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Analysis Essay On C.S. Lewis'S

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C.S. Lewis uses a secondary world, Narnia, to convey complex, thought-provoking messages to readers of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. This paper examines the way a selection of Narnia's key characteristics prompt debates over logic and faith, comment on the nature of spiritual and metaphysical journeys, allow readers to broaden their conception of their own capabilities, encourage new reflection on the story of Christ and help to clarify conceptions of good and evil.

Narnia's first characteristic of note is the portal through which it is reached - the wardrobe. By connecting the secondary world with the first, 'real' one, rather than simply beginning the story within Narnia, Lewis is able to introduce thoughts about truth and rationality. As the first to discover Narnia, Lucy must convince her siblings that the second world does indeed exist. Here, the Professor gives the children a lesson about finding truth in a logical and considered manner:

There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn't tell lies and it is obvious she is not mad...we must assume she is telling the truth. (p.50)

Lewis suggests that logic and faith are not necessarily opposed, but rather can inform the other and aid the pursuit of truth. Narnia needed to be a secondary world in order for the deliberation over its existence to occur in the story's primary world, allowing the Professor's lesson on truth to emerge.

The wardrobe is significant for several other reasons. First, one cannot reach Narnia if he or she is seeking to either prove or disprove its existence. When Lucy brings her siblings to the wardrobe with the express goal of proving Narnia's existence, the wardrobe does not function as a portal. It is only later, when the children are hiding from Mrs. Macready and are distracted from the debate over Narnia, that the wardrobe becomes a portal once again. Lewis may be suggesting that explorations of metaphysical and spiritual subjects (the 'Narnias' of our own world) are best suited to open, impartial minds. Second, the obscurity of Narnia's entrance suggests that such journeys cannot be sought out or forced, but rather will present themselves at places and times we least expect. Finally, the use of an ordinary wardrobe as the portal to Narnia makes Lewis's readers consider what fantastic journeys - physical or otherwise - may lay within the ordinariness of everyday existence.

Another of Narnia's key characteristics is that its inhabitants revere and depend upon the children. At their temporary home in England, the children are unsupervised and irrelevant. The Professor involves himself little with the children's affairs - as Peter notes, "That old chap will let us do anything we like!" (p.2) - and Mrs. Macready displays impatient disregard for them. The children's situation breeds problems. Lucy is afraid of the Professor and her new surroundings, Edmund mocks the Professor's odd appearance and generally misbehaves, and Peter believes he and his siblings can be as mischievous as they please. The children bicker constantly. Without responsibilities and respect to accompany it, the freedom afforded by the Professor's indifference does not translate into maturity.

In Narnia, by contrast, the children immediately command attention and respect. The inhabitants of Narnia need the children, as the Narnian prophecy states: "When Adam's flesh and Adam's bone/ Sits at Cair Paravel in throne,/ The evil time will be over and done" (p.84). In the face of tremendous challenges and expectations, the children grow in ways and at a pace that would have been unthinkable in England. They free a country from tyranny and emerge as Narnia's beloved kings and queens, complete with impressive titles: 'Lucy the Valiant', 'Peter the Magnificent', 'Susan the Gentle' and 'Edmund the Just' (p.195). A summary of their rule, expressed in the future, is equally praiseful:

They made good laws and kept the peace and saved good trees from being cut down and liberated young dwarfs from being sent to school, and generally stopped busybodies and interferers and encouraged ordinary people who wanted to live and let live (p.195).

With the children's transformation in Narnia, Lewis comments on the boundless potential of people (particularly children) to grow and achieve when they are treated with dignity and afforded responsibilities.

Another lesson within this book comes from Narnia's physical transformation. The world appears empty and lifeless when the children first arrive. The children only come across a handful of other characters throughout their journey, and barring Father Christmas, none of them are human. This creates the feeling that Narnia exists exclusively for the four children, as though they have been predestined to find it. In addition, the barren, snow-covered landscape Lewis describes creates a sense that life has been suspended. The children's arrival and subsequent actions are what ultimately end the hundred-year winter.

Narnia's physical change prompts further reflection on the contrast between the children's irrelevance in England and importance in Narnia. Again, the comparison would not have been possible if the book were set entirely in Narnia, nor would it have been as distinct without the barren, snowy landscape Lewis so ably depicts. The transformation may inspire readers to believe that a figurative Narnia waits for them, too - a place, person or situation that needs that particular reader's unique influence in order to thrive.

Perhaps the most important characteristic of Lewis' secondary world is the presence of Aslan, Narnia's lion Messiah. The parallels between Aslan's experience in this story and the Passion



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