Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Within the text, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis plays on the imagination of his readers, allowing them to travel to mythic and undiscovered lands along with the young protagonists. While the bulk of the text seems to be written from a third person omniscient narrator, Lewis includes first person as well as second person commentary at different interludes through out the book. This stylistic choice is used poignantly when Lewis wants to draw additional attention to a particular moment, as well as pique the interest of his readers. In its entirety, The Dawn Treader attracts both younger and older audiences and this act of playing with point of view contributes to the text’s universality.
The direct use of the first person narration becomes clear immediately, “I can’t tell you how his friends spoke to him, for he had none,” (1). Here, the “I” voice establishes authority with the reader, providing additional information on the character of Eustace. However, the use of the word “I” does not dominate the majority of the text. Instead, it is used sparingly as Lewis wishes to shed additional light on a specific instance, or to develop an idea more, “But she didn’t like the look of her own face with that hair and beard, and went on. (I don’t know what the Bearded Glass was for because I am not a magician.)” (160). In this instance, the voice of Lewis is parenthetically placed as to give the reader the sense of secrecy. S/he believes that s/he has been given classified information, and for a young audience, this works well to draw their attention.
Another way that Lewis encourages his readers to participate in the action of the story comes as he uses the second person narration style, “Something was crawling. Worse still, something was coming out. Edmund or Lucy or you would have recognized it at once, but Eustace had read none of the right books,” (89). Here, Lewis praises his reader for picking the “right books” and addresses him or her directly by calling out to “you”. Stylistically, he chooses the second person to draw specific attention, something that even the first person style may or may not achieve.
Through out the text, Lewis portrays an all knowing third person narrator as is seen in, “It was, however, clear to everyone that Eustace’s character had been rather improved by becoming a dragon,” (107), yet occasionally interjects his direct opinion on a matter. In this way he effectively draws upon the first person to include personal thoughts and intermittently provides additional information. The seldom-used second person heightens the sense that the author is speaking directly to the reader, and strengthens the connection to a younger audience. Overall, such perspective shifts capture the attention of the audience, young or old, help draw them into the Narnian world and experience.

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