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.
Me: If you don’t like the Susan Williams storyline clap your hands Me: *claps* Me: If you don’t like Stalker Susan hitting on our boy Mayor Handsome because we all know that Olicity are it for each other, and you’re sick of having your time wasted on this ridiculous storyline where Oliver and Felicity aren’t talking to each other and working out their relationship, clap your hands. Me:
“At Cair Paravel,” said Corin. “She’s not like Lucy, you know, who’s as good as a man, or at any rate as good as a boy. Queen Susan is more like an ordinary grown-up lady. She doesn’t ride to the wars, though she is an excellent archer.”
I love how the dynamics of the four are so even. I mean you pair them off in any way and they can match. Peter and Susan are the oldest while Edmund and Lucy are the youngest. Lucy and Susan are the two girls and Peter and Edmund are the two boys. Susan and Edmund seem to be the slightly more solemn of the two, while Peter and Lucy are more outwardly bright/joyful/im not quite sure of the word. Even the hair colors match, dark for solemn and light for joyful. Susan and Peter take on the responsibility for their siblings, and are closest to parental roles while Edmund and Lucy can balance them out, remind them to relax sometimes and teach them not to worry so much. Lucy and Edmund were the first to step into Narnia, but often lean on their elder siblings calm. Lucy and Susan are the ones to dance with the dryads and Edmund and Peter are the ones to lead the armies. I could make a whole post about how awesome they are together as well, but I’ll just stop here.