Title: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S Lewis
Genre: Children’s Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars
In this children’s classic, Lucy finds that an old wardrobe in a professor’s country house is a gateway to a magical land of fauns, centaurs, nymphs and talking animals – but also of the beautiful but evil White Witch who has held the land of Narnia in eternal winter for a hundred years.
Growing up I was never one of the children inside with a book, I read at school but in my free time I would be outside in the woods behind my house on the rope swing, riding my bike or falling somewhere (I’m terribly clumsy). This is one of the reasons why I love my Children’s Literature unit at university so much because I am able to experience the texts I never read as a child and this week it was The Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
One of my favourite things about the unit is establishing the hidden ‘adult’ themes within the books pages, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is a brilliant example of this because other than it’s fantasy plot we see war, stereotypical gender roles and religion. It is safe to say there is A LOT going on in it’s 202 pages.
Firstly I want to draw on that note that the book is 202 pages, it goes by so fast and it’s hard to believe that’s all it is. So much happens within and it’s amazing to see how much description and plot can be packed into a relatively short book.
If you are a fan of Fantasy than Narnia is a wonderful place to escape to, I mean who wouldn’t love talking animals. At 22 I loved the story and I think it will forever be a classic children’s story. However I also got very frustrated at the character of Edmund and his decisions and self-righteousness. It’s through Edmund’s character that we see one of the big themes of this book Right VS Wrong, it seemed to me that this book very much was linked to teaching children of it’s era the right way to act.
If you are also interested in the themes hidden within this book’s pages then you will notice the Stereotypical gender roles from the beginning. One example of the gender roles is when Lucy and Susan are told that they cannot fight in the war and if they did how terrible it would be. It’s great to compare this to newly released fantasy novels to see how far female characters have come; now we no longer are on the edge – the damsel in distress figure but we are on the front line too. It’s rather frustrating to see the little roles the girls are given, whilst the White Witch is of course a female she is also defeated and unsuccessful and of course the hero is Aslan the male lion. – The king of the jungle.
Similarly to the gender roles you will also see religion playing a big role in the book and C.S Lewis featured Religion in much of his work, The White Witch is sort of the tempting snake which made Eve take an apple from the Tree of Knowledge. Aslan himself is also a Jesus like figure. I don’t want to be too specific with my examples because of spoilers but if you are interested in finding the hidden themes within children’s literature then I would 100% recommend checking this out and you will pick up on these themes as soon as you start reading.
I would give The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe 4 stars, it is a great short book which I think any child or any adult would love to read. The pace is steady and the writing style is easy to engage with therefore you find yourself lost within the adventure immediately. It was also really interesting to study, the hidden bigger themes are remarkable and you wonder if a child is ever influenced by the book to conform to the characters or the teachings within it.
Have you read any of The Chronicles of Narnia books? Be sure to let me know in the comments below whether you have read it as a child or recently and if you ever picked up the bigger hidden themes!