Setting

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 737

Digory and Polly live on a city block in London where all the houses share a common attic, from one end of the street to the other. It is while exploring this attic that they enter Uncle Andrew's study. The study is not particularly interesting, except that it has some rings in it that, when worn, can transport their wearers to other places. One place is the Wood between the Worlds, which is composed of trees and a scattering of pools of water. The pools seem shallow, but when a person steps in one, that person drops though onto another planet. "It's not the sort of place where things happen. The trees go on growing, that's all," says Digory about the woods, but pools that transport people to other worlds make the place seem active enough.

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The world Digory and Polly first visit is Charn, a name probably taken from the word charnel, meaning a place for the dead, and Charn is virtually dead. Its immense buildings are devoid of people, except for a huge room filled with likenesses of kings and queens. It is in this room that Digory revives Jadis by ringing a bell, and Jadis turns out to be a person consumed by evil, because she murdered every living person on Charn in order to remain queen, and she seems to think it grand that she is supreme ruler of a deserted world. Eventually the pool that leads to Charn goes dry:

"When you were last here [the Wood between the Worlds]," said Asian, "that hollow was a pool, and when you jumped into it you came to the world where a dying sun shone over the ruins of Charn. There is no pool now. That world is ended, as if it had never been. Let the race of Adam and Eve take warning."

The Magician's Nephew was written soon after World War II, a war in which weapons of great power had killed millions of people. Charn may be an example of what can happen.

The most important place in The Magician's Nephew is the world of Narnia. Please note that the world is not itself called Narnia; the name Narnia belongs to the place first created in the world by Asian—a place that becomes the nation of Narnia. At first, the world is not inspiring. "This is an empty world. This is nothing," says Jadis,

And it [Narnia's world] was uncommonly like Nothing. There were no stars. It was so dark that they couldn't see one another at all and it made no difference whether you kept your eyes shut or opened. Under their feet there was a cool, flat something which might have been earth, and was certainly not grass or wood. The air was cold and dry and there was no wind.

This passage is probably inspired by Genesis 1:1-2:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (King James Bible)

But this empty world is about to be full of wonders. There is a great song, from which water arises and then plants such as grass and trees; then animals burst out of the ground:

Can you imagine a stretch of grassy land bubbling like water in a pot? For that is really the best description of what was happening. In all directions it was swelling into humps. They were of very different sizes, some bigger than mole-hills, some as big as wheelbarrows, two the size of cottages. And the humps moved and swelled till they burst, and the crumbled earth poured out of them, and from each hump there came out an animal.

Compare this passage to Genesis 1:24: "And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so."

For a short time, the world of Narnia is filled with Aslan's creative power. Even coins dropped on it sprout into trees. The arm of a lamp post that Jadis throws at Aslan sprouts into a new lamp post with a light that never goes out. Mountains arise to...

(The entire section contains 2978 words.)

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