Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Reflecting on the class I have come to see C.S.Lewis in a new light. Having read parts of Mere Christianity in a previous religion class I always considered Lewis to be more of a Religious writer then a story teller. However that is not the case, having never read the Chronicles of Narnia as a child, I as an adult have a profound respect for those writing. Lewis’ ability to captivate a reader and yet still convey a cohesive message throughout a entire sequence of stories is remarkable. This class has provided me with an entirely different view on Lewis, one I believe will lead me to enjoy his works for many years to come

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Evidence of the virtue fortitude appears in L’Engle’s, A Wrinkle in Time. Surprisingly the character who exhibits the greatest illustration of fortitude in the story is Meg, who is constantly questioning herself and rarely steadfast in any circumstance. After Mr. Murry tessers himself, Meg, and Calvin off of Camazotz; Meg is distraught over the loss of Charles Wallace to IT, as well as with her father’s decision to leave without any further attempts to save him. Calling upon Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which for advice on how to recover Charles Wallace from the dark grasp of IT, it suddenly becomes apparent to Meg that she is the only one capable of freeing her youngest brother from the clutches of evil. At first she does not believe herself to be qualified for such a significant task, but she soon comes to recognize that there is no one else more suited to save Charles from the evil then herself. “It can’t be anyone else. I don’t understand Charles, but he understands me. I’m the one who’s closest to him. Father’s been away so long, since Charles Wallace was a baby. They don’t know each other…oh, I see, I see, I understand, it has to be me. There isn’t anyone else” (L’Engle 198). Meg’s ability to accept what has to be done in order to rescue her brother is a clear example of fortitude instilled in her character. Even in knowing she must tesser back through the darkness that once almost consumed her when she came through it with her father, Meg again exemplifies fortitude in the face of fear and danger. Further evidence of this occurs when Meg returns to Camazotz to face IT and liberate her young brother. Even during her exchange with IT who has possessed Charles Wallace, Meg remains resilient in the face of danger and steadfast in her courage. By suppressing her fears and weaknesses Meg is able to defeat IT, “I love you Charles Wallace, you are my darling and my dear and the light of my life and the treasure of my heart. I love you. I love you. I love you” (208). Proclaiming her unconditional love for her youngest brother allows Charles to be let out of IT, freeing the young boy from the clutches of evil all through the power and determination of love.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Prudence

In the writings of C. S. Lewis there lies sufficient evidence of the use of the cardinal virtues in the main characters to help them in their quests to defeat the evil forces which plague their stories. One of the virtues that seem to appear with some frequency among the characters in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is prudence. “Prudence is the exercise of sound judgment in practical affairs. Classically, prudence is considered to be a virtue and is often associated with wisdom” (http://www.answers.com). There are numerous examples of both the eldest brother and sister, Peter and Susan, exercising prudence over their younger brother and sister. Peter and Susan act with extreme prudence after Lucy declares to them she has gone through the Wardrobe to a land called Narnia, where while she was in this magical land she had tea with a talking faun named Mr. Thumbus. After declaring this to Peter and Susan her claim was emphatically denied by Edmond who declared they were only pretending. This understandably shocking news from their younger sister prompts Peter and Susan to exercise their judgment and discuss this matter with the professor. The professor being a man never too quick to rush to a judgment, questions Peter and Susan in a way as to help them reach their own understanding of the situation. “For instance – if you will excuse me for asking the question – does your experience lead you to regard your brother or your sister as the more reliable? I mean which is the more truthful” (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, 131)? Peter and Susan’s response was that they had always known Lucy to be the more honest of the two, which was part of what led them to discuss the matter with the professor. After logically analyzing Lucy’s story with the Professor, Peter and Susan were not so confident in their belief that the land of Narnia and talking fauns was only a figment of their sister’s imagination. Peter and Susan’s ability to exercise sound judgment led them to bring what they thought was an imagined story to the attention of the professor who returned Peter and Susan’s confidence and trust in Lucy. Yet as the story would progress Peter, Susan, Edmond and Lucy would find themselves exercising prudence in every situation as the fate of an entire world would soon be in their hands.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

In my last post I discussed Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace’s encounter and personal struggles with IT, coming to the conclusion that IT is a representation of absolute evil. This same type of Evil can be found in C.S. Lewis’, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, in the form of the White Witch. For in Lewis’ tale, the White Witch consumes Narnia in a winter like prison of repression and hopelessness. The only way to counteract the oppression that has been blanketed over Narnia is the arrival of Peter, Susan, Edmond and Lucy. Guided by the divine wisdom of Aslan these four children were capable of defeating a prolific force of evil contained in the White Witch.

In much of the same way, L’Engle incorporates evil into A Wrinkle in Time. L’ Engle creates a world where the entire populace has lost their free will and is in no way under control of their personal destiny. In the same way Lewis brings about a cast of young children to save Narnia, L’Engle in a much similar way creates a company of young characters, entrusted with saving their lost father and at the same time keeping a hold of one another. Again in the same fashion as Lewis; L’Engle brings into the fairy-tale three divine beings, in the form of Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which, to help guide and advise Meg, Calvin, and Charles on their strenuous undertaking. A further similarity in the stories is the appearance of faith and the reliance on faith. In both tales it seems as though when faith is lost the situation becomes worse and worse. Yet however, once faith has been restored anything can become possible, in Narnia the children defeat the White Witch and in Camazotz, Meg’s faith in the advice of Mrs. Which and her love of Charles Wallace helps her to resist the power of IT.
As Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace confront IT the battle between good and evil begins. Yet, the question remains as to what IT really is. Moving ahead in the reading, I began to contemplate the significance of IT and the underlying meaning L’Engle intended for the reader to discover within the story. For me, I came to recognize IT as pure evil, possibly understood in the same connotation as the devil. IT strives to have the entire planet of Camazotz under IT’s control and will stop at nothing until he does. IT justifies his corruption of minds by claiming to take on all the pain and suffering of the world. “For why should you wish to fight someone who is only here to save you from pain and trouble? For you, as well as for all the rest of the happy people on this planet, I, in my own strength, am willing to assume all the pain, all the responsibility, all the burdens of thought and decision” (121). However, as the children have plainly seen from interaction among the people of Camazotz and are aware themselves, there is no joy in sacrificing your free will only to be controlled by IT. Surrendering ones self to IT in no way relieves you from pain and suffering, IT only seems to numb the pain to make you forget and fill you with evil, a kind of invasion of your soul. This invasion of one’s soul by IT is evident when Charles Wallace believes himself to be able to go into IT and get back out when he desires. After Charles had gone into IT he begins to show Meg and Calvin the way to Mr. Murry. On the way, the once eloquently spoken and compassionate Charles Wallace reveals the evil that has come into him and the control that IT now has over him. “We let no one suffer. It is so much kinder and simpler to annihilate anyone who is ill. Nobody has weeks and weeks of runny noses and sore throats. Rather than endure such discomforts they are simply put to sleep” (139).

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

In reading the first few chapters of Madeleine L’Engle’s, A Wrinkle in Time, Megan’s brother, Charles Wallace, struck me as a very peculiar yet interesting character. Charles first appears in the story the night of the hurricane. I thought it to be quite a strange remark when Megan was cowering from the storm in her room expecting Charles to come in at any moment. “Even Charles Wallace, the ‘dumb baby brother,’ who had an uncanny way of knowing when she was awake and unhappy, and who would come, so many nights, tiptoeing up the attic stairs to her…”(5). Instantly as I read this it became apparent that, this judgment of Charles Wallace as the “moron” of the family was quite wrong, it also became evident he would play a crucial role in the beginning action and possibly the entire story line of the tale. This assumption led to be true as the story continued. The scene in which Meg, Mrs. Murry, and Charles are awakened by the storm and collected in the kitchen, gives the reader tremendous insight into the true character of Charles. He comes off as a very bright boy for his age, not to mention the care, consideration, and politeness he gives to his mother as well as his sister. What was unexpected, and consequently the beginning of the action, was the entrance of Mrs. Whatsit. Charles reaction to the arrival of his new friend was somewhat surprising, in light of the fact that he had not told his mother of their initial meeting. As the story progresses the reader is alluded to the strange power that Charles seems to be endowed with. In the action that has taken place thus far Charles has seemed astonishingly sure of himself and though he is the youngest he seems to be somewhat of a caretaker of his older sister Meg.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Nearing the end of Prince Caspian’s tale Lewis uses a number of mythological figures to accompany his traditional Christian figure Aslan. Now because the Chronicles of Narnia were intended by Lewis to be read among a young audience, his inclusion of various mythological creatures from various cultures is his way of attempting to arouse interest in classic literature, which would be much of what he read as a student. Many of these stories like the tales included in Narnia, incorporate a hero/heroes who accomplish their initial task, while there story implies a more meaningful lesson or moral to the reader.
In Prince Caspian’s tale Lewis introduces Bacchus and Silenus. Two mythological figures who accompany Aslan and the two Queens as well as the tree people to celebrate the return of Aslan. The appearance of Bacchus and Silenus on the seen initiates a sense of merriment and rejoicing as they did as well, in ancient mythology; Bacchus is followed a number of wild dancing girls. There emergence on the scene also brings about the release, with their aide, of another mythological figure, the God of the River. While Aslan is running over the country side frightening the Telmarines the group came to the Bridge of Beruna. There a “great wet, bearded head, larger than a man’s,” came out of the river and asked to be released of his chains. AS soon as Aslan gave the order “Bacchus and his people splashed forward into the shallow water…Great strong trunks of ivy came curling up…” and the bridge was demolished freeing the river God

Sunday, April 16, 2006

In reading the tale of Prince Caspian it came as some of a surprise to find little to no references to Christian mythology early on. However, as the book progressed and the four children find themselves struggling to join with King Caspian, Lucy finds herself obligated to inform her brother’s, sister, and Mr. Trumpkin of the coming of Aslan. After, “Lucy awoke out of the deepest sleep you can imagine” (378), she began to hear her name being called from the distance. Upon investigating the direction of the sound Lucy came across a group of dancing trees forming a ring around Aslan. Following Lucy and Aslan’s reunion, he informers her of his intentions. “Go back to the others now, and wake them up; and tell them that you have seen me again; and that you must all get up at once and follow me – what will happen? There is only one way of finding out” (381).

This responsibility given to Lucy by Aslan in many ways can be compared to the figure Jesus Christ. In the same way Lucy becomes aware she should have followed Aslan on her own when she had seen him earlier, she must again test her families faith in her honesty. Yet as early Christians were endowed with the holy spirit so, “She could feel lion-strength going into her” (381), and filled with this “spirit” Lucy returns to the others and after much convincing, finally gets them to agree to follow her to Aslan.