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Are the Chronicles of Narnia a Christian allegory?

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Are the Chronicles of Narnia a Christian allegory?

Postby Peeta Mellark » 01 Jun 2010, 06:52

Hello, I'm working on a research project for the shool, and I found this wonderful page. I've been searching but I have'nt found anything. I've heard that Narnia is a Christian allegory (for example, Aslan is like God), but I wanted to know more about this.
If you could help me, I would appreciate it. :smile:

PD: sorry for my bad English, I'm Spanish... :confused:
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Re: Are the Chronicles of Narnia a Christian allegory?

Postby Matthew Whaley » 01 Jun 2010, 21:40

Welcome, Peeta! Narnia is not a Christian Allegory, but a place that was created by Aslan who in my opinion is Jesus Christ in the form of a lion.
There is no substitute for reading the books begining with The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. In them you will find the best and most rewarding answers to your questions! :smile:
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They have to take you in." -Robert Frost
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Re: Are the Chronicles of Narnia a Christian allegory?

Postby Sheroo of Stormness Head » 02 Jun 2010, 13:38

Hi Peeta! That's a great question. I am of the opinion that the books are not an allegory. While they have pictures/illustrations that represent, or picture different things, they are not allegories. If you want to read an allegory, read John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress in which almost everything pictures something in the Christian journey to Heaven. In Narnia, there are extremely valuable nuggets of truth in the characters and circumstances (the famous and most obvious example is Aslan dying on the Stone Table for Edmund...Is like Christ dying on the cross for us.) I do have a quote from C.S. Lewis himself, "If Aslan represented the immaterial Deity in the same way in which Giant Despair represents Despair, he would be an allegorical figure. In reality however he is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question, 'What might Christ become like, if there really were a world like Narnia and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?' This is not an allegory at all." One thing I think that is important to note is that while the death and resurrection of Aslan is the most famous example, there are so many other examples, not only confined to Aslan's "incarnation" but also includes many doctrinal statements about God. For example, in The Silver Chair, Aslan and Jill have the following conversation, "'I daren't come and drink,' said Jill. 'Then you will die of thirst,' said the Lion. 'Oh dear!' said Jill, coming another step nearer. 'I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.' 'There is no other stream.' said the Lion." In this excerpt we see Lewis making the point that there is only one way to Life. "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me, " Jesus says in the Gospel of John.

Another thing about the Narnia stories is that there are pictures of other points in the Christian life, not only related to Aslan. In Voyage of the Dawn Treader, They travel to Aslan's country, and this could be viewed as the journey from this life to heaven. HOWEVER, unlike Bunyan's allegory, where everything represents something in the life of the Christian, the VDT does not. For example, when the voyagers stop on Death Water Island, I am positive that C.S. Lewis is not trying to say that Death Water Island represents a certain point in a Christian's life. However, it does teach a principle. When Caspian and Edmund start arguing over who owns the Island, they are blinded by greed. But, as soon as they see Aslan across the lake, they forget entirely about the gold and why they were arguing at all. This is like when the Christian has his eyes on Christ, all worldly desires fade away.

So, to recap. (Sorry if this has been confusing) No, Narnia is not an allegory, but it does have points in the book that have a deeper Biblical meaning than other parts of the books. Some are references to Christ and His incarnation, others about Christ's nature, and others about how Christians (and non-Christians) relate to Christ.

If you have any questions, I'll try to explain myself further. I love this topic. :-)
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Re: Are the Chronicles of Narnia a Christian allegory?

Postby Dan65802 » 02 Jun 2010, 14:17

Lewis said that the Chronicles were not an allegory, but rather a "supposal". He began with the supposal of another world and then supposed, what if Christ came to that world, but this time in the form of a lion. Aslan does more than represent Christ throughout the series, he IS a personified (felinified?) Christ throughout the series. A strict allegory has a one-for-one relationship between characters and events in the story to real characters and events. Although parts of the Chronicles do come very close to allegory, it is designed to be more of a "what if" story.

Lewis's friend Tolkien, of course, thought the distinction between allegory and "supposal" was hogwash and wasn't very fond of the Chronicles either.

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Re: Are the Chronicles of Narnia a Christian allegory?

Postby Peeta Mellark » 03 Jun 2010, 06:53

Thanks a lot for your answers!! You've been very quick and helpful! :toothy-grin:

I love this forum!!

Peeta :wink:

[edited]
Last edited by Peeta Mellark on 09 Jun 2010, 08:16, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Are the Chronicles of Narnia a Christian allegory?

Postby john » 03 Jun 2010, 13:10

Peeta,

Your last post really should be it's own topic (in the C. S. Lewis forum, rather than the Chronicles of Narnia forum), as it's off-topic from your original question. Before you repost it, however, I suggest you simply read the C. S. Lewis and Inklings entries at wikipedia.com to get you started.
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Re: Are the Chronicles of Narnia a Christian allegory?

Postby paminala » 03 Jun 2010, 15:13

Peeta Mellark wrote:Thanks a lot for your answers!! You've been very quick and helpful! :toothy-grin:

We (me and my group partners) need your help. I would like to know more interesting and curious things about the Chronicles and Lewis too. He was Tolkien's friend, right? I saw they belonged to a group, the "Inklings". Did they do somethig special? :undecided:

I'll wait for your long and helpful answers! (my English score depends on that! T.T)

Thanks again! :grin:
Peeta


Although it may be very tempting, I sincerely hope you are not taking advantage of the above responses as an alternative to doing your own reading and research. A good score is not nearly as important a thing to come out of a class with as a good understanding of thing you were studying and while other peoples' answers can get you a grade they can't give you knowledge.
All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.
~ Galileo Galilei
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Re: Are the Chronicles of Narnia a Christian allegory?

Postby Peeta Mellark » 09 Jun 2010, 08:15

ok sorry I'm erasing my post!
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Re: Are the Chronicles of Narnia a Christian allegory?

Postby Larry W. » 09 Jun 2010, 10:56

I guess the Chronicles are kind of a hypothetical world, something that could have been but was created for our own benefit. Narnia is actually something that doesn't make a lot of references our world except for the Christian principles, of course. Have any of you ever read Peter Schakel's book Reading with the Heart: The Way into Narnia? That book says much about how the stories should be read as a something like a separate created world (at least I think that's what he meant). Incidentally, Dr. Schakel was my English professor when I was a student at Hope College many years ago. The point is that there are references to literature, but the books are not allegories like Pilgrim's Progress. There aren't real parallels to the Bible and literature, although there are references, e.g. Christ dying on the cross, the idea of God sacrificing himself for his people in mythology. It was a long time since I read Dr. Schakel's book, but I think that fairly represents his ideas. :smile:

In fact, the complete text is online if you don't own the book:

http://hope.edu/academic/english/schakel/readingwiththeheart/

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Re: Are the Chronicles of Narnia a Christian allegory?

Postby Peeta Mellark » 11 Jun 2010, 10:30

great thanks!!!!! Really, this web page has saved my life. It is very interesting. So, my conclusion should be:
In the Chronicles of Narnia are some references to the bible, but they're not an allegory at all beacuse it is not a parallel story, and there isn't a character for every person in the bible. Am I right? :undecided:

P.D.: Can I quote your answers? :toothy-grin: It would be very helpful.
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Re: Are the Chronicles of Narnia a Christian allegory?

Postby Larry W. » 11 Jun 2010, 11:00

You are very welcome, Peeta. The Chronicles are independent works of literature, as you said, which was also what Dr. Schakel was saying in his book. I don't think parallels are actually necessary in works of great literature since they should be able to stand on their own, although references can enhance their quality. I wish everyone could have taken a course with Dr. Schakel as I did so many years ago. He is a great C. S. Lewis scholar and his books are well written. It would probably be better to quote him than me since the ideas were his. :smile:

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Re: Are the Chronicles of Narnia a Christian allegory?

Postby Nerd42 » 22 Jun 2010, 17:24

The simple answer is yes, the Chronicles of Narnia are a Christian allegory as most people understand the term "allegory."

The more complicated answer is no, the author said it was not a Christian allegory, not because it wasn't representative of the Christian story, but because of some technical detail about the precise meaning of the word "allegory" that most of us who aren't Oxford dons don't give a crap about.
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Re: Are the Chronicles of Narnia a Christian allegory?

Postby Dan65802 » 22 Jun 2010, 18:22

Although it wouldn't be a bad thing if more people knew what a true allegory was in literature.

- Dan -
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Re: Are the Chronicles of Narnia a Christian allegory?

Postby carol » 24 Jun 2010, 08:51

Peeta, no, the Chronicles are not allegory.

At the time he was writing these books, Lewis was a senior lecturer in English literature, and he definitely knew what allegory is and isn't. There is a great deal of material that is representative of, or reminds us of, Christian life experience and events/characters in the Bible. But that does not make them allegory.

Allegory is a strict type of literature, in which people or places represent ideas or values. Best known example is Pilgrim's Progress. (Lewis himself wrote a sort of personal version of this called "Pilgrim's Regress" in which everyone and everything represented ideas and philosophies. Totally different from Narnia)
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Re: Are the Chronicles of Narnia a Christian allegory?

Postby Larry W. » 24 Jun 2010, 10:38

I remember my literature professors in college said that mythology is not actually literature, but it is the material from which the stories are made. There are elements of mythology in them, but they are finished stories. It is in references and how Lewis created the characters (fauns, centaurs, talking beasts, etc.). The relationship to real life is not like an allegory because the characters, while based in mythology and folklore, have their own individual personalities. You don't have Christian representing all Christians or characters standing for certain virtues and vices, but instead you have people and talking animals living as unique creatures in Narnia, a world which was created in fantasy but is much like reality. :smile:

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