God, C. S. Lewis, and J. K. Rowling?: Redemption, Chapter III, Part II

Hello, Nerdy Bloggers!

Here is the final part of the redemption chapter.  Only the conclusion left to go!  Enjoy!

Blessings,

Nerdy Blogger

CHAPTER III, PART II

In chronological order (based on the Narnian time line), The Magician’s Nephew is the first Narnia chronicle.  It is in this first novel that the reader may find a strong symbol for redemption.  Digory Kirke has entered the Garden in hopes of finding something to cure his sick mother.  The Witch attempts to trick Digory into stealing an apple that would provide healing for his mother, despite the warning he received upon entering, which states, “Come in by the gold gates or not at all,/Take of my fruit for others or forbear,/For those who steal or those who climb my wall/Shall find their heart’s desire and find despair” (Lewis Magician’s Nephew 92).  Despite the Witch’s urgings, Digory resists, but is deeply saddened that he may not be able to help his mother.  He returns to Aslan, who says, “That is what would have happened, child, with a stolen apple.  It is not what will happen now.  What I give you now will bring joy.  It will not, in your world, give endless life, but it will heal” (Lewis Magician’s Nephew 100-01).  As the apple, the gift of Aslan, does not bring eternal life in the world of men, neither does Christ’s gift bring eternal life in this world.  However, the gifts both Aslan and Christ offer do bring eternal life in their world.  Jesus said in Luke 17:33, “Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it” (Bible Gateway).  Digory, after being tempted to “keep” the apple (representing life), but instead chooses to “lose” the apple, gains life.  Digory Kirke’s mother is revived and becomes one who, as in Ephesians 2:1-5, was “dead” but is now “alive” through the work of redemption (Bible Gateway).

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe offers one of the most transparent symbols of redemption in the sacrifice of Aslan for Edmund Pevensie.  Aslan has met the requirements of the Deep Magic—he has died a traitor’s death—the death Edmund deserved.  Aslan, alive again through the power of the Deeper Magic, is the one who brings life again to those turned to stone by the White Witch’s wand, his presence turns the tide in the Battle of Beruna, and is the one who conquers the White Witch herself in battle.  With Aslan being the foremost and established Christ figure in Narnia, it is by this same token that the reader can identify all of these acts as a work of redemption for not only Edmund, but also for the entire country of Narnia.  The text states, “The battle was all over a few minutes after their arrival.  Most of the enemy had been killed in the first charge of Aslan and his companions; and when those who were still living saw that the Witch was dead they either gave themselves up or took flight” (Lewis Lion… 192).  Aslan has saved the day in the same way Christ has saved the lives of those who follow him.

Aslan again plays the role of the redeemer in The Horse and His Boy.  The beginning of the life of Shasta (or as the reader later learns, Prince Cor of Archenland) in The Horse and His Boy is a redemption story in itself.  An infant Shasta has been set adrift in a boat and is discovered by a Calormene fisherman named Arsheesh.  When Shasta learns his true identity, he learns what, or rather who, has perpetuated his entire journey—Aslan.  Cor informs Aravis of the prophecy about his life and how he would become savior to Archenland.  When Cor is telling Aravis about how all this came to be, he makes an interesting comment:

The Lord Bar himself had been killed in the battle.  But one of his men said that, early that morning, as soon as he saw he was certain to be over hauled, Bar had given me to one of his knights and sent us both away in the ship’s boat.  And that boat was never seen again.  But of course that was the same boat that Aslan (he seems to be at the back of all the stories) pushed ashore at the right place for Arsheesh to pick me up.  (Lewis Horse… 302)

Aslan has redeemed Cor from death, and by the same token, Cor has become a redeemer to the entire nation of Archenland—Savior to his people.  Like Cor, there were similar prophecies surrounding Jesus’ birth.  Matthew 1:21 says, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Bible Gateway).  Cor’s destiny is to rescue his people, as Jesus’ destiny is the same—both have brought about the redemption of their people.

Prince Caspian is the fourth chronological installment in The Chronicles of Narnia.  The novel’s title character is also a product of redemption.  Caspian is an orphan prince, living with his aunt and uncle who are acting King and Queen of Narnia in the absence of Caspian’s father and mother.  When his aunt, the Queen, finally give birth to a child, a son, Caspian’s life is in great danger.  Awakened in the night by his tutor, Dr. Cornelius, Caspian is hurried away for fear of his life.  Caspian is unsure if his Uncle Miraz would really choose to murder him.  Dr. Cornelius has only this in reply, “He murdered your Father” (Lewis Prince Caspian 343).  With this ominous warning, Caspian is sent away to refuge in Archenland.  Here the reader sees Prince Caspian seeking refuge, as the Christian seeks refuge in Jesus Christ.  2 Samuel 22:2-3 says, “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation.  He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—from violent men you save me” (Bible Gateway).  The horn mentioned in this particular passage of scripture is interesting when thought of in the context of the very important gift Dr. Cornelius gives Caspian—the magic horn of Queen Susan.  This horn summons help when blown, which may be interpreted as a “horn of salvation.”  These are but a few of the symbols of redemption found in Prince Caspian.

As mentioned in previous discussion of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Eustace Scrubb is changed into a dragon through the working of a magical bracelet and his own greed.  Aslan, the Christ figure, is the only one capable of reversing Eustace’s dragon-like state.  Eustace’s state is reminiscent of the human condition.  As Eustace is trapped in his dragon form with no chance of escaping it on his own, so humanity is caught in its own sin.  Eustace does not want to be a dragon any longer, but as in Romans 7:18, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out” (Bible Gateway).  Aslan tells Eustace when he tries to take his own dragon scales off, “You will have to let me undress you” (Lewis Dawn Treader 474).  Aslan cleans Eustace up, transforms him from a dragon into a boy again, and dresses him in new clothes.  The prophet Isaiah speaks of a similar dressing in Isaiah 61:10, “I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Bible Gateway).  Eustace has been “clothed” with righteousness.  His salvation is found in Aslan, the Christ figure.

The Silver Chair is quite varied from the other Narnia chronicles.  Aslan is not as physically present in this novel, but he is the motivator for the entire quest to save Prince Rilian.  Aslan sends Jill Pole and Eustace Scrubb on this journey, accompanied by the Marsh-wiggle, Puddleglum.  The entire quest to find Prince Rilian is another redemption story.  Rilian is held captive by the enemy (Satan), cannot break free of the spell he is under on his own (sin), and to break the enchantment, Rilian (and now Puddleglum, Jill, and Eustace also) must declare their faith and belief in Aslan and Narnia.  Puddleglum makes his declaration to the Witch,

Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things—trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself.  Suppose we have.  Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones.  Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world.  Well it strikes me as a pretty poor one.  And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it.  We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right.  But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow.  That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world.  I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it.  I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.  (Lewis Silver Chair 633)

It is at this point that the Witch knows she cannot charm their belief in Narnia out of them, and she tries to destroy them in her snake form, but is slain by Prince Rilian, Puddleglum, and Eustace.  The Silver Chair story offers a similar set-up for the redemption plot as the one John Granger points out in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, with its plotline featuring a person in need of redemption, a savior, declaration of belief, and salvation.

The Last Battle is the final volume of Narnia and features a strong Biblical parallel for redemption.  The Last Battle portrays the final redemption of those who believe in and trust Aslan—the rapture of his followers.  Aslan has pulled his followers out of a dying Narnia.  Likewise, Christ has promised the redemption of his followers, saying in Matthew 24:31, “And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other” (Bible Gateway).  Aslan performs a similar act in The Last Battle; he has pulled his followers out of Narnia, which is dying and falling into chaos.  Aslan shuts the door on Narnia and the whole land is destroyed.  The book of Revelation tells of the second coming of Christ, the destruction of the world, and the taking of believers into the new heaven and the new earth.  This is what has happened to the Pevensies, Polly, and Digory; the expression of joy and rapture that is held by the followers of Aslan is unparalleled.  Lucy asks, “‘We’re so afraid of being sent away, Aslan.  And you have sent us back into our own world so often.’  …‘Your father and mother and all of you are—as you used to call it in the Shadowlands—dead.  The term is over: the holidays have begun.  The dream is ended: this is the morning’” (Lewis Last Battle 767).  This is the bright morning that Christ has promised for his followers that Aslan has brought his followers to as well.

There are quite a few symbols of redemption found in these novels; this is by no means a definitive list.  There are also some patterns found in Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia that are worthy of note.  In Harry Potter, Harry himself is the most common object of redemption.  He is the one who finds himself in need of a savior most often, with the exception of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where he and Hermione are saviors to Sirius Black and Buckbeak the Hippogriff.  The method redemption is portrayed in Harry Potter is multifaceted—many characters play the role of redeemer, but there is a symbol for redemption in each book.  In The Chronicles of Narnia, Aslan is the sole redeemer, but also uses others in his acts of redemption. The Silver Chair, for example Aslan uses Eustace, Jill, and Puddleglum to find Prince Rilian and save him from his captivity.  Since Aslan is the sole Christ figure in Narnia, he is also the sole redeemer.  One thing that hold true through both of these series is this—redemption always takes place through a Christ figure and that Christ figure is motivated by agapē love.

Works Cited in Chapter III, Part II

Bible Gateway.  King James Version.  New International Version.  2006. 27 Apr. 2006 <http://biblegateway.com/&gt;.  1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 John 4:8; 2 Chronicles 7:14; 2 Samuel 22:2-3; Acts 4:12; Colossians 1:13-14; Ephesians 1:7, 2:1-5, 2:20; Genesis 1:1-31, 3:15; Hebrews 9:12, 12:1; Isaiah 1:18, 50:6, 53:1-12, 61:10; Job 2:11-13; John 1:29, 3:16, 4:10, 4:13-14, 8:36, 14:6-7, 14:26, 15:13, 15:15, 19:17, 20:26-29, 21:9; Luke 10:18, 22:42, 24:46-47; Mark 7:37, 15:3-5; Matthew 1:21; 24:31, 26:36-39, 26:42; Philippians 2:1-2; Revelation 5:5, 11:18, 12:10; Romans 6:11; Titus 3:5.

Lewis, C. S.  The Horse and His Boy.  The Chronicles of Narnia.  New York: HarperEntertainment, 2005.  205-310.

—.  The Last Battle.  The Chronicles of Narnia.  New York: HarperEntertainment, 2005.  669-767.

—.  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  The Chronicles of Narnia.  New York: HarperEntertainment, 2005.  107-97.

—.  The Magician’s Nephew.  The Chronicles of Narnia.  New York: HarperEntertainment, 2005.  11-106.

—.  Prince Caspian.  The Chronicles of Narnia.  New York: HarperEntertainment, 2005.  317-418.

—.  The Silver Chair.  The Chronicles of Narnia.  New York: HarperEntertainment, 2005.  542-668.

—.  The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  The Chronicles of Narnia.  New York: HarperEntertainment, 2005.  419-541.

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About The Nerdy Blogger

Ashley Whitehead Thomas is The Nerdy Blogger. She holds a B. A. in English Literature from Maryville College in Maryville, Tennessee and began her M. A. at Signum University in Spring 2013. Ashley blogs, reads, writes (for fun and for hire), and spends time with her husband, Ryan, and their two cat-monsters, Luna and Oliver.
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