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The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

by: C. S. Lewis

Symbols

Aslan %

In the allegory of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Aslan represents Christ. Aslan's death to save Edmund's life and his subsequent resurrection are clear references to the life of Christ. Lewis's novel makes some essential changes to the figure of Christ that makes Aslan more accessible to children than the Christ they learn about in church. Lewis's method worked well—he even received a letter from a very distraught little boy pleading for help because he could not help loving Aslan more than Jesus, even though he knew he was supposed to love Jesus above everything else. The very shift from a man to a lion is quite significant. Christ is a human being, which is both confusing and compelling, particularly for a child. Christ seems almost too familiar to a small child, blurring the boundary between a god who deserves reverence and a friend who deserves affection. The beauty of the figure of a lion is that a child would have no problems showing both emotions for a lion. A lion, as king of the forest, is fearful and intimidating. The lion is also a big cat, and Lewis emphasizes this side of Aslan by depicting him as romping and playing merrily with the children. A talking animal at once inspires love and respect, magic and mystery. Lewis adapts the figure of Jesus for children while still maintaining all the essential characteristics of Christ.

The Stone Table

The Stone Table refers to the stone tablets that Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai, according to the Bible. These tablets contain the Ten Commandments and they represent an older, stricter form of religion. In the days when the Ten Commandments were brought down from the mountain, infractions against God would be punishable by death—retribution was swift, harsh, and irrevocable. When Aslan rises from the dead, the Stone Table is shattered, signifying the end of an older, crueler time and the advent of a newer, kinder era. Aslan has defeated death by rising from the dead, signaling the end of harsh customs and death as an acceptable punishment. Instead, human beings enforce justice and mete out punishments.

The sea

There are only a few passing references to the sea in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but they are significant because of the context. We only get a glimpse of the sea and we learn that the Emperor-Over-the-Sea, who is Aslan's father, is God himself. The sea becomes a boundary between Narnia, the Earth, and "Aslan's country," or heaven. Lewis reveals in later novels, such as Voyage of the Dawn Treader, that it is actually possible to physically sail across the sea to Aslan's country. Moreover, the sea is also a boundary between Narnia and our world. In traditional imagery, the sea often represents death, and that seems rather appropriate here—but not death in the sense that we have come to know and dread it, as the Grim Reaper with a hood and a scythe, rather, it is death that is life, or death as rebirth into heaven.