Yesterday, I wrote part one review of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and The Magicians Nephew, written by C.S. Lewis.
The Chronicle of Narnia series is, in its entirety, Children stories/literature. C.S. Lewis wrote these stories for his children, and based the characters around his family.
While these books were the only Children’s Literature books he wrote, Lewis went on to write books pertaining to Christianity and Spirituality. When you look at these books through the lenses of Christianity, Lewis did a great job paralleling the scriptures to Narnia.
Before I begin, I understand that a lot of people would rather not view the Chronicles of Narnia as a direct tie to Christianity, but just for a second, let me stress all forms of arguments (Aslan’s character, for example) will be attempted through this article.
Depending on which book you read first, you can almost find a resemblance towards Biblical teachings.
I’m going to start with The Magicians Nephew, because that was the last one I read.
The Magician’s Nephew
“How Aslan created Narnia and gave the gift of speech to its animals.”
While this book is considered book number seven in the series, chronologically, this is the first book in the series. When Aslan created the world, he was using his roar (or voice if you will) to awaken the world of Narnia C.S. Lewis describes so well how the flowers began to bloom, or how the song sounded.
We’ve all heard the story of creation, in the first chapters of Genesis. How it took seven days and seven nights to create Earth, and how the first humans (Adam and Eve) were created. The Magicians Nephew creates a similar beginning, except everything happened in a matter of two days.
While Aslan is gathering the new animals of Narnia, he begins to pair them up into two’s, and picks a select few animals to defend Narnia from evil. Later in Genesis, Noah and the animals were being paired off for the flood. After the flood, Noah and his family, were supposed to be better people.
Same with the animals, and how Aslan left Narnia for a time- the animals (the good ones) were supposed to protect Narnia from evil, and protect the Tree that was planted.
Now, let me back up? It was only day one, and there was already evil in the world. No, Aslan did not create it, it just happened to be there for creation. Jadis, or later known as the White Witch, was there because of four humans: DIgory, Polly, Uncle Andrew, and the Cabby.
Part of reading a story (or writing one) is the need for drama, suspense, or just a basic story line to intrigue the writer. Uncle Andrew, a average magician, created four rings; two greens and two yellows. He had his nephew and the nephews friend, Digory and Polly, test them out. They landed in what they called “The Wood Between The Worlds” and found different ponds led to different worlds. That’s how they were able to bring about the revival of Jadis, and as since she was Queen she only had one goal: Ruling all worlds.
Note:It is quite clever that the author wrote this in during the 1950s. No one knew, scientifically, that their were multiple universes, until the Hubble Space Telescope took a picture of multiple galaxies in the 1990s.
Queen Jadis’s character is a representation, of evil, temptation, and desires. Desires, that aren’t the best for others or herself.
Back to Genesis: Lots of people have heard the story of Adam and Eve. The first humans lived in the Garden and were living by a set a rules, made by God. If they broke any rules, they would be casted out on their own. Temptation, in the form of a snake, convinced Adam and Eve to take a bite out of the apple; said to be from the tree of youth. God was furious, and did exactly what he said he would- he casted them out, but never left them.
Aslan sent Digory on a journey (Polly and the winged horse accompanied him). Because Digory brought the Queen into the new world, he was sent out to protect Narnia, and remove the Queen from entering Narnia. Here is the description of where Aslan sent the children to go:
“Now the land of Narnia ends where the waterfall comes down, and you will be out of Narnia and into the Western Wild. You must journey through those mountains till you find a green valley with a blue lake in it, walled around by mountains of ice. At the end of the lake there is a steep, green hill. On the top of that hill there is a garden. In the centre of that garden is a tree. Pluck an apple from that tree and bring it back to me.”
For me, that’s a lot to remember, and the children (along with the talking winged horse) had to keep reminding them what they were supposed to look for while they were this trip. Once they arrived at the gates on top of the hill, only Digory entered. He only allowed himself to enter, because it was his issue that had to be resolved. He found the Witch inside, eating the silver apple from the Tree that Digory was supposed to grab a apple, and return home.
Jadis would try to tempt Digory to eat the apple, but his loyalty to what Aslan wanted kept him from doing so. Personally, I thought C.S. Lewis was going to follow the same path as the story of Adam and Eve, and have Digory give and taste the apple for himself (or for his Mother). Because Digory saw what was happening to the Witch, I believe that’s why he did not take a bite of the apple, and was able to leave with the mission completed.
The poem on the gates of the garden read as follows:
“Come in by the gold gates or not at all,
Take of m fruit for others or forbear.
For those who steal or those who climb my wall
Shall find their heart’s desire and find despair.”
The Queen did not follow the poem (seriously, when will main characters learn to follow the rules?) and did both wrongs. She climbed the wall, and stole the fruit for herself. The fruit was indeed to preserve youth, which was the Witch’s desire. Her despair made her who she is in the follow up book- The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.
The apple that Digory picked for Aslan served two purposes: to guard and protect Narnia from the Witch and other evil beings, and also helped preserve Digory Mother’s health. IF Digory had not seen the Witch eating the Silver apple, or had followed her advice, Digory would’ve only had one purpose fulfilled and not his own. It was because of his care for others and to redeem the wrong he had done, that Narnia was able to thrive for so many years.
So if you read The Magicians Nephew first, it correlates with the story of Adam and Eve.
The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
“How Aslan, the noble lion freed Narnia from the spell of the White Witch.”
With this book published before The Magicians Nephew, we get a more biblical following to the story of Jesus Christ. A lot of critics argue over Aslan. Is he Jesus, or is he not? Let me just quote this article (click here for further reading) that argues both sides.
“Saying ‘Aslan is Jesus’ misses the point of the books: Aslan works precisely because he is not Jesus-because there are no stained glass windows and teachers and stupid hymns telling us we ought to love him. Saying ‘Aslan is not Jesus its just a story, just a fantasy just entertainment’…. Misses the pint in just the opposite way. Aslan both is and is not Jesus; the books both do and do not have order.”
Especially after I read The Magicians Nephew, Aslan is not Jesus. Jesus wasn’t alive during the creation of Earth; but his Father, God was. So then is Aslan God? I’ll let you interpret that on your own.
Edmund, the middle child, was tempted by the Queen with Turkish Delights (to leave his siblings and be crowned Prince). Because of how the Queen treated him, he returns to his family. Edmund might remind you of Judas, who betrayed Jesus, but was forgiven.
Forgiveness is what I mainly got out of this children’s story. When the Faun was supposed to kidnap Lucy and turn her in to the White Witch. Instead, he let her return to the Wardrobe. Lucy forgave the Faun for what he was going to do.
Lucy, Susan, and Peter all forgive Edmund for his behavior (both in Narnia and at home). A lot can be said behind the morals of forgiveness.
Note: In the movie, those who have lived in Narnia for sometime, talk about how they have not seen the return of Aslan for over a 100 years. While I haven’t read the other five stories, the movie writes in those dialogue moments that this book does not.
Father Christmas makes an appearance in the story and the film. Because Aslan’s magic was undoing the spell of the Queen, Winter began to leave, and Spring approached. Remember “it was always winter, but never Christmas.” So Narnia was always stuck between December 22nd and 24th, right? Father Christmas does not look like Santa Claus. You can tell that he had not been able to deliver gifts, and was joyous to do so.
Father Christmas knew that War was coming between the Lion and the Witch. While he did not condone the battle, he knew it must happen, and that Christmas would end.
I’m now going to jump forwards to the scene at “The Sacred Table” before and after Aslan is sacrificed by the Queen. During the story, hints of something important happening at the sacred table plays out until Aslan sacrifices himself on behalf of Edmund’s betrayal. Jesus, in the same way, did the same thing for humans.
Both stories produce the same result: Aslan makes his resurrection to help the siblings in battle; Jesus is written to return, to save.
Both The Magicians Nephew and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe provide a way for children to learn about temptation, forgiveness, and the pros and cons of going on an adventure.
For those who teach or help run Children’s Bible class, (or “Children’s Moments” for a different type of impact) could use these books as a easier way to introduce the Old Testament (the Silver Apple Tree) and the New Testament (The Sacred Table) to children. It would be a great summer idea, says the inner teacher in me.
Final note: I spent more time on The Magicians Nephew, because most people have only read The Lion, The Witch, and Wardrobe. This was a fun part one and part two review of the two books, and this weekend I plan on reading Prince Caspian. I like the idea of reading children’s literature on the weekends.
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