Christian Symbolism in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
C. S. Lewis was a brilliant author known for his fictional novels as well as his Christian apologetics works. Religion was a large part of his life, and he utilized such themes throughout his fiction books. The first book in The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, exemplifies such overlap. Lewis inserted fundamental Christian themes into this novel, allowing his religion to influence his work.
C. S. Lewis creates Christian entities within his book due to his own coming into religion. He was not originally a religious sort of boy. He grew up in a scholarly household with his older brother, Warren, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His parents raised him to be more in tune to the past than the present and future. They named him at birth as Clive Staples Lewis, but he picked up the nickname of “Jack”. It was long, though, until his mother’s influence was no longer felt in his life. She passed when he was ten years old, and from then on his life was turned upside-down (Edwards 1). C. S. Lewis lost himself at this time, becoming vagrant during his high school years. He gave up, until he converted to Christianity as he reached adulthood. He considered this his “greatest joy”. From there, he continued into life with an open mind, altering vocations drastically between different times in his life. There were very distinct ones, however, that his good friend and executor of his will, Owen Barfield, recalls. He considers Lewis a “distinguished Oxford literary scholar”, moat likely prevalent from his early upbringing. Barfield also says that Lewis was a “highly acclaimed author of science fiction and children’s literature, as seen through his Chronicles of Narnia series. His final and most prideful profession was a “broadcaster of Christian apologetics”, about which most of his adult novels are written (1). The author’s life story is crucial to understanding the presence of Christianity in his children’s book. Religion became important to him, and he inserted it into as many aspects of his life as he could, including writing. The work, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, exemplifies his midlife conversion that turned his life around.
The plot of the book lends itself to much religious interpretation. It begins with the Pevensie children and their relocation to the countryside due to the havoc reaped by the ongoing war, World War II. The youngest girl, Lucy, discovers the world of Narnia through an old wardrobe in a spare room. There, she learns about the plight of the inhabitants: the White Witch, who calls herself queen, has had an evil reign for many years; however, there is a prophecy that states that eventually four humans will break her power and become the new, peaceful rulers of Narnia. The residents put all their faith in the belief that these humans are Lucy and her three other siblings Peter, Susan, and Edmund. The queen, however, seduces Edmund, before he realizes her malicious nature. He acts as her double agent, telling the witch of all the children’s plans to undermine her. This includes the return of Aslan, the true king of Narnia, a lion. Edmund then understands his wrongdoing in taking the witch’s side, but by then it is too late. He is already considered a traitor, and, by the laws of deep magic of Narnia, is under the witch’s control. She sentences him to death on the stone slab, but Aslan secretly negotiates his own life for Edmund’s. She does not realize that there is deeper magic that comes when one being gives himself up for another. Aslan is able to come back to life, and he fights alongside the children in the war to regain control of Narnia. They all win, and the children become kings and queens and rule for many years after. One day, they rediscover the wardrobe entrance, and go through it, only to realize that no time has passed in their world and they are once again children...
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