Dunham has a master's degree in communication and a bachelor's degree in English literature. In the following essay, he analyzes common critical misconceptions of Father Christmas's place in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and offers an alternative perspective.
The presence of Father Christmas in the land of Narnia has long been a source of puzzlement and consternation for critics and admirers of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and has resulted in a variety of conjectures as to his appropriateness and significance in the story. Unlike the character of Aslan, whose role is generally interpreted one way, Father Christmas remains an enigma. Some insist that Father Christmas is a jarring incongruity in this fairy tale world of nymphs, fauns, and talking animals. Others, who are made uncomfortable by his presence yet hesitate to dismiss him entirely, try to explain him away as a literary device. Still others, in an attempt to defend his presence, imbue him with meaning by reducing him and his gifts to biblical allusions. Sifting through these discordant views reveals nuggets of truth, but on the whole, most of this scholarship seems to lack careful thoughtful analysis.
J. R. R. Tolkien registered the first negative reaction to Father Christmas as a Narnian character in 1948, two years before The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was published. Tolkien disapproved of Lewis's mixing of creatures with distinct...
(The entire section is 2071 words.)
Wayne Martindale with Kathryn Welch
In the following essay, the authors explore the permeating theme of eating in the Narnia books and the use of hunger as a metaphor, indicating self-centeredness or theocentric devotion.
Generations of readers hungry for the truth have found food for their souls in Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia. Fittingly, of all the image patterns weaving in and out of the Narnia books, eating ranks among the most striking. From the first book to the last, as well as in many of Lewis's other works, we are never long without food. Lewis invites us to partake of not only the domestic meal but also the kingly feast. He tantalizes our taste buds with vividly described spreads of food but also gives us many symbolic scenes ranging from devouring demons to sacramental moments echoing the Lord's Supper, addressing the gamut of spiritual significance. Spiritually, imaginatively, and intellectually, all are invited to the high table: Narnia is food for the soul.
To dwell on the metaphor for a moment, Lewis's first gift is often to whet our appetites for spiritual nourishment. David Fagerberg ponders, "Why are we not naturally conformed to God's love? Our appetites have been...
(The entire section is 4093 words.)
In the following essay, Manlove describes The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as the most complete volume in the Narnia series and states that it comes closest to the innocence of a fantastic world. He also explores the themes of "good" and "evil" and growth and expansion pervasive in all the Narnia books.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, probably the best known of the Narnia books, stands alone perhaps more than any other book of the Chronicles. It is true that several of the other stories are "finished" in the sense of being self-contained: a rightful king or prince is restored in Prince Caspian, The Silver Chair, and The Horse and His Boy; a voyage to the end of the world is completed in The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader." Yet we know that these narratives are excerpts from the history of Narnia, with a before and after, where the first book is our first account of the country. (We know too that Lewis originally wrote it with no thought to a sequel.) Lewis struck in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe a blend of fantasy and the everyday that he was not again to match. The book is an extraordinary mixture of diverse things, from a lion who is a Narnian Christ to a witch out of fairy tale, from a Father Christmas out of myth to a female beaver with a sewing machine drawn from Beatrix Potter, from a society of articulate beasts and animate trees to a group of strongly characterized children...
(The entire section is 5066 words.)