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Narnia’s Appeal to Children & Adults

The pairing of reality mixed with the correct amount of realism is what holds the appeal of Narnia to a wide ranging audience that includes children, adults, and many cultures. The time period that C. S. Lewis placed the plot in also develops the need for escape in the book (as well as the movie). The progression of plot in its realist and fantastical terms allow for the suspension of disbelief to be held while reading these novels. In this paper, the exploration of what specifically keeps the reader’s attention.

The second part of this essay will dedicate attention to the logic that the professor exhibits to children and by extension adults. The world of myths has long held the attention of humankind. The Greeks and Romans knew the appeal of fantastical creatures and times; this appeal is no differently found in C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. The element of realism that contributes to the validity of Narnia (which keep adults reading) is found in the time period in which the story takes place. This is World War II England. Thus, the need for the children to find an escape becomes necessary for their existence.

While on their own adventures, the death of father and the turmoil of their country become lost ideas while the children are immersed in the real troubles of Narnia. The willingness of the creatures of Narnia to accept how important the siblings’ roles are in the outcome of the war is what holds the characters’ interest in this land (Johnson et al. 77). By extension, the reader too follows the kids into their fate, without hesitation. For, in comparing the fantastical to the real, who wouldn’t want to be the hero in a war?

It is this appeal of heroism that crosses age, and culture when reading C. S. Lewis’ masterpiece. It is that old faucet of being chivalrous when all around are signs pointing otherwise. The children all get to be the heroes of their life story; just like their father. It takes little Lucy to be the first hero, her faith in her belief that Narnia exists is what leads all of the children on their journey and it is her faith that begets their heroism; “All three of my sons, along with millions of other children, have repeatedly devoured C.

S. Lewis’s Narnia books, which evoke the chivalrous ideal from first to last. (Byfield 2). In order for Lucy, Peter, Susan and Edmond to make sense of the tragedy of World War II and their evacuation from London, they must escape into Narnia. It is in this faraway land that their heroism leanings are found. They are first identified as Sons of Adam, Daughters of Eve, and their presence will re-awaken Aslan into his proper ruling authority that has since been taken by the White Witch. It is C. S.

Lewis inclusion of heroism that gives the reader’s suspension of disbelief a plausible place in their interpretation of the events which surround the Pevensie children, “Lewis perhaps understood this subject better than any popular modern writer. In “The Necessity of Chivalry,” a newspaper column he wrote in the darkest days of the Battle of Britain, he said that he was under no illusion that the middle ages had lived up to their own ideal; but they tried to, and when the ideal vanishes, the world reverts to the dark ages out of which chivalry arose” (Byfield 2).

Since Narnia is visiting England’s dark age, it takes these children, innocent in many ways, in order to restore Narnia’s former grandeur. In this way, the children learn about sacrifice (as Aslan teaches it to Lucy upon his death and rebirth, and as Edmund learns about what sacrifice is in not taking his promised life with White Witch). Indeed in becoming heroes of Narnia, the children grow up – quite literally.

It is in this sense of them growing, and learning that adults will recommend this novel to their children in hopes that such a message will be appropriately passed on as the children reveal Lewis’ embedded values in his so beloved characters. In many respects it is this appeal of heroism that the professor Digory Kirke portends to. It seems almost as if the professor is a caricature of Lewis, in that the professor believes the children when they tell him of Narnia and that he has been there himself. The faith in this belief which the professor tells his tale is what allows for others to believe in it as well.

His scholarly appeal and his conviction of the facts give way to further suspension of disbelief. It seems too that the professor fulfills the role of father to the children as their own father is gone. He believes them beyond doubt, as a father does. In this respect, Lewis has further given reality and mysticism broad expanse in the personal value set of these human characters, as Koterski writes, “…in addition to his many stories, and The Chronicles of Narnia are tales that not only entertain but inquire and instruct.

Hence, it no surprise that they offer a rich field both for finding philosophical discussions within the pages of a fantasy adventure and for finding in such well told tales situations that allow for genuine philosophical creativity. ” (Koterski 390). It is the humanity of the tale matched with the inhuman practice of war and the incorporation of children in that war that appeals to all audiences. It is the professor’s own faith in the children being heroes of Narnia just as he was, that gives the story an added edge of believability.

References Byfield, Link (1995). Behind the Symbolism of Chivalry Sleeps an Old and Puissant Idea. Alberta Report. Vol. 22 no. 34. Pp. 2-4. Johnson, William (1986). Platonic Shadows in C. S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles. Modern Fiction Studies. V. 32. Pp. 75-87. Koterski, Joseph. (2006). The Chronicles of Narnia and Philosophy. International Philosophical Quarterly. Vol. 46. No. 3. Pp. 390-392. Lewis, C. S. (2001). The Chronicles of Narnia. HarperCollins. New York.

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