Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Necessary View of a Traveler

Travel requires one to leave surroundings which he or she is accustomed to and experience new and sometimes frightening places and the consequent happenings which occur within those borders. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, although incorporating magical entities and fantastical realms, maintains universal wisdom regarding travel and the proper ways to approach it. In Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, two characters in particular epitomize the ideal traveler in that they maintain an open mind and a level disposition throughout their expedition. Lucy remains steadfast when presented with the plea of returning visibility to the Duffers (or Monopods) and does not flinch when the danger is explained to her. Similarly, Reepicheep argues that one must travel into the darkness, in this particular example that Lewis employs, of “the Dark Island”, in order to understand and, better, to fully appreciate, what it is that the traveler is attempting to accomplish and learn from his participation.

First, Lucy is approached by the Duffers with an option to enter into the magician’s house and restore their visibility or “it will be our painful duty to cut all your throats” (Lewis 153). She agrees and says, “All right, then, I’ll do it… don’t try to stop me… And the other way there is a chance” (Lewis 155). She is resolute in her decision to enter the house because it benefits the group. She is a selfless figure, both upstanding and genuine. She is willing to venture into something of which she has never seen before because without it, nothing can be gained and everything, namely the lives of her people, will be sacrificed. She puts aside her fears because there is no other alternative route to take. For Lucy, travel is essential for continuance. Perhaps Lewis is saying that without testing new waters, one can no longer actively develop and, on the contrary, partakes in a gradual decay.

The second example of the idyllic traveler who possesses this required openness with regard to learning through experience is Reepicheep. He maintains a constant sense of overwhelming enthusiasm for exploration and the dangers that accompany that path. He is always more than willing to settle disputes with combat but, more than that, is eager to participate in the “now.” Although not necessarily representing rationale thought in the brightest light, Reepicheep does take advantage of each moment. This is not to say that he does not rationalize his actions. He offers a thoughtful proposal regarding Lucy’s participation with the magician when he says, “And the service they ask of her is in no way contrary to her Majesty’s honor, but a noble and heroical act. If the Queen’s heart moves her to risk the magician, I will not speak against it” (Lewis 155). Reepicheep’s open-mindedness reveals itself most clearly when approaching the Dark Island. He passionately argues when asked what use it would be to venture into the darkness that, “If by use you mean filling our bellies or our purses, I confess it will be no use at all.” He continues, “And here is as great an adventure as ever I heard of, and here, if we turn back, no little impeachment of all our honors” (Lewis 194). Granted, I realize that honor is the dominant theme for Reepicheep which can be viewed rightly as a type of hubris. However, I think the more important quality of a desire to partake in this adventure and gain this glorious honor centers more on its intangibility. He vehemently begins by saying that adventure is not for monetary wealth that fills a purse. It is about something more, something deeper, than that. I believe Lewis to be saying that if one does not attempt daunting plunges that test boundaries, in this particular scenario a plunge into darkness, that there is no point in traveling at all.

One travels with hopes of being presented with new people and different places. The traveler wishes to gain insight that had not been attained thus far by places he has already been. There is always wisdom to be gained from societies, cultures and landscapes. Therefore, a lack of travel is to stop observing which is to stop learning. This is to say that one has gathered a complete and not-at-all lacking intellect of not only the geography of the world but also the residing people. Lewis’ text hints that travel will always offer new experiences, new places and incidents that will either mold the participant for better or for worse but regardless, that offer something of value.

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