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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Temptations in Narnia: Lion, Witch, & Wardrobe

It's been a while since I posted any "Musings on . . . fantastic literature." (Cybernarcissism-I'm quoting the About section of my blog page.)

My intention, God helping me, is to begin a series on temptations in the Narnia books, by C. S. Lewis. This is the first of that series. I expect to deal with Tolkien, and probably also with Patricia A. McKillip.

Here's an article on temptation from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

A temptation, let us say, is an enticement to do wrong. However, let us say further that you aren't doing wrong if you have no choice in the matter. Temptation, nearly always, means that you are making a moral choice.

I am not attempting to summarize the seven books, at least not directly. They still appear on lists (here's one, and here's a page for teachers about Lewis' books) of good fiction for children, not specifically because of their moral lessons, but because of their stories. Moral choices are part of most good stories. Also, because of their characters. The children are appealing characters. Reepicheep, Puddleglum, and even Uncle Andrew are marvelous creations. A movie, or movies, is in production, based on one or more of the books. (Here's the movie site on the books, which is a good introduction to them.)

I think I know that the characters aren't real people, and that speculating on their moral lives is fantasizing about fantasy, but never mind.

The historic church used to emphasize seven deadly sins. According to the Wikipedia, they are as follows:
Avarice (covetousness, greed)

I shall attempt to associate some of the temptations with these sins. I don't think that all of the temptations in the Narnia books fit into any of these seven categories.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Edmund is tempted to betray Aslan and his siblings. He yields, for a time, falling into the service of the White Witch. He is also tempted to pretend that Lucy has imagined their visit to Narnia, and yields to that, too, betraying her. Part of his temptation is to pride. Some of it is envy of Lucy.

After Edmund has repented of his (may I say it?) sin, Lucy is tempted to spend too much time with Edmund when he is wounded, when she should have been attending to the healing of others. Aslan rebukes her.

I'm not sure that the White Witch, her dwarf, or the wolf, Fenris Ulf, are really tempted. They seem to just do evil when the opportunity presents itself. One of the features of the Narnia books is that some species of sentient, rational beings seem to never do wrong (like the beavers) and some of them seem to never do right (like the wolves or the hags). I'm not sure that these are really tempted, or can be.

There are people out there who know these books (and/or temptation!) well. Please feel free to comment.


Brandy said...

Dr. LaBar! It's funny you're doing a series on the Narnia books because I just recently started reading them again. I'm on the Voyage of the Dawn Treader right now. I read them in elementary school and found them in the school library recently and decided to re-read them. I look forward to reading your posts on the books. said...

Have you heard of the Focus on the Family audio dramas of the Narnia series? They are fabulously well done, with british actors and great music and sound effects. They are not unabridged because they are sort of turned into plays (but with narration as well), but they are still very faithful to the stories. We have listened to all of the CDs and love them. Great for long car journeys.


Farther up and farther in!

Amber said...

I have just gotten done reading all the books for a 2nd time, and in the last book there is a Cat who betrays them all. Throught the rest of tbe books, cats have been pretty much good, with leopards fighting along side Aslan and lions "Did you hear what he said? Us Lions. That means him and me. Us Lions. That's what I like about Aslan. No side, no stand-off-shiness. Us Lions. That meant him and me"
Also there were good and bad giants, good and bad trees. And in the Last Battle, good and bad everything... Dwarves, Talking Beasts, Calormenes.
I think they rather all had a choice- even down to the wraiths and boggles.