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RPGs, or relentlessly persistent girls by cassandrha

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

What she says: I’m fine.

What she means: I understand the Chronicles of Narnia was at its heart a fairytale with theological analogies for children. But why did Lewis never address how they had to adapted to life on Earth again. Why does no one talk about how the Pevensies had to grow up with a kingdom of responsibilities on their shoulders, only to return to Earth and be children. Take Lucy, she was youngest and perhaps she adapted more quickly-but she had the memories and mind of a grown woman in an adolescent body. Edmund literally found himself in Narnia, he went from a selfish boy to mature and experienced man. He found a purpose and identity through his experiences to come back as just Edmund, Peter’s younger brother. Did people wonder why the sullen, sour boy came back, carrying himself like a wisened king? Did his mother wonder why he and Peter suddenly got along so well, why they spent so much time together now? And Susan, the girl of logistics and reason came back with a difference in her. She learned how to be a diplomat and ambassador, Susan the Gentle had to live to endure not-so-gentle circumstances. She had the respect she wanted, only to be just another teen girl. And Peter, he entered the manhood and maturity he so wanted. He earned the responsibility and stripes he yearned for. He learned to command armies and conduct the menial tasks demanded of a king to rule a nation. But he came back, appearing to be just anther glory-hungry boy. Not to mention the PTSD they must have struggled with. Especially Edmund. How often did he wake up in a sweat, screaming a sibling or comrade’s name? His parents believe it’s the war, but it’s an entirely different one he has nightmares about. How often did he have trouble with flashbacks and mood swings? And how many times did he and Peter sit over a newspaper or near the radio listening to reports on the troops. How often did they pour over lost battles and debate better strategies. Did their parents ever wonder why they seemed to understand flight war so well? How long was it before they stopped discussing these things in front of people? Why does no one talk about this??? 

“All their life in this world and all their adventures 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 has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” 

C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle, Book 7 of the Chronicles of Narnia

I recently referred to Patrick McHale and Alex Hirsch as “the Tolkien and Lewis of supernatural rural demon sibling animated Americana,” and it wasn’t until afterward that I realized how appropriate this connection actually is, when you consider that Gravity Falls is a show aimed at kids with unexpectedly serious overtones about Good and Evil and centers around a couple of siblings whose parents temporarily send them to live with an enigmatic elderly man hiding portals to another world in his house…

…as opposed to Over the Garden Wall, which is more journey-focused and serious in tone and gives us more evil trees and extended stops at taverns to sing gratuitous musical numbers per square inch than its central character (a conflicted Elijah Wood) is properly equipped to deal with. 

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“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

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the chronicles of narnia by c.s lewis

“I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be. ― your affectionate Godfather, C. S. Lewis.”

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.