The Magician's Nephew

by C. S. Lewis

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What are the main themes of The Magician's Nephew?

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As one would expect with C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, one of the main themes of The Magician's Nephew is the never-ending struggle between good and evil. As a devout Christian, Lewis believed that this epic conflict was real and ongoing and that all men and women of good will should constantly fortify themselves against the ever-present threat of Satan's devious wiles.

Unfortunately, Digory's Uncle Andrew fails to grasp this simple warning and foolishly messes around with the forces of darkness through his experiments in magic. Uncle Andrew is by no means an evil man, but he unwittingly unleashes evil forces on an unsuspecting world by playing around with something he doesn't fully understand. In that sense, he's an enabler of evil, even if not exactly wicked himself.

For an embodiment of sheer, unadulterated wickedness, however, we must turn to Queen Jadis, the White Witch herself. She is the antagonist in the story and represents an ever-present threat to the children, as indeed she does to the lion Aslan, who is an allegory of Christ. Though Jadis is defeated by Digory's refusal to give in to temptation she has not been completely vanquished. This is Lewis's way of saying that the struggle between good and evil goes on, and that the faithful must always be on their guard against the dangerous lure of the devil and all his temptations. That Jadis still remains a threat also foreshadows her reappearance in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

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There are a lot of themes in this book.  Each reader has to think for him/herself about which are the main ones.  Here are a few themes:

  • Maturation -- Digory matures a great deal over the course of the book.  He starts out impulsive and selfish, but grows as the book goes on.
  • Difference between what's good and what's practical -- Jadis and Uncle Andrew only want what is useful and do not understand what is good.
  • Creation and destruction -- this is especially seen in the destruction of Charn and the creation of Narnai.
  • Forgiveness -- Digory is forgiven even though he harms Narnia by bringing Jadis there.
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What are the main themes in the book The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis?

The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis is a story of adventure and maturity set against backdrop of the creation of the fictional land of Narnia. The main themes in this novel are good vs. evil and the concepts of growth and maturity and taking on responsibility.

The first theme is very clear—Diggory’s uncle is a selfish and vain magician who accidentally brings a powerful and evil witch first into our world, and then into the virgin Narnia. Diggory and Polly have to follow Aslan’s instructions to prevent her from destroying that world and keep her from causing more damage.

A second theme is that of responsibility. Diggory is a young, playful child who spends most of his days exploring his attic prior to his arrival in Narnia. He is shy and cautious in general, never having accomplished much, and he shies away from worrisome situations, such as his ailing mother. At Aslan’s bidding, however, he takes a dangerous journey to this extreme North of Narnia and saves the day while providing for for his sickly mother in the process. He matures and comes to accept his responsibility through the events of the novel.

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What are the main themes in the book The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis?

"The Magician's Nephew" is a book in the series "The Chronicles of Narnia" by C.S. Lewis. While it occurs chronologically first in the series some people prefer to read it sixth as a prequel to the first five books.

"The Magician's Nephew" centers around the story of the creation of the world of Narnia and sets the stage for the events that occur in "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe". The book "The Magician's Nephew" has often been cited as a parallel story-line to the beginning of the book of Genesis, in which a perfect world is created and then altered by the entrance of temptation and evil.

Temptation is a key theme in the book, as the main characters, Digory and Polly, face temptation in various situations and succeed and fail in overcoming it. This theme of temptation is based on an underlying theme of definitive good and evil, which in the book "The Magician's Nephew" is understood within the simplicity of the newly created realm of Narnia. Good and evil are separate and well-defined.

Another theme found in the book is the importance and impact of every individual's choices. Digory learns in the book that his choice to do good or to do evil impacts not only himself but the very world he lives in.

"The Magician's Nephew" is a tale that seems sweetly simplistic at first but upon deeper consideration contains profound truths about humanity illustrated through the fantastical world of Narnia.

An in-depth analysis of the book: "The Magician's Nephew" can be found here:


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What is the theme of the book Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis?

If you check the link below and browse the answers in The Magician's Nephew Group here on enotes, you will see that similar questions have already been answered.

All of the books in the series The Chronicles of Narnia are allegories regarding the triumph of good over evil. The individual novels all have different storyliness but they have something to do with the imaginary land of Narnia and/or Narnia's great hero, Aslan. Aslan is always present at some point in all of the novels, and he is a Christ figure.

In The Magician's Nephew, readers find out how humans first entered the kingdom of Narnia - through a magic apple planted in Digory's backyard that grew up into a tree, from which the wardrobe was constructed  that allowed the Pevensie children to enter Narnia while visiting the old professor, who is Digory grown up. Digory, however, is the magician's nephew because his uncle Andrew is the magician. In this story, Digory and Polly bring the evil queen Jadis to London by mistake. Aslan must show up to rescue the humans in this story, just as with the others. Digory has a chance to steal a magic apple to heal his mother from her illness, but he chooses not to do this knowing it is wrong and knowing that his mother would not approve. So there is the additional theme of choosing the right thing, even though it is difficult. Aslan rewards Digory for his honesty and gives him an apple anyway, which he uses to heal his mother and later plants in the backyard.

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What are some interesting points to study in the novel The Magician's Nephew?

While The Magician's Nephew is the sixth book published as part of the Narnia Chronicles by C. S. Lewis, it is actually the first in chronology for the series--a prequel, if you will, to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  From your question, I can't tell whether you've already read the book or if you're looking for some things to look for as you read.  I'll try not to give away too many of the plot elements in case you haven't read, but either way, this is a book full of interesting and symbolic issues to think about and study. 

The Chronicles are all allegorical in nature, so the primary element to look for in this novel is the allegory--the characters and places which represent things greater than themselves.  Consider the following:

  • Aslan sings and creates a world--from nothing.
  • Jadis, the ice queen, is an enemy to Aslan.
  • Aslan and Jadis are locked in a battle between good and evil.
  • Gardens and an apple and temptation are all part of this story.

One other important thing to examine in this novel, especially if you're reading the entire Chronicles, is all the "beginnings" in this novel which carry over into the rest of the series.  And if you're looking for something more in-depth to study and/or research, perhaps you could examine why this novel is out of chronological order in the series. 

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