narnia: the lion the witch and the wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: A Summary
  • Lucy: there's a magical world inside of this closet
  • Edmund: don't believe her
  • Peter: I don't believe you
  • Aslan: believe her
  • Susan: Jesus Christ, a talking lion
  • Aslan: you are correct in multiple ways

I always kind of laugh when people get into the “Susan’s treatment is proof that C.S. Lewis was a misogynist” thing, because:

Polly and Digory. Peter and Susan. Edmund and Lucy. Eustace and Jill. 

Out of the eight “Friends of Narnia” who enter from our world, the male-to-female character ratio is exactly 1/1. Not one of these female characters serves as a love interest at any time. 

The Horse and His Boy, the only book set entirely in Narnia, maintains this ratio with Shasta and Aravis, who, we are told in a postscript, eventually marry. Yet even here, the story itself is concerned only with the friendship between them. Lewis focuses on Aravis’ value as a brave friend and a worthy ally rather than as a potential girlfriend–and ultimately, we realize that it’s these qualities that make her a good companion for Shasta. They are worthy of each other, equals. 

In the 1950s, there was no particularly loud cry for female representation in children’s literature. As far as pure plot goes, there’s no pressing need for all these girls. A little boy could have opened the wardrobe (and in the fragmentary initial draft, did). Given that we already know Eustace well by The Silver Chair, it would not seem strictly necessary for a patently ordinary schoolgirl to follow him on his return trip to Narnia, yet follow she does–and her role in the story is pivotal. Why does the humble cab-driver whom Aslan crowns the first King of Narnia immediately ask for his equally humble wife, who is promptly spirited over, her hands full of washing, and crowned queen by his side? Well, because nothing could be more natural than to have her there. 

None of these women are here to fill a quota. They’re here because Lewis wanted them there. 

Show me the contemporary fantasy series with this level of equality. It doesn’t exist. 

How many have you read?

The BBC estimates that most people will only read 6 books out of the 100 listed below. Reblog this and bold the titles you’ve read.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkein
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffeneger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchel
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

4

“Once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of Narnia. May your wisdom grace us until the stars rain down from the heavens.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Ok but I’ve been binge watching the Narnia movies again, after not having seen them for a long ass time, and now, being a little older and (hopefully) a little more mature than I was when I first saw them, I always feel physically sick when I see the Pevensies being children after The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe because they just aren’t anymore and I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like, to grow up as kings and queens, respected and important, and full of duty, only to go back to being 8 years old (in Lucy’s case).

They didn’t remember England, or the wardrobe, or their old lives, they were Narnians and they were pushed back, not only into a world that was bound to make them miserable, but also into bodies that couldn’t reflect what they’d been through.

Just imagine Peter, waking up in the morning, not remembering that he isn’t the Magnificent anymore, imagine him subconsciously reaching for something to trim his beard, only to remember that it isn’t there anymore, to expect old battle wounds to hurt until he realises that they can’t because he doesn’t have them.

Or Edmund, who left England a stubborn selfish little boy who only wanted his mummy back, and came back the Just, the redeemed traitor, the diplomat, the man, having to resort to being ten years old and probably not even allowed to peek at a newspaper because he’s just a child after all. He plays chess, incredibly well, he doesn’t mock his siblings anymore and all the friends he knew when he was still a boy are either irritated at his behaviour or too childish, too selfish for somebody who knows very well just what selfishness can do, who has a part of the White Witch in him, always.

Susan forgets, we all know that. She must’ve lain awake at night, remembering just what it felt like to cover pain and viciousness and gore with a smile and a blush, remembering being the Gentle, but never in war. She must’ve cried for all the lost years, for all that she learnt and that she can never forget, for all that she has accomplished, that will bring her nothing in this world that doesn’t feel like hers. So she sits down in front of a mirror, talks herself out of believing, telling herself that it wasn’t real, that it was just a dream, that this Narnia her siblings talk about is nothing but a game.
The truth is too terrifying, to devastating to face.

Lucy, little Lucy, who grew up under Mr Tumnus’ smiles and Aslan’s approving gaze, who was loved by all, who did learn how to rule, how to negotiate but who never forgot just what it means to be a queen of Narnia, this girl who matured into a woman, who had a woman’s mind and body and a queen’s grace, she who they called the Valiant, the lion’s daughter, she shrank into herself, into a child, younger than even her siblings. She remembers, clearest of them all, she is the only one who still knows Mr Tumnus’ face, still knows Aslan, but she is just a girl, a pretty little thing who will never be the queen she was, who will never be the woman she was because queenship forms a person in ways no schools can.

They must’ve been devastated when they tumbled to the floor, short and small, and there’s a war they have no control over and Lucy is small, Edmund is skinny, so skinny and Peter and Susan have lost their glow and they’ve changed, they’ve changed so much. (The first time, somebody calls them by just their names, they feel invalidated and small. And offended. They’re kings and queens, they’ve earned their titles and now they have to sit in a dim room filled with children and listen to teachers, have to allow themselves to be insignificant and nothing more than what they were when Lucy first stepped into Narnia - frightened children in the middle of a war they wish was never there in the first place)

4

netflix originals series: the chronicles of narnia, the pevensie era

The series tells the story of four ordinary children: Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie, who have been evacuated to the English countryside from London in 1940 following the outbreak of World War II. They discover a wardrobe in Professor Digory Kirke’s house that leads to the magical land of Narnia. The Pevensie children help Aslan, a talking lion, save Narnia from the evil White Witch, who has reigned over the land of Narnia for a century of perpetual winter with no Christmas. The children become kings and queens of this new-found land and establish the Golden Age of Narnia.