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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe | Book Review

Title: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe | Author: C.S. Lewis | Pages: 206

Publisher: HarperCollins | ISBN: 9780064471046

Special Features: A map of Narnia and surrounding countries

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*Spoilers*

C.S. Lewis’ classic The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe tells the story of four siblings and their discovery of the magical realm of Narnia. When Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy arrive via the seemingly average wardrobe doubling as a portal, Narnia is facing an interesting weather forecast set to last for eternity: never-ending winter. This is all at the hands of the evil White Witch, to whom the rumour of humans — or, Sons and Daughters of Adam and Eve — in her lands is a source of deep anxiety. It is foretold that when four of Adam and Eve’s sons and daughters appear in Narnia to take up their thrones, Aslan the saviour — an unstoppable force of good — will return and the Witch’s winter will melt away.

Wardrobe illustration by Pauline Baynes for The Chronicles of Narnia (1950) by C.S. Lewis. 

Characters

Despite the short length of the novel, the characters are well-written and easy to imagine. Peter and Susan are the eldest siblings. Mature, cautious, and good-natured, they look after their youngest siblings as best as they can. Edmund and Lucy are the youngest, in that order, and they are total opposites. Edmund is mean, selfish, and longs to belong with his older siblings, especially Peter, rather than be stuck with little Lucy. Lucy is an unrelentingly honest and kind young girl.

Their personalities influence their individual adventures in Narnia. Lucy remains truthful and just throughout, while Peter and Susan are brave and act as leaders. Self-absorbed Edmund betrays his siblings and the rest of Narnia and is taken by the White Witch, only to realize too late what he has done. Narnia has a way of bringing out truths, including the characters’ individual truths.

And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was…but the moment the Beaver had spoken [of Aslan] everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning[.] Lewis 74

Aslan the lion is the character we become most eager to meet, as we begin hearing of him lightly, and then more and more. Lewis builds the legend up intriguingly. Meeting Aslan is no disappointment and it feels as if everything will be all right. But at the same time, we feel a little worried for Aslan; he seems to be carrying all of Narnia on his back. He is powerful, wise and a source of safety, but it feels as though he is alone. It causes you to wonder if he can pull it all off and destroy evil for good. I felt genuinely worried and a deep sense of concern for Aslan.

‘Aslan’ illustration by Pauline Baynes for The Chronicles of Narnia (1950) by C.S. Lewis.

Setting & Other Devices

Lewis’ descriptions of his universe are vivid, bright, and cheery, comparable to Tolkien’s (the two were close friends). The occasional second-person narration adds a knowing tone and dry humour that makes even the dark moments rather comical.

Understandably, many deem the novel to be a Christian allegory, with Aslan paralleling Jesus, and his father — the Emperor Beyond the Sea — as God. There is no denying Lewis’ Christian inspiration and the importance of religion in his life. The four children are referred to often as the “Daughters of Eve and Sons of Adam”. Even Lewis himself stated that Aslan is an incarnation of Christ, and his death and subsequent resurrection are meant to introduce children to the ideas (Russell 61). As a result, there are many critics who believe it to be an irresponsible novel.

As for me? I love a good allegory, and I love a clear parallel.

Overall Thoughts

I really enjoyed this novel, and even felt I was on the verge of tears when the good Aslan was in danger. Lewis has a way of informing his writing with pure pathos, while keeping it appropriate for children. I loved his descriptions and characters.

My only complaint would be that the novel was too short, but even this is hardly a complaint. In only 206 pages, Lewis manages to perfectly describe a new world and its inhabitants in detail, and character development from youth/adolescence into adult years, so that is actually quite impressive.


Works Cited:

Lewis, C.S. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. New York: HarperCollins, 2002. Print.

Russell, James. “Narnia as a Site of National Struggle: Marketing, Christianity, and National Purpose in ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.’” Cinema Journal, vol. 48, no. 4, 2009, pp. 59–76. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25619728.

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3 Comments

  1. Easily the best book in the series. Glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Great review! I will definitely read it with my daughter when she is a bit older 🙂

  3. Brilliant review. I’ve not read the books – I’ve only seen the films. So I’ll have to hunt down a copy of this and give it a go! 😀

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