Chapter Two – The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

Here we meet again. For to view the second instalment in my ongoing series on The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. In this chapter we find interesting writing techniques, naming of a Greek god at a fawn’s tea party, and the twist in the fawn’s tail; his unwilling betrayal.

I have decided to split this chapter into two parts as I found so much material  that I wanted to cover within it. In this first part I will write about CS Lewis’ interesting writing techniques, and his choice of naming Greek gods. In the second I shall deal with Mr Tumnus’ secret.

Without further ado, on we go; into the land of Narnia.

When beginning his next chapter­­­­­­ CS Lewis wastes no time in getting back into the story. There is no ‘fluff’ dialogue as he sends Lucy into conversation, and then he doesn’t throw around words on an unnecessary detailed description of the fawn. He gives us what we need to have good character, no more and no less. This writing helps keep the atmosphere based in wonder and excitement. It is also perfect writing for a child to read; there is nothing to bore them and slow them down, but it holds enough detail to make it interesting and developable.

On another point of writing, we see the Faun halt in the middle of his sentence showing Lucy and us quite clearly that he is hiding something. CS Lewis does this in such a way that makes it very easy to pick up on. This serves two purposes: The first, that a young mind can get a sense of the trouble that may begin, second, that Mr Tumnus is shown to have an inability at subtlety.

Before we move on any further, I actually want to move back up the text to Mr Tumnus’ question. Asking Lucy if she is a Daughter of Eve is the first mention of creation in our book so far. These Adam and Eve references will come up quite often throughout all the Narnia series; most times with a prophecy in mind. Still, we have yet to come with a deep doctrinal parallel to the Bible, and (as you shall see) we will soon face the naming of a Greek god. So, from where I stand, despite strong Christian tones later in the book, the use of Greek myth and woodland fairy-tale quite undermines any message that he, CS Lewis, may have wished to convey. I will of course take this point up again later, and if I make it to The Voyage of The Dawn Treader (my plan is to do overviews of each remaining book in the series in one piece each), and if my memory is correct, I will show a defence against myself. Back to Lucy now.

Where Lucy almost laughs at the fawn’s geographical fumbling I most certainly do! The thought alone of him pronouncing ‘spare room’ as “Spare Oom” brings another laughter line to my face. The author most definitely has a good sense of humour that can capture even the grumpiest child’s heart and smile. Or maybe I’m just simple to please!

And so, all of a sudden, Lucy finds herself:

“walking through the wood arm in arm with this strange creature as if they had known each other all their lives.”

This displays Lucy’s trusting nature that all the world can be lovely if you just give it a chance, and (in part) Mr Tumnus does prove that a stranger can be lovely and become a lifelong friend. As adults we lose this natural trust through various ways – whether something bad happens to a friend or us, or someone we thought we knew well does a terrible thing – , but here in Narnia perhaps even we would have taken tea with Mr Tumnus; after all, it is a rather magical land. Soon we shall see Edmund face a stranger too, but with that encounter the signs of danger he ignored were far more obvious.

Now we arrive at the fawn’s house after a quaint walk through the woods, past trees, hills, and finally some rocks. Lucy sits down to wait.

“And it really was a wonderful tea.”

And some wonderful stories too no doubt! I have an interest in all fairy tales and mythology, so I would have loved to sit and listen to that fawn talk away for hours on both of these, but what CS Lewis has written here shall have to suffice.

And what he has written here is fine up to a point. Just before his stories end we are given the first proper mention of religion in Narnia. Even before Aslan. Two Greek gods are named: one; Silenus, Greek god of drunkenness, and two; Bacchus (called by his Roman name here, rather than Dionysus), god of fertility and wine. Why CS Lewis felt the need to put these two into his book I do not know. I see no advancement to the tale, and no point is made of them. They aren’t even referenced again throughout the series. It only serves to tie his tale early on to mythology rather than Christianity, which is quite sad from my point of view. He could have kept it a pure tale, free of wine and drunkenness, but he chooses not to. He panders to his own love and knowledge of myth rather than stand by a message solely consisting of Christian views. How sad that is, to have confusion passed on to so many. This confusion comes even clearer in the final Narnia book The Last Battle when the god of the Telmarines, Tash, is revealed as being real and that some of his followers can even enter Narnian heaven.

I shall have to end it there I’m afraid. Apologies to stop this part on a negativity, but there’s a large chunk of the chapter to go and we all need to be fresh to pay it attention. I plan to post the second part for this chapter next week, and then start on chapter three the week after that. I hope that it has been an interesting read. I am fully open to all feedback.

Best wishes,

Andrew Davies

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Chapter One – The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

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:

Best wishes,

Andrew Davies

Upcoming-The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe Essays

TOMORROW

I shall be posting my first in a series of essays on the book ‘The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe’. Aiming to have it up by 14:00, I will then be posting on a bi-weekly basis an essay that covers one or two chapters of the book. Please do remember it is a personal foray into a beloved book from my childhood, so there will be sentimentality covering every paragraph like beans cover toast.

On a side note, this blog has become my writing portfolio. This means that alongside my personal book posts I shall also be updating the writing I have done in a professional aspect.

Upcoming Posts

I’ve been having too long a break, for various reasons, from writing pieces for this blog. The time has come for me to push the pen into action on this front once again!

Today I sat down and took notes on the opening chapter of a book close to my heart: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (I hope all have read it as it is a wonderful story). My plan with this book, and the Narnia series, is to go through each one and write essays covering a few chapters at a time (depending on how much ‘meat’ is in that particular section). These essays will be about the writing style, the children’s characters, spiritual/religious points that Lewis was making, and the joy the books give me. All this will be quite a personal and speculative affair, so if I seem a bit fuzzy with a point or miss chunks you were expecting to be covered then please forgive me, but do let me know.

I’d like to know how many people who read this are actually interested in what I may have to write about the books, so do feel free to comment with any feedback whatsoever.

I am aiming at finishing the first by the end of this month. Once I post the first the others should follow at regular intervals, but I will alert you to any changes!

Till then, so long,
Andrew

Review of The Book That Made Your World by Vishal Mangalwadi

In this book, published in 2011, Vishal Mangalwadi has engaged upon a voyage into the history of both the Western and Eastern lands. The book mentioned in the title is The Bible and the arguments he puts across are aimed at the hypothesis that The Bible has had the greatest influence in the difference between Western civilization and Eastern culture. Focusing mainly on England and India he takes examples from his own life and, also, from the past of both nations before and after India’s colonisation by The British Empire.

Of particular interest, personally, he talks of the birth of science. This sheds a great light upon the founding fathers of our modern knowledge who took the subject leaping forward into the public mindset and out of the background of intelligent men’s hobbies and magical myths. He also covers topics ranging from the wealth gap in societies, education (mainly universities), the Prophet Mohammed, philosophical thinkers in different countries, morality in society, how family is seen in both cultures, and government figures in England and India.

At the conclusion of this, his 13th book authored alone, he considers how the future of the West is shaping up. It is this part of the book that I think shall most challenge anyone who is not a believer of The Bible, but, nevertheless, it is still a most valuable book to have read if you want to see another side of history of all our nations.

Written in a way that is easily followed, each section has it’s designated area which is laid out neatly and coherently. I would only advise that you acknowledge the extent and the depth of information that is prepared before you in this large volume. I am thankful, but also saddened, that this is not a one-of-two (or three) series.

Review of History of The Rain by Niall Williams

In this book Niall Williams takes us to the town of Faha, located next to (almost on) the river Shannon, in county Clare, rural Ireland and leaves us to the narrative mercy of a character named Ruth Swain. Thankfully, for our sakes, she is a competent girl and is well skilled with written communication despite her young 19 years. She begins to tell you, Dear Reader, of her family and their history, the land she lives in and it’s people. The depths of description and detail on each member of this book brings a leap alike to a Salmons to my heart. Laid in such a way so as not to bore you till you snore, it is a great fete.

Ruth. She is a poor child in two senses, but you do not listen to her renditions of tales, because she is bed ridden by an unstated blood condition, nor because she lacks new clothes. No! You listen intently! One: because what she says is told with such richness that it compels your mind to imagine and sink deep into the stories. Two: because you realise she has outread you by a vast amount of books. All around her are lain a 3958 of these paper joys. Each one a journey that she has taken while surrounded by the rain and cocooned safe in her boat shaped bed. She has sailed them all. And so has Mr Williams as the references from lines up to whole characters that are given show he has spent a good time, possibly his life, researching to write a his own book in this manner.

Niall Williams has a truly wonderful imagination and has written a book I would have delighted in writing and do delight in reading. Each page is turned with a drip of rain brushed from the brow and a rush of joy as great as the river itself.