C.S Lewis and the Depth of The Chronicles of Narnia

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.

Biography here

https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/topics/zkdnvk7/articles/zccf6yc

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.

A map of Narnia

Narnia: Map of Narnia (Aslan version) by EverydayHeroesComics Artwork found here EverydayHeroesComics

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.

Aslan Quote

More Spoiler Alert

'The Last Battle' Debacle

The Last Battle

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’.

Susan Pevensie ' Chronicles of Narnia'

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.”

C.S Lewis 'Chronicle 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?

Rethinking Freud’s Absolutist Theories In The Modern Age

Sigmund Freud's Monumental Contribution to Psychology

Sigmund Freud looms large in the history of psychology. The founding father of psychoanalysis, Freud revolutionized our understanding of the human mind through his models of the psyche, the unconscious, psychosexual development, and more.

Sigmund Freud, by Max Halberstadt
Sigmund Freud, by Max Halberstadt

In the early 20th century, Freud’s ideas about the unconscious, drives, and psychosexual development contradicted the prevailing views of human nature and the mind. They were seen as shocking and subversive at the time.

The mainstream scientific community was skeptical of Freud’s unproven theories and clinical methods. They viewed his ideas as too speculative. Cultural pessimisim Freud’s dark view of human nature at the mercy of primal drives clashed with the Victorian/Edwardian optimism of the era. It was found to be overly pessimistic. Sexual taboos like his emphasis on psychosexuality crossed moral boundaries of the early 1900s. His ideas were seen as scandalous.

His work utterly transformed psychology and psychotherapy. Yet today, many of Freud’s once-radical theories seem antiquated, absolutist, and at odds with modern psychology. In this post, we’ll explore Freud’s invaluable contributions but also the reasons we must view his work critically in the contemporary era.

Here are some of Freud's significant accomplishments :

Freud developed psychoanalysis. He pioneered the clinical method of psychoanalysis for investigating the unconscious mind and treating psychopathology through dialogue between patient and analyst. This became highly influential.

Dialogue between patient and analyst

He mapped the unconscious. Freud’s model of the psyche containing powerful drives operating in the unconscious mind was groundbreaking. It greatly expanded our understanding of the depth and complexity of the human mind.

Freud's ice-burg of mapping the unconscious

Identified defense mechanisms, Freud analyzed common psychological defenses like repression, denial, sublimation, and displacement that protect the conscious mind from threatening unconscious impulses and memories.

He emphasized childhood development,  He highlighted the decisive influence of early childhood experiences, relationships, and psychosexual development on adult personality. This remains influential.

Freud interpreted dreams, he wrote extensively about the symbolic meaning of dreams as a window into the unconscious desires and feelings of the dreamer. His work opened up new avenues of dream interpretation.

"Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious." Sigmund Freud

He influenced arts and culture – Freud’s ideas permeated into literature, visual arts, films, and popular culture. He inspired surrealism, psychoanalytic literary criticism, and themes of the subconscious in culture.

Late Night Dreams, 1923- Salvador Dali- Cubism
Late Night Dreams, 1923- Salvador Dali- Cubism

The surrealist painter Dali was fascinated by Freud's theories on dreams and the unconscious mind. Many of Dalí's dreamlike paintings explore surreal imagery and Freudian symbols.

Here are some more artists influenced by Freud’s unconscious culture.

Max Ernst, another surrealist painter.

Jackson Pollock utilized Freudian free association and surrealist automatic painting techniques to tap into his unconscious.

Paul Klee the Swiss painter incorporated dream states, childhood memories, and absurdity in his work related to Freudian themes.

David Lynch the filmmaker’s surreal movies like Mulholland Drive employ dream logic and Freudian symbolism.

So many more who Freud’s view of hidden desires, dreams, and the power of the unconscious left a lasting impression on. Surrealist and modernist artists seek to depict the workings of the subconscious mind in symbolic ways.

Freud normalized psychotherapy, he helped remove the social stigma around mental healthcare by scientifically studying the psyche. He made psychotherapy more acceptable and accessible.

Sigmund Freud’s theories, have always been quite controversial yet influential. They have also captured the public imagination and incrementally gained support, especially among the cultural elites. His ideas were seen as shocking yet irresistibly novel and self-reflective for the early 20th century. The controversies led both to resistance and growing intrigue towards his radical vision of human psychology.

Support from progressives. Most Progressive intellectuals found Freud’s model of the mind refreshing compared to the rigidity of 19th-century moralism. They saw promise in his ideas.

Doctors and psychiatrists slowly started adopting Freud’s methods in the treatment of hysteria, neurosis and other disorders. His approaches gained clinical relevance.

Visual representation of Freud's id, ego, and super-ego and the level of consciousness
Visual representation of Freud's id, ego, and super-ego and the level of consciousness

Concepts like the ego, superego, Oedipus complex, and more derive from his groundbreaking, if flawed, theories. For his time, Freud’s ideas were startlingly innovative.

Unlearning Sigmund Freud and Keeping the Beneficial

The Limits of Freud's Absolutist Approach

Modern psychology has moved well beyond Freud in many ways. The limitations of his absolutist theories and dated views are apparent today.

His biological emphasis on innate drives downplays social, cultural, and cognitive factors.

He minimized the effects of socialization, family dynamics, peer relationships, and other social factors that shape personality. Modern psychology sees these as crucial.

Freud universalized theories based on a limited sample of patients. Today we know cultural norms, values, and diversity profoundly impact psychology.

Freud’s methods and ethics have also come under criticism, such as his reliance on a small number of privileged Viennese patients, lack of controlled studies, and potential shaping of patients’ memories through leading questions. So the “evidence” for some of his theories was limited.

Cognitive factors. Freud focused on drives over rational thought, problem-solving, and conscious decision-making. Cognitive psychology studies the huge role of cognitive processes.

Freud traced most behavior to childhood. However, research shows trauma and life events throughout adulthood also reshape personalities in major ways.

His views on female sexuality and psychology seem profoundly sexist now

The biggest facet I would like individuals to unlearn is his misogynistic outlook. Freud described male development as active while female development is passive.

He portrayed women as subordinate, weaker, and less morally developed than men.

He ignored social and cultural factors. Freud attributed gender differences to biology while dismissing the enormous role of patriarchal social norms in shaping gender identities and relations at that time.

He overemphasized sexual motivations. Freud reduced many women’s behaviors, thoughts, and emotions to their sexual reproductive role. Not a holistic view of women.

He generalized from the limited sample. He based many theories about “normal femininity” on a small sample of Victorian upper-class women only. He wrongly universalized their experiences.

Normalized sexual abuse. Freud considered stories of childhood sexual abuse to often be fantasies or unconscious desires. This normalized abuse and discredited women’s experiences.

Overall, Freud held many essentialist, biologically deterministic views about female nature, motivations and development that propagated harmful gender stereotypes. His absolutist claims lacked scientific rigor and served to reinforce patriarchal beliefs about women’s inferiority and subordinate role in society. His theories were undoubtedly steeped in the sexism of the time.

Freud rejected behavioral theories, but learning theory and habit formation are now known to strongly influence how we think, feel, and act.

Neuroscience. Freud lacked a modern understanding of brain biology, neurotransmitters, and neural pathways that determine much of mental functioning.

Human agency. Freud’s determinism downplayed people’s capacity and the power they have within them for self-awareness, growth, and conscious choice in shaping their lives.

In essence, by fixating on early biological drives, Freud discounted the many interconnected influences that make human psychology incredibly complex, flexible, and open to conscious intervention. His highly absolutist, reductive view does not match the nuanced understanding of the multitude of biological, social, and intrapersonal factors impacting human development.

Appreciating but Contextualizing Freud's Legacy

Sigmund Freud must be appreciated for his lasting contributions that created psychology as we know it today. Yet we must also view his ideas in their historical context, test them against modern research, and retain a critical, flexible mindset.

Freud’s genius inspired psychology’s foundation, but absolutist adherence to all his theories limits the field’s growth. By incorporating his insights while moving beyond outdated assumptions, we can envision a psychology both enriched by Freud and far more sophisticated than was possible in his era.

Publications that compare/contrast Freud's view with modern psychology

So a variety of scholarly books, academic journal articles, and reference materials directly compare Freud’s original theories to more recent developments in psychoanalysis, psychology, neuroscience, and related fields here are some of them.

Freud Versus the Neo-Freudians” – Academic journal article by Douglas Kirsner critically analyzing Freud alongside more recent psychoanalytic theories.

Freud and Modern Psychology: The Emotional Basis of Mental Illness” – Book by Glenn Alexander Meredith comparing Freud’s theories to cognitive, behavioral, and neuroscience approaches.

Freud’s Legacy in Question” – Book by Jerome Neu discusses criticisms and limitations of Freud from modern perspectives.

The Freud Encyclopedia: Theory, Therapy, and Culture” – Reference work by Edward Erwin reviewing Freud alongside modern developments in psychoanalysis and psychology.

Freud Evaluated: The Completed Arc” – Book by Malcolm Macmillan analyzes which of Freud’s ideas have held up, and which have been discredited or modified.

Freud and the 20th Century” – Academic journal issue from Psychologist magazine with several authors exploring Freud’s legacy and relevance.

Whose Freud?: The Place of Psychoanalysis in Contemporary Culture” – Scholarly book with essays reexamining Freud’s cultural and scientific contributions.

Freud: Creator of the Modern Mind” – Biography by Paul Mattick Jr. places Freud in a historical context and examines his theories against current knowledge.

Freud should be appreciated for creating psychoanalysis and making great strides in destigmatizing mental healthcare. However, modern psychology has moved well beyond the absolutist, deterministic limitations of his early 20th-century theories.

Today, we recognize personality and development as the complex result of biological, social, cultural, cognitive, and psychological factors interacting, not just innate biological drives. Freud’s ideas inspired psychology but should not dogmatically define it.

By incorporating nuanced, evidence-based models of the mind, we can build positively on Freud’s foundations. We should neither dismiss nor uncritically accept all his speculations. With an attitude of qualified, flexible reexamination, Freud’s legacy remains an enormously influential springboard for advances in human understanding.