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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