I declare that I have worked on this thesis independently,
using only the primary and secondary sources listed in the bibliography.
I would like to thank doc. Mgr. Milada Franková, CSc., M.A. for her kind advice and supervising.
Table Of Contents
1. Introduction ……………………………………………………… 2
1.2 Symbol, Metaphor and Allegory ………………………. 3
2. The Story of Narnia ……………………………………………. 7
3. Symbols in The Chronicles of Narnia.……………........ 10
3.1 Symbols Referring to God ….................................10
3.2 Symbols Referring to Concrete People,
Characters of People in General
and Symbols Referring to Other Beings ………………..…. 18
3.3 Symbols Referring to Places ……………………………. 30
3.4 Other Symbolism ………………………………………….. 37
4. Conclusion …………………………………………………………. 38 Works Cited ………………………………………………………… 39
The Chronicles of Narniais a favorite children story of many, not only children. However, not everybody realizes what the stories really are about. I believe the first crucial thing to realize before approaching The Chronicles of Narnia and assuming anything from its meaning is to know at least a little bit about the background of the author, specifically his religious inclinations. Otherwise, one will not see nor understand the symbols there are in the books of Narnia and thus miss so much on its message, the hidden story which lays beneath the story about Aslan and the land of Narnia.
My desire, therefore, is to search the book in order to find symbols, to explain why Lewis used them, what he tried to imply by using the symbols, how they correspond to the facts and events or characters written about in the Bible, as well as why he chose the form of a fairy-tale to tell such a powerful and moving story of all times. I will analyze the seven individual books of The Chronicles of Narnia and put the symbols into groups in accordance with the essence of the corresponded being, person or place in this world. Therefore, the aim of this thesis is to compartmentalize the symbols used in this series of seven books and put them into three main categories:
Symbols referring to God
Symbols referring to people, characters and supernatural beings
Symbols referring to places in our real world
Since there are many symbols I could mention, I chose only those which I find the most significant for the story and/or the most interesting for that matter. Many of the symbols are parallels of symbols from the Bible and these are mentioned in this thesis as well.
1.2 Symbol, Metaphor and Allegory
C. S. Lewis says in one of his essays in Of This and Other Worlds that many people seem to think that he begun writing his children’s books with the notion in mind that he could write something about Christianity for children, then chose the form of fairy-tale as an instrument, then collected some information about child psychology and decided what age group he would like to write for, then listed the basic Christian truths and hammered out allegories to embody them. “This is all pure moonshine. I couldn’t write in that way at all” (72, 73). He says, that everything begun with images – a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sledge, a magnificent lion. An interesting fact about The Chronicles of Narnia is that at first, there was nothing Christian about them. “That element pushed itself in of its own accord. It was part of the bubbling” (Of this and other worlds 73).
His images of the queen, faun and other mystical creatures, limit themselves to only few forms. One of them is fairy-tale. He decided for the form of it because it seemed to be the ideal form for what he wanted to write and communicate. He goes on to say in Of This and Other Worlds, that writing a fairy-tale excited him as it represented a challenge for him – the form limits itself to the usage of a certain vocabulary, certain symbols and certain themes.
In spite of that, Lewis does not talk of his books as of children stories. He differentiates between a children story and a fairy-tale. The difference is, he explains, that children stories are read only by children, whereas fairy tales are read by adults too. What’s more, the adults come back to fairy-tales over and over again (Of This and Other Worlds 74). Therefore, The Chronicles of Narnia is not primarily written for children.
While the Narnia stories are not allegorical, they do contain symbolism. There is not a one-to-one correspondence between everything in Narnia and something in our world, but there are some correspondences. There is in the Narnia books what Lewis called a “hidden story” (Vaus 15). Therefore, before analyzing the story, there is a need to define the terms symbol, metaphor and allegory, since there is a difference between “mere” symbol and allegory. After consulting the dictionary, here are some basic definitions and the differences between symbol, metaphor and allegory.
Symbol as it is defined in the World Book Dictionary: “Something that stands for or represents something else, especially an idea, quality, or condition. Ex. The lion is the symbol of courage; the lamb, of meekness; the olive branch, of peace; the cross, of Christianity...” (World Book)
A symbol has complex meaning; it has not only "literal" meaning, but also additional meaning(s) beyond the literal. Sometimes the literal meaning of a symbol is absurd, so that the symbolic meaning is better known or has more significance than the literal meaning. A symbol may have more than one meaning. In fact, the most significant symbols do convey an indefinite range of meanings.
Lewis uses these kinds of symbols. Sometimes he borrows them from other literary works such as the Bible and fairy tales and myths. Among such are the lion as a representation of a king, children as the representation of the one with the strongest faith in matters that seem to be supernatural or a horn which he uses as a symbol for prayer.
Metaphor as defined in the World Book Dictionary: “An implied comparison between two different things; figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily means one thing is applied to another thing in order to suggest a likeness between the two; something concrete used to represent an idea, quality, or condition; symbol (Examples:) "a copper sky," "a heart of stone." (World Book)
A symbol is different from a metaphor in that a symbol is used more consistently and widely than a metaphor. Also, a metaphor is a statement (even if implied), whereas a symbol need not be a statement. The common element in symbols and metaphors is that the literal, conventional meaning is exceeded or negated by a non-literal meaning.
Metaphorical use of symbols is seen in The Chronicles of Narnia mainly in the person of Aslan. Lewis chose the form of a lion to express the wildness (as opposed to tameness), stability, majesty and authority of Jesus Christ. This metaphorical conception is also seen in the White Witch where her appearance implies the facts about her character and intentions.
Allegory as defined in the World Book Dictionary: “A story that is told to explain or teach something, especially a long and complicated story with an underlying meaning different from the surface meaning of the story itself. E.g.: The parables in the Bible are allegories.” (World Book)
Allegory and metaphor differ in their length – allegory telling a whole story, metaphor might be a relatively short statement. The similarity in these two is that both use symbols to tell what is non-literal. Symbols and metaphors are used by C. S. Lewis in The Chronicles of Narnia, but they are not an allegory of any other story (e.g., the story of the Bible) and they do not tell the story of any other story that have already happened in this real world. In fact, Lewis wrote only one allegory and the is The Pilgrim’s Regress.
2. THE STORY OF NARNIA
C. S. Lewis didn’t think of his Narnia books as being an allegory, strictly speaking. Instead, he though of them as exploring the nature of Christianity and God’s relationship with man in a parallel universe. He did not intend to represent Jesus as he really was in our world by a lion in Narnia. Instead, he said: “Let us suppose that there were a land like Narnia and that the Son of God, as he became a Man in our world, became a Lion there, and then imagine what would happen.” (Letters to Children). In fact, Lewis explicitly warns readers against trying to make a one-for-one match between Narnia and the real world. In a May 1954 letter to a fifth grade class in Maryland, he writes, that she is mistaken if she thinks everything in the books of Narnia represent something in this world. He is not writing in that way, though. (Letters To Children 20)
Although Lewis makes it clear that The Chronicles of Narnia isn't an allegory, he doesn't deny that some symbolism was incorporated into the books. However, to understand his approach, one needs to recognize that Lewis differentiates allegory from something he calls supposal. In a December 1959 letter to a young girl named Sophia Storr, he explains the difference: “I don't say, 'Let us represent Christ as Aslan.' I say, 'Supposing there was a world like Narnia, and supposing, like ours, it needed redemption, let us imagine what sort of Incarnation and Passion and Resurrection Christ would have there.” (Letters To Children 22)
Allegory and supposal aren't identical due to their different approach to the real and unreal worlds. In an allegory, the ideas, concepts and people being expressed are true, but the characters are make-believe. They always behave in a way reflective of the underlying concepts they're representing. A supposal is different – the fictional character becomes real within the imaginary world, taking on a life of its own and adapting to the make-believe world as necessary. If, for example, one accepts the supposal of Aslan as true, then, as Lewis says, he would really have been a physical object in that world as He was in Palestine, and His death on the Stone Table would have been a physical event no less than his death on Calvary.
Much of The Chronicles of Narnia is built on the concept of supposal. For example:
Suppose Christ came into the world of Narnia as Aslan. What would he be like?
Suppose Aslan created Narnia out of nothing and centuries later brought it to a conclusion. How would these stories play out?
Suppose evil were introduced into Narnia. What would that be like?
Suppose a person or talking animal could freely choose to obey or disobey Aslan. What would life in Narnia be like? (Kilby 150)
Lewis explains what do the individual books (as individual stories) symbolize in the Letters to Children saying, that supposing that there really was a world like Narnia and supposing it had (like our world) gone wrong and supposing Christ wanted to go into that world and save it (as He did ours) what might have happened. The stories are Lewis’ answers to these questions.
Since Narnia is a world of Talking Beasts, I thought He would become a Talking Beast there, as He became a man here. I pictured Him becoming a lion there because (a) The lion is supposed to be the king of beasts: (b) Christ is called “The Lion of Judah” in the Bible: (c) I’d been having strange dreams about lions when I began writing the work. (Letters to Children 25)
The whole series then works out like this:
The Magician’s Nephew – the Creation and how evil entered Narnia.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – the Crucifixion and Resurrection.
Prince Caspian – restoration of the true religion after a corruption.
The Horse and His Boy – the calling and conversion of a heathen.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – the spiritual life (especially in Reepicheep)
The Silver Chair – the continued war against the powers of darkness
The Last Battle – the coming of the Antichrist (the Ape). The end of the world and the Last Judgment.
In the light of all these things said, Narnia is an imaginative alternative to our world. It has its own history, rules, characters of people and characteristics that can be compared to other worlds but we cannot take Narnia as an imaginary equivalent of our or some other world.
3. SYMBOLS IN THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA
To supply a ‘key’ to an allegory may encourage that particular misunderstanding of allegory which, as a literary critic, I have elsewhere denounced. It may encourage people to suppose that allegory is a disguise, a way of saying obscurely what could have been said more clearly. But in fact all good allegory exists not to hide but to reveal; to make the inner world more palpable by giving it an (imagined) concrete embodiment… when allegory is at its best, it approaches myth, which must be grasped with imagination not with intellect.” (Walmsley 54, 55)
It has already been said that The Chronicles of Narnia is not an allegoric story. However, it can be said that the above statement by C. S. Lewis can be applied to symbols or writing in symbols as well. Therefore, it is obvious that Lewis used the symbols in The Chronicles of Narnia to draw the reader’s attention to the story behind the symbols, to the “hidden story,” as he himself calls it.
Beside the symbolism of the individual books and their complete stories, there is also another level of symbolism. The stories themselves contain symbols that represent characters, concepts, places and things. As Lewis was a Christian, many of the symbols refer to the Bible, Christianity, Christ, God, sin, and other spiritual matters. Even though Lewis did not re-write the biblical story of Christ, he uses the characteristics of people from the Bible, he uses the idea behind acts such as the creation of the world (the way and reason it was created), death of Christ and resurrection, he creates places and worlds based on other existing places or places that could exist according to the Bible, even though he is not creating these imaginary worlds and places strictly according the ones we could see in this, real, world. He also uses the idea behind spiritual journeying to heaven and the problems that accompany such journey.
3.1 Symbols Referring to God
As it was mentioned above, Lewis was a Christian. As it is seen in the rest of Lewis’ writings, the concept of God, faith in him and love towards him was penetrating into every sphere of his being and area of his life. That is the reason why so much of his writings’ central idea is God or faith in him. (e.g., Surprised by Joy, Mere Christianity, Screwtape Letters, Miracles and many others.) Since God is the central theme in most of his writings and for sure of The Chronicles of Narnia, Aslan as the representation of Christ is the central figure of all the stories, as Jesus Christ is the most important element in Christianity. Therefore, I want to focus my attention first to the symbols that point to God, specifically to Christ.
Aslan, the Son of the Emperor beyond the Sea as Jesus Christ, the Son of God Father
Aslan is a lion, the one and only character that occurs in all seven books of The Chronicles of Narnia. Therefore, it can be assumed that he is the most important and central element of the message Lewis wanted to communicate to the readers of The Chronicles of Narnia. The first time Aslan appears is roughly in the middle of the first book of The Chronicles of Narnia, The Magician’s Nephew. Then he reappears randomly in all seven books and even though he does not actively play a part in the story or is not visible in the actual battles and adventures, he plays the central role of every book, he is the basis for every adventure and everything happens because of him and for him. The last time he appears in The Chronicles of Narnia is in the very last chapter of the very last book, The Last Batlle and he is the one closing the history of Narnia and begins a new story which goes on in a still different world and we are told we might know that story one day (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 524).
Since it can be said that everybody’s identity is primarily formed by their parents and one’s strongest bonds are in general those with one’s family one grows up in, I first chose to point to Aslan as a son. However, before that I will comment on Aslan as being a lion. In the second book of the series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Aslan is introduced as follows: “I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion” (99). Even though a lion is a device and symbol of Christ used in the Bible, it rather seems like Lewis was inspired to portrait Aslan with the characteristics he did based on his friend’s, Charles Williams’, work The Place of the Lion (qvt. Lindskoog 53)
[…] the shape of a full grown and tremendous lion, its head flung back, its mouth open, its body quivering. It ceased to roar, and gathered itself back into itself. It was a lion such as the young men had never seen in any zoo or menagerie; it was gigantic and seemed to their dazed senses to be growing larger every moment. Of their presence it appeared unconscious; awful and solitary it stood, and did not at first so much turn its head. Then, majestically, it moved; it took up the slow forward pacing in the direction which the man had been following; it passed onward, and while they stared it entered into the dark shade of the trees and was hidden from sight.
The description of Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is into a large extent resembling the above description:
It was coming on, always singing, in a slow, heave pace… Though its soft pads made no noise, you could see the earth shaking beyond their weight… The children could not move. They were not even quite sure that they wanted to. The Lion paid no attention to them. Its huge red mouth was open, but open in a song, not snarl. It passed by them so close that they could have touched its mane. They were terribly afraid it would turn and look at them, yet in some queer way they wished it would. But for all the notice it took of them they might just as well have been invisible and unsmellable. When it had passed them and gone a few paces further it turned, passed them again, and continued its march eastward (44 – 45).
Aslan possesses twofold nature – he was fully a lion, he looked like one, he roared like one. At the same time he was the same time fully God. He therefore represents God as capable of anything, even becoming a true lion (Lindskoog 55). This is clearly a reference to the biblical story of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, being God himself. That is the first very important notion to remember when talking of Aslan – he is the representation of God the Son, Jesus Christ. The Emperor-beyond-the-Sea, standing for God the Father, never plays active role in the story but we know Aslan is sent by him to the land powerful and mysterious “miracles” or deeds that no other lion was capable of (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 99). The same thing can be applied to Lewis’ conception of Christ, who is portrayed in the Bible as fully a man and at the same time as fully God with all the accompanying phenomenon of being God, among others exercising miracles and teaching and setting a personal example of morality. Aslan comes to Narnia from his own world, the World beyond the Sea and that is just like Christ, the Son of God, came to the Earth from his “home” – heaven.
Aslan as the Creator of the World
Aslan is the person who created Narnia. He created it ex nihilo, out of nothing, just by a word spoken, or, better say, a song or a tune singing or humming (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 45). That is a parallel to how God is described to create the world in the Bible, the book of Genesis. Therefore, it can be said that he possesses infinite power, being able to create things out of nothing. He represents an omnipotent God, the creator and sustainer of the universe, all of which can be seen in the first book of The Chronicles of Narnia, The Magician’s Nephew, especially from chapter 8 onward.
After creating the world of Narnia, he calls the whole creation that can move to gather around him. He breathes his breath on them and that makes them talk. This breath is the means of enabling the animals to speak and to become more than just dumb beasts. It is the way Aslan gives their souls life and intellect. The first words of the creation are addressed to Aslan himself and are as follows: “Hail, Aslan. We hear and obey. We are awake. We love. We think. We speak. We know” (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 48). This greeting of Aslan points to some characteristics of him as the symbol of God, specifically Jesus Christ, in this book. Aslan is the one deserving admiration and obedience. The talking beasts (sometimes called people in the stories) are aware of their perceptions, being awake. They recognize Aslan as their authority and master, they are aware of Aslan’s qualities and power for which he is worthy of praise.
Both the people and Aslan are relational – they are capable of a deeper “feeling” or state of their souls or hearts – love. That refers to Jesus Christ as a personal being, not a distant deity. He is an intellectual being, he is able to think and create. Similarly, the talking beasts are capable of thinking, deciding for themselves and even disobeying Aslan as some of the dwarfs in The Last Battle who did not believe Aslan is good and therefore refused to subdue to his orders and rules (511). They have some knowledge and are capable of learning new information. Lewis then depicts Aslan and God as an honorable, personal, intellectual being who creates other beings, specifically people, to his own image, specifically, he creates them with the same mental qualities – intellect, will, decision making and expressing their opinions.
The animals, since capable of thinking and acting upon their reasoning, were given the land of Narnia into their management, just as the first biblical people, Adam and Eve, were given the earth to rule over it. Aslan says he gives them themselves, he gives them the land of Narnia and all there is to it like fruits, woods, river, forever. An important statement made by Aslan is that he is giving himself to the talking beasts. The dumb beasts are in the disposal of the talking ones as well, however, there is a warning from Aslan, saying to be very careful lest the talking beasts start to walk in the ways of the dumb beasts in which case the talking beasts will cease to be talking beasts. “For out of them you were taken and into them you can return. Do not so” (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 49).
Corresponding portion from the Bible from Genesis offers similar instructions: be fruitful, increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it. People are given all there is in the earth for their food (New International Version Bible, Genesis 1:27-28).
There were two groups of animals – those which were dumb and were true beasts and those who were chosen by Aslan to come alive in their spirits, i.e., to start talking. This latter group is the representation of humanity, as it is obvious from the above stated quotes from The Chronicles of Narnia and the Bible.
Aslan as an unchanging God
The one main differences between our real world and the land of Narnia is the concept of time. On several places in the book it is mentioned that the time in Narnia is unlike the time in London. Narnian time flows differently from ours. If you spent a hundred years in Narnia, you would still come back to our world at the very same hour of the very same day of which you left. And then, if you went back to Narnia after spending a week here, you might find that a thousand Narnian years had passes, or only a day, or no time at all. You never know till you get there (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 296).
Connected to Narnian time is the age of people and animals living there. For example, the citizens and inhabitants of Narnia get older much slower than people in the real world. What’s more, Narnians live very long lives – several hundreds years. They die as any other beings do. However, there is one character that does not get older and does not change over time at all. It is Aslan. A conversation Aslan has with Lucy Pevensie (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 259) unveils the mystery about Aslan and his stability. Lucy thinks Aslan got bigger during the time Lucy was back in England for a year, but his actual size did not change. As that, Aslan is a representation of an unchangeable being, the master of time (since the time has no effect on him) and stability. One can be sure that when one comes back to Narnia after even a long time, he will find the same old Aslan, not touched by time.
Lewis here makes parallel to his belief that the more spiritually mature person becomes, the greater capacity he will have for understanding the goodness and beauty of God. (Lindskoog 57.) Also, this notion contributes to the unchangeable God as introduced in the Bible, the book of James: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (NIV, James 1:17)
Aslan as a Savior
One of the greatest deeds Aslan did in Narnia was he died instead of his traitor, Edmund, in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Just as Christ existed before the beginning of the world and was one of the three persons of God creating the world and its rules and laws, Aslan as well was the one dictating the rules of Narnia, which Lewis calls Deep Magic. When the Witch tries to dictate what Aslan needs to do in case there is a traitor, Aslan roars at her and says she needs not to tell him what he himself said before the beginning of the world (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 118). Therefore, Aslan knew that he had to die for Edmund who betrayed him. The White Witch did not exist before the time begun, though, and therefore she was not conscious of still deeper magic, from beyond the dawn of time. If the Witch could look back before the time dawned, she would find a different spell. “She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards” (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 125).
Aslan did this for Edmund out of love for him which correlates with what Christ did for the world, all people – “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (NIV, 1. John 4:9-10) Since the deep magic says the one innocent who dies for a traitor (or a sinner), the death will not have any power over him, Aslan had to rise from the dead. Similarly, Jesus was risen from the dead, according to the Bible, because he overruled the power of death, dying, as the innocent one, for sinful world.
At the resurrection of Aslan, a curious thing happened – the Stone Table on which Aslan was slain, broke into two parts (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 125). This happened right after Aslan’s resurrection. Similar phenomenon happened after Jesus’ resurrection – the stone which was closing his grave was rolled away (NIV, Luke 24) as a sign that a stronger power than human force has intervened an caused the dead body to rise from the dead.
3.2 Symbols referring to concrete people, characters of people in general and symbols referring to other beings
People and Cowardice
According to critics of modern poetry, myths define the relationship of a man to himself and to God in such a way that there is no distinction between symbol and meaning. A distinction grows, however, as the civilization declines. Before the separation is complete, mythologies may be used by laymen and artists to describe man’s place in the universe. “In this sense, a mythology may serve as a guide, explaining conduct and regulation ethics on both material and spiritual planes” (Lindskoog 87). Lewis’ series of children’s books fill this capacity. The structure of all their mythical plots is the problem of human behavior. Lewis chose children for his stories who have the highest potential for learning and who have not managed to build too many bad habits. Once the children grow up and become teenagers, they are too old for Narnia, probably because Lewis wanted to emphasize the biblical picture that one needs to have a faith like a child in order to come to God.
Among other deficiencies Lewis deals in The Chronicles of Narnia are vanity, spying, theft, frivolity, quarreling, prudishness and bullying. However, there is an issue Lewis pays more attention to in comparison with the deficiencies stated above – cowardice. It is because people are usually proud on other vices. But cowardice is, according to Lewis, the only truly painful vice. One gets some pleasure in hatred, even though it may not last for a long time. But person does not talk openly about acting cowardly (Lindskoog 103).
Unchanged Eustace as the Embodiment of Cowardice
Eustace from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a very cowardly and naughty child, in fact, he could be though of as an embodiment of cowardice. He comes to Narnia not from his own will but because he is being mischievous and steps inside a picture frame which takes him into the sea in Narnia. However, nothing in Narnia happens by chance and so there is always a reason why a person enters the land of the talking beasts. In fact, even when Eustace and Jill wanted to enter Narnia in The Silver Chair, Aslan told Jill, after her telling him Eustace and her were the ones wanting to come to Narnia and that nobody called them: “You would not have called me unless I had been calling to you, “ said the lion.” (382) The same principle is explained in the Gospel of John when Jesus says: “No one can come to me unless The Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day” (NIV, John 6:44).
The reason why Eustace needed to come to Narnia was obvious – to be regenerated from inside out. When we are introduced to Eustace in the beginning of the first chapter, he is portrayed negatively. He has a weird name and he almost deserves it. He has no friends and he calls his parents by their Christian names. Eustace likes bullying and bossing and he likes to give people hard time, even though his physical properties, especially his height, do not give a reason for such behavior. He is looking forward to receiving any visits to their home as it means more opportunities to be nasty towards them.
Another example of Eustace’s corrupt manners and self-centeredness is seen in his keeping a diary, recording all the ways in which he does right, from his perspective, and all the ways the others are doing him wrong on the voyage. He was complaining about everything and anything, he was not brave enough to help others fighting the storm which occurred on the sea, he was too afraid, acting like a typical coward, right when he entered a ship. Since Aslan does not call people to Narnia just so, he had his purpose with Eustace. That purpose was fulfilled when Eustace has turned into a dragon in a cave while he wanted to walk around an island after the ship Dawn Treader arrived. One night, after Eustace was turned into a dragon during his walk, he is approached by Aslan who invites Eustace to follow him. Eustace obeys and Aslan leads him to a garden at the top of a mountain. In the middle of this garden there is a well. Eustace longs to get into the bubbling water which he hopes will ease the pain in his arm with a bracelet on it, but Aslan tells him he must undress before entering. After thinking about it, Eustace realizes Aslan is talking about his dragon-skin, that he must shed his skin before getting into the pool. Eustace scratches off one layer of skin after another, but he is not successful in having it all put off. After each layer Eustace finds another layer underneath, as hard and knobbly as the one before. Finally Aslan tells Eustace that he will have to let him undress him. Though Eustace is afraid of Aslan’s claws he lays down on his back to let Aslan do his work. The very first tear is so deep that it feels like it is going right into Eustace’s heart. The pain is intense, but Eustace is relieved, all the same, to have the ugly dragon skin removed. It hurt but Eustace knew it was needed if he wanted to be a human again. Next, Aslan catches hold of Eustace, throws him into the water, which stings for a moment, and suddenly Eustace realizes he has turned into a boy again.
This is a very dramatic picture, in Narnian terms, of Christian conversion and baptism. The peeling off the skins symbolizes confession of sins, where the skin stands for a sin. This process is assigned a term conversion or being born-again in theological vocabulary. All of this happened because before turning into a boy again, Eustace needed to get rid of his old nature, as if old man, as the Bible describes such process. Baptism occurred because in Christian teaching a believer should be baptized to openly proclaim his faith in Jesus Christ after he has confessed and repented from his sins. Even the undressing of Eustace is like the undressing of baptismal candidates in the Early Church who would descend, naked, into the waters of baptism. Aslan dresses Eustace in new clothes, just as newly baptized believers in the Early Church were dressed in new white garments, and just as Jesus dresses believers in the righteousness of Christ. The most important point is that the un-dragoning of Eustace is accomplished by Aslan, showing he is even more powerful than human will (Vaus 70).
People and Pride
Because of the need for new Lancelots, Lewis incorporates the notion of chivalry to The Chronicles of Narnia, as to set an example of brave and courageous behavior as opposed to the behavior shown by Eustace before he was born-again. The first time we meet chivalry in the books is when a boy, Peter, kills a wolf, which is about to kill his sister, Susan. Peter is consequently dubbed a knight by Aslan (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 115-116). Another instance of chivalry is the coronation of the four Pevensies children. They change from mere children into honorable kings and queens – Peter becomes King Peter the Magnificent, a tall, deep-chested warrior. Susan becomes Queen Susan the Gentle, a gracious and beautiful woman. Edmund is King Edmund the Just, because he has a great wisdom for judging matters. And the youngest one, Lucy, becomes Queen Lucy the Valiant, the most charismatic of all (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 131-132).
The journey to a knighthood or the journey for acquiring royal status is not simple, though. The children were required to obey Aslan in spite of the fact that when they did not obey him, he was willing to forgive them. Here, sins or trespasses come to the question. According to the Bible, Satan, or Lucifer, committed the first sin or offence against God by being proud and wanting to be equal with God.
How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate: “Is this the man who shook the earth and mde kingdoms tremble, the man who made the world a desert, who verthew its cities and would not let the captives go home?” But you are cast out of your tomb like a rejected branch; you are covered with the slain, with those pierced by the sword, those who descend to the stones of the pit. Like a corpse trampled underfoot, you will not join them in burial, for you have destroyed your land and killed your people. (NIV, Isaiah 14;13:20)
Lewis believes that pride and self-conceit is the root for every other vice. One is not concerned about having more but about having more than the other person. In Mere Christianity, Lewis states that pride is not something that God forbids us because of concern for His own dignity. He simply wants to eliminate this barrier between Himself and His creation (Mere Christianity 95). Due to this belief of Lewis, it is understandable that the main ethical concern in the Chronicles of Narnia will be paid to pride and the effort and will to overcome it. Not simply because it is bad to be proud but because if one is proud, he cannot recognize Aslan for who he truly is. Just as a real person, as the message of the Bible is, cannot come to God and see him as a sovereign and rightful God without humbling oneself.
The characters, especially the children, in The Chronicles of Narnia very often posses numerous moral and immoral characteristics that common people in our real world posses. One of them is already mentioned pride.
Jadis and Uncle Andrew as the Embodiment of Pride
The Queen Jadis of Charn, the representation of Evil, is a person who symbolizes Satan in The Chronicles of Narnia. She is so proud that she is not able to bow down to Aslan even though she feels there is something extraordinary with him for which her magic does not have such power as usual (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 44). She is a perfect archetype of a negative character in literature – she does not do one thing in the story that would at least imply she was doing it for others’ sake. She is obsessed with her power. However, she loses the power when she is in the presence of Aslan (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 119). Jadis does not change throughout the story and in a sense she cannot as she symbolizes Satan, who is the constant enemy of God. She was the enemy of Aslan, so stuck in her pride that she failed to realize that by that pride she destroys everybody and everything around her (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 30). In that instance, she does the same destruction as Satan did in the book of Isaiah – “Like a corpse trampled underfoot, you will not join them in burial, for you have destroyed your land and killed your people“ (NIV, Isaiah). She thought she is a mistress of her own life and that she did not have to subdue to any rules or laws that might be necessary for a healthy social and spiritual life. In fact, she says she has different standards than anybody else in the world and that what other people might consider as wrong, she perceives it right. She also adds she must be freed from all rules because her destiny is high and lonely. Very similar statement is pronounced by uncle Magician in The Magician’s Nephew: “No, Digory, men like me, who posses hidden wisdom, are freed from common rules just as we are cut off from common pleasures. Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny” (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 15).
These two characters, Queen Jadis and uncle Andrew, the Magician, represent the evil. Jadis is the evil itself and uncle Andrew, as a magician who is blindly serving Queen Jadis, is a voluntary follower of the evil, if we talk in the biblical terms, the evil one is Satan. Jadis and Andrew are both wicked through and through. However, what they fail to see is that the world’s rules and laws apply to all, even though they might exclude themselves from the ordinary people, e.g., the rule that everything one does has consequences and thus evil acts and intentions have evil consequences. This is nicely put by Uncle Andrew’s nephew, Digory, who says that he did not believe in magic until the day Uncle Andrew send Polly to some other world. Now Digory does believe in it but says that fairy-tales are more or less true and in all fairy-tales the wicked magicians were paid out in the end, for, of course, he believes his uncle is such wicked magician. Digory was right and as a consequence of refusing to acknowledge Aslan as the master and king, spiritual blindness followed in the life of uncle Andrew. This kind of blindness, or rather deafness, was manifested in uncle Andrew not being able to recognize the speech of the talking animals. When he heard Aslan singing, uncle Andrew heard nothing but roaring and the same applies to all the other animals.
Digory's uncle Andrew is a representative of the spiritually poor adults. After having witnessed the creation of a world he lacks the means to appreciate his experience. All he thinks of are different ways of exploiting the new world. He thinks of Narnia as of a place where he could bring other people for a vacation, he thinks of Narnia as the place where all plants and animals are well and so he could make a profit out of it and he will become a millionaire. However, he wants Aslan to be dead, as he is afraid of him and uncle Andrew senses Aslan has a different kind of magic than he does. The desire for death of Aslan is here, I believe, because Jesus was the subject of physical attacks by the spiritually blind people of the Bible – the Pharisees. At the end, the Pharisees succeed in killing Jesus and they never, up till this day, did not recognize him as the Son of God as the Bible proclaims him to be.
Andrew and the Witch are evil, and like all evil characters in the chronicles they instinctively dislike Aslan. The witch is so evil that she even dislikes the whole, good world. In this way, Lewis becomes a little too single tracked – even children probably have the capacity to appreciate a bit of a more complex view upon good and evil, where there are variations between the absolutely white and the absolutely black (Lindskoog 70).
Whereas Jadis and Andrew represent the ultimate evil, all of the other characters in the Chronicles do at least one morally wrong act. The difference between Jadis and Andrew as opposed to other characters is that the rest of the characters evolve, thanks to Aslan’s intervention, into better and more responsible people or animals. Jadis and Andrew are not willing to listen to Aslan, and this, as the Bible puts it, is hardening one’s heart.
A wonderful example of evolving character is Edmund, who betrayed Aslan and the rest of his siblings, in desire to eat some more of Jadis’ enchanted Turkish delight. Again, we encounter pride in Edmund. He is self-centered and thinks only about the quickest way to get to his desired sweets. There is a parallel of this story in the Bible, where Judas Iscariots betrays Jesus for a little money. The difference between Edmund and Judas is that Edmund was made to see the truth after Aslan confronting him. In spite of that, Aslan needed to die for Edmund to redeem him and other possible traitors so that Edmund himself would not have to die.
When Edmund goes to Narnia for the first time with Lucy and comes back, he does not want his other siblings to know he has been there because that would mean he would have to admit that he was wrong, when he did not believe Lucy in the first place. So, on meeting Susan and Peter, his sister and a brother, the narrator says:
And now we come to the nastiest things in this story. Up to that moment Edmund had been feeling sick, and sulky, and annoyed with Lucy for being right, but he hadn’t made up his mind what to do. When Peter suddenly asked him the question he decided all at once to do the meanest and most spiteful thing he could think of. He decided to let Lucy down (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 88).
Other characters recognize Edmund as a traitor as well, it is not only the voice of the narrator. From that it is obvious that Lewis wanted this fault in Edmund to be one of the important matters dealt with in the plot. This can be presumed from the fact that a great importance is assigned to conversations Aslan has with Edmund (and with other children throughout the story, for that matter) where after face to face confrontation with Aslan, Edmund changes from an evil traitor into a brave king of Narnia, who is just and is able to recognize good from evil. Aslan tells Edmund’s siblings they need not talk to him about the past, and Edmund tells them he is sorry for his rotten behavior. Whatever took place in Aslan’s conversation with Edmund it helped the boy to get over thinking about himself and it focused his attention on Aslan, even later when the White Witch was accusing him.
People and Brevity
Hand in hand with already mentioned mythology goes the medieval ideal of chivalry and knighthood. Since C. S. Lewis was a professor of medieval literature at Oxford University and at Cambridge University, this idea of very close to him and he believed the world needs contemporary Lancelots, otherwise the men will be too cruel in peace and cowardly in war. Then the world would be divided between wolves who cannot understand and sheep who cannot defend the things which make life desirable (Lindskoog 110 – 111).
Reepicheep as the Embodiment of Brevity
As a contrast to cowardly behavior stands a mouse from The Dawn Treader, Reepicheep. Even though he is only a small mouse that many people and animals despise, he is a true example of a loyal and courageous warrior and friend of Aslan. Perhaps Lewis wanted to underline the fact that not only the great and visually attractive person must be the hero. Reepicheep is the picture of the heaven-bound person. In a letter to a child, Lewis once wrote that anyone in our world who devotes his whole life to seeking heaven will be like Reepicheep.
Reepicheep the mouse is the perfect picture of the heaven-bound person, for he is determined to sail to Aslan’s country, which symbolizes heaven, at all cost. Reepicheep’s desire is to journey to the eastern end of the world where he hopes to find Aslan’s country. He never feels the ship is getting on fast enough so he spends much of his time sitting near the dragon’s head of the vessel staring out at the eastern horizon. Reepicheep’s greatest desire is to sail to the end of the world, to get to Aslan’s country beyond the Sea and he really is able to do that. He sails there and unlike others of his companions, he stays in the country of Aslan (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 369).
At the end of The Chronicles of Narnia, we learn that Aslan’s country symbolizes heaven and so only people and animals that have died could enter it. Reepicheep, however, did not experience death. Lewis possibly makes a parallel here with Enoch from the Old Testament. We see the same closeness towards Aslan in Reepicheep as Enoch had towards God. Enoch is said to live so closely to God that one day he was no more because God took him away. However, the Bible is clear in the saying that Enoch did not die but he experienced rapture (NIV, Hebrews 11:5).
Morning is an important image in the writing of C. S. Lewis. When John finally gets to his long dreamed of Island in The Pilgrim’s Regress it is early morning. There is the purity of early morning air mixed with the sharp scent of the sea as John hears waves crashing. In The Great Divorce when the bus-load from hell (or purgatory) first arrive on the outskirts of heaven, the light and coolness drenching them is like that of summer morning, early morning, a minute or two before sunrise. Later, in the same book, when the lizard of lust is transformed into a mighty stallion and the ghost is transformed into a real man, they go riding off together into the rose brightness of everlasting morning. So it is appropriate that Reepicheep, who is seeking heaven, is being conveyed by the Dawn Treader.
Reepicheep has a deep desire for heaven and according to Lewis, that longing is a good one. Lewis wrote frequently about longing for heaven and he defended the desire as an appropriate one. He maintained that a proper desire for heaven is not mere escapism. Rather, it is one of the things a Christian is meant to have. He pointed out that those Christians who have done the most for this world are the ones who have thought most about the next, people like William Wilberforce, who abolished the Slave Trade in England. Reepicheep is a Narnian example of the same principle. Because Reepicheep’s heart is so earnestly set upon reaching Aslan’s country he is the bravest of all his compatriots. As Lewis says elsewhere, aim for heaven and you will get earth along with it; aim for earth and you will get nothing.
Destroying the Traditional Concepts and Perceptions of Gender in a Symbolic Use of Characters
As it was said several times before in this thesis, The Chronicles of Narnia is not an allegory but it does use the same events or characters that are in the Bible. One of such events is the first sin, when Eve took the fruit from a tree God forbid her and Adam to eat from. However, Lewis is switching the traditional roles of a man and a woman in this event. It is shown at the fact that the person who symbolizes the devil or the evil in the world, male in the traditional perception of Bible, is a woman in Narnia – Queen Jadis. Everything around her is dark, scary, silent, and mysterious in a negative way. The world she belonged to before Digory woke her up from her sleep was dark as well (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 23). Her evilness is demonstrated in the passage where Digory is in the garden, wanting to get an apple for his mother and Jadis is tempting him. She says Aslan is not to be trusted, she tries to convince Digory to lie, steal and be selfish (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 63, 64, 65). And Digory here represents Eve, with the difference that Digory does not fail to obey Aslan and does not fall into the temptation Jadis tries to lure him into unlike Eve did (NIV, Genesis 3).
Another instance of switching the traditional roles of gander is shown in the episode about bringing the evil to Narnia. The Bible says that the person who brought about the first sin (i.e., the one who brought the evil to the Garden of Eden) was Eve, a woman. Here, in Narnia, the person who does that it is Digory, a boy.
This is the boy who did it. […] There is an evil Witch abroad in my new land of Narnia. I [Digory] brought her, Aslan,” he answered in a low voice. I mean, I woke her. Because I wanted to know what would happen if I struck a bell. Polly didn’t want to. It wasn’t her fault (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 55).
Digory is a representation of the emotional, instinctive and silly behavior. He also represents Eve, as he is the one causing the evil to enter to Narnia. On the other hand, Polly, a girl, is a very rational person, unlike the traditional perception of a woman. “It’s a good thing one of us has some sense,” said Polly (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 22). Susan from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the same way – rational, sometimes too rational (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 255). Lewis cancels the traditional view on a woman as the one who is emotional and bewildered.
3.3 Symbols referring to places
When talking about symbols that refer to places, it is only reasonable to start with the most significant and obvious symbol for a place, and that is the world of Narnia. It is a country in a world that was created by Aslan. It does have its enemies – Calormen – and these two countries lead war against each other in their history. However, they sign a peace treaty, so the war does not continue for a long time.
There are rules in Narnia that need to be kept and laws that everybody subdues to, for example:
one can not beat his horse since it is a talking horse and therefore the horse is your equal. The equality of people (animals) in front of Aslan is shown in The Magician’s Nephew: “And gradually, a change came over them [animals]. The smaller ones – the rabbits, moles and such like – grew a good deal larger. The very big ones – you noticed it most with the elephants – grew a little smaller” (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 48).
one must not cut down the trees because the trees are alive, they have their dryads, i.e., beings that inhabit the trees and live as long the trees live. “Then all at once she fell sideways as suddenly as if both her feet had been cut down from under her. […] they all knew what had happened. Her tree, miles away, had been cut down” (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 462).
death is present and natural in the land of Narnia. “Your father and mother and all of you are – as you used to call it in the Shadowlands – dead” (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 523).
Therefore, we can say the world where Narnia is situated, is not a substitution to some other land, it is not an equivalent of heaven as one might suggest because of the goodness of the land. It is simply an alternative to our world, where we live in. Not an equivalent, though.
The very end of The Chronicles of Narnia finishes in the country of Aslan – the country beyond the Sea. Reepicheep, all talking dead animals and dead people enter there. They are welcomed by Aslan, who has various forms – we are introduced only to two more forms other than the form of a lion, one of them being a cat and the other is a lamb. That is reference to Jesus as the Lamb of God, who was slain for the sins of the world. Aslan says following: “There is a way into my country from all the worlds,” […] but as he spoke, his snowy white flushed into tawny gold and his size changed and he was Aslan himself, towering above them and scattering light from his mane” (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 369).
This new land reminds the children in some ways of Narnia. Finally the truth begins to dawn on them. Digory explains that when Aslan said they could never go back to Narnia, he meant the old Narnia. But that was not the real Narnia. The old Narnia had a beginning and an end. It was only a shadow, a copy of the real Narnia. In the same way, Digory says, our own world, is only a shadow or a copy of something in the real world. All that really matters in the old Narnia is drawn into the real Narnia. Of course, this real Narnia is different, as different as one wakes up from a dream.
According to Lewis, heaven is an utterly real place. In The Great Divorce Lewis suggests that heaven will be so real that the blades of grass will pierce our feet when we first arrive there; we will have to become more real ourselves, and less ghostly, in order to handle the hard reality of heaven. Heaven is the place where we will become fully human, where we will discover all that we were meant to be. That is why we know so much more about heaven than about hell, because heaven is the home of true humanity. Heaven is the place of joy which cannot be shaken. Heaven will be truly home, as Jewel the unicorn suggests in The Chronicles of Narnia.
The final judgment in Aslan’s country of Narnia fit together with what Jesus said about the final judgment of our world in his Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. In the parable, the Son of Man separates the sheep from the goats, placing the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. The King invites the sheep to take the kingdom prepared for them since the creation of the world, but he tells the goats to depart from him into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. The judgment here is based upon the sheep and goats’ treatment of the brothers and sisters of the Son of Man.
The judgment of Narnia is likewise based solely on the creature’s response to Aslan. Those who hate him disappear into nothingness; those who love him enter in to never-ending blessedness with Aslan and the other creatures who loved Aslan during their lifetime. This correlates with what Jesus said about people’s reaction in our world to the Son of God. Jesus says that God the Father so loved the world that he gave his only son to die for the people on this earth, so that everybody who believes in him being the Son of God will have eternal life and then he adds: “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God (NIV, John 3:16-18).
After the final judgment of Narnia the great dragons and giant lizards start chewing up all the vegetation of the Old Narnia until the whole world is only bare rock and earth. This is similar to what Peter says in 2 Peter 3:10 about the earth and everything in it being laid bare in the end. The very end of Narnia as if says the same prophecy which is documented in Joel where the Bible talks about the sun being turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the day of the Lord. When the sun rises the last time in old Narnia it is a large red sun, similar to the one Digory and Polly saw in Charn during its last days. In the reflection of the sun the sea looks like blood and the moon also looks red. The sun shoots out flames and draws the moon to itself; as the two are joined together, great lumps of fire drop out of this flaming ball into the ocean. Finally, at the word of Aslan, Father Time puts an end to Narnia by reaching out and grabbing the sun, squeezing it like an orange until there is total darkness. And Aslan has the High King Peter shut the stable door on Old Narnia, scraping over the ice as it closes.
3.4 Other Symbolism
The battle between good and evil
All fairy-tales and I dare to say all myths and traditional stories deal with the issue of the battle between good and evil. As the myths and fairy-tales into certain extend reflect what the real world is like, this battle between good and evil is an everyday matter we encounter everywhere we go. Sometimes in small decision like whether to gossip or say negative or untrue things about other, sometimes it is committing a crime. Lewis shows the battle of good and evil in both these ways: he deals with the treachery of Edmund for sweets and he deals with the killing of innocent Aslan to satisfy the Deep Magic and to overrule the power of the White Witch.
All these battles represent the spiritual battle a believer experiences when he has the faith in Jesus and still lives in this world where he is tempted by our world’s “Turkish Delights” which might be money, success or other things which are good in themselves but a human is easily tempted to become a servant to all these things when they become the purpose and aim in his live.
Aslan versus Jadis
Aslan, being a representation of Jesus, stands here in the stories as the infinite good. Everything he does is good, righteous and loving. The greatest proof of his love is described in the episode of him offering his own life for Edmund, the one who betrayed him. Aslan dies for Edmund out of unconditional love even though it is not easy for Aslan (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 121). The Queen Jadis, on the other hand, represents the infinite evil. There is not one instance in the whole story of her doing an act of service, love or anything out of selfless intentions. Everything around her is cold and dark, sad and fearful (The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 26, 27). Her essence is pride and selfishness.
Therefore, Aslan and Jadis represent the infinite battle between good and evil. From the beginning of time in Narnia, these two fight against each other. However, it is obvious form the beginning that evil has less power than good, since it is said about Jadis that is she only could stand straight in front of Aslan an look him in the face, that is the most she could do. The power of the Witch, i.e., the evil, was destroyed by the death of Aslan, the only innocent being in Narnia. He was blameless, he was not polluted by any evil.
Magician’s Book and th Bible
One of the irreplaceable and crucial aspects of Christianity is the Bible. It is the story of God’s actions toward the world, some call it the love letter fro God to people, it is said to be the word of God. When Lucy and the rest of the children come to a deserted island, there is a book which only Lucy can read from and this book, called the book of the magician, symbolizes the Bible.
Lucy starts reading it and realizes the words are living, that it is not a book of spells, as one could expect from a magician’s book, it is rater a story. At the end of the tale Lucy thinks it is the most wonderful story she has ever heard. She wants to read it again, but she cannot, for part of the magic of the book is that she cannot turn back to read an earlier page again. Later on, she hears soft, heavy footsteps in the corridor and she is little bit afraid of meeting the magician, but then her fear turns to delight when she sees Aslan. She embraces the lion and tells him how good it is of him to come. Aslan tells her he has been there all along, but that she has just made him visible. Lucy then asks if she will ever be able to read the wonderful story from the magic book again and Aslan assures her that he will be telling her the same story for years and years.
The story which Aslan will tell to Lucy for many years to come is a story about a cup and a sword, a tree and a green hill. In fact it is the story of the Gospel. The cup is the Holy Grail, the sword is perhaps a sword of execution, the green hill is Calvary and the tree is the one on which Jesus dies, since a tree used to be the way how people in the past called the cross where the criminals were crucified. This gives us a clue that the magician’s book is, in a sense, like the Bible. The Bible, like the magic book, is full of information both practical and spiritual. The Bible teaches us, like the magic book teaches Lucy, about sin and temptation and evil. But it is also a book which provides spiritual refreshment. Christians get the same kind of joy and refreshment by reading the Bible and applying it in their lives.
The Bible was, for C. S. Lewis, the most important of all books. He made it a habit to read portions of the Bible every day of his Christian life. When he was reading the New Testament he would often read it in the original Greek language. In the Old Testament the book of Psalms was a favorite, so much so that Lewis wrote a book entitled Reflections on the Psalms. Lewis was involved in the late 1950's and early 60's in revising the translation of the Psalms for the Book of Common Prayer, and he was also consulted on the translation of the New Testament for the New English Bible (Vaus 120).
In a summary, Lewis uses symbols to draw the readers’ attention to the hidden story that lays beyond the plot itself. Lewis chose the form of the fairy-tale to make this story available both to children and adults – since adults sometimes read fairy-tales but children only rarely read books for adults. Therefore, by choosing the form of fairy-tale, he had the opportunity of effecting a large scale of people by the story he wanted to tell.
The symbols he uses are almost always connected with the truths of Christianity, even though the examples form the Bible and the examples from The Chronicles of Narnia stated in this thesis prove that Lewis did not try to copy the symbols form the Bible, put them into a different form that would fit a fairy-tale and then incorporated them into the story. Rather, he was inspired by the overall story of the Bible, the people in it and the idea behind the basis of faith in God and invented new characters, new places and new things that stand as an alternative to the ones stated in the Bible.
I think Lewis did manage to portray the spiritual world very real, as he believed it to be. And I hope this thesis will help those who read it to get more out of the “hidden story” there is to the message of The Chronicles of Narnia.
Lewis, Clive Staples. The Complete Chronicles of Narnia. London: Collins, 2000.
Lewis, Clive Staples. On This and Other Worlds. Glasgow: Collins Fount Paperbacks, 1982.