Chronicles of Narnia

I love this series, and have read it over once. I am not rereading it several years later. I have noticed on thing that becomes more and more apparent as you progress. Aslan seems to be a god-like figure. The way he acts points to a specific one–Jesus. He created Naria, is the son of the Emperor over the Sea. He is beautiful and wonderful, and wathces over everything. He calls himself the “Great Bridge-Builder”, and also is able to ressurect people who then (assumably) live with him forever.

Did CS Lewis intend him to seem so… Christian?

Oops, what I meant was “I am now rereading it” :slight_smile:

Yes. From what I understand, the books are in some relation to various NT stories. For example, Aslan is Christ and Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are apostles. The White Queen is either Herod or the Devil, from what I remember.

Would that make Eustace, Jill, Polly and Digory all ‘saints’? People who God (Christ/Aslan) worked through? Or would they be apostles too?


The Christian allegory is plainly there. In fact, Tolkien hated the Narnian Chronicles because they were allegory and not myth.

I do not think it is allegorical to NT stories as much as Christian Themes:

TLTWATW: Christ the Redeemer
THAHB: Christ the hidden actor (fate)
TMN: Christ the creator
TLB: Christ is Coming Back

I am not sure at this time of the themes of “Prince Caspian” and “Voyage of the Dawn Treader”.

Well, since C.S. Lewis was an actively Christian essayist, it’s not surprising that his books are very allegorically Christian, is it?

But they are good books, just the same.

paul f. ford’s companion to narnia is good book if you want more in-depth explanations of the christian symbolism in the chronicles of narnia. c.s. lewis was a christian, and it was often a topic of his essays. i prefer bertrand russell, but then, he didn’t write amazing children’s books.


C.S. Lewis also wrote The Screwtape Letters, which promote a very strongly Christian viewpoint (in a relatively entertaining way). It is not surprising that the Narnia books also use these themes.

AFAIK, Lewis or Tolkien would not say that the Narnia Chronicles was an allegory because they used a precise definition of the word. An allegory is a story written systematically so that every element of the story represents something in particular, like Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress or Lewis’s own The Pilgrim’s Regress. Lewis did not set out to make Narnia an allegory. His tale obviously does include many parallels to Christianity that could be called allegorical. In a similar vein, Tolkien denied that Lord of the Rings was an allegory, and that the Ring represented the A-bomb.

Tolkien did dislike Narnia, but not because he considered it an allegory. His major objection was that Lewis had just jumbled together many unrelated mythological elements, e.g., Father Christmas co-existing with fauns and nymphs. In other words, Narnia was not a unified vision like LotR.

zgystrdst is right that the Narnia books are not meant to be allegorical. I do recall, however, reading something in which Lewis, or someone analyzing his work, stated that Aslan is not meant to represent or parallel Christ; Aslan is Christ. Which is to say that in the world in which Lucy, Peter, et al. live , God sent the Messiah in human form; wheras in the world of Narnia, he sent Him as a lion.

Frequently, in discussing The Chronicles of Narnia, it is noted that there are a lot of parallels between the events of the books and various Christian themes although the series can’t be called an allegory in the usual sense. In an allegory, as has been pointed out, there must be parallels for every major character and plot point in the fiction to some theme that is being illustrated by the fiction. Some people have therefore introduced the idea of a loose allegory. They say that a book like The Pilgrim’s Progress is a strict allegory, while the Chronicles of Narnia is a loose allegory, since there are limited parallels between the story and certain Christian themes even though the parallelism isn’t carried out throughout the books. I’m not so sure that the notion of “loose allegory” is that useful. Why not just say that there is some symbolism in the book?

As has also been pointed out, Aslan can’t be called an allegory of Christ. It’s possible to write a novel in which the main character sacrifices himself to protect another character and has other similarities to Christ, and this would perhaps make the character a Christ-figure. This would still probably only be a loose allegory, but then hardly anybody writes strict allegories these days. (I was trying to come up with a well-known example of a Christ-figure in fiction. The only one I could think of offhand is Valentine Michael Smith in Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. Smith dies at the end so his religion might flourish. This is a pretty loose analogy though, and I won’t try to figure out if that’s what Heinlein meant.)

As has also been pointed out, Aslan isn’t meant to allegorically represent Christ. He is Christ. Lewis’s supposition in these books was that there are many worlds, and Christ has to be born and be sacrificed in each of them. In our world he came as Jesus, and in Narnia he came as Aslan.

I’m more intrigued by something else in your OP. Do you mean that you read the Chronicles of Narnia without being told beforehand that there are Christian parallelisms in the book? Did you really not notice the parallelisms until the second reading? This is (I think) a rather unusual reaction to the series. A lot of people are told before they read the book that it is explicitly Christian, and they pick up on the symbolism quickly. A lot of people aren’t told beforehand, but they know enough about Christianity to quickly pick up on the parallelisms. (A lot of both sorts don’t like the books specifically because they don’t like Christian symbolism.) Some people simply don’t know very much about Christianity, so they never pick up on the parallels.

Your reaction, only picking up on the Christian symbols on second reading, is (I think) not very typical. In some sense, that’s what Lewis wanted to happen though. He wanted the Christian points of the stories to only slowly sneak up on you. You may be one of the few people reading the books in the way that Lewis wanted.

Hey! I was only 8 or 9 when I read them first, and I didn’t really go to church until about then. I’m also a lot smarter now… I was actually never told, I don’t know why.

By the way, this is somewhat of a current topic now because the Chick Fil-A restaurant chain has condensed the book The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe into four short booklets, and you get one free with each kid’s meal. Of course, Chick Fil-A is a christian establishment, made most evident because they’re closed on Sundays.

We picked up one of the four when we ate there recently, and a lady at work has given me two of the others, for my four-year-old son. I’m an athiest, so I don’t know whether I’ll be pointing out the allegory.

In the back of the booklets is the recipe for Turkish Delight. We made some last night, and at it tonight after supper. I have to say I can’t see why Edmund was so enchanted. Only an English palate could think that it’s good enough to sell out your siblings for.

Speaker for the Dead writes:

> Hey! I was only 8 or 9 when I read them first, and I
> didn’t really go to church until about then.

O.K., this answers my question. I didn’t realize that you meant that you read it the first time when you were fairly young. Incidentally, I think it’s better not to tell a child, “These books are Christian allegories. You should appreciate the meaning of them.” This is wrong because a) You shouldn’t tell a child that a book you’re giving them is An Important Book. That’s a good way to discourage them from reading it. and b) If you have to have the meaning of a book explained before you can appreciate it, it must not be very good just as fiction.

Here’s a review of the Narnia books vs. L. Frank Baum’s Oz. Here’s a quote:

That Salon review is a weird mess, a mixture of interesting observations and comments that make it clear the author has no idea what she’s talking about.

Hmm. I doubt that Lewis “set himself a task” to reconcile all those maybe-not-so-disparate elements in one story. Rather, in Shakespeare’s words, “those elements were so mixed in him” that they came out in the story, as, I suspect,(in Tokien’s words)“the tale grew in the telling”.

I recall reading that Lewis thought all myths had Christian elements in them and when he set to write his own myths he naturally incorporated his Christianity in them.
Tolkien’s criticism of them was that it was not a complete, stand alone myth. He would not have objected to their Christian elements as he was one of the reasons Lewis became a Christian.

Another important point is that the CON are stongly Platonic. The Shadowlands are the very embodiment of Plato’s beliefs towards form and reality. I think some of the characters even mention Plato from time to time.