The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
Chapter 8: What Happened After Dinner
Mr. Beaver confirms that Tumnus was taken away by the Secret Police, who are under the control of the White Witch. He assumes that Tumnus has been turned to stone. The children are horrified and want to rescue Tumnus, but Mr. Beaver tells them that there is nothing they can do except go to Aslan The children beg to hear more about Aslan, and they feel the same sensation as when his name was first mentioned. Mr. Beaver tells them that Aslan is the King of Narnia, and that he is the rightful King, as opposed to the Witch who is masquerading as Queen. Aslan is not in Narnia often, the beaver says, but when he is, he makes everything right. Susan asks if Aslan is a man, and Mr. Beaver tells her, quite sternly, that he is not a man but a lion—the king of beasts. When the children express trepidation about meeting a lion, Mr. Beaver tells them that they are supposed to be nervous, as no one with any sense would feel completely fearless when meeting Aslan. Despite this, Mr. Beaver says that Aslan is good.
"Don't you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion—the Lion, the great Lion."
The children are to meet Aslan the next day at a place called the Stone Table. They need to fulfill a prophecy—when the four thrones at Cair Paravel are occupied by four "Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve," it will end bad times in Narnia. He tells them that the Queen has twisted this prophecy into a justification for her reign. She says that she is human and the rightful heir to the throne. She is not really human, however, but half giant and half Jinn. She is descended on one side from Lilith, an apocryphal and mythological figure who was said to be the original wife of Adam.
Suddenly they all notice that Edmund is missing. The children are distraught and want to form a search party, but Mr. Beaver tells them that this is unnecessary. He joined the White Witch, explains Mr. Beaver, as there was a look in his eye that branded him a traitor. No one remembers how much Edmund heard of the plan to meet Aslan. This is crucial, because the less Edmund tells the Witch the better. The children cannot afford to wait at the Beaver's home. They immediately begin their journey to the Stone Table on routes the Witch would not expect them to take. They hope that the Witch will not catch them before they can reach Aslan.
In this chapter, we read a full description of Aslan. It is obvious that Aslan is the god of Narnia. His immortality, awesome power and supreme benevolence is implied tacitly in the Beavers' references to him. Couched in these terms, it is easy to see Aslan as a divine power. However, Lewis deliberately avoids using these terms. Lewis simply describes Aslan as a great, good king. The resulting effect is similar to the traditional feeling that a deity is inaccessible, remote and lofty. These are ways a child may feel about praying to a God that he or she is acquainted with solely through church. The story of Jesus is one important way to make God seem more tangible and less distant. However, that story is now 2,000 years old. Lewis presents us with a new god, in the form of a lion, and imbues it with mystical powers, giving us a fresh perspective on faith. At this point there is no compelling reason to believe that Aslan is a Jesus figure. For the moment, Lewis avoids drawing this connection. Instead, he establishes the personality and vibrancy of Aslan before helping us to connect it to the vibrant personality of Jesus.
The side note that explains that the Witch is partially descended from Lilith is significant. Lilith, in Jewish mythology, was Adam's first wife. She left him as a rebellion against the subservient position that he demanded her to adopt. The legend says that she was created from dust just as Adam was, and she used to argue why she should be treated as his equal. After she abandoned Adam, God created Eve from Adam's own rib, so that Eve would be inherently subservient to Adam. It seems doubtful that Lewis meant to invoke all of the sexual and gender implications of this myth. In the act of drawing on this myth, however, Lewis seeks to unify the two worlds of Earth and Narnia. He wants to ground them in common mythology and to imply that there is an overarching system of religion and reality that transcends the boundaries of the worlds and characters created in his book. Narnia is not completely imagined, but based on ideas found in the real world. In the book, Lewis appropriately represents these connections using a religious myth like Lilith. Similarly, Lewis uses figures from Roman and Greek mythology, such as fauns, satyrs, and dryads. Lewis subtly draws connections between the two worlds without directly referencing modern day Christianity. In effect, this keeps the symbolism from becoming too heavy-handed, and allows room for more imaginative possibilities.
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.