Aslan's speech in the Chronicles of Narnia
by Joy Alexander
THERE are many instances in literature of characters stepping out of the books which create them. What I mean is that many people recognise and know about Robinson Crusoe, Oliver Twist, or Peter Pan who have certainly never read the stories in which they feature. Another example is Aslan, who is widely known to be a lion and can perhaps be associated with Narnia even though little else about the Narnian Chronicles may be known. Nor is there likely to be much argument that he is the dominant character in the Narnian tales.
C. S. Lewis always resisted making any simple equation that Aslan is Jesus Christ. In his first novel, The Pilgrim's Regress, he came closest to allegory but he spent the remainder of his prolific career retreating from anything so explicit. He discussed the specific case of Narnia on several occasions in his letters. For example, on May 29, 1954, he wrote to some fifth-graders:
You are mistaken when you think that everything in the books 'represents' something in this world. Things do that in The Pilgrim's Progress but I'm not writing in that way. I did not say to myself 'Let us represent Jesus as He really is in our world by a Lion in Narnia': I said 'Let us suppose that there were a land like Narnia and that the Son of God, as He became a Man in our world, became a Lion there, and then imagine what would have happened.' If you think about it, you will see that it is quite a different thing. (Hooper 425)
Although allegory is disavowed, Aslan is clearly a character redolent of divinity and with godlike connotations. This is explicitly reinforced by Lewis when, less than a month after writing to the fifth-graders, on June 19, he replied, when the idea of a cartoon version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was suggested to him: "I am sure you understand that Aslan is a divine figure, and anything remotely approaching the comic (above all