After realizing that the Beaver’s house was empty they continued their journey behind the three siblings. The trip was very long and as they advanced, the sledge went slower because the snow became to melt and small spots of grass started to appear. That was how they came across some animals who where eating delicious food given to them by Father Christmas. When the Witch realized that Father Christmas was free she got upset and ordered her allies to help as they could go faster.
Chapter twelve: Peter’s first battle
When the sky was clearer and the sea was at sight, they saw the troop approaching and among them impetuous Aslan. They introduced each other with much respect and honorability. The siblings were astonished by the magnificence of Aslan and felt immediate appreciation towards him. Suddenly, a wolf came by and started a battle with Peter, who defeated him plunging his sword into its body. Full of pride, Peter felt it was the first battle out of many yet to come.
Chapter thirteen: Deep magic from the dawn of time
When the Witch realized that one of hers had been killed, she decided to take revenge by killing Edmund and thus, avoid the prophecy. However, in an indescribable moment of disturbance, Aslan’s allies appeared and rescued Edmund. In despair, the Witch decided to go down and confront Aslan. By then, Asland had already had a private conversation with Edmund, who had shown regret from his acts. When the Witch stood in front of Aslan, she reminded him of the Emperor’s Magic, which established that no prisioner could ever be taken apart from its owner. Aslan admitted that the Witch’s affirmation was true, so decided to move aside and make her a secret promess that would set Edmund free.
Chapter fourteen: The triumph of the witch
The crowd in the camp did not understand how Aslan had convinced the Witch peacefully, but accepted it and moved on, however they were all worried because Aslan did not look too well. That was how during that night the two girls chased Aslan who was heading to the Stone Table. There, they realized that Aslan had handed himself out to the Witch in exchange of Edmund, so now all the beasts were hitting him and tying him onto the stone in order to kill him. Susan and Lucy did not see when the beasts killed Aslan because they covered their eyes so they would not see such painful injustice.
Chapter fifteen: Deeper magic from before the dawn of time
In astonishment, Susan and Lucy climbed the hill up to the Stone Table where Aslan lied dead. Both of them stayed there for a long time and fell asleep after a while. Later, both decided to go back to the camp so as to let Peter and Edmund know the bad news. Suddenly, they heard the cracking sound of a broken stone and felt afraid to turn around, but when they finally did they saw the Stone Table broken in two pieces and Aslan, coming to life again. Then, the three of them rushed to the Witch’s castle in order to free the remaining prisoners.
Chapter sixteen: What happened about the statues
Lucy and Susan got really amazed when they reached the Witch’s Castle’s front yard and they saw it full of petrified statues. As Aslan walked by the statues, he began expelling his breath to them and they started coming to life again. Afterwards, they all restarted the journey back to the camp and when they reached it the battle between good and evil began.
Chapter seventeen: The hunting of the white stag
The battle lasted only a few minutes and finally all of them were witnesses of the Witch’s death. However, many members of Aslan’s troop resulted injured, so Lucy cured them with the secret potion Father Christmas had given to her. Aslan crowned the four siblings and they became Queens and Kings of Narnia. Aslan himself, had to leave to participate in other battles of other countries, but would frequently come back to visit them at Cair Paravel. Thus, many years went by, until one day the four of them found the same lamp post they had seen when they came into Narnia and decided to go through the wardrobe again. Much to their surprise, they found themselves back in the Professor’s house, still being kids and on the same moment they had left years ago.
Peter: The oldest and wisest brother who assumes a parental responsibility towards his siblings. His personality is that of a correct, responsible, serious and commited person; therefore, he is assigned the most important tasks by Aslan. During the whole story is seen as an innate trustworthy leader for Narnia.
Edmund: Edmund’s personality helps reflect the attitude of some personages of history famous for his betrayals. His attitude is very childish and immature and seen as the reflection of his lack of confidence and necessity of consideration. However, he realizes his mistake and redeems, playing an important role at defeating the Witch.
Susan: She is the quietest one out of the four siblings. Susan is a reflective and correct girl who controls her siblings when they get out of their minds or get too obsessed with their ideas. At times, she demonstrates that acts even more maturely than Peter.
Lucy: The youngest sibling and also the naivest one. As a child, she is very sincere, honest and committed to correctness. She is the one who discovers the entrance to Narnia through the wardrobe, but is not believed firstly until the others are able to prove it otherwise.
Aslan: This character is a divine figure embodied in the most important of all animals, the Lion King. Aslan is wise, brave, good and correct and his personality provokes diverse feelings in people, actually a mixture of fear and joy. Aslan is the “Mesias” and comes to Narnia to save it from years of cold evil.
The White Witch (Jadis): Even though she looks like a human she is a mixture of both, giant and human. She wants Narnia to be forever Winter, therefore she intends to avoid Aslan’s arrival and tries to kill Edmund, as the prophecy would not be accomplished.
The Professor: This man does not have an important participation in the story at least until the end of it, when he tells them that they will not be able to enter Narnia through the same route again because it will occur when they do not expect it. Thus, it seems that he always knew about Narnia and was just keeping it as a secret for them to experience it on their own.
Mrs. Mcready: She is the Professor’s housekeeper. It is possible to infer that she is not too fond of children because she acts grumpily all the time. Actually, the day the four siblings walked in the wardrobe they were trying to hide from her before being caught and told off by herself.
Father Christmas: Known by many names in many cultures, this old man is not other than Santa Claus. He represents happiness, joy and hope for Christmas, which are feelings that Narnians have not experienced for many years.
Mr. and Mrs. Beaver: Both of them are very nice and very helpful to the siblings during their journey. The relationship they have is very much as that of an established and long lasting matrimony, judging by the way they treat one another.
Tumnus: This is a solitary faun, but friendly at the same time. He has good feelings, however the Witch’s orders have misled him a little. He first thinks he has to catch Lucy, but regrets it in minutes because he knows that acting in such manner would be very dissapointing not only for Lucy, but also for his beloved and deceased father.
The dwarf: An evil creature with bad intentions who works for the Witch. It takes advantage of his power and abuses the good inhabitants of Narnia. His relationship with the Witch is not other as that of a slave, hence he lives in miserable conditions and is due to obey all her orders.
Physical dimension: Narnia is a supernatural, timeless world located in an unknown dimension, in which living creatures communicate using human speaking skills
Sociological dimension: Narnia is ruled by a monarchical system which is at the same time guided by an utmost superior King: Aslan.
Psychological dimension: Faith is enough to believe that there will be a shining light at the end of a road full of stones and thorns.
Symbolic dimension: The story alludes to biblical passages, particularly the resurrection of Jesus Christ and Judas’ betrayal.
d) Silent matter
Narnia, Witch, Lion, Aslan, Wardrobe, Winter, Peter, Susan, Edmund, Lucy, Witch, Resurrection, Treason, Evil, Cair Paravel, Christmas, Turkish delight, Stone table, Adam, Eve.
The Lion: Aslan is the King that everybody has been expecting in Narnia for a long time. He is the Mesias, the one who brings salvation and joy and the one who comes to Narnia exactly as the prophecy said. Aslan is the representation of Jesus Christ on earth and this can be inferred from his participation in the story. E.g.:
Aslan is considered as the savior of Narnia, whereas Jesus Christ was considered as the savior of the world.
Aslan appears in the story surrounded by a crowd of followers and creatures playing music which resembles the entrance of Jesus in Jerusalem.
Aslan is sacrificed as well as Jesus.
Aslan comes to life again as well as Jesus.
Aslan departs Narnia mysteriously and without farewell whereas Jesus does not say good bye, but just ascends to heaven.
Finally, the sequence of events is the same as in the Bible.
Edmund: This character symbolizes two Apostles, Peter and Judas. Edmund denies that he entered Narnia with Lucy and treats her as a lier, whereas Peter denies that he had ever met Jesus. On the other hand, Edmund betrays his siblings and offers them to the Witch, whereas Judas betrays Jesus and informs where he will be in order to be arrested.
Turkish delight: Edmund is tempted by the Witch to taste delicious candy, whereas Eve is tempted by the snake to taste a delicious apple.
Stone table: The stone table is used to sacrifice Aslan. This symbolizes the cross used to sacrifice Jesus.
The four siblings: The four siblings represent the Apostles of the four Gospels: Matthew, John, Luke and Mark. Also, the four siblings have different personalities and none of them is flawless at all, therefore the four of them represent altogether the perfection that they lack individually and which is necessary to govern Narnia. In other words, the four of them are a unit.
Christmas: When the spell of the Witch begins to disappear, Father Christmas appears after a long time and carrying along great news: Christmas is coming as well as Aslan. Curiously, Aslan arrives in Christmas eve, time of the year in which the world celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.
Prophecy: The prophecy helped the inhabitants of Narnia to go on and never give up during a period of everlasting winter and evil. This symbolizes the importance of faith for humanity.
Forgiveness/Redemption: Despite Edmund betrayed his siblings, Aslan was able to forgive him and redeem him from his acts. This alludes to the redemption of Judas after his treason.
Witch: Jadis symbolizes evil and all the negativeness that acts against the pursuit of happiness of the human being.
g) Literature devices:
Allegory: The whole story is an allegory.
E.g.: And then she saw that there was a light ahead of her; not a few inches away where the back of the wardrobe ought to have been, but a long way off. Something cold and soft was falling on her. A moment later she found that she was standing in the middle of a wood at night-time with snow under her feet and snowflakes falling through the air.
Brackets: To give extra information and refer to opinions or feelings.
E.g.: […] she could still see the open doorway of the wardrobe and even catch a glimpse of the empty room from which she had set out. (She had, of course, left the door open, for she knew that it is a very silly thing to shut oneself into a wardrobe.)
Climax: Concluding point in the story.
E.g.: Aslan solemnly crowned them and led them to the four thrones amid deafening shouts of, "Long Live King Peter! Long Live Queen Susan! Long Live King Edmund! Long Live Queen Lucy!"
"Once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen. Bear it well, Sons of Adam! Bear it well, Daughters of Eve!" said Aslan.
Simile: A figure of speech involving a comparison.
E.g.: And next you would have thought that the stump did look really remarkably like a little fat man crouching on the ground.
Exposition: Where an author interrupts a story in order to explain something, usually to provide important background information.
E.g.: "That is the very thing that makes her story so likely to be true," said the Professor. "If there really a door in this house that leads to some other world (and I should warn you that this is a very strange house, and even I know very little about it) - if, I say, she had got into another world, I should not be at a surprised to find that the other world had a separate time of its own; so that however long you stay there it would never take up any of our time.
We can observe that the story was written for children by the simplicity of its dialogs, the personification of its characters, the pace of its narration and for that ineffable flavour that makes it an amusing reading for kids. But also, it is a very complex book in terms of religious elements, and that has been clearly exemplified in the previous pages. So, here it comes the question: Why would C.S. Lewis want to write a story for children with religious elements that they would not be able to comprehend?. My interpretation is that C.S. Lewis’ goal was to teach children religious values and also give a sort of introduction to the Bible through an easy-going book like this one, and thus kill two birds with one stone.
“The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe” is the first book out of seven that compound “The Chronicles of Narnia” and as we could see in this analysis, the story contains elements that deserve a deep analysis under a religious perspective. It will be interesting to know what the other stories are about, especially the last two ones: “The Magician’s Newphew” and “The Last Battle”, since we are already aware that they must contain further religious references that will help us have a more general perspective of C.S. Lewis’ approach to this book.
1.- Which is the best sentence?
“And Aslan said nothing either to excuse Peter or to blame him but merely stood looking at him with his great unchanging eyes. And it seemed to all of them that there was nothing to be said”.
In my opinion, this sentence reflects how Aslan is and how Aslan will be next in the story. This is a great way to introduce the reader to the greatness of this King who does not need to say anything because his eyes speak for him. This is a display of his wisdom, willingness, goodness and capacity to solve the upcoming conflicts in Narnia.
2.- Which is the best scene?
The rising of the sun had made everything look so different - all colours and shadows were changed that for a moment they didn't see the important thing. Then they did. The Stone Table was broken into two pieces by a great crack that ran down it from end to end; and there was no Aslan.
"Oh, oh, oh!" cried the two girls, rushing back to the Table.
"Oh, it's too bad," sobbed Lucy; "they might have left the body alone."
"Who's done it?" cried Susan. "What does it mean? Is it magic?"
"Yes!" said a great voice behind their backs. "It is more magic." They looked round. There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.
"Oh, Aslan!" cried both the children, staring up at him, almost as much frightened as they were glad.
"Aren't you dead then, dear Aslan?" said Lucy.
"Not now," said Aslan.
This is my favourite scene in the story because it ends a sorrowful moment not only for Lucy and Susan, but also for the reader who is expecting the worst after having witnessed Aslan’s death. After this, a new hope is born for the future of Narnia.
3.- Which is the most interesting idea?
The most interesting idea of the story is proposed by the Professor at the end of it, specifically when he explains to the kids that they will go back to Narnia one day because once a King in Narnia, always a King in Narnia; however they must not look for it, since it will happen again naturally. This suggests that they entered Narnia because Narnia was looking for them and not the other way around; so, the entrance gate could have been either a wardrobe or any other way. Summing up, the decision of entering Narnia was never up to them, but up to the providence that had already made a choice on behalf of them.
4.- Which is my favorite character?
Due to his wisdom, strength, willingness, braveness, symbolism, magnificence and magic, my favourite character is undoubtedly, Aslan.
Lewis, C. S. ( ). The Chronicles of Narnia. “The lion, the witch and the wardrobe”
La Biblia (1995, 92a edición). Diagramación e ilustración: Hernán Rodas. Editorial Verbo Divino