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The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

C. S. Lewis

Themes, Motifs, and Symbols

Analysis of Major Characters

Chapters 1–2

Themes

The Danger of Gluttony

Critics have proposed that each of the seven novels in The Chronicles of Narnia addresses one of the seven deadly sins. Whether or not this is true, it is certainly the case that The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe specifically focuses on gluttony. Edmund's descent into the Witch's service begins during his frantic consumption of the magic Turkish Delight. Since this is enchanted Turkish Delight, Edmund cannot be held accountable for his gluttony as if he were overindulging in ordinary candy. The real sin occurs when Edmund allows himself to fixate on the Turkish Delight long after he leaves the Witch. Edmund's consumption of the Turkish Delight may also be a reference to the sin of Adam and Eve, when they ate from the Tree of Knowledge. Adam and Eve also committed a sin of consumption, and God punishes them as well. Edmund's gluttony for the Turkish Delight alludes to Adam and Eve's desire to eat the apple.

The Power of Satan

Edmund is a traitor and his life is forfeit to the White Witch, just as any sinner's life is forfeit to Satan after death without the intervention of God. The White Witch may not be an exact representation of Satan—the imagery that surrounds her does not quite fit that of the devil himself. Perhaps she is a servant of Satan and an overlord of Narnia—Narnia's special patron demon. The Witch claims the lives of all Narnians who sin irrevocably, an allusion to Satan's claim of the souls of such sinners.

Humankind's Redemption

Not everything in Narnia directly parallels the story of Jesus, but the similarities are too striking to ignore. Aslan sacrifices his life to save Edmund, just as Christ gave his life to save mankind. Through Aslan's death, Edmund's sin is expunged, and Edmund is permitted to live. Similarly, mankind is permitted to live in heaven now that Christ's death has expunged Adam's original sin when he disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. Lewis's goal is to present us with a variation on the Christian legend. Narnia presents us with a different perspective on faith, and helps the story of Jesus come to life.

Motifs

Seasons

The Witch imposes an enchanted, eternal winter on Narnia, symbolizing a dead, stagnant time. Nothing grows, animals hibernate, and people crouch around fires rather than enjoying the outdoors. Nearly every human being has a visceral negative reaction to winter, even when it is a normal length. We can imagine how quickly an eternal winter would become intolerable. The Witch's winter destroys the beauty and the life in Narnia. There is a pristine appeal to woods blanketed in snow and frozen waterfalls, but our overall impression is one of a barren, empty land. The season of winter represents that Narnia has fallen under an evil regime. As snow falls, so does the land of Narnia. The Witch's snow hides all traces of Aslan or the Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Narnia is undoubtedly bleak and grim.

How much more wondrous, then, is the spring that occurs when Aslan arrives in Narnia. Of course, Christmas occurs before spring can come, because Christmas is the birth of Christ. It is Christmas that signals hope for mankind: with the birth of Christ, we are given the hope of new life. Spring follows Christmas and all of a sudden the woods are completely alive—flowers are blooming, springs and brooks are chuckling, birds are singing, and delightful smells waft past on gentle breezes. This is no ordinary spring, just as the Witch's winter was no ordinary winter. The spring is just as enchanted as the winter, only now Narnia is experiencing the epitome of life rather than death.

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.

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Lack of Characters

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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17 out of 22 people found this helpful

Correction for Chapter 15~

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.
:3

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4 out of 6 people found this helpful

Correction for Chapter 15~

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.
:3

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2 out of 7 people found this helpful

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