Chapter Eight – The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe

Chapter Eight is titled: What Happened After Dinner. This week’s short essay on the chapter focuses almost purely on the spiritual, so do not come to read this expecting a review of CS Lewis’ writing style – it is his underlying subject matter that I am dealing with here.

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

We begin when Mr Beaver mentions Aslan’s name and the children have once more a wonderful feeling run through them. This parallels the longing and perfect joy a Christian feels at the mention of Christ. But again, there is one child who shivers with fear at the mention of Aslan’s name. Edmund asks a question:

“She won’t turn him into stone too?”

We understand Edmund’s question better than Mr Beaver, so we know that he did not receive a satisfactory answer to it. He is relying on the Witch (the Devil or this world) to fulfil his desires, because of this he wishes, dreams, longs for that she would destroy Aslan (Christ or God).

Shortly after this Mr Beaver reveals that he shares a similar task to we who are saved. He is to lead the children to Aslan as we are to guide people towards Christ. He is there to lead them on a set route, like us. We have the Bible to teach us each turn and the dangers we may face along the way and Mr Beaver also knows his way through the land. Are we as competent as Mr Beaver at noticing and foreseeing dangers? Do we know our God’s guidance in His word?

Both Lucy and Susan consider Aslan a man and may be excused for believing this, but it would be terrible for any to believe Christ to be a man or in any was lesser than God the Father or God the Holy Spirit. They are an equal trinity. Three in One. Here are some texts, but if a detailed explanation is needed please let me know. Proofs of the Trinity: Genesis 1 verses 2 and 26, Matthew 3 verses 16 and 17. Proofs of Christ as part of the Godhead: Matthew 16 verse 16, Revelation 1 verse 8.

What Mrs Beaver then says is this: “…if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.” It is Biblically based and contrasting to what many people have said, such as when Winston Churchill said “I am prepared to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.” Who could stand before Christ on judgement day and speak so brazenly to Him? No, not even one who is brave or silly.

Then Mr Beaver answers Susan’s and Lucy’s question. “‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” Christ shall be our judge. He shall point us to Heaven or to Hell and we shall have no argument to give, because He is perfect and just.

On a short side note, I fully agree with Peter’s words here: “I’m longing to see him, even if I do feel frightened when it comes to the point.” It shall be an indescribable moment to finally see Christ in all His glory. As the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 1 verse 21 : “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” For when I die I shall be with Him in paradise. I long to be with Him.

Now. To tackle a single name that CS Lewis causes Mr Beaver to say: “Lilith.” In Jewish folklore she was Adam’s first wife. There is no Biblical basis for this argument. You can see the verses that the belief has stemmed from, but when you interpret Bible verses you have to be very careful not to end up with a confused study. People claim there are two accounts of creation. One in Genesis 1 and a second in Genesis 2. I do not wish to divert too far into Theological debate, but I will say this: The second chapter of Genesis simply gives the account of the creation of man in further detail, it is not a new or separate item.

And now we come back to the story arc, and Edmund’s thoughts are turning into actions. Here in this chapter we meet a great betrayal that shakes the whole company.

“Then during the moment of silence that followed his last remark, Lucy suddenly said: “I say – where’s Edmund?” “

A chill always greets me when I read of Edmund’s desertion of his siblings. It is as if someone I know has denounced their family unjustly and stormed off boiling with hate. I fear for him, and others like him, every time.

“…everything they wanted to say died on their lips…” It is a depressing moment when one cannot defend another’s spiritual life. Something they have done that leaves no room for ‘possible’ or ‘maybe this or maybe even that’. There is no doubt as to what they have done and where they most likely stand; against God.

Mr Beaver goes on to say how he could be sure that Edmund would betray them. As Edmund could so easily be told apart from the others we must be sure to ask ourselves: “How am I seen by others, do I give a good witness of the Christian life? Am I clearly of God’s chosen people?” We may also see it this way: look at your friends. What do they claim to be? Christians? Atheists, Buddhists, Catholics, Muslims, etc.? Compare your own, and their, lives to scripture. Consider carefully and tread lightly. Please do not run to your friends and aggressively throw Bible verses at them, that is not what I mean to encourage. I mean to encourage caution in actions around others, and careful consideration of how our friends and colleagues act. Who has influence over you? Whose life do you look to and wish to follow? Is it Christ’s? Is it the Apostle Paul’s? Read and be filled with vigour to maintain or improve your witness, and to consider others’ spiritual state.

One final point (although CS Lewis’ writing is very good and I have only touched very briefly upon it, I am afraid that these things are far far more demanding of our attention, and I am confident the author himself would agree), Lucy fears the situation they are in. “Oh, can no one help us?” wailed Lucy.” I will now change Mr Beaver’s words slightly here: only Christ. We must go to Him. In life we find ourselves in a constant deluge of things to do, temptations, tragedies, and troubles. These things do, naturally as we are sinful fallen beings eat away at our faith. They attempt to douse our spiritual flame. But we should never fear! In all times we must ask ourselves: what does God’s word say? Be assured, be at peace, be in Christ. He is ever present and guides you home to live with Him in eternal glory. Fear not.

Thank you for taking the time to read my little writings. Feedback is greatly appreciated and will be read and digested. I’ll be back with a special post on the same chapter next week. Till then:

Best wishes,
Andrew

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Chapter Seven (Aslan’s Name) – The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe

What I am about to write on is a heavy subject that cannot be taken lightly. It is incredibly important and I cannot stress that enough. Here we are talking about souls and their spiritual life. So, please, bear that in mind whilst reading this and my other pieces on Narnia, because life is more than the here and now. We have eternal souls and where they stand before our Creator should be of concern to us all.

Aslan’s Clear Parallel with Christ

Aslan, throughout these books, is seen as an allegory for Christ by many – though I have been informed by a friend that Narnia was written as a supposition – and here we have an example of a clear parallel. It strikes me even more so, because CS Lewis uses (possibly in an undeliberate manner) the first half of a line from a hymn written by Caroline M. Noel, but he replaces the name Jesus with Aslan: “At the name of Aslan…” A little later we will come to the clearest connection with Christ when Aslan dies at the Stone Table and then rises from the dead in chapters fourteen and fifteen respectively.

The Children’s Reaction to His Name

 

Each child has a reaction to the name of Aslan. Each reaction shows something about that child and a different spiritual state. Firstly, Edmund is clearly a distant sinner who is far from help. His reaction is one of horror. He cannot tell what is in his future, but he knows it is something shocking. Aren’t many like that today? Many who hear Christ’s name react in anger and horror. Why? Because they fear facing God after this life is through. Their conscience speaks to them and tells them of their sin. That they are far from God and can never be kept in his presence. That is what Edmund’s feelings portray. Thankfully, as we shall discover, Aslan saves Edmund in such a grand manner – we will look at this when the chapter arrives and the parallel that it also displays.

Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous.” Peter is stirred up by the name of Aslan to fight for him. He is a soldier for Christ. At the name of Jesus many Christians are invigorated and, after previous time spent reading some of Paul’s letters and other books that express a saved person’s desire, some will immediately wish to work for Him who died for them. They will lay down their worldly play things and their bodily thoughts and turn to higher things. Paul puts it in several ways: “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection” – 1 Corinthians 9 verse 27. Philippians 3 verses 8 and 9. 2 Timothy 2 verses 3 to 6. It is in 2 Timothy 2 verse 3 that we find the kind of Christian Peter portrays “…a good soldier…” A soldier who is trained and ready for the service of his King. In Peter this is taken literally, but in us it is to be taken spiritually. It is a call to arms in spiritual warfare. To fight against the world and to stand by Christ through all hardships.

The smell of something and the sound of music flow over Susan: “Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated over her.” Maybe I am incorrect that this passage proves what I shall say now, but I feel it is backed up by what occurs in The Last Battle when it is revealed that she has denied her faith and has no place in heaven set aside for her. Susan is a false convert. Susan feels a connection to faith in Aslan (Christ) via feeling something. Whether it is by incense or by the music she likes that is how she maintains her hope in salvation – which is clearly shown to be misplaced as she falls back into her worldly ways after a short stint as a believer in Aslan (Christ). What is your faith based on? What do you seek when you are low in mood? What takes up your time? How do you worship? These are questions even Christians who are old in the faith must keep asking themselves; for the temptation of our old nature is strong and the Devil is wicked in his manner.

Lucy represents the young Christian. She is full of youthful vigour towards her new found faith and is eager to begin the walk with Christ. She gets: “the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realise that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.” We all know this feeling of being free from school after what seems like such a long time that dragged on without end, but now it is over! It is finished! The green fields of joy roll out before us as the summer holidays start and we wish them to never end. That is how it feels when you first come to Christ. You are asleep one moment in the world and lie in its terrible pain, anguish, and horror, but then wake up, open your eyes, and find before you peace, forgiveness, and freedom! It is a joy like none other to find yourself in Christ. It is a joy to be able to say with King David: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” – Psalm 23 verses 1 and 2.

Thank you for taking the time to read this far. It means a lot to me in several ways to have this sort of work read. I pray that it shall be a blessing to you all.

Best wishes,

Andrew

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

Chapter Seven is titled: A Day With The Beavers. In this chapter we see further development towards Edmund’s betrayal, we begin to get to know more characters in Narnia, and we hear mention of Aslan.

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

C.S. Lewis’ Writing

Their apparent guide, the robin, has flown away. The children are lost in an uncharted forest, within the reach of enemies. A bush rustles and a shadowed figure of an unknown creature is seen flitting between bush and tree. CS Lewis builds the tension and steadily adds details to the encounter, before revealing the creature is a beaver by Peter saying

“…it’s a beaver. I saw the tail.”

We all breathe a sigh of relief! Lewis then captures childish innocence in Lucy and Susan’s reactions of

“I think it’s a nice beaver.”

and

“I feel I want some dinner”

respectively. They consider only the outward appearance and their personal feelings. Even Peter their leader misses the possibility that there may be more than one creature lurking nearby. Nevertheless, this beaver is fondly referred to as Mr. Beaver by the children once they feel safer around him.

Edmund is held apart from the other children in CS Lewis’ writing. This is shown by his vastly different reaction to the mention of Aslan’s name. It is one of horror, for he stands by the Witch’s regime. It is further displayed by only him not trusting Mr. Beaver and his longing look between the two hills – towards the White Witch’s palace.

“…Edmund could see two small hills, and he was almost sure they were the two hills which the White Witch had pointed out to him…”

The final piece of CS Lewis’ writing (and the final point of this short essay) that I wish to draw attention to is his creation of the Beavers as a very comfortable couple. The beavers’ house is given to us in even more detail than Mr. Tumnus’ is earlier in the book, and the characters are given a lot more time to show themselves to us. We see Mr. Beaver’s dam that is praised out of courtesy by Susan:

“What a lovely dam!”

To which Mr. Beaver can’t help but reply in feigned modesty:

“Merely a trifle!”

By this we can clearly see that Mr. Beaver is a homely chap. Mrs. Beaver sows and cooks very well, and Mr. Beaver fishes and drinks a little beer. What a gentle couple, and so very welcoming. For the first time that the children are in Narnia I feel they are in safe hands.

Thank you for taking the time to read my little writings. Feedback is greatly appreciated and will be read and digested. I’ll be back with a special post on the same chapter next week. Till then:

Best wishes,
Andrew Davies

Chapter Two (Part Two) – The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe

Ahead of us is the second part of chapter two. So far in this chapter I have covered up to the point of Mr Tumnus’ tearful breakdown and his subsequent admittance of his planned betrayal. In this piece my main focus shall be CS Lewis’ writing style and what we can gain from it.

We come back as Lucy wakes up to the fading light of day and Mr Tumnus’ begins to look sad – about what, we are not yet told. He then begins to cry and expounds to her what he had been planning. What I want to make a note of here is the kindness and care that Lucy displays, and also draw attention to who (or whom) CS Lewis’ audience is. We recall that he is writing this story for his goddaughter, called Lucy, and other young children. Since his main character (in this book I consider her such) is named after his main audience, we must consider whether he also took her attributes or if he assigned the character attributes that he wished her to have. I suppose the point I am trying to make remains the same: when writing always keep in mind the message and values you are presenting to your audience, and be especially careful with influential groups – such as children.

Presently we turn to the last two pages of the chapter in my copy of the book. Here we find a well-executed change of tone shown by sentences that are sharp and empty of the beautiful description that was once on display. Still, right at the end of the chapter, CS Lewis brings a light of hope and continued friendship in the way of Lucy allowing Mr Tumnus to keep her handkerchief. This I find to be a proof of his wonderful story-telling and writing ability; as if it was doubted.

This has been a very short post, but I wasn’t originally planning on one this week, so I hope that it has been an interesting read even in it’s brief nature. Next Friday I shall resume my usual slot at 14:00 with chapter three where Lucy returns to the normal word. I am fully open to all messages and wish you well throughout the week.

Best wishes,

Andrew Davies

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

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