The Magician's Nephew

by C. S. Lewis

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What are Digory's character traits in The Magician's Nephew?

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Along with being bold and curious, Diggory is adventurous. Rather than fearing new places and experiences, he is eager to learn and discover. Additionally, he is both brave and imaginative, as is seen as Diggory encourages Polly to explore the attics of their row houses:

"I expect someone lives there in secret, only coming in and out at night, with a dark lantern. We shall probably discover a gang of desperate criminals and get a reward. It's all rot to say the house would be empty all those years unless there was some mystery. . . . Grown-ups are always thinking of un-interesting explanations." (ch. 1)

Diggory often predicts what might come next, as he does when exploring the attic; this shows his imagination.

His love of adventure is seen again when Diggory eagerly selects a pool to enter to travel to another world. He says to Polly in the Wood Between the Worlds,

"There! . . . That's all right. Now for the adventure. Any pool will do Come on. Let's try this one!" (ch. 3)

Diggory makes his decisions with confidence and bravery. Polly urges Diggory to slow his decisions down and to think through the logistics of their plans. She encourages them to mark a pool, so they will be able to determine which pool will take them back to earth at the end of their adventure. After the pool is marked, Diggory's eager enthusiasm to explore returns:

"Well don't keep on gassing about it . . . Come along, I want to see what's in one of the other pools." (ch. 3)

Diggory also demonstrates bravery and immense compassion toward the needs of others. His compassion and bravery is seen when he asks Aslan for something to help cure his mother, despite his fear of Aslan's massive claws. His bravery continues to be seen when he accepts Aslan's commission to get Aslan a seed from a magic tree, before he knows what this mission will require. He was not even sure that he would be able to complete this task, but after Aslan gives him a Lion's kiss, Diggory "felt that new strength and courage had gone into him" (ch. 12).

Diggory's decision to ask Aslan for help, and his continued willingness to get the seed from a magic tree (as Aslan asked) shows Diggory's great bravery and compassion.

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Digory is bold, curious, stubborn, and rash.  He also has a healthy skepticism.  These are the traits that drive the story.  Digory also has some softer traits, such as love for his mother, sorrow that she is dying, and a sense of honor and respect for authority.  

We see Digory's boldness and curiosity when he urges Polly to help him explore the attic and to use it to get down into the abandoned house.  These traits, plus his rashness, come up again when the children get into the Wood Between the Worlds.  Digory wants to explore the other worlds the pools lead to.  Polly, who is more cautious, has to be convinced to do this.  (Digory is stubborn during their many little fights.)  Then, when Polly finally does agree, Digory almost charges off to another pool without marking the one that they needed to go back by.  This would have left them lost in other worlds forever.  

These same traits of Digory's come up again when the children discover the bell and hammer, with its warning rhyme, in the ruined palace in Charn.  Digory is curious and wants to ring the bell.  Polly tries to stop him, but being stubborn, bold, and rash, he wrestles with her and rings it anyway.  This is what awakens the evil Empress Jadis, releasing her on London and eventually, on Narnia. 

Digory's boldness and stubbornness come in handy later, when he must approach Jadis on her rearing horse in order to grab her ankle and put on the ring so as to get her out of London. 

Digory is skeptical enough not to just believe anything that he is told.  For example, when Uncle Andrew is telling Digory that as a magician, he (Uncle Andrew) is above the ordinary moral rules, adding, "Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny," Digory realizes that Uncle Andrew simply means he should be able to do whatever he wants.  He recognizes this same attitude later in Jadis.  It is Digory's skepticism (and his loyalty to Polly) that later help him to resist Jadis when she tempts him in the hilltop garden. 

These traits of being curious, stubborn, bold, and skeptical are exactly what make Digory such a good researcher and philosopher in later years, when he grows up to be "Professor Kirk."  

Despite being somewhat rebellious, Digory has been well brought-up and he has a soft heart.  Thus, he loves his mother and keeps trying to save her.  He keeps his promise to Aslan, and though not impressed by just any adult (such as Uncle Andrew), he is able to submit to the authority and goodness of Aslan, recognizing that Aslan is worthy of his service.  After meeting Aslan, Digory will carry the lion's influence with him all his life. 

 

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What are the interesting character traits of Digory in The Magician's Nephew?

Digory Kirke—the protagonist in The Magician's Nephew—is a very lonely young boy. He has no brothers and sisters, his mother's sick, and his father's away in India. So when he encounters Polly Plummer, he jumps at the chance to make a new friend. This shows us that Digory's quite a sociable boy, who much prefers the company of others, especially those his own age. Palling around with Polly allows Digory to indulge his vivid imagination and explore the strange, enchanting world his Uncle Andrew conjures up for him. Digory's innate curiosity is closely allied to his impulsiveness; he tends not to think too much before trying out a new experience. Thank goodness the much more logical, sensible Polly is on hand to help him out of his various scrapes.

As a young boy, Digory inevitably lacks something in the way of maturity. His patronizing assertion of superiority over Polly just because she's a girl is an illustration of this. But there's no doubt that he grows up considerably throughout the course of the book. Digory is subject to numerous temptations during his adventures which might easily trap children of a similar age. We see this when Digory is sorely tempted to to eat the fruit from the land of youth. But he refrains from doing so. Instead of being selfish and thinking only of himself, he wonders whether the fruit might help his sick mother to recover from her serious illness. Here, Digory shows not just maturity and compassion, but a real understanding of right and wrong.

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