This is the beginning of a set of personal essays based upon my love of the Narnia books and what subjects I can find within it. There will be points on religion, myth, words, character development, and a few other things. I don’t know how many of you reading this will have read TLTWATW previously, but it was a favourite book of my family (and many others I know) throughout my childhood, and when the most recent movies were released we went to watch them at the cinema. I would say that CS Lewis’ writing style and the genre identified with him, that fantasy/real-world mix, has influenced myself greatly.
Without further ado, on we go; into the land of Narnia.
Written for his god-daughter, Lucy, CS Lewis began the Narnia series with this title. In just the first few lines you can see the simplistic nature of the writing that makes it so easy for a child to read and enjoy the book. It is the beginning of a charm that draws you deeper into the world of Narnia. A cheerful, smiling, childish innocence kind of charm.
In contrast to the pleasant writing, we quite quickly come across the children bickering. This immature bickering of the Pevensie siblings is mixed with the excitement of a new place to explore. This resonates with me on a very personal level, as only three years ago I was in this position myself still.
Thankfully there is more to the Pevensie children than bickering and excitement, seen even at this early stage. I would like to take note of their characters shown in this chapter, so we may later track their growth. The eldest is Peter: he is set up as the leader, but leads them through feeling and not wisdom, and so they are led poorly. Then there is Susan: she is a motherly character, but is bossy rather than caring. Next is Edmund: being the second son he is an upfront and challenging character, but he is more argumentative and picky than thoughtful. Finally we have Lucy: she is such a gentle girl, but she is frail to opinions, especially to those of her siblings.
The children set about exploring this grand, old house that they have found themselves in and we find the first mention of The Bible here. It is not in a religious or spiritual context though, but it is used to bring the sizes of the books the professor owned to life. “Some bigger than a Bible in a church.” And as we will see at the very end of the chapter Greek mythology is properly introduced well ahead of any Christian undertones, so despite this being frequently hailed as a Christian book can it truly be called that? Although it is questionable, I will still bring forward as many points towards this as I find. I am a Christian, just in case you were wondering.
Soon, the children encounter, along with us, the wardrobe for the first time. It is entirely dismissed by Peter (not even acknowledged) and the others follow his leadership – except Lucy. Thank goodness for that little girl, or this would be have been a very different story!
I want to bring to your attention a small detail. One that I’m not even sure if CS Lewis meant to write into the story at all, but here it is. We meet the third element of the title first. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Second we shall meet the Witch, and final the Lion. Why was the book not named The Wardrobe, The Witch, and The Lion, so as to reflect the order they appear to us in? I think the title lists them in order of importance to this Narnian tale. The Wardrobe: merely a vehicle for entering the world. The Witch: an enemy at Narnia’s beginning, but killable. The Lion: need I list the deep role he plays? Maybe I am making too much of a little thing, but I do enjoy myself while I do it, and there will be several more theories that appear I’m sure!
When Lucy enters into the Wardrobe the book reads “It was almost quite dark in there.” – what a strange use of language! Yet, because of this the story begins to be set apart as something very different to another war-time tale. It touches you ever so slightly – a quick prod as to the strange and wonderful things that are about to occur!
As we know, Lucy walks through the Wardrobe and steps into a wintry Narnia. She sees a lamppost and walks towards it. Then, whilst wondering what a lamppost is doing there, she meets the Fawn (here is the Greek mythology), Mr Tumnus. I adore the little details CS Lewis writes into this scene. The leaving the door ajar, Mr Tumnus’ tail tucked over his arm, his immediately shocked reaction. It all adds such character to this book, is it any wonder why so many love it?
So, I have very loosely and swiftly covered the first chapter in a way I hope is readable. Feedback will be read and digested. Please, please, please let me know what you thought of this. I’ll be back with Chapter 2 in two weeks time. Till then: