Themes and Characters
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe features a wide variety of characters, including kindly beavers, who talk and fish with fishing poles; good and evil trees; a sensitive giant; a half-goat and half-human Faun, who reads books such as Is Man a Myth?; a wicked witch; a noble lion; and four human children. The children are the major characters in the book, but the noble lion Aslan and the White Witch have important roles.
Lucy and Edmund are the most developed characters. Lucy, bright, resourceful, and adventurous, has a loving nature and remarkable honesty. On the other hand, her brother Edmund is a bully. A "spiteful" boy, he has learned to pick on younger children at school and enjoys humiliating Lucy. Even though he, like Lucy, visits Naria before the other children do, he lies about it to make Lucy appear crazy. He often feels, with no good reason, that others are neglecting him. Because he is selfish and longs for attention and power, he is easily made a servant of the White Witch, who bribes him with "enchanted Turkish Delight" and a promise that she will make him king of Naria.
However, Edmund is not totally evil; he justifies betraying his brother and sisters by convincing himself that, as newcomers to Narnia, they cannot be certain that the witch's reputation for evil is well earned. Once he witnesses the witch performing cruel deeds, he is horrified—and not for purely selfish reasons. Caught between good and evil,...
(The entire section is 910 words.)
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Aslan is the Great Lion, King of Beasts, King of the land of Narnia, Lord of the wood, and son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. His purpose is clear the moment he returns to Narnia: to overthrow evil by serving others. The thawing of the witch's winter and renewing of spring comprise the first phase of Aslan's service, followed by the giving of gifts to the Pevensie children and the creatures of the wood through Father Christmas. After the children arrive at the Stone Table, Aslan serves them all with his hospitality, but Peter he serves more specifically by teaching him how to think and act like a military leader. Aslan's service to Edmund is threefold: he sends his forces to rescue Edmund from the White Witch, has a talk with Edmund that changes Edmund's life for the better, and, in the ultimate selfless act, sacrifices his life so that Edmund may live. At the same time, Aslan is saving all of Narnia from destruction in accordance with the Deep Magic, which states that unless life is forfeit in payment for the crime of treachery, Narnia will be destroyed by fire and water. While the witch thinks she has won the final victory and taken control of Narnia forever, Aslan knows that victory will be his because of the Deeper Magic, which states that death will work backward when a willing victim who committed no crime is sacrificed in a traitor's stead. In performing the ultimate service for Edmund and for Narnia, Aslan is able to return to...
(The entire section is 3456 words.)
The four major characters in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe are Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie, sent away by their parents from the London of World War II air raids. Lucy, the youngest, is the most virtuous; appropriately enough, she is the first to enter Narnia, Lewis's alternate world. She suffers for being the first when her older siblings choose not to believe her, and her brother Edmund lies to the other two after he has entered Narnia. In fact, Edmund's villainy is a major strain in the plot and sets up the terrible climax in which Aslan, the great — but not tame — lion must endure a mocking death on the stone table.
Peter, the oldest, is basically decent; his character development follows logically in the story. His behavior with his brother and sisters is consistent with his behavior with the Narnians whom he meets, particularly in conference and in battle. Susan, the oldest sister, is also basically decent. She, with Lucy, is a witness to Aslan's sufferings; her compassion and grief add to her stature as a sympathetic character.
The Narnians are particularly sharply delineated. Mr. Tumnus, the Faun, is a charmingly unwilling hero who does the right thing even when he knows he will suffer grievously for not having carried out the evil White Witch's commands. Mr. and Mrs. Beaver combine a homely hospitality and a clear vision in their treatment of the children. Aslan's beauty and power, alluded to by the Narnians...
(The entire section is 441 words.)