Introductory Lecture and Objectives

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe eNotes Lesson Plan content

Introductory Lecture

The first book in C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe endures more than half a century after its publication. The novel has been adapted for television multiple times, as well as for the stage and film. It has been reflected in popular culture, from politics to Saturday Night Live. On one level, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is an adventure tale; its four protagonists—siblings Lucy, Edmund, Peter, and Susan—step inside a magical wardrobe and discover a child’s ideal fantasy world, complete with talking animals, beautiful landscapes, virtuous souls, terrible villains, a heroic lion, and four thrones waiting for the children to occupy them in fulfillment of a prophecy. If the book held no deeper meaning, it very well might have endured simply because it is a wonderful adventure story. However, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is also a heroic journey through which courage, loyalty, and sacrifice bring about the transformation of the children and of Narnia itself. Read in yet another way, Lewis’s story reimagines the crucifixion of Christ and his resurrection, reaffirming the transformative power of love and faith.

At the time he wrote the book, C. S. Lewis was already a notable British author and Christian apologetic, striving to present a rational basis for Christianity and defend it against attacks. He had left Christianity as an adolescent but returned to his faith in his early thirties and, years later, wrote his first book for children about Narnia. Though Lewis said that as an artist he let the story unfold creatively, he also saw the virtue in teaching children through storytelling.1 It is important to understand the role of the Christian faith in Lewis’s life story, as it informs the spiritual themes in the book.

Obsessed with power and domination, an evil White Witch rules in Narnia, but a prophecy states that her rule will end when four humans (the siblings) arrive in Narnia. When the youngest boy, Edmund, betrays his siblings to the White Witch, he commits a traitorous act. Selfishness and a desire for power have poisoned his soul, and by the rules of Deep Magic, his life belongs to the White Witch. The great Lion Aslan—who represents truth, justice, and love—offers himself in Edmund’s place, and the animal’s death is a dark and violent affair that conjures the crucifixion of Christ. Through the lion’s sacrifice, Edmund’s soul is wiped clean, just as Christian belief holds that Jesus died for the sins of mankind. Edmund becomes a just and compassionate king of Narnia.

Though The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was published in 1950, Lewis had conceived the novel a decade prior, when many children living in London were evacuated to keep them safe from relentless bombings by the German air force during the London Blitz. Those are the circumstances when Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edmund are transported to a large house in the country where they find little to do but play hide-and-seek and explore the house’s crevices—ultimately leading them to the wardrobe. Viewed in this context, Narnia and its adventures offer an escape from a dark world where children have little control. Though Narnia itself includes elements of darkness and danger, the children are empowered participants in its drama, and it is in Narnia that the children grow up—physically, emotionally, and perhaps most importantly to Lewis, spiritually.

By the end of the unit the student will be able to:

1. Explain the main characteristics each of the children represents and how they came to embody those traits.

2. Chart Edmund’s character development from petulant schoolboy, to traitor, to hero.

3. Identify the novel’s main arguments about faith, loyalty, sacrifice, and power.

4. Understand how Lewis uses imagery and vivid sensory descriptions to create a fanciful universe and to enhance the novel’s themes.

5. Identify the main allegories in the text.

Instructional Focus: Teaching With an eNotes Lesson Plan

This eNotes lesson plan is designed so that it may be used in numerous ways to accommodate ESL students and to differentiate instruction in the classroom.

Student Study Guide

• The Study Guide is organized for a chapter-by-chapter study of the novel. Study Guide pages may be assigned individually and completed at a student’s own pace.

• Study Guide pages may be used as pre-reading activities to preview for students the vocabulary words they will encounter in reading each chapter and to acquaint them generally with the chapter’s content.

• Before chapter Study Guide pages are assigned, questions may be selected from them to use as short quizzes to assess reading comprehension.

• Study Guide vocabulary lists include words from the novel that vary in difficulty.

1. The vocabulary lists for each chapter are sufficiently comprehensive so that shorter lists of vocabulary words can be constructed from them.

2. Working from the lesson plan’s chapter vocabulary lists, the teacher also may construct vocabulary studies for individual students, choosing specific words from each chapter that are most appropriate for them.

Discussion Questions

The discussion questions vary in degree of difficulty.

1. Some questions require higher levels of critical thinking; others engage students with less challenging inquiry.

2. Individual discussion questions may be assigned to students working in pairs or in small study groups; their contributions may then be added to a whole-class discussion.

Multiple-Choice/Essay Test

Test questions also vary in degree of difficulty.

1. Some multiple-choice questions address the factual content of the novel; others require students to employ critical thinking skills, such as analyzing; comparing and contrasting; and drawing inferences.

2. The teacher may select specific multiple-choice questions and one or more essay questions to assess an individual student’s understanding of the novel.

3. The essay portion of the test appears on a separate page so that it may be omitted altogether in testing.

Before students read through the book, point out to them the following themes, or universal ideas, that will be addressed in the novel:

  • Gluttony
  • Sacrifice
  • Good v. Evil
  • Truth
  • Faith
  • Power
  • Loyalty

Talk with your students about how a motif is a recurring pattern or repeated action, element, or idea in a book. As they read, have them pay attention to the following motifs:

  • Seasons
  • Meals
  • Magic

A symbol is a concrete object or place that has significance in a literary work because it communicates an idea. Have your students talk about how the author uses the following symbols and look for other symbols on their own as they read:

  • Turkish Delight
  • The Stone Table
  • Lucy’s white handkerchief
  • Father Christmas
  • Peter’s sword and shield
  • Susan’s horn, bow, and arrows
  • Lucy’s dagger and bottle of cordial

Essay and Discussion Questions

1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe can be read as an allegory, or extended narrative metaphor, for the story of Christ’s death and resurrection. How might children benefit from the story’s being retold in this way?

2. The narrator uses authorial intrusion, frequently inserting himself into the story in dialogue with the reader. He writes, for example, “And now we come to one of the nastiest things in this story,” and “Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning. . . .” Why do you think he does this, and what effect does it have on the story or on the reader’s experience?

3. Before he has entered Narnia, Peter says to the Professor: “Well, sir, if things are real, they’re there all the time.” The Professor replies: “Are they?” Peter isn’t certain how to respond. How would you respond? Do you agree with Peter’s statement, or can you think of exceptions? What point do you think the author is making in this scene?

4. A foil is a character used to provide a contrast to a major character and highlight that character’s main attributes. Explain how the White Witch acts as a foil for Aslan, using several examples from the book. Are there other examples of character foils in the book?

5. When Edmund dines with his siblings and the Beavers, thinking all the while of the Witch’s Turkish Delight, the narrator comments, “[T]here’s nothing that spoils the taste of good ordinary food half so much as the memory of bad magic food.” How does food act as a metaphor in this instance? What does the author mean by this? Can you think of an example of Edmund’s form of discontent that plays out in our world today?

6. When the children meet Father...

(The entire section is 668 words.)

Chapter 1


air raids: bombings of London by the German Reich during WWII

blue-bottle: a type of insect

chap: slang fellow

looking-glass: mirror

mothballs: balls made of pesticide used to kill moths in clothing that has been stored

parcels: packages

queer: strange

row: argument

wireless: radio

Study Questions

1. Why were the children sent away from London?

They were sent to the country to keep them safe from air raids in the city.

2. What in Susan’s tone as she’s describing the Professor annoys Edmund? What does their exchange suggest about his character? 

Edmund accuses Susan of talking like their mother. His annoyance suggests he has a resistance to authority, or at least to his sister’s taking an authoritative role.

3. Why does Peter think no one will hear the children if they are loud?

The house is huge, so the adults are far away and out of earshot.

4. What do the children like or look forward to about their stay at the Professor’s house?

It’s in a rural setting, and it is enormous and full of surprises. Staircases go down, and then up, rooms lead into each other instead of having hallways in between, and some of the rooms themselves are interesting, filled with objects such as books and armor.

5. What source of light does Lucy find when she first enters Narnia, and why is it odd?

Lucy walks towards a lamppost; it’s strange because it’s in the middle of the woods.

6. How would you describe Lucy in Chapter 1? What is she like?

She is clearly the youngest of the children and very much a good girl. (She worries about what will happen if the children’s voices get too loud.) However, she is also curious and adventurous.

Chapter 2


inquisitive: inclined to ask questions

jollification: joyful or festive activity

melancholy: depressing

taken service: accepted employment

wretched: awful

Study Questions

1. What does the Faun refer to Lucy as being, and why does this confuse her?

He calls her a Daughter of Eve, and she’s never heard that expression used before to describe a girl.

2. To what do Spare Oom and War Drobe refer?

Mr. Tumnus is confused when Lucy explains that she came from the wardrobe in the spare room. He assumes she is talking about a country and...

(The entire section is 207 words.)

Chapter 3


accord: agreement

batty: slang crazy, mentally ill

champing: chewing noisily or vigorously

elder: older

gilded: covered with gold

heather: shrub with pinkish purple flowers

hoax: trick

make it Pax: slang make friends with, make peace

rapped: knocked

sledge: sleigh

sneered: made a facial expression of contempt

spiteful: mean, vindictive

Study Questions

1. Peter first thinks Lucy is making up a story about Narnia and adds, “And why shouldn’t she?” Then, after they’ve explored the wardrobe and found it normal, he says, “A jolly good hoax, Lu.” What do these two...

(The entire section is 304 words.)

Chapter 4


dominions: territories of control

Dryads: Greek mythology wood nymphs

mantle: cloak

Naiads: Greek mythology aquatic nymphs

Turkish Delight: a sweet made of flavored sugar, often combined with fruit or nuts

Study Questions

1. Why does the Queen decide to give Edmund food and drink? What effect does the food have on Edmund?

The food and drink make Edmund very compliant. He answers the Queen’s questions openly, without suspicion about why she is so curious.

2. What about Edmund’s family is of particular interest to the Queen?

The Queen is interested...

(The entire section is 360 words.)

Chapter 5


jeered: mocked

passage: corridor

sharp’s the word: slang a call to brisk movement

snigger: scornful laugh

trippers: those on a short pleasure trip

Study Questions

1. How does Edmund feel when Lucy runs out of the room, presumably in tears? What does his response reveal about his character?

He feels he has won something, although what he’s won is not clear. He enjoys feeling superior, and besting Lucy makes him feel this way.

2. What does Peter reveal about Edmund’s time at school? What does this information emphasize about Edmund’s character?


(The entire section is 341 words.)

Chapter 6


alighted: settled

By jove: slang an expression of surprise

camphor: crystalline compound once used in mothballs

crockery: tableware

fraternizing: being friendly with

larder: pantry or cellar containing food

prigs: people who are self-righteous

washout: disappointment

Study Questions

1. Why is Peter angry with Edmund? What effect does this anger have on Edmund?

Peter is angry because it’s clear Edmund has been in Narnia before; thus he had lied in order to make Lucy look foolish. Peter’s anger does not chasten Edmund. Instead it pushes Edmund further away from his...

(The entire section is 287 words.)

Chapter 7


dripping: fat and juices from roasting meat

festoons: garlands

gum boots: high rubber boots

hatchets: small axes

Jack Robinson: slang very quickly, suddenly

marmalade: preserve made of citrus and sugar

mortar: vessel for crushing substances

oilskins: cloths treated with oil to make them waterproof

trifle: of little importance

Study Questions

1. How does the Beaver show the children that he can be trusted?

The Beaver possesses Lucy’s white handkerchief, which she had given to Mr. Tumnus.

2. What reaction do the...

(The entire section is 204 words.)

Chapter 8


decoy: anything used as a lure

Jinn: Arab mythology class of spirits lower than angels, capable of influencing humankind for good or evil

Lilith: Jewish mythology first wife of Adam

prophecy: divinely inspired prediction

stratagem: trick for deceiving an enemy

treacherous: unfaithful, deceitful

Study Questions

1. Why does Peter feel they must try to save Mr. Tumnus? What character trait does this reveal about Peter?

Peter feels this way because the Faun saved Lucy. It suggests that Peter has a strong sense of justice.

2. What happens to those who cross the White...

(The entire section is 271 words.)

Chapter 9


cat-a-mountains: wild cats

centaur: Greek mythology creature that is half-human and half-horse

cinema: movie theater

dunce’s hat: conical paper hat used for humiliating its wearer

lithe: easily bent

satyrs: Greek mythology deities with horse or goat characteristics

turret: small tower

Study Questions

1. Why didn’t Edmund enjoy the food at the Beavers’ home?

He was imagining the taste of Turkish Delight the whole time, which spoiled the taste of the food he was eating.

2. Edmund thinks to himself...

(The entire section is 227 words.)

Chapter 10


crock: container

frowsty: musty

plaguey: excessive, troublesome

sluice gate: gate that regulates the flow of water through an artificial channel

Study Questions

1. What does Mrs. Beaver do that makes everyone else anxious?

She takes time before they leave to pack things she feels they will need.

2. What surprising reaction do the children have when they meet Father Christmas?

Though the children are glad to see Father Christmas, they are also still and solemn.

3. Why hasn’t Father Christmas visited Narnia in a long...

(The entire section is 321 words.)

Chapter 11


councillor: advisor, member of a council

gaiety: cheerfulness

glade: clearing surrounded by woods

gluttony: excessive eating and drinking

plucked: summoned

quarrels: disagreements

vermin: objectionable, obnoxious people

Study Questions

1. Aslan is not in Chapter 11 at all, yet it is titled “Aslan is Nearer.” Why?

Throughout the course of Chapter 11, the season changes from winter to spring, indicating that Aslan has broken the Witch’s power to make it always winter.

2. What sustenance does Edmund receive when he asks for Turkish Delight?


(The entire section is 300 words.)

Chapter 12


brute: beast

by gum: slang exclamation of excitement

forelegs: front legs

kingfisher: type of bird that is often brilliantly colored

pavilion: large, elaborate tent

rampant: raging

spurs: anything that urges achievement

standard: a flag

Wolf’s-Bane: poisoner/destroyer of wolves

Study Questions

1. Describe the thaw as the children experience it.

The thaw is almost magical to the children, a very sensory experience. They hear birds, smell flowers, feel the temperature changing, and see nature coming back to life around them. The experience is like...

(The entire section is 373 words.)

Chapter 13


conduct: guidance

firestones: fire-resisting stones

hangman: executioner

halted: stopped

ranks: lines of soldiers

renounced: given up

scepter: rod or wand of an imperial power

Study Questions

1. How would you characterize the Witch’s conversation with the dwarf about their next steps? What is the dwarf’s role in the conversation?

They are weighing their options together. The dwarf is playing the role of advisor, or counselor.

2. Edmund is pushed up against a tree. Why? What is not available?

The dwarf pushes Edmund against a tree...

(The entire section is 273 words.)

Chapter 14


appeased: brought to a state of peace

Efreets: Islamic mythology a class of infernal Jinn

Ettins: Norse mythology giants

gibber: utterance

Hags: mythological ugly old women

Incubuses: mythological lusty male demons

quivering: shaking, trembling

roused: wakened

Sprites: mythological elves, fairies, or goblins

Wraiths: ghosts, spirits

Study Questions

1. List several moments or clues that foreshadow Aslan’s fate.

1) Aslan gives Peter instructions for the battle, as if he will not be there.


(The entire section is 239 words.)

Chapter 15


battlements: defensive walls

bonds: ropes

briar: shrub

incantation: magic, words to cast a magic spell

mount: animal used for riding

rabble: disorderly crowd

romp: boisterous frolic

skirling: shrieking

slacking: slowing

stead: in place of another

Study Questions

1. What do Lucy and Susan do when they reach Aslan?

They kiss him, stroke his fur, and remove his muzzle.

2. How does Aslan become free of the ropes that tie him?

Mice appear and nibble through the ropes, which Lucy and Susan then clear...

(The entire section is 173 words.)

Chapter 16


bustle: hustle

din: loud noise

fusty: moldy

muck: filth

plumage: feathers of a bird

prodigious: enormous

ransacking: turning inside out

rippled: rolling

rubble: remains, scrap

saccharine: sugar

Study Questions

1. How does Aslan restore the stone creatures?

He breathes on them.

2. How does the scene in the Witch’s courtyard transform?

It changes from gray and silent to noisy and colorful.

3. What physical changes do the former stone creatures make to the castle? What symbolic...

(The entire section is 221 words.)

Chapter 17


array: attire

Fair Consorts: associates, partners

quarry: prey

thicket: dense growth of trees or bushes

Study Questions

1. What is the first thing Peter says to Aslan following the battle?

He tells him all about Edmund’s courage.

2. How has Peter changed, in Lucy’s view?

Peter is older and graver, more mature in Lucy’s eyes.

3. How did Edmund use his intelligence in the battle?

Instead of going after the Witch, Edmund went after her wand.

4. What do Lucy’s...

(The entire section is 244 words.)

Multiple-Choice Test and Answer Key

1. The children are sent to live in the country because

A. their parents are divorcing.

B. they need to attend boarding school.

C. London is experiencing air raids.

D. their home has been destroyed.

E. the Professor needs companionship.

2. What piece of advice does the narrator repeat throughout the book?

A. that it is dangerous to play hide-and-seek.

B. that it is foolish to shut oneself into a wardrobe.

C. that you must always say “please” and “thank...

(The entire section is 1160 words.)

Essay Exam Questions With Answers

1. Describe three different meals in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. How do they differ from one another? What deeper messages is food meant to convey about the characters and the plot?

Meals in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe are about much more than just food. Rather, they are used to bring out the motivations of characters, to explore the characters’ relationships with one another, and even to express the tone of the book at critical junctures. When Edmund eats the Queen’s Turkish Delight and drinks her warm, foamy, sweet drink, he has been effectively seduced. He is guilty of gluttony. He cannot stop eating, and even though the food and his overeating give him a stomach ache, he...

(The entire section is 1745 words.)