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.
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
If the Witch knew the true meaning of sacrifice, she might have interpreted the deep magic differently. That when a willing victim who has committed no treachery, is killed in a traitor’s stead, the stone table will crack, and even death itself would turn backwards.
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)
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.