The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

by C. S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Summary

Overview

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe treats questions of truth and lying, love and hate, good and evil, and forgiveness and revenge with honesty and respect for the reader's intelligence. While Lewis's thoughts on these subjects are interesting in themselves, the ideas become even more exciting within the context of a fast-paced and imaginative adventure story. The novel is filled with mythical creatures, humorous moments, and suspenseful situations. Although many events and characters seem improbable, the four children in the book—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy—are realistically portrayed. They are well-rounded characters with individual strengths and faults.

The ideas in the novel apply to the real world as well. The government of Narnia is totalitarian. One person creates the rules, has power over all aspects of people's lives, and does not allow others to challenge or object to the rules in any way. Written a few years after World War II had ended, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe provides allusions to Adolf Hitler and his Nazi government in Germany. Lewis wanted to convey the idea that evil exists in the real world and must be faced with courage and honesty if people are to be happy and free.

His religious ideas can also be applied to the real world. In a way, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is an explanation of Lewis's Christian values, even though he never overtly preaches. The values of unselfish love, sensitivity to the needs of others, and willingness to combat evil all help Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter bring happiness to Narnia.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Summary

Chapter One: Lucy Looks into a Wardrobe

It is wartime, and four siblings (Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy) are sent away from their home in London to escape the air-raids. They go to stay at a large house in the country, where live a funny-looking old Professor (to whom they take an instant liking), a housekeeper named Mrs. Macready, and three servants. At the first opportunity the children explore the house, and after walking through a labyrinth of stairs, corridors, and rooms, they come to a spare room that is empty save for a big wardrobe. Uninterested, Peter, Susan, and Edmund move on, but Lucy stays behind to check out the wardrobe. She gets inside, moves through rows of fur coats and, to her amazement, walks right into the middle of a snow-covered forest at night. A light shining in the distance catches Lucy's eye and she goes toward it: it is a lamppost. As Lucy is wondering how a lamppost got to be in the middle of a forest, a Faun carrying brown-paper parcels steps out of the trees. The Faun is so startled at the sight of Lucy that he drops all his parcels.

Chapter Two: What Lucy Found There

The Faun introduces himself as Tumnus and invites Lucy back to his cave for tea. He serves lots of food, tells delightful stories, and plays a tune on an odd little flute that puts Lucy to sleep. When she wakes up, Mr. Tumnus starts crying uncontrollably and confesses to being in the pay of the White Witch, an evil queen who makes it always winter but never Christmas in Narnia. Her orders to him were that if ever he was to see a Son of Adam or Daughter of Eve in the forest, he must capture and deliver them to her. Mr. Tumnus explains that he was just pretending to be her friend so that he could lure her to his house, wait until she fell asleep, then sneak out and tell the witch, but now that he has gotten to know Lucy, he cannot bring himself to turn her over. Lucy thanks him, and he leads her back to the lamppost. She returns through the wardrobe and runs to tell her sister and brothers all that has happened.

Chapter Three: Edmund and the Wardrobe

Lucy's siblings do not believe her story, and when she tries to prove it by showing them the inside of the wardrobe, nothing is there except coats. Lucy is very upset, and Edmund makes matters worse by teasing her. A few days later, however, Edmund follows Lucy into the wardrobe during a game of hide-and-seek, and he too discovers Narnia. Edmund walks alone through the strange, dark wood, thinking that Lucy ran off because she is angry with him. Presently, he is met by a sledge pulled by two white reindeer and driven by a fat Dwarf. A very tall lady with pale white skin and bright red lips, sporting a white fur coat, golden crown, and golden wand, sits high up in the sledge. She does not recognize the sort of creature Edmund is, so she asks him. He has no idea what she means, so he says his name. The lady does not like the way Edmund is addressing her and asks him how he could talk to the Queen in such a manner. She is astounded to discover he did not know she was the Queen.

Chapter Four: Turkish Delight

The Queen soon finds out that Edmund is a Son of Adam, and she is about to do something terrible to him when another idea crosses her mind. She invites Edmund into her sledge and offers him a hot drink and several pounds of enchanted Turkish Delight, the kind that keeps one begging for more. She tells Edmund that he can be King of Narnia and eat all the Turkish Delight he wants if he brings his brother and sisters to her. The Queen leaves him with directions to her house and instructions not to tell anyone of their meeting. As Edmund watches the sledge disappear, Susan runs up and expresses her happiness that he got in, too. She says she just had lunch with Mr. Tumnus and found out all kinds of terrible things about the White Witch. Lucy cannot wait to tell everyone they have both been to Narnia, but Edmund is not excited about it. His stomach is hurting from the Turkish Delight, and his pride is hurt as well.

Chapter Five: Back on This Side of the Door

When Lucy tells Peter and Susan what happened, Edmund denies it and says Lucy is making it all up. Hurt and dejected, Lucy runs from the room, and Peter chastises Edmund for being "perfectly beastly" to her. The next morning, Peter and Susan go to the Professor for advice about what to do with Lucy. He surprises them by saying that since Lucy is a very truthful girl and obviously not insane, they must believe she is telling the truth. The subject of the wardrobe is dropped for some time; nobody talks about it or goes near it, that is, until the day the children run into the spare room to keep away from Mrs. Macready and a group of sightseers she is leading through the house. They think surely no one will follow them into that room, but then they hear someone fumbling at the door, and they all jump into the wardrobe.

Chapter Six: Into the Forest

The cramped, dark wardrobe opens up into the snowy wood. Peter apologizes to Lucy for not believing her, and then all eyes are on Edmund because of his lie. Peter suggests they go exploring with Lucy as the leader. She takes them to Mr. Tumnus's cave, which they find abandoned and in shambles. They also find a piece of paper with a message from Maugrim, the Captain of the Secret Police, explaining that Mr. Tumnus has been arrested on a charge of high treason. Lucy insists they go looking for him, since it was on account of his befriending her that he was arrested. Peter and Susan consent, although they have no idea how to begin looking. A bright red Robin appears, and Lucy gets the impression that the bird wants them to follow it. The Robin leads them through the forest, and all the time they are walking, Edmund questions whether they are doing the right thing.

Chapter Seven: A Day with the Beavers

The children follow the Robin to a place where they meet a Beaver, who has been cautiously observing them from behind the trees. It turns out he is a friend of Mr. Tumnus, and he tells the children they must speak quietly because the Witch's spies are everywhere. Assuming that they know more than they do, the Beaver whispers, "Aslan is on the move." The children, of course, have no idea who Aslan is, yet they all derive a certain comfort from the name. That is, all except Edmund, who is horrified by it. Lucy, who is very concerned about Mr. Tumnus, wants to know where he has been taken. The Beaver (called Mr. Beaver from now on) invites them back to his place for dinner where they can talk in secret. There they meet Mrs. Beaver, who graciously welcomes them, and they share a sumptuous meal of fish and potatoes. Mr. Beaver cocks an eye toward the window and remarks with satisfaction that it is snowing: the snow will cover their tracks and thereby prevent unwanted visitors.

Chapter Eight: What Happened after Dinner

After dinner, Mr. Beaver tells the children that Mr. Tumnus has probably been taken to the Witch's castle and turned into stone. He says they can do nothing for him without Aslan, the great lion and King of the wood, whom they are to meet the very next day at a place called the Stone Table. Mr. Beaver relates the prophecies that speak of how the White Witch's reign will come to an end when Aslan returns and two Sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve sit on Cair Paravel's thrones. He explains that the White Witch will want to kill the children out of fear that they are the fulfillment to the prophecy. When Mr. Beaver finishes speaking, everyone notices Edmund is missing....

(The entire section is 3116 words.)