“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is the most famous book by C.S. Lewis, written in 1950. The novel is a part of a chronicle containing 7 novels and even though it was the first one published, the author recommendation is to read it as the second one. The book “The magician’s nephew” is recommended to be read first and it was published in 1955.
The plot begins in the World War II and it continues to the unknown time in the magical world of Narnia, named by the Italian city Narni.
The lion Aslan rules Narnia. He is a completely personified animal with human and heroic characteristics. Besides that Aslan has the characteristics of Jesus that was referred to as the Lion in the Holy Bible. The character is intentionally shown with strong Christian symbolic that carries on throughout the books. Author implemented the symbolic obviously in some parts of the novel and in the moral of the story.
Except the symbols of Christianity, the author used Greek and Roman mythology, English and Irish fairytale’s motives to create a magical world where the characters live their adventures.
This is a children’s novel, but because of its construction and content, it is also interesting to adults. It is dedicated to the author’s granddaughter Lucy and he also named the noblest character by her.
Other famous books of the chronicle are called “Prince Caspian” and “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”.
Genre: epic fantasy
Place: London, Narnia, professor’s Kirke estate
Time: 1940’s, the World War II.
In the beginning of the story four young relatives – Peter, Lucy, Edmund and Susan Pevensie are evacuated from London because the city was under a threat of being attacked in the war. They were supposed to live in the village at an eccentric professor Kirke.
When the kids come to the house they decide to explore their new environment. The youngest one, Lucy, finds a big, old wardrobe. She decides to open it and then she finds herself in Narnia, covered in snow.
Lucy found a fawn named Tumnus who has never seen a girl before and he is left surprised by her appearance. Tumnus explained Lucy that they are in the parallel world of Narnia and he invites her for tea. After some time Tumnus starts crying and tells Lucy that he is actually a secret servant of the White Witch that enchanted Narnia so that there would be eternal snow and coldness. Tumnus explained to Lucy that the White Witch ordered him to bring her the first human creature he finds in Narnia. Tumnus liked Lucy a lot so he let her go back to the world without mentioning her to the Witch.
Lucy left Narnia and told her relatives what she had seen in the wardrobe. They don’t believe her because she told them that she had been drinking tea for hours when they had seen her a couple of minutes ago (time flows differently in Narnia). Her older relatives decide to check out the wardrobe and they find nothing there so they just conclude that Lucy made it all up.
Edmund made fun of Lucy because of her imaginary adventures until one day Lucy disappears in the wardrobe and he follows her. Edmund comes to Narnia but doesn’t find Lucy. Instead of her, he came across the White Witch. She represented herself to be the queen of Narnia and invites him to her castle where she organized a big party and offered Edmund an enchanted cake.
Edmund is left by an unstoppable greed and need to eat more cake. White Witch took advantage of him and persuaded him to bring his relatives to Narnia so that she could meet them.
When Edmund was coming back he encountered Lucy that tells him everything she knows about the White Witch. Edmund held his acquaintance with the White Witch for himself because of the enchantment. Edmund and Lucy went back to their world. Lucy told Peter and Susan about Narnia but this time with Edmund who denied the fact that he had ever been there.
Peter and Susan get worried about Lucy having a mental disorder because she is seeing things that don’t exist so they decided to talk to professor Kirke about it. He was shocked by their insinuation that Lucy is ill and he confirms that Narnia exists.
One afternoon the kids hide away from some guests they don’t want to talk to so they all go to the closet. They found themselves in Narnia and then they believed Lucy.
Lucy took them to Tumnus’s house and there they found a not that said he was being held captive by the Witch because he let Lucy go home. Lucy felt sad and she convinced her relatives to go and save Tumnus. They headed for the forest of Narnia guided by a bird. On their way, they met Mister Beaver who led them into his home.
Mister Beaver explained that saving Tumnus was mission impossible but it didn’t stop them from trying to do something. Mister Beaver told them that their only chance was to find the lion Aslan because it is believed that he is the only one with enough power to defeat the Witch. Everyone likes the plan but Edmund who can’t even hear the name Aslan without getting goose bumps and it was all because of the enchantment. The White Witch is repulsed by the fact that Aslan is still in Narnia so she starts thinking of ways to kill him. The Witch wanted to avoid the prophecy that told the story of four human beings who would come to Narnia and rule it with Aslan. She suspected that those four people could be Lucy, Edmund, Peter and Susan.
Lucy, Susan, and Peter came to the place where Aslan is supposed to be hiding with the help of Mister Beaver. During their journey they see the time changing, snow melting, spring starting – it was a part where the Witch had no powers. The Witch was traveling with Edmund but she wasn’t able to come to Aslan’s hideout because she had lost her powers.
Peter, Susan, and Lucy found Aslan and became friends with him. Despite the awe Aslan provoked in them, they felt safe around him. Aslan promised them he’ll do the best he can to free Edmund of the Witch’s spell. Aslan took Peter to a castle and told him he’ll rule Narnia. While the two of them were talking Susan blew a horn she got from the Father Christmas they encountered on the way.
He gave her the horn so she could use it in the case of emergency of an unsolvable situation. Peter came and saw Susan being attacked by one of the Witch’s wolves and he killed him with a sword he had gotten from the Father Christmas. Aslan saw many wolves in the distance. He sent his helpers to chase them in hopes he’ll find out something about the Witch’s plans.
In the meantime, the Witch is getting prepared to kill Edmund because he became a lose end. His siblings arrive with Aslan and they rescue him. They tried to find the Witch but she managed to hide by blending with the surroundings. Edmund was finally set free from the enchantment and he was thrilled to see his siblings and Aslan. The next they the Witch and Aslan talked and she demanded Edmund’s life because she thought of him as a traitor.
Aslan told her he won’t let her kill Edmund but they made a secret pact. The Witch loved it but Aslan didn’t and he did not tell anyone what their agreement was about.
The next night Susan and Lucy saw Aslan sad and didn’t know the reason. He disappeared and they found him at the Stone Tables where he told them to leave because he had to negotiate with the White Witch. Susan and Lucy hid in the bush and watched the Witch humiliate and kill Aslan. The agreement was actually a trade. Aslan traded his life for Edmund’s.
Susan and Lucy spent the night with Aslan’s dead body. In the morning they heard some noise and then the Stone Tables where Aslan was killed broke in half. Aslan’s body disappeared. They heard Aslan’s voice telling them that he isn’t completely dead and that he came back even stronger. Aslan led the girls to the Witch’s castle where they freed her prisoners that were turned into ice statues. Susan, Lucy and Aslan left to join the battle between Peter’s army and the Witch’s army. Peter and his army were running out of strength but Aslan appeared and killed the Witch. After that her army fell apart.
Aslan declared Edmund a knight because he redeemed his sins he did while he was enchanted and because of his participation in the battle. Susan, Lucy, Peter and Edmund came to the throne Cair Paravel, the main castle of Narnia and its symbol as Narnia’s official rulers. Aslan then disappeared again. They ruled for many years and then they became adults. One day, while they were riding on their horses, they found the way out of Narnia. They decided to leave Narnia in peace they’ve established and gone back to their world.
Susan, Peter, Edmund and Lucy came back to their world and they were only a few minutes older even though they lived a lifetime in Narnia. They told their adventures to professor Kirke who told them that one day they’ll find their way back to Narnia.
Characters: Aslan, The White Witch. Peter, Susan, Edmund, Lucy, Tumnus, Professor Kirke, Mister Beaver
Aslan – the good king of Narnia that represents its good magic. He is generous, honorable and ready to make a sacrifice. His qualities are shown in the fact that he traded his life for Edmunds. He is a strong character brought back from the dead. In the context of Christianity, he can be a metaphor for Jesus Christ.
The White Witch – greedy, cold and evil ruler of Narnia that held it captive in eternal snow and coldness so that she could subjugate everyone that lived in it. She killed everyone who stood against her and she would, just for fun, enchant people so that she could manipulate them as she did Edmund. She is incredibly greedy and because of that, she can’t find peace or happiness.
Peter – the oldest one. He is honorable, brave and takes care of everyone as much as he can. Aslan placed him as one of the kings of Narnia because of his unselfishness and the habitants of Narnia trusted him.
Susan – the second oldest. She is intelligent, responsible, strong, merciful and compassionate. She gets a magic horn with which she can summon the people of Narnia if she needs help because she is considered to be a person that would never misuse the horn.
Edmund – the third oldest and mostly he acts like a spoiled brat, loves to mock people and especially Lucy. In the key moment, when the battle raged on, he placed his bad characteristics aside and helped his brother. By doing that he redeemed his sins.
Lucy – the youngest. She is sweet, sometimes naïve, optimistic and full of kindness. Lucy only saw the best in everyone and she wants to protect everyone. Most of the plot we see through her optimistic eyes.
Tumnus – a magical fawn that lives in Narnia. He is kind but frightful and the Witch took good advantage of it. In the beginning, he was her spy and instead of giving her Lucy, he sets her free. When he did it the Witch caught him, tortured him and turned him into an ice statue.
Professor Kirke – an eccentric old professor who took care of the Pevensies during the air attacks on London. His estate is surrounded by nature and it’s very peaceful. He is open-minded, kind-hearted and helps the Pevensies realize that Narnia is real.
Mister Beaver – Tumnus’s friend and helps the Pevensies find Tumnus and Aslan. He presented the kids to Father Christmas who gave them presents.
C. S. Lewis Biography
Clive Staples Lewis is a famous north Ireland writer of many famous children’s books. He was born in Belfast on November 29, 1898. His brother Waren was also a writer but he was more interested in history.
When his mother died, he moved to England where he discovered Wagner’s music and got an interest in Nordic mythology. In 1933, he became a part of the association “The Inklings”.
In 1938, he published his first novel, a part of a trilogy named “Out of the Silent Planet”. In 1934 he published the sequel “Perelandra” and after his close friend died he published the last part “The Hideous Strenght”.
1950 was his key year when the first book of “The Chronicles of Narnia” was published. It was called “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”. The book had a movie adaptation and it became a complete success.
In 1951, the second part was published “Prince Caspian” and a year later “The voyage of the dawn treader”. The same year the author met his future wife, Joy Davidman Gresham. The books kept coming out so in 1935 we have “The Silver Chair”, in 1954 “The Horse and his Boy” and a year later the sixth novel “Magician’s nephew”. The last part was published in 1956 and it was named “The Last Battle”.
Soon he married Joy but then they found out she had bone cancer. He died in 1960 and Lewis was left devastated. He also took care of her son Douglas from her first marriage.
In 1961, he published “A Grief Observed” where he described the great pain and suffering he felt after losing his wife.
He died on November 22nd , 1963 in Oxford, just a bit before turning 65.