This is my Freshman college paper for my Honors English class. It recieved a grade of 98.
EdmundtheJust Dr. Holland ENG 111H 2 December 2010
Another World, Another Man, Another Nature.
What is Nature? Merriam-Webster defines nature as: 1, “the inherent character or basic constitution of a person or thing”, or 2, “a creative and controlling force in the universe.” C.S. Lewis did a superb job at explaining the nature of many things in the popular children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia. Lewis provided a story, no, a world that exposed the reader to the nature of imagination, Christianity and many of its traits: love and forgiveness; and of course, the physical nature of the world. These are just a few of the natures that deserve to be explained. But first, endure a brief biography of C.S. Lewis.
Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on the 29th of November, 1898. His father was a lawyer who preferred to stay at home, and his mother was a mathematician. Lewis also had one brother, Warnie, three years his major. When Lewis was four-years-old, he renamed himself ‘Jacksie,’ and would not answer to anything else until his family called him Jack. Lewis is still called Jack by family, friends, and admirers to this day. As he and Warnie were growing up, their nurse told old Irish legends and fairy tales; and as a result, Jack and Warnie started writing their own fairy tale in a land called Boxen, where the animals talk like humans do. When Jack was around the age of 9, his mother contracted cancer in winter and died the next summer, along with his Grandfather and Uncle in the same year. It was as if his life had ended, but it got worse. Both Jack and Warnie felt they had lost their dad as well due to his complete withdrawal from their life. Soon thereafter, their father sent them to the worst boarding school in England. This particular school had a sadistic head-master who would flog the boys for making a mistake on a math problem. According to Jack’s stepson, Douglas Gresham, Jack threatened suicide if he weren’t taken out of the school. In 1914, Jack was sent to live with tutor W.T. Kirkpatrick. While there, he learned logic (which he used later as a Christian Apologist), and how to read in Greek, Latin, French, and Italian. His studies under Kirkpatrick led to the receiving of a scholarship to Oxford. Jack’s first degree was in Philosophy, Greek, and Politics. He then received an English degree in one year, compared to the normal three years. During World War One, Jack made a mutual promise to friend Paddy Moore that if either died in battle the other would take care of parents and family left behind. Paddy was killed early in combat, and Jack made good on his promise by taking care of Moore’s mother and sister until the day Ms. Moore died. During this time, he was able to complete three first-class honor degrees in four years (Dreamer), a rare achievement, made only by a few. Jack later went on to become a Christian and one of the best apologists of our time (Jacobs). Jack died peacefully on 22 November 1963 (Letters 114).
The Nature of Imagination: Jack was an avid fan of imagination (C.S. Lewis). From stories told him by his nurse, to when he invented the world of Boxen, a land in which animals talk and do politics, he used his imagination until one day he imagined Narnia. In The Magicians Nephew, Polly Plummer has a secret hide-out, a passage way if you will, that connects all the houses together from the back. Polly imagined the hide-out as a hidden smugglers cave where she could write a story (MN 7-8). Lewis further promoted imagination in a letter to Jonathan. Jonathan wrote: “I hope … you are going to write another one soon. If you don’t, what am I going to read when I am nine, ten, eleven, and twelve?” Jack replied that he should “try writing some Narnian tales[.] I began to write when I was about your age, and it was the greatest fun. Do try!” (Letters 99) This imagination that Jack advances in his letters and in Narnia goes on to become a way of life:
- While one does not actually do everything he imagines, certainly he never purposely does what has not been imagined. On the contrary, the heroes of one's imagination, including one's own idealized self, are the most compelling models for one's behavior. And the adventures and quests of the imagination often become, with some transposition, the self-fulfilling prophecies of life. (Bellah)
As one grows into adult-hood by accomplishing what he has imagined, they tend to lose sight at what brought them there. Jack said that when he “became a man, I put away childish things, including the desire to be very grown up.” (Dreamer) He said that stories make real life more enjoyable. They “arise a deep longing for something beyond our reach, another world perhaps?” (Dreamer)
The Nature of Christianity: Many people believe that Jack wrote the Chronicles as a Christian allegory, but he did not in a strict sense (Letters 92). An allegory is a story with symbols that represent something; in this case it would be a novel which represents Christianity and the Bible. But that was not Jack’s goal. In a letter to Patricia, dated 8 June 1960, Jack wrote that he is not
- exactly ‘representing’ the real (Christian) story in symbols. I’m more saying ‘Suppose there were a world like Narnia and it needed rescuing and the Son of God (or the ‘Great Emperor oversea’) went to redeem it as He came to redeem ours, what might it, in that world, all have been like?’ (92)
For example, in The Magician’s Nephew, Aslan created Narnia much like God created our Earth (MN 106-117). This is much like an allegory, but this example is not. There is a tree that contains fruit that will give you your heart’s desire for someone else, it must not be eaten by yourself or you will get your heart’s desire and along with it, despair (171). The evil queen Jadis ate a fruit from the tree and she got her heart’s desire but suffered it to be pale as a pillar of salt (174) and to fear the tree that bore the fruit (189). She, like Adam, disobeyed and suffered consequences for it. But unlike Adam, she was already evil and Adam was still perfect before he ate the fruit (Letters 92-93).
One of the most ‘allegorical’ (I say allegorical but remember, it is not a true allegory) characters of Narnia is Aslan. Back in 1955, a little boy called Laurence was worried that he loved Aslan more than Jesus. His mother sent Jack a letter and he replied ten days later that he needn’t worry because all the things that Aslan said or did, Jesus had already said or done (Letters 52). Aslan appears at the right time in all of Narnia’s history. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Edmund Pevensie betrayed his brother and sisters: Peter, Susan, and Lucy - to help the so called Queen of Narnia, really she was an evil witch called the White Witch. Due to laws made back before the beginning of time, the White Witch was to have the blood of all traitors least Narnia would be destroyed (LWW 142). Aslan offered his life to save Edmunds (LWW 155). One of the largest and emotional scenes of Aslan's forgiveness and love is in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Eustace Scrubb, cousin of the Pevensies, was turned into a dragon by magic when he became really greedy (VDT 89-92). A bracelet was stuck on his left upper arm where he had placed it before being ‘dragonised’ and it hurt him to tears. When Eustace could take it no more, Aslan met him at a pool and transformed him back to a human boy by tearing off his dragon skin:
- The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off… I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. (VDT 109)
There are many symbols that relate to becoming a new-born Christian in this passage. Eustace’s sin was greed and it caused him a great deal of pain (the bracelet on his upper arm). When it became unbearable, Eustace was glad for Aslan (God) to take his pain away (his sin). The pain Eustace felt of his skin being torn was representative of the pain Jesus felt when he was crucified for our sins. Eustace felt it go “right into [his] heart.” The pain from the skin coming off was like losing a bad habit, hard and painful (Eustace’s was greed and snobbery). When Eustace felt the pain from his arm gone, he realized he was made into a boy again. He was reborn like a Christian. It says in the Bible that the Kingdom of Heaven is for children and we must be like children to enter it. When Eustace became a boy again from a dragon, it was like he became a child again. The Nature of Narnia: Aslan, the Great Lion, sang Narnia into existence; first a song for the stars and sun, then one for the trees and grass and plants, and another for the animals. Every time the song changed, a new thing was created; elephants, beavers, fauns, trees, flowers, etc… The Great Lion took a breath and said, “Narnia, Narnia, Narnia, awake. Love. Think. Speak. Be walking trees. Be talking beasts. Be divine waters (MN 126).” Narnia was born (106-126).
To the north of Narnia are the Wild Lands of the North (LWW iii). Eustace and Jill travel there in The Silver Chair. They are on a quest to find Prince Rilian, son of King Caspian X. They escape being eaten by Giants (SC 135). Travel to the Underworld and rescue Prince Rilian and look into the Land of Bism where diamonds and rubies are alive and grow (201-206).
To the south of Narnia is the kingdom of Archenland and below that, Calormen (LWW iii). In The Horse and His Boy, Shasta traveled with a Narnian talking Horse to Narnia (HHB 17). After crossing a huge desert (Ch. 9), Shasta and his companions enter Archenland where he finds out that he is the long lost son of the King and that his real name is Cor (204).
In Prince Caspian all the trees that Aslan made talking trees in the beginning were now in hiding along with all the Narnians because of the Telemarine Conquest (PC 138). Years later during the end of Narnia, all of its nature was destroyed. Father-time was awoken and he squeezed the sun out of existence (180). But Narnia and all of its natures were not forgotten. Aslan brought all of his followers into a New Narnia. This new Narnia was the true Narnia. It is more alive and more brilliant than the one before. There is only one way to put into words what they say in the new Narnia:
- And as [Aslan] spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth had read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before. (The Last Battle 210-211)
We have explored the nature of Imagination, the nature of love and forgiveness in Christianity, and the nature of, well… the nature of Narnia. Jack loved life, even though it was dark and hard for him. But he had his eyes set on another world, about another man, about another nature; about another place where he could go “further up and further in” (LB 201) and where “every chapter is better than the one before” (LB 211).
Bellah, Mike. A Celebration of Joy: Christian Romanticism in the Chronicles of Narnia. Mike Bellah, February 1995. Web. 17 November 2010. <http://www.bestyears.com/thesis_prelimpages.html>
- Professor of English Mike Bellah of Amarillo College wrote this thesis for partial fulfillment for a Masters of Arts degree in English at West Texas A&M University in February of 1995.
C.S. Lewis – Dreamer of Narnia. Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media, 2006. DVD.
- C.S. Lewis- Dreamer of Narnia is Disc three of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Four-disc Extended Edition. It is a full length film on the C.S. Lewis and his journey of creating Narnia.
Jacobs, Darren. “Jack Lewis Notes.” Message to the author. 29 November 2010. Email.
- Darren Jacobs is the co-writer of an upcoming film on C.S. Lewis, and personal friend of Douglas Gresham, step-son of Jack. I entered communication and friendship with Jacobs after I read of the movie and asked if I could help promote the film on WikiNarnia, a site on the web I administrate. Jacobs was interested in this paper and said he would help out with some suggestions.
Lewis, C.S.. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and His Boy. New York: HarperCollins, 2000. Print.
- During the reign of the Kings and Queens Pevensie, a little boy named Shasta ran away from his cruel care taker with a talking horse and headed to “Narnia and the north!” The strange duo traveled from the sea, across a dessert, and to the mountains. They faced lions and a fog so thick one could not see their hand outstretched in front of themselves. Shasta made it to Archenland where he found out about his true nature.
---. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle. New York: HarperCollins, 2000. Print.
- The Last Battle is the final installment of the series in which Narnia is destroyed. The talking trees are being murdered for firewood, the talking animals are being made to work like dumb beasts, and they are told that Aslan is punishing them for being bad. The world looks bleak for the Narnians. The same two kids who found the Prince in the Underworld, come and help the Narnians realize who Aslan really is before Aslan destroys Narnia. Those that believe in him are able to enter a new Narnia, where the further in you go, the bigger it gets.
---. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. New York: HarperCollins, 2000. Print.
- The most popular book of the series, first published and second chronologically, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is a story about four children called Pevensie entering Narnia during the Long Winter, a time where the wicked White Witch kept the land under a spell where it is always winter and never Christmas. The four Pevensie’s, along with Aslan, break the spell and return Narnia to its natural state, and they rule as Kings and Queens of Narnia until they return to England from whence they came.
---. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew. New York: HarperCollins, 2000. Print.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew, is the story of how Narnia was created. Young Digory and his new friend Polly enter a dark land along with a witch and others. While there, they heard a strange song that most of them were in love with. They stared into the blackness and saw a speck of light on what could be called the horizon, if they were, indeed, in a world. The thing making the song came closer, it was a Lion called Aslan and He was singing the world into existence.
---. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. New York: HarperCollins, 2000. Print.
- Prince Caspian is the second journey into Narnia by the Pevensie’s. They were called in by Magic to help restore Narnia. Thousands of years have passed since they left and the Telmarines had taken over and destroyed most of the Narnia creatures. The rightful heir to the throne, Prince Caspian, helped bring all the Narnians out of hiding and joined them together to take the thrown back and give Narnia what is rightfully hers; the land and all within it.
---. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair. New York: HarperCollins, 2000. Print.
- The cousin of the Pevensie’s returns to Narnia with a new friend. They travel from Aslan’s country to Narnia on the breath of Aslan to start a search for the King’s son. They travel to the land of the friendly giants, only to find that they are not friendly when they try to eat them. In a daring escape, they fall into a land beneath the land. A dark and sad place called the Underworld is where they find the Prince and the evil Emerald Witch who has had him under a spell. They manage to break the spell and escape back to the surface while the underworld starts to explode and fill with water until it is no more.
---. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. New York: HarperCollins, 2000. Print.
- The younger two Pevensies made it back into Narnia for one last journey. A journey that would take them to a land where water turns everything into gold, a dark island where your nightmares become real, a land of one-legged dwarves ruled by a kindly magician and to a land where fallen stars come to become young again and light the sky. From Narnia to the utter east where the sky meets the ground, you get to see the world of Narnia better than ever!
---. Letters to Children. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1985. Print.
- Letters to Children is a collection of letters from C.S. Lewis to children that mailed him letters. The letters are ordered chronologically and you can see the relationships building between Lewis and the children in which he wrote often; some of which, the books were dedicated too. You can also see some of Lewis’ personal side in the way that he writes. His writing is mature yet he still writes at the level of the child that he is writing. You can see how he loves children and his Faith in Christ Jesus the Son of God.