The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

“Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy.”

There is a wardrobe in an old room.  Picture yourself opening the wardrobe door.  You climb inside it, careful to leave the door cracked open slightly as you push your way back in amongst the antique coats, which smell of dampness and age and silent history.  But wait!  It is cold underneath you and, as you reach down, you grasp a wet, slushy substance that could only be snow!

What a wonderful way to begin The C.S. Lewis Project and the Classic Children’s Literature Event!  The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is an enduring children’s classic that is magic, just pure magic!  Peter, Susan, Edmond & Lucy discover an old wardrobe and find that it can transport them to another world called Narnia, where the White Witch has cast a spell on the land and “everything is winter and never Christmas.”  However, all is not bleak and hopeless because Aslan the Lion is on the move.  He begins to bring spring to Narnia, but Edmund betrays his siblings with the result that Aslan willingly pays for Edmund’s transgression with his life.  With his resurrection, and after an enormous battle led by Peter and Edmund, Aslan is acknowledged King of Narnia.

Lewis rejected the assertion that this story was intended as an allegory and, being an expert in that area, Lewis was certainly qualified to judge:

“By an allegory I mean a composition (whether pictorial or literary) in which immaterial realities are represented by feigned physical objects, eg., a pictured Cupid allegorically represents erotic love (which in reality is an experience, not an object occupying a given area of space) or, in Bunyan, a giant represents Despair. 

If Aslan represented the immaterial Deity in the same way in which Giant Despair represents Despair, he would be an allegorical figure.  In reality however he is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question, “What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?”  This is not allegory at all ……. This …… works out a supposition.”

While this book contains references to Christianity, Lewis did not initially set out to write a Christian story:

“Some people seem to think that I began by asking myself how I could say something about Christianity to children; then fixed on the fairy tale as an instrument, then collected information about child psychology and decided to what age group I’d write for; then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out ‘allegories’ to embody them.  This is all pure moonshine.  I couldn’t write in that way.  It all began with images: a faun with an umbrella, parcels, a lamppost, a snow-covered kingdom.  At first there wasn’t even anything Christian about them.  That element pushed itself in of its own accord.”

Within the story, Lewis communicates aspects of Christian faith in way that is easy to understand and, through the death of Aslan, Lewis allows us to experience the agony and horror of Christ’s death and to experience the conflicting emotions of his friends and disciples, as well as their joy upon his resurrection.  His style is a simple straight-forward narrative that easily communicates emotions of joy, perseverance, loyalty, pride, envy, betrayal, and sadness.  A timeless story with timeless themes that can be read again and again.

C.S. Lewis Project 2014

Other Narnia Books

 

11 thoughts on “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

  1. This was my favorite book when I was in fourth grade. I think it's time to read it to my younger ones.

    Thanks for sharing that info about Lewis' take on allegories. So did he not agree with the way The Pilgrim's Progress was presented?

  2. You're welcome! Lewis loved allegory and he followed the allegorical format of The Pilgrim's Progress in his Pilgrim's Regress. In this case, he was just attempting to explain the distinctions between allegory and supposition. The Giant Despair in TPP was not meant to be an actual physical being, but represents a feeling or experience; this signifies an allegory. Aslan is an actual being even though he represents Christ, so therefore he is not allegorical, but, in Lewis' terms, a supposition.

    I knew that Lewis had said this story wasn't an allegory, but I didn't know the technical components of an allegory in detail, so Lewis' quote enlightened me as well!

  3. C. S. Lewis is my favorite author ever, and I love how his works can be enjoyed by every age and at so many levels.
    I would so love to join in the challenge but I'm super busy this year… Would you mind if I joined in for the few works of Lewis's I haven't read yet?

    I'm looking forward for the rest of your posts on Lewis throughout the challenge!

  4. Oh yes, Sophia, by all means join for just a few of the challenges! There will be quite a few members who will be choosing to only cover a few of the books. Just go to the Dead Writers Society on Goodreads, which is linked in my original C.S. Lewis Project post. It's a private group but just request membership and say I sent you. They are a lovely group of people and we have some very interesting discussions! Or you can just follow along from my blog if you want to be more incognito. 🙂

  5. I wish I liked The Chronicles of Narnia more than I actually do. *sigh* Surprisingly I enjoyed this book the least out of five that I've read (yet). But to each their own. If and when I have children of my own, I will make sure to read these books to them early on, so they can avoid the same cynical trap I am stuck in right now. Very nice quotes, by the way. I think they explain quite a bit about Lewis's intentions.

  6. I think you are wise to have your future children read these books when they are young; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was one of my top favourites as a child but, sadly, I don't enjoy it nearly as much now that I'm an adult. I understand the themes better now, but that doesn't make up for the loss of the imagination of a child that can take you right into the world of Narnia.

  7. Oh, Lewis's comments are quite interesting–I've never seen them before, so I didn't know that was how he saw his story. I've always read Aslan and his saving of Edmund as allegory, but then again, I'm not really an expert at literary terms! The distinction between allegory and supposition does seem a bit of a fine line, though.

    And I totally agree about returning to this again and again–every time I read this series I see something new. Glad you enjoyed it!

  8. When I first read his comment, I thought the difference between allegory and supposition was splitting hairs, too. But I've been reading a book about reading books 🙂 and I wonder if the distinction is made because it should change HOW we read the book. And if we don't read the book the way it was intended to be read, perhaps it changes our experience of it ….???? If the allegory is an idea and a supposition is a replacement of the real thing, wouldn't a supposition be more personal and more effective …??? I'm not really sure myself ……. I just thought I'd throw that out there! 🙂

    BTW, I'm really enjoying your challenge, Amanda. I'm on my third book now, so if I can get four read, I'll be happy!

  9. That's a good point about the difference between reading something as it was intended vs how we see it. Of course, no author can control how any reader personally reacts to their book(s). And now I'm inching my way into literary theory that I know very little about!

    I'm glad you're enjoying the event. I'm having fun too, but rather than having FINISHED anything, I'm in the middle of three books! Hopefully I'll have two finished by Monday, though.

Thanks for visiting. I'd love to hear from you and have you join in the discussion!