The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

infobox Book |
name = The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = Cover of 1950 first edition (hardcover)
author = C. S. Lewis
illustrator = Pauline Baynes
cover_artist = Pauline Baynes
country = United Kingdom
language = English
series = The Chronicles of Narnia
genre = Fantasy, children's literature
publisher = Geoffrey Bles
release_date = 1950
media_type = Print (hardcover and paperback)
pages = 208 (modern hardcover)
isbn = ISBN 0-06-023481-4 (modern hardcover)
preceded_by = The Magician's Nephew
followed_by = The Horse and his Boy

"The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" is a fantasy novel for children by C. S. Lewis. Written in 1950 and set in approximately 1940, it is the first book of "The Chronicles of Narnia" and is the best known book of the series. Although it was written and published first, it is second in the series' internal chronological order, after "The Magician's Nephew". "Time" magazine included the novel in its "TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005". [ [,24459,the_lion_the_witch_and_the_wardrobe,00.html The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - ALL-TIME 100 Novels - TIME ] ]

The book is dedicated to Lewis' god daughter, Lucy Barfield.

Character list

*Peter Pevensie is the oldest of the Pevensie siblings. At first, Peter disbelieves Lucy's stories about Narnia, but changes his mind when he sees it for himself. Peter is hailed as a hero for his part in the overthrow of the White Witch. He is eventually crowned as High King of Narnia, and becomes known as King Peter the Magnificent.
*Susan Pevensie is the second oldest of the Pevensie children. She also does not believe in Narnia until she is actually there. She is crowned Queen Susan, and becomes known as Queen Susan the Gentle.
*Edmund Pevensie is the third of the Pevensie children. When he is in Narnia, he meets the White Witch who plies him with treats (Turkish Delight) and smooth talk. Tempted by the White Witch's promise of power and seemingly unending supplies of Turkish Delight, Edmund betrays his siblings, but eventually regrets his actions and repents. After he helps Aslan and the citizens of Narnia defeat the White Witch, he is crowned King of Narnia with his brother, and becomes known as King Edmund the Just.
*Lucy Pevensie is the youngest Pevensie child. She discovers the land of Narnia when she slips through a magical door in the back of Professor Kirke's wardrobe. When Lucy tells her siblings, they refuse to believe her, particularly Edmund, who teases her mercilessly. After the restoration of Narnia, Lucy is crowned as Queen with her sister, Susan, and becomes known as Queen Lucy the Valiant.
*Tumnus is a faun and the first person that Lucy meets in Narnia. Tumnus befriends her, despite being ordered by the White Witch to kidnap any human who enters Narnia. After getting to know Lucy, he changes his mind about handing her over to the witch. This gets him in trouble when Edmund betrays him, and he is eventually arrested and turned into stone. He is later restored by Aslan and becomes a close friend of the Pevensies.
*Queen Jadis, The White Witch is the self-proclaimed Queen of Narnia. Ruling with an iron fist, she had placed a spell on Narnia so that it is forever winter but never Christmas. She frequently kills those she believes traitors. Her magic wand can turn people and animals to stone. The White Witch's only fear is of the prophecy that tells of "two sons of Adam" and "two daughters of Eve" who will come to Narnia and ally with Aslan to overthrow her. (She is first shown in "The Magician's Nephew".)
*Aslan is a lion, and the proper ruler of Narnia. He sacrifices himself to spare Edmund, but is resurrected in time to aid the citizens of Narnia and the Pevensie children in their battle against the White Witch and her minions.
*Professor Kirke is a professor that is given custody of the Pevensies when they evacuate London. He is the only one who believes that Lucy did indeed visit Narnia and tries to convince the other Pevensie children of her veracity; he had been present at Aslan's creation of Narnia in the Magician's Nephew, though this is not mentioned in "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe".
*Mrs Macready is the housekeeper for Professor Kirke when the Pevensies come to stay.
*Mr Beaver is friends with Tumnus. He assists the Pevensies in searching for Tumnus and dethroning the White Witch.
*Mrs Beaver is Mr. Beaver's wife. She helps the Pevensies by feeding them a good meal, and she is very optimistic.
*The Dwarf is the White Witch's right hand man. Although unnamed in the book, in the film he is known as Ginnarbrick.
*Maugrim is a wolf who serves the White Witch, and hunts down and destroy the Pevensie children. He is the police commissioner of Narnia, their subordinates constitute the White Witch's police service. He is killed by Peter in the chapter "Peter's First Battle".
*Father Christmas arrives when the Witch's magical hold over Narnia begins to break. He gives Peter, Susan and Lucy gifts, which ultimately will help them defeat the White Witch (Edmund was with the White Witch at the time). Mrs Beaver is given a better sewing machine and Mr. Beaver gets his dam completed and free of leaks.
*Giant Rumblebuffin is the giant who was brought back to life by Aslan. He was also the one who broke down the Witch's gate in the novel.

Plot summary

The Second World War has just begun and four children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, are evacuated from London in 1940 to escape the Blitz. They are sent to live with Professor Digory Kirke, who lives in a country house in the English countryside with his housekeeper, Mrs Macready, as well as three servants called Ivy, Margaret, and Betty.

One rainy day shortly after the children arrive, they decide to explore the big house. Lucy, the youngest of the children, is curious about the wardrobe in an empty room, but discovers that the door to it is a portal to a snow-covered forest with a gaslight post in the centre. There she meets a faun, who introduces himself as Tumnus and invites her home for tea. He tells her that the land is called Narnia and it is ruled by the ruthless White Witch, who ensures that it is always Winter but never Christmas.

Lucy returns through the wardrobe, having spent hours in Narnia, only to find that just a few seconds have passed in England. She is unable to convince the other children about her adventure, as the wardrobe is now just a wardrobe. Edmund, the next youngest of the four siblings, is particularly spiteful towards Lucy.

.Several weeks later, having forgotten about Narnia, Lucy and Edmund hide in the wardrobe while playing hide-and-seek. He fails to catch up with Lucy, and is approached by an extremely pale lady on a sledge pulled by a white reindeer, who introduces herself as the Queen of Narnia, and provides him with some magical Turkish delight. She promises to make him a Prince and eventually King of Narnia, and persuades him to bring the other children to her house.

Lucy and Edmund meet in the woods and return together through the wardrobe. During their conversation, Lucy mentions the White Witch and Edmund realises that she is none other than the lady who has befriended him. When they arrive back in England, Edmund lies to Peter and Susan, claiming that he and Lucy were just playing and that the wardrobe is no more than an ordinary one, leaving Lucy very upset.

Shortly thereafter, all four children hide in the wardrobe to avoid Mrs McReady and find themselves in Narnia. Lucy guides them to Tumnus's cave, only to discover that Tumnus has been captured just as the White Witch had threatened and his cave ransacked by Maugrim, chief of the White Witch's secret police. The children are sheltered by a pair of talking beavers named Mr Beaver and Mrs Beaver, who recount an ancient prophecy that when two Sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve fill the four thrones at Cair Paravel, the witch's power will fail. The beavers tell of the true king of Narnia — a great lion called Aslan — who has been absent for many years, but is now "On the move again."

Edmund, still in the thrall of the witch, runs off to the White Witch's castle and the others do not notice his departure until it is too late to recall him. Realising that they have been betrayed, the others set off to find Aslan. When Edmund reaches the White Witch, she treats him harshly and, taking him with her, sets off to catch the other children.

However, her power is failing and a thaw strands her sleigh. The other children reach Aslan, and a penitent Edmund is rescued just as the witch is about to kill him.

Calling for a truce, the witch demands that Edmund be returned to her, as an ancient law gives her possession of all traitors. Aslan, acknowledging the law, offers himself in Edmund's place and the witch accepts.

Aslan is sacrificed by the witch, but comes back to life due to the "Deeper magic", which holds that when someone who has committed no treachery willingly sacrifices himself for a traitor, death is reversed, and the martyr returns to life.

During a final battle, the witch is defeated and killed by Aslan.

The children become kings and queens, and spend many years in Narnia, growing to maturity, before returning to our world, where they find themselves children again, at the moment at which they originally left.


Professor Kirke is based on W.T. Kirkpatrick, who tutored a 16-year-old Lewis. "Kirk," as he was sometimes called, taught the young Lewis much about thinking and communicating clearly, skills that would be invaluable to him later. [ CS Lewis Institute Resources] .]

Narnia is caught in endless winter when the children first enter. Norse mythology also has a "great winter", known as the Fimbulwinter that is said to precede Ragnarok. The trapping of Edmund by the White Witch is reminiscent of the seduction and imprisonment of Kay by The Snow Queen in Hans Christian Andersen's novella of that name.

The dwarves and giants are from Norse mythology. Fauns, centaurs, minotaurs, dryads, etc. are all from Greek mythology. Father Christmas, of course, was part of popular English folk lore.

The main story is an allegory of Christ's crucifixion. Aslan sacrifices himself for Edmund, a traitor who deserved death, in the same way that Christ sacrificed Himself for sinners. The cross is replaced by the Stone Table (which was used in Celtic religion), both being pagan symbols, in contrast to Christ. Additionally, the splitting of the Stone Table reflects the veil of the temple splitting at the point of Christ's death. As with the Christian Passion, it is women (Susan and Lucy) who tend Aslan's body after he dies and are the first to see him after his resurrection. The significance of the death contains elements of both the ransom theory of atonement and the satisfaction theory: Aslan suffers Edmund's penalty (satisfaction), and buys him back from the White Witch, who was entitled to him by reason of his treachery (ransom). Christ is also associated with lions.

The freeing of Aslan's body from the stone table by field mice is reminiscent of Aesop's fable of "The Lion and the Mouse." In the fable, a lion catches a mouse, but lets him go free. The mouse promises to return the favour and does so when he gnaws through the lion's bonds after he has been captured by hunters. [ Project Gutenberg] .]

The plot device of a magic wardrobe which has no back and which provides to children an entrance to worlds of magic and fantasy appeared in 1931 in Erich Kästner's (otherwise very different) children's book "The 35th of May, or Conrad's Ride to the South Seas".

Differences between the British and American editions

Prior to the publication of the first American edition of "Lion", Lewis made the following changes.

*In chapter one of the American edition, the animals that Edmund and Susan express interest in are snakes and foxes rather than the foxes and rabbits of the British edition.
*In chapter six of the American edition, the name of the White Witch's chief of police is changed to "Fenris Ulf" from "Maugrim" in the British.
*In chapter thirteen, "the roots of the World Ash Tree" takes the place of "the fire-stones of the Secret Hill".

When HarperCollins took over publication of the series in 1994, they used the British edition for all subsequent editions worldwide. [Ford, Paul (2005). "Companion to Narnia, Revised Edition". San Francisco: Harper. ISBN 0-06-079127-6.]

Further reading

*cite book |last=Downing |first=David C. |title=Into the Wardrobe: C. S. Lewis and the Narnia Chronicles |year=2005 |publisher=Jossey-Bass |location=San Francisco |isbn=0-7879-7890-6

*cite book |last=Ryken |first=Leland |coauthors=and Mead, Marjorie Lamp |title=A Reader's Guide Through the Wardrobe: Exploring C. S. Lewis's Classic Story |year=2005 |publisher=InterVarsity Press |location=London |isbn=0-8308-3289-0

External links

*isfdb title|id=1629|title=The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

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