The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
Analysis of Major Characters
Aslan is the noble golden lion who epitomizes the goodness and justice of Narnia. When the Pevensie children first hear his name, they immediately feel powerful sensations that they cannot understand. Peter, Susan, and Lucy experience an inexplicable delight. Edmund, who has already betrayed his siblings by siding with the White Witch, is mysteriously horrified. The mysticism that surrounds Aslan's name only grows as the children learn more about him. Mr. Beaver tells the children that Aslan is the king of Narnia and the son of the Emperor-Over-the-Sea. Aslan sets all wrongs to rights, including removing the White Witch from her terrible reign over Narnia. Aslan is awe-inspiring and a little frightening, but unquestionably benevolent and kind. Aslan's power is unmatched and his goodness unlimited.
The children are understandably nervous when they first meet Aslan. With the exception of Edmund, when the children meet Aslan they are powerfully drawn to him. Peter, Susan, and Lucy love Aslan immediately, and believe that he has immense goodness. It does not seem strange to them that they revere Aslan, and would also call him a friend. Aslan always seems one step ahead of the rest. When the Witch brings Aslan the news that he must forfeit Edmund to her or all Narnia will perish, the Witch is clearly expecting to take Aslan by surprise. Aslan, however, is not startled at all, he is just sad. Aslan's amazing love for the Narnia people, even Edmund, a traitor, is demonstrated with painful clarity when Aslan sacrifices his own life to save Edmund. Logically, this sacrifice seems silly, as the Witch triumphantly points out. By losing his life, Aslan seems to be giving the Witch Narnia forever. Aslan is quiet and patient, and he endures torture until he is murdered. Aslan's perspective and foresight contrasts the Witch's myopia. Although the Witch can use magic to gain power, she does not have the vision or the character of Aslan. Aslan is confident that his power is greater than the Witch's strength, but Aslan never shows bravado. Aslan is willing to die to save Narnia. Aslan's ultimate purpose in life is to serve others and to obey the will of the Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea.
Aslan is an allegorical representation of Jesus Christ in the Christian religion. The novel's depiction of Christ's death and resurrection is a clear allusion to the biblical story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Lewis couches an old, familiar story in a new, vibrant setting in order to help us look at the story from a different angle. Specifically, Lewis wants to capture the attention of children. Lewis seeks to remove children from the oppressive church and Sunday school and to transplant them to a new, fantastic world. There, Lewis can introduce basic concepts of the Christian religion, using an exciting background, with fun characters and talking animals. Aslan the lion lives a similar life as Christ the man, but by using this allegorical device, Lewis can present the story to children with far more immediacy and vividness than could be obtained in any but the most breathtaking reading of the Bible.
The White Witch
The White Witch is, perhaps, your typical witch. The Witch is evil to the core, without even a hint of goodness within her, which we can attribute to her not being human. Although the Witch claims she is human, she is actually part giant and part Jinn. The Witch is merciless, cruel, power-hungry, and sadistic. The Witch claims the throne of Narnia by brute force. She enchants the land so it is always winter and never Christmas and so that the poor Narnians have no hope. The Witch sways many Narnians to her side out of fear or lust for power, so that the Narnians are divided and are completely terrified. The Witch carries a golden wand that she uses to turn living things into stone—she does this rather frequently when she is annoyed. The Witch is hated and feared throughout the land, but no one except Aslan has the power to stop her.
Allegorically, the White Witch could be a symbol of Satan. In the novel, the Witch plays the role of the "Emperor's hangman" and she has the right to kill any Narnian caught in an act of treachery. The Witch's role is parallel to the role of Satan, to whom the souls of damned sinners are forfeited. The Witch's right to kill sinners is a literal representation of Satan's capacity to impose spiritual death after the death of the body. The novel, however, does not seem to make a one-to-one correspondence between the Witch and Satan. Lewis respected traditional gender roles as defined by religion and probably would not have conceived a female devil. Lewis was also more than a little bit sexist, so he may have done so after all. The Witch is an evil figure, but she lacks the fire- and-brimstone aura that surrounds the Christian image of Satan. Lewis does not follow traditional religious depictions of the characters he uses in his allegories, as Jesus is not generally conceived of as a lion either. The events in Aslan's life, his attitudes, and manners directly correspond to those of Jesus. The Witch seems more generic. It is more likely that the Witch is simply an evil person in the service of Satan, rather than an allegorical representation of the Prince of Darkness himself.
Edmund's character is probably the most ambiguous in the novel. For the first half of the book, Edmund is as spiteful and mean as it is possible for a young boy to be, but his character transforms halfway through the novel. By the end, Edmund is fair-minded and brave, and he is just as admirable as Peter. This is the whole purpose of Edmund in the novel. The Witch is simply evil through and through. The Witch has no capacity for goodness, possibly because she is not human and was therefore not born with the capacity for both good and evil that human beings possess. Edmund is human, however, and no matter how evil he acts while in the service of the Witch, he is never so far gone that he cannot redeem himself.
The Witch's enchanted box of Turkish Delight initially seduces Edmund. The magical candy causes an insatiable greed for more in the unfortunate eater. Edmund fixates on the candy to an excessive degree, even for a child. Edmund does not seem to care when he hands over his brother and sisters to a woman whom he knows deep down is a dangerous witch. Edmund sees more and more evidence of the Witch's cruelty and evil on, but he rationalizes her behavior. Originally Edmund is a traitor because of his greed for Turkish Delight. Later, it is evident that Edmund is corrupted by a desire for power and by the lavish promises of the Witch.
Edmund does atone for his sins and transform his character. The first change happens when the Witch treats Edmund like a slave rather than a prince. Edmund expresses his empathy and latent kindness when he witnesses the Witch petrifying a happy group of small forest animals. Eventually, Edmund fully realizes the Witch's intentions and the benevolence of Aslan. A discussion with Aslan seems to cement this change. Yet, it is not until Edmund stands up for himself in battle and helps slay the White Witch that he shows his true mettle. Most of Edmund's conversion occurred because of external factors—the Witch's cruel behavior and petrification of the animals at feast or the conversation with Aslan. Ultimately, it is up to Edmund to redeem himself and complete his transformation. This change takes a tremendous force of will and courage, but in the end, Edmund finds freedom. Lewis's message in a similar situation in another book is that "One wrench and the tooth will be out." It just takes one monumental effort and then we will be free.
by callum715, September 02, 2012
In the section with a more in-depth analysis of the more major characters, it doesn't contain any in-depth analyses of the other Pevensie children, which are arguably major characters.
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by WeyHey, May 12, 2013
Um, just saying, in chapter 15 it says here that Lucy said: "Is this more magic?", when it was actually Susan who said that in the book.