Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Dawn Treader

When we read books, we want to be transported to a new place, one that is exciting and different from our own. It seems that Lewis’ intention in writing these books was to do just this; he wanted to create a world of magic and of mystery so that the reader is able to accompany the characters on their journey. Although this series was originally meant for children, adults can just as easily read them because they are enjoyable at any age. Lewis gives us a different perspective as he takes us through different magical islands and enchanted tales. This idea of different perspectives and points of view is important in travel also. When you travel, it is expected and even desired that you obtain a different point of view on your life and the lives of others. Travelling enables you to see through windows of different cultures and environments. This is precisely what the Pevensie children experience as they travel through the world of Narnia. Although Lucy and Edmund had been there before, Eustace had not. Furthermore, the adventures they embarked upon were new to all three, just as when we travel somewhere it is usually to a place that is new and foreign.
Although C.S. Lewis intended for his Narnia books to be read by children, there are certain themes within the novels that seem more appropriate for adults. Lewis said at one point that Aslan is not an allegorical representation of Christ, yet this is hard to believe as Aslan is killed in one book and eventually comes back to life, much like the death and resurrection of Christ. Clearly, Lewis focuses on religious themes, whether or not that was his original intention. Aslan, the “Highest of all High Kings” (169), is frequently referenced in this book. Not only this, but he reappears in times of need throughout the book, much like the presence of the Holy Spirit. When Lucy is tempted to read a spell from the Magician’s book, she sees the angry face of Aslan, “The Lion”, (165) and immediately knows that she was almost tempted into sin. This scene reflects the idea of good versus evil which is very prevalent within this book. Another example of Aslan’s guiding presence over the characters is when the crew stumbles upon the frightening Dark Island in chapter 12. The darkness they encounter is horrifying and is almost reminiscent of a type of hell: a place where your most terrifying dreams come alive. During this scene, Lucy makes out a symbol which at first resembles a cross, which is obviously a religious symbol. Here, Lucy hears the voice of Aslan telling her, “Courage, dear heart” (201). Instead of leading her away from sin as he did with the Magician’s book, here he is sustaining and encouraging her faith.
During the last chapter of the book, the children are nearing ‘the beginning of the end of the world’, which also happens to be near Aslan’s world. As they approach this place, they find water that is almost entirely made up of light, which can be seen as a symbol of the “Light” of God. Furthermore, the members of the ship become youthful, happy, and serene after drinking this water; it is almost as if they are approaching heaven itself, where “they could see more light than they ever had before” (250). Finally, the children meet a lamb who feeds them “the most delicious food they had ever tasted” (250). It is not an accident that Lewis uses an image of a lamb because in Christianity, Jesus is referred to as the ‘Lamb of God’. Not only this, but after revealing himself as Aslan, he tells them that there is a way into his world from all the worlds. Lewis uses the words “bridge builder” (269) to describe this magnificent creature that will send the children back to their own world. Their final conversation is noteworthy in terms of religious significance; Aslan tells the children that he exists in their world, but he is known by another name. God has many different names in our world, but each name represents the same thing. By sending Lucy and Edmund back to their own world, never again to return to Narnia, he allows them to reflect back on their journeys to Narnia and discover what they have learned. This is analogous to what people do when they travel; once you arrive back to your home, you can think about all that you have learned and all that you will take with you.

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