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, Edmund is the most interesting character because of his weaknesses and because he changes more than anyone else in the course of the novel. In many ways, Edmund is the most "human" of the characters because he is susceptible to temptation, deception, and power.
"This must be a simply enormous wardrobe!" thought Lucy, going still further in. . .
Peter, the eldest, is a sensible and athletic youngster who becomes a courageous warrior in defense of goodness and justice. Susan, like Lucy, is sensitive to the needs of others, but because she is aware of the possible dangers to the children, she is less adventurous than her younger sister. Although Susan hesitates to face great danger, all four children become involved in a war between the White Witch and...
(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 life and complete his purpose. His next two acts of service bring a speedy end to evil's reign: He breathes life back into the stone statues and kills the White Witch in his jaws. The final phase of Aslan's service is to crown the Pevensie children kings and queens of Narnia, after which he leaves to tend to his other countries.
Mr. Beaver is a wise, hardworking, and practical creature dedicated to the cause of good in the battle against evil in Narnia, and due to his unwavering faith in Aslan and belief in the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies, he takes it upon himself to lead the Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve to Aslan. When he hears they have entered Narnia, he springs into action. At great risk to his life, Mr. Beaver befriends the Pevensie children in the wood, warns them that the witch's spies are everywhere, and invites them into his home. From there, he leads his wife and three of the children on a dangerous journey to meet Aslan, the one who will save Edmund and all of Narnia from the White Witch. At the children's coronation, Mr. Beaver is rewarded and honored for his faith and service.
Mrs. Beaver, the kind wife of Mr. Beaver, is dedicated to helping, comforting, and providing for others. The fact that her sewing machine is her most valuable possession reveals the extent of her dedication. With the help of her husband, she cooks a sumptuous meal for the Pevensie children, then, with little help from her husband, packs food for their journey to the Stone Table. Mr. Beaver and the children are in a great hurry to leave and feel that Mrs. Beaver is wasting valuable time by packing a dinner. During the arduous journey, however, they are grateful for her foresight. She comforts and nurses the wounded Edmund, and she sweetly takes her husband's hand while awaiting the outcome of the private talk between Aslan and the White Witch. Mrs. Beaver is dearly loved by the children, and they bestow gifts and honors upon her at their coronation.
The Emperor-beyond-the-Sea is Aslan's father and author of Narnia's laws. He is never seen, but his presence is felt in the discussions about the Deep and Deeper Magic. His "hangman," as Mr. Beaver calls her, is the White Witch, who delights in being able to bring about death, but as it was written in the Deeper Magic, death is not final, and the Emperor sends Aslan to Narnia to reveal this truth.
Unlike the jolly Santa Claus depicted on the other side of the wardrobe, Father Christmas is big, glad, and most significantly, real. (They do, however, have the white beard and bright red robe in common.) To see him makes the children both glad and solemn at the same time. His arrival is a sign that the Witch's spell is weakening and that Aslan has returned. He is Aslan's helper and gives the Pevensie children—as well as all the creatures of the wood—gifts to help them continue in their fight against evil.
The lion was turned to stone by White Witch in her courtyard, and his statue terrifies Edmund at first glance. When Edmund realizes that the lion is made of stone, he mocks this king of beasts by drawing a moustache and a pair of glasses on his face. Aslan, however, shows that he holds lions in highest regard among creatures by breathing on the stone lion first. A bit later, Aslan astounds this relatively simple-minded lion when he refers to the two of them together as "Us Lions: "Those who are good with their noses must come in the front with us lions to smell out where the battle is." In using this pronoun, Aslan treats the lion as his equal, thereby bestowing dignity and honor upon him and bringing him great joy. The children further honor and reward the lion at their coronation.
Mrs. Macready, the Professor's housekeeper, is not particularly fond of children. It is her job to take visitors on guided tours of the house, and she gives the children strict instructions to stay out of her way when she is bringing visitors through the house. The children's adventure in Narnia begins and ends on a day when Macready is leading a tour; in order to stay out her way, the children hide in the wardrobe and make their way into Narnia. When they return, Mrs. Macready is still with the visitors.
Maugrim, or Fenris Ulf as he is known in British editions, is an evil grey wolf and Captain of the White Witch's Secret Police. He is quite crafty, as is evident when he pretends to be one of the Witch's statues in order to take Edmund by surprise, but his inability to manage his anger proves to be his downfall. After Maugrim chases Susan up a tree, Peter lashes out at him with his sword. Peter misses, but the audacity of the action enrages Maugrim so much that he has to howl, giving Peter just enough time to plunge his sword into Maugrim's heart.
Edmund, the second youngest of the Pevensie children and the bad one of the bunch, despises the high-minded superiority of his older brother, Peter, and the maternal control of his sister Susan. The only sibling he is older than is Lucy, and he takes his discontent out on her with a vengeance. He mocks and teases endlessly after she tells of her experience through the wardrobe and maliciously betrays her by denying her story about Narnia to Peter and Susan even after having been there himself. The moment they all get through to Narnia, Edmund slips up and says something to reveal that he has been there before, which results in Peter calling him a "poisonous little beast." Edmund resolves that he will get revenge on his brother and sisters.
The primary inducement for Edmund's revenge, however, is neither his unfortunate position in the sibling rivalry nor simply an innate badness. Rather, he is driven by his excessive appetite for food and power as brought on by the Witch's evil magic. The enchantment resulting from eating the Witch's Turkish Delight does not suppress Edmund's ability to distinguish right from wrong; it makes right and wrong appear inconsequential in contrast to his craving. As Edmund walks to the Witch's castle, the narrator says that deep down Edmund knew the Witch was evil and Aslan was good, but thoughts of power kept him from turning around and making peace with his brothers and sisters. Not until he makes the journey with the Witch does he realize the extent to which he has misjudged her and begins to have a change of heart. This change is revealed when he begs the Witch not to turn the merry little party of woodland creatures into stone. Edmund's compassion is genuine, and as the narrator states, it was "the first time in this story [Edmund] felt sorry for someone besides himself."
After Edmund is rescued by Aslan's forces and has a private conversation with Aslan, he is a new person. He apologizes to his brother and sisters,...
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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...
(The entire section is 441 words.)