Rhylee Suyom has hopped in three different worlds: the academe, the corporate, and the media. He enjoys being with nature and his family.
Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
Biblical Parallelisms in “Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe”
There is no greater joy in knowing that good will always prevail, especially when the odds against the hero may seem highly improbable. When people usually begin spending time reading or enjoying movie viewing and analysis, they often seek the triumph of the good at the end of each story. Many of the comedies in literature profoundly affect the lives of their readers, often mirrored in their way of life and personal relationships. This is evident among highly religious people who follow the simple doctrine of ‘loving their neighbor as they love themselves.’ Even those who profess not to follow religious teachings yet are rather philosophical even embrace a similar principle or tenet, such as the Golden Rule of ‘not doing unto others what you do not want others to do unto you.’ These are highly universal themes and are often found in various forms and genres of literature. As this ideology, doctrine, principle, or teaching is universal, it can also be found in modern popular media such as songs, plays, and films. For this purpose, this paper is prepared to show that The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe has many parallelisms with the Holy Bible and may also possess many similarities with other relevant literature significant in philosophical leanings.
The Novel Up Close
The novel, which later turned into a film, was written by C.S. Lewis. What makes the novel/film important and highly marketable because it has many images or symbols parallel to the Holy Bible. This makes the novel and the movie remarkable pieces of literature and marketing. If the novel turned movie merely hopped on the popularity bandwagon of the Holy Bible, that remains to be seen and understood. Yet, this paper will attempt to show some elements strategically utilized to lure in readers and viewers for whatever purpose(s) the author saw fit. It is then necessary to begin analyzing the similarities between the said novel/movie and the Holy Writ.
The Analysis Begins
The central figure in the Holy Bible is none other than the beloved Son of Heavenly Father ----- Jesus Christ. The lion king of Narnia is the exact image of Jesus Christ in the novel/movie. There are numerous ways to see the similarities between the two characters, although they are often concealed as imageries or symbolisms.
The Crowning Event: The Atonement
First, the crowning event in the New Testament of the Holy Bible can be traced to one event ----- the Atonement. From the Old Testament prophets, there had been clear prophesying about what was to come, and the most emphasized event was the chance for Jesus to redeem the world from all its sins through his crucifixion on Golgotha. The central theme in Aslan’s effort, ministry, and dominion are highlighted when he willingly sacrifices himself to the Ice Queen in exchange for the lives of his friends. Ascribed in the book of Apostle John in the 13th verse of the 15th chapter: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13),” this is already a summary of what the entire C.S. Lewis works are! Take note that the parallelism and symbolisms are a very accurate and perfect fit: Jesus laid down his life for his ‘friends,’ and the same goes for Aslan. All that needs to be done is merely to replace the names, and the situation becomes evident.
A Sinless Sacrifice for Ransom
Second, the sinless persona of the characters is hard to miss. While there is no known record or hint about Aslan ever committing sin, the Bible is sure that He walked without guile or sin. This is the criteria for the Atonement in both pieces: The Atonement can only be performed by one free of sin, and both characters fit the requirement(s). Therefore, Aslan, the Lion king of Narnia, is the imagery of Jesus Christ. The entire story revolves around the most extraordinary crowing event in the Bible, the Atonement. These two powerful parallelisms not only act as top-selling factors for devout Christian readers who have an inkling of fictional novels but also for people who appreciate philosophy more than religion (Wilson, 1990). In a sense, the story, which owes its backdrop to the Bible, is shooting many birds with one stone. Whether this is a marketing strategy from the author or a mere bridge between philosophy and the religious novel is not a point of argument. The fact is that it is pretty successful in its methodology.
The story about Aslan’s willing sacrifice, like the Son of God’s surrender as meek as a lamb to the slayer, parallels the Atonement. When Aslan died, the heavens wept, and the sky was rent like the event of the Master on Golgotha. Aslan was sinless, and so was Jesus. Both paid for a ransom that they did not do or deserve. Both also rose or were resurrected (Brennan, 2008). Following his resurrection, Aslan fought against the White Witch and won; he commissioned Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter to protect Narnia. In Jesus’ case, following his resurrection, he commissioned his apostles as the official shepherds of the Jews and the Gentiles (Matthew 27). Both characters possess the ability to forgive. Aslan forgave Edmund’s sin, and Jesus is the Christ who paid for the sins of all mankind. This shows that both have redemptive power and mastery over death.
The Element of Betrayal
Before their sacrifices, there is a relatively high degree of similarity between Aslan’s death on the stone table and the crucifixion of Jesus. Hours before his capture from Judas Iscariot's betrayal, Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. He requested the company of his chief apostles Peter, James, and John, who fell asleep twice as the Master bled from every pore in His humble prayer for supplication. Before his death on the stone table, Aslan walked on a hill; Susan and Lucy followed him, who also fell asleep. The lines “glad of company tonight” and “sad and lonely” of Aslan (149 – 150) are directly like Jesus’ “his soul was overwhelmed with sorrow” (Matthew 26:36 – 38). The cruel treatment of both characters also portrays a striking parallelism.
During the ordeal of his crucifixion, Jesus Christ was whipped till he bled, stripped naked, and crowned with thorns that pierced his head (Matthew 27: 28 – 29). On page 153 of the book, Aslan is muzzled and shaved while those who hate him tug and pull with the cords that bind him until they cut through his flesh. Their death came in a similar fashion: Aslan was finally stabbed to death by the White Witch while Jesus Christ was from a Roman soldier’s thrust from a spear. In an identical scene, the witches’ followers “jeered” at Aslan during the ordeal while the Jews and Romans spitted on Jesus amid the blows and strikes (Ford, 1952). After the death of our god heroes in their respective stories, other characters come to life bearing striking resemblances.
The Resurrection of Heroes
As Aslan’s lifeless body lay on the stone table, the field mice nibbled the cords and tended to him. Susan and Lucy helped in the clearing and decided to seek help, only to find the stone table empty upon their return. Later, Aslan appeared unto them in his perfect form and immortal state. His family and followers took Jesus Christ’s lifeless body (Lewis, 146). They tended to his lifeless body and placed him in a tomb. Jesus’ mother and Mary Magdalene left to get the herbs and spices they had prepared following the crucifixion. Upon their return to the tomb, they saw it empty, and Jesus appeared unto them in his perfect and immortal state (Luke 24). These two separate scenes are almost exactly alike. Even the event where both characters showed themselves to their friends and gave them hope is the same. Their resurrection was also witnessed by not just a single character in each story but by two or more important ones (Lewis, 159). This resurrection of both Aslan and Jesus Christ can be considered the turning point in each story. The story would have been altered if each failed to do so. The crowning event in all Christendom resides in the Atonement and resurrection of Christ. Without it, Christianity would be lost in its essence. If Aslan had failed to resurrect and win over the White Witch, all of Narnia would have been lost. So, the crowning glory of both stories relies heavily on the atonement and resurrection of their designated heroes.
The Anti-Heroes Roles and Purpose
If both heroes in each story emerge triumphantly in the end, the key villains also play similar roles. The White Witch possesses the cunning of the Devil himself. Even the Turkish Delight served Edmund to entice them to speak of critical details to catch and imprison the humans bears similarity with the forbidden fruit in the Bible (Brennan,2008). Notice that when Adam and Eve partook in the forbidden fruit, all humanity “fell.” When Edmund partook of the dessert, all of Narnia “fell” (Bassham, 2005). The enticement, flattery, and promises of the White Witch are no better than the cunning ways of the Devil so that they will fall and be enslaved. Perhaps, there is nothing more straightforward than the in-your-face fact that both stories convey a similar plot of the battle between good and evil. Aslan and Jesus represent good, and wrong is represented by the White Witch and the Devil (Downing, 2005).
As one immerses more in both stories, he will see more similarities. When literature lovers and movie fanatics cry over the death of Jesus and/or Aslan, it only shows that the passion of both main characters lives on in the hearts of followers (Manlove, 1993). It is still fascinating to note that people have come to enjoy both pieces of literature, even if their target readers and audience differ from the authors’ perspectives. In any case, both have come to help readers appreciate life and its beauty by focusing more on goodness and doing away with hate and malice.
Bassham, Gregory, and Jerry L. Wallis. (2005). The Chronicles of Narnia And Philosophy. Peru, Illinois: Carus Publishing Company, pp. 230 – 246. Print.
Brennan, Matt. (2008). "The Lion, the Witch, and the Allegory: An Analysis of Selected Narnia Chronicles." Into the Wardrobe: A C.S. Lewis Website. Pp. 69 – 93.
Downing, David C. (2005). Into the Wardrobe: C.S. Lewis And the Narnia Chronicles. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Pp. 61 – 80. Print.
Ford, Paul F. (1952). Companion to Narnia. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers. Print.
Lewis, C.S. (1978). The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. New York, NY: HarperCollins. Pp. 1 – 19. Print.
Manlove, Colin. (1993). The Chronicles of Narnia: Patterning of a Fantastic World. New York: Twayne Publishers. Pp. 28 – 42.
The Holy Bible. (1984). New International Version. China: International Bible Society, Print.
Wilson, A.N. (1990). C.S. Lewis: A Biography. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company. Pp. 2 – 17. Print.
Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
Professor S (author) from Angeles City, Pampanga, PHILIPPINES on May 22, 2019:
Great! Thanks for this John. Hope to learn more from you and from others as well.
John Welford from Barlestone, Leicestershire on May 22, 2019:
It was quite clearly Lewis's intention to tell the Bible story through his series of books - which include the missionary journeys of Paul in "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" and the Last Judgment in "The Last Battle". However, he also knew that he had to write a darned good story that did not come across as "preaching", and not everything in the stories can be related to a Biblical incident.