C.S Lewis and the Depth of The Chronicles of Narnia
We have all grown up reading the magical fantasy adventure book series of The Chronicles of Narnia.
C.S. Lewis was an immensely popular writer who left a profound legacy through his children’s fantasy works and Christian writings. His Narnia series established him as one of the most influential authors of fantasy literature.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950)
Prince Caspian (1951)
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
The Silver Chair (1953)
The Horse and His Boy (1954)
The Magician’s Nephew (1955)
The Last Battle (1956)
Before you keep on reading I do have a spoiler alert if you have never read them.
C.S. Lewis tells the stories of various children who visit the magical land of Narnia, where they have adventures with talking animals, mythical creatures, and the lion Aslan, who is the true king and creator of Narnia.
Lewis draws inspiration from Greek and Roman mythology, fairy tales, Arthurian legends, and British and Irish folklore. The books explore themes such as courage, loyalty, friendship, faith, sacrifice, and redemption. You know the ultimate good versus evil battle.
The one thing I didn’t know was how it was inspired by Christian allegories.
So while the books don’t explicitly mention Christianity, Lewis wove clear biblical parallels and archetypes into the stories.
Here are some of the main ways the books allegorize Christian themes:
Aslan the lion is seen as a Christ-figure. He sacrifices himself to save Edmund, rises again, and triumphs over evil, paralleling Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.
The story of the children entering Narnia through the wardrobe is seen as symbolizing humans entering the kingdom of heaven.
The White Witch represents sin, temptation, and Satan trying to rule Narnia through her magical power. Aslan’s victory over her represents Christ’s victory over sin and death.
One of the beautiful things about the Chronicles of Narnia is that they can be enjoyed on different levels by readers of various backgrounds and ages.
As a teenager, even though I didn’t know that specific word Portal Fantasy I understood the subgene in that way.
Portal fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy fiction that involves traveling from one world to another through a portal, such as a door, a wardrobe, a painting, or a hole in the ground. The portal usually connects the real world (or a version of it) with a fantastical world, where magic, mythical creatures, and adventure await. The characters who enter the portal often have to complete a quest, face a challenge, or learn a lesson in the other world.
How I understood it was as four siblings going through the traumatic experience of a world war and being separated from their parents. They found solace in their active imagination and created another world. It’s in the later books I started believing maybe Narnia is an actual place. How else will I explain that the old professor named Digory Kirke whom they stayed with was one of the first visitors to Narnia as a child?
Where did C.S Lewis get his inspiration for The Narnia series?
C.S. Lewis came up with the idea for Narnia from various sources of inspiration in his life, such as his childhood imagination, his love of literature, his Christian faith, and his experiences during the war. Here are some of the main influences that shaped his vision of Narnia
An image of a faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. Lewis said that this image came to his mind when he was 16 years old, and stayed with him for many years, until he decided to write a story around it. This image became the opening scene of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, where Lucy meets Mr. Tumnus.
The name of Narnia, which he borrowed from an Italian town called Narni. Lewis saw the name on a map in an atlas and liked the sound of it. He also learned that Narni was the birthplace of a Roman emperor named Nerva, who was known for his justice and kindness.
Children stayed at his house during the Second World War. Lewis hosted several groups of children who were evacuated from London to escape the bombing. He enjoyed their company and entertained them with stories and games. He also had a wardrobe in his house, which he used as a prop for his stories. He later dedicated The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to one of the children, Lucy Barfield.
More Spoiler Alert
'The Last Battle' Debacle
So, the battle in Narnia is the last stand of King Tirian and his loyal followers against the Calormenes and the false Aslan, who have invaded and corrupted the land. The battle ends with the destruction of Narnia and the appearance of the real Aslan.
Narnia does end and all characters “die”, but the afterlife shows them continuing to live in Aslan’s paradise, which is the “real” eternal Narnia.
The train station scene in The Last Battle is one of the most controversial and debated parts of the Chronicles of Narnia. It is the scene where the main characters of the series, except Susan, die in a train crash in England and enter the new Narnia, which is Aslan’s country and a representation of heaven.
Lewis seemed to be conveying faith, redemption, spiritual reality, and the afterlife. It’s a heavy conclusion for a children’s fantasy series but speaks to the skill and vision Lewis had as a storyteller that he could end on such a powerful allegorical note.
Susan Pevensie : The lost Queen of Narnia
Susan is born in 1928 and is 12 years old when she appears in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. By The Last Battle, she is 21 years old, as the final novel takes place.
Susan is a sympathetic and relatable character, who has faced many challenges and changes in her life. She has always been good.
Yes, peter was older than her he was the firstborn of the Pevensies, but Susan had always wanted to be grown up, she had always been traditionally feminine. She is even called ‘Susan the gentle’.
I think Susan lost her way because she was confused and conflicted about who she was and what she wanted. She had grown up in Narnia, where she was a queen and a friend of Aslan, but she also had to return to England, where she was a normal girl and a student.
She had to adapt to two different worlds, and two different stages of life. She had to deal with the pressures and expectations of society, and the temptations and distractions of the world.
Yes, she tried to be normal and mature, but she also lost her innocence and joy.
Despite all that, I still to this day do not understand why Lewis chose to leave her out. She could have joined Aslan and all of the others in eternal Narnia.
I think that Susan still had a chance to redeem herself and to reunite with her loved ones. I think that Aslan still loved her and cared for her and that he would not give up on her. Susan still had a spark of Narnia and Aslan in her heart, and that she could rekindle it.
In his Companion to Narnia, Paul F. Ford writes at the end of the entry for Susan Pevensie that “Susan’s is one of the most important Unfinished Tales of The Chronicles of Narnia.”
All of the books in the chronicle were amazing. Lewis was a masterful writer, he achieved timeless multilayered stories. It’s clear these children’s fantasy tales have stood the test of time and can be appreciated on many levels.
what do think?