A Study Into Cs Lewis English Literature Essay

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"C.S. Lewis is one of the best-selling authors of all-time; the Narnia series alone has sold some 85 million copies since it was first published fifty years ago," (Olson). "His major contributions in literary criticism, children's literature, fantasy literature, and popular theology brought him international renown and acclaim," (C.S. Lewis Classics). An Irish-born British novelist, Lewis is considered one of the most influential Christian apologists of his time. Through his passion for Christianity, Lewis wrote The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (LWW) using techniques such as allegory, personification, and fantasy.

Allegory is "the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures, truth or generalizations about human existence," (Merriam-Webster.com). C.S. Lewis uses allegory when describing his main character, Aslan, in the LWW. Lewis uses this character to portray him as a god. Aslan, "the son of the Emperor over Sea," can be compared to this world's Jesus Christ, God-the-son (Schakel 133). "It is important to remember that The Chronicles of Narnia are successful because many readers do not realize the resemblance of Aslan to Jesus Christ. Even though Christian themes are present, the Chronicles are not dependent on them," (Schakel 132).

Aslan says, "There, I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there," (Hooper 123). Some of Lewis' readers wonder what the significance of this statement is and begin to search for Aslan here on earth. For example, Hila, an eleven- year-old girl from the United States asked Lewis what Aslan's name is in this world (Dorsett 31-32). When Lewis' readers find Aslan in the real world, they will find out that his true name is Jesus Christ. And when this occurs, Lewis is successful at opening a person's heart to accepting Christianity (Cowart). Aslan gives his life to pay the death penalty for the human boy, Edmund, who became a traitor, betraying his family and the animals of Narnia (Hammond). The LWW dramatizes the war between good and evil, the battle for people's souls, the battle for understanding Biblical similarities (Hammond). Dr. Peter Hammond observed that "in creating the character of Aslan, Lewis did what no one had ever done before and what (others) thought simply impossible: to present Jesus Christ as a credible and interesting fictional character.

Lewis also uses the Pevensie children as elements of his allegory. Peter, the oldest of the Pevensie family, is strong and a consistent leader who resembles the apostle Peter of the Christian Church (Wagner 107). Susan, the second oldest and oldest Pevensie girl, symbolizes a person who had a Christian faith in early life but left later (Wagner 108). Edmund, the third oldest of the four children and second boy, is the scoundrel who betrays his siblings after being tempted by the White Witch (Wagner 106). Edmund's betrayal of his family has many similarities with Judas's betrayal of Jesus (Wagner 107). Lucy, the youngest of the children, is eight when she first enters Narnia. She keeps all of her faith in Aslan which is symbolic of all Christians being called to have faith in Christ (Wagner 107). After witnessing Aslan's suffering and death, Susan and Lucy maintain a vigil over his body. As the night darkens, they note that all the stars get fainter "all except one very big one low down on the eastern horizon" (Hammond). This refers to Christ as "the bright and morning star" (Revelation 22:16). The development of each child's personality could demonstrate the qualities of good and evil and Christ's as well as our response to those qualities. The real world of Narnia is challenged at the start of the story when only Lucy enters Narnia and the other children, concerned for her stories of another world, take their concerns to the professor (Higgens). The professor causes the children to question their underlying belief in the reality of only one world (Higgens).

Lewis also portrays the White Witch as part of his allegory. She is the representation of all evil in the world. She casts a wintry spell over Narnia, kills Aslan at the Stone Table, and is a symbol of Satan in many ways. Her 100-year stranglehold over Narnia symbolizes the temporary power of Satan in the world. She also symbolizes Satan when she is victorious in killing Aslan just as the Devil in winning at the death of Jesus (Wagner 117). Both are resurrected in the end.

The White Witch turns the animals of Narnia into stone: not only stone-deaf, but also stone mute. Aslan, however, after rising from the dead, breathes upon these stone statues in her castle and restores life to those whom the Witch had kept frozen with fear (Hammond). This reflects John 20:22 when Jesus breathes on His disciples to give them His Holy Spirit and empowers them to go out into the world (Hammond).

Lewis also uses significant events as parts of the allegory. The sacrifice of Aslan is sometimes considered an exact duplication of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. Aslan died on the Stone Table as a sacrifice to all of Narnia and Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice to the entire world. The Stone Table is the setting of Aslan's sacrificial death. The Stone Table is referred to as another Christian reference used by Lewis. It is the Narnian equivalent of the cross that Jesus Christ was crucified on (Wagner 121). Aslan willingly surrenders himself for torment, torture and execution at the hands of the Witch and her demons on a hilltop. Dr. Ted Baehr describes "The Lion" as "The Passion of the Christ" for children (Hammond).

Before Lewis was six, he had begun to invent Animal-Land, a country of dressed animals, with its own geography, history and politics (Hannay). In later months, Lewis tried, unsuccessfully, to construct this play world with cardboard and wood. Eventually, he wrote about it instead. Although at such a young age, Lewis began his technique of using personification in his writings. Personification is a depiction of a thing or idea as a person or by the human form. Lewis portrays a lion in Narnia as a person. He typifies the Biblical character of Jesus Christ as the character of Aslan, the lion, retelling certain events in the life of Jesus to children in this new context in a way that is easy for them to understand; most importantly, however, children can both relate to and enjoy the fantasy of Narnia (Brennan). Aslan is what Jesus Christ would have been like if He had come to a world called Narnia (Wagner 117). Children are likely to be more upset at the death of an animal than that of a man who lived long ago; a man they never knew. In this way, children might sympathize more easily with the proposed death of a Christ-like lion than that of a historical Jesus (Brennan). Just like Jesus Christ, Aslan's life was not an easy one to live. The White Witch was the antagonist towards Aslan. She wished to destroy the lion, and attempted to kill him with an iron bar. Aslan's resurrection involves the same kind of Biblical allusion. These latter correlation, however, is probably not so much direct allegory as it is an example of Lewis' command of Biblical imagery as a literary device (Brennan). Lewis' emphasis on the animals in his creation story is especially apparent with his use of Aslan the lion as a God figure. This image of life-giving breath directly correlates to a passage in Genesis: "The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." (Gen 2:7).

Another way Lewis personifies in the Narnia is the personification of animals. Narnia is a land of talking animals, and as children usually find the concept of animals and magical creatures more interesting than that of a historical reality of long ago (Brennan). Lewis' technique of making animals a central part of his narrative is readily noticeable. The beavers are humble, loyal, and faithful talking beavers that provide assistance to the children by introducing them to Aslan (Wagner 113). By them being able to talk, Lewis personifies them as real people with manners.

Lewis also personifies Mr. Tumnus as a faun that Lucy encounters when she first arrives in Narnia (Wagner 113). A faun is what Lewis describes as half man-half animal. Lewis personifies him because of his imaginary appearance and actions, Mr. Tumnus and Lucy have tea in his house. Although, half human half animal, it can be concluded that he is a character in a fantasy world, he is not real to any extent.

This fairytale is a magical and fantastic novel, it allows us as readers to relate and participate in the journey of mind and spirit. It has used language to engage the audience and characters that not only go on an imaginary journey, but an inner journey as well which we can all relate to. The book is a creative and mystical representation of an imaginative journey and should be acknowledged by everyone.

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