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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Ethics and SuccessThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Ethics and Success


The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)


Written by the Northern Irish Oxford theologian, Clive Staples (known as C. S.)  Lewis (1898-63), pictured right.

 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Ethics and Success

The first in a series of seven novels called The Chronicles of Narnia, a big influence on Harry Potter’s writer, J. K. Rowling (pictured right) .


Set in...

Narnia, the magical kingdom with lots of animal characters.

 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Ethics and Success

Fun facts

  • Atheist turned Christian, C. S. Lewis, was also a writer of popular Christian books like Mere Christianity (1952).
  • Lewis died on the same day as the American president, John F. Kennedy (pictured right).
  • Lewis was a close friend of J.R.R. Tolkien (pictured right below), the author of The Lord of the Rings.The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Ethics and Success
  • The book was turned into a 2005 film.  


Key characters

Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, the Pevensie chldren.

Mr. Tumnus, a faun (a god in the shape of a man).

Jadis, the White Witch, the evil Queen of Narnia.

Aslan, a lion.

Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, two beavers.


The story

During the Second World War, four children (Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie) are evacuated from London to live with old Professor Kirke in a large country house.The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Ethics and Success

Lucy, the youngest, climbs into a wardrobe and finds it leads into a snow covered land.

 A faun, Mr Tumnus, tells her it is called Narnia and ruled by the evil White Witch, Jadis, who ensures it is always winter and never Christmas.

Father Christmas (Santa Claus) only arrives later in the book to give the children presents to defeat the witch, after her spell is broken.

On her return, Lucy fails to convince her brothers and sister about Narnia, because the wardrobe returns to normal.

Weeks later she re-enters Narnia, followed by Edmund. He fails to catch up with Lucy, meeting the White Witch who seduces him with magical Turkish Delight and promises of power. She persuades him to bring the other children to her castle.

Lucy and Edmund return home. Edmund, annoyed that Lucy was right about Narnia, spitefully tells the others that nothing happened. But Professor Kirke tells them that logic suggests she is telling the truth.

Then all four children hide in the wardrobe and find themselves in Narnia. They discover that Mr Tumnus has been captured and are then sheltered by two beavers, Mr and Mrs Beaver, who tell them about:

  • the true ruler of Narnia (a great lion called Aslan).
  • an ancient prophecy, foretelling the White Witch’s demise.

Edmund runs away to betray the others to the Witch, who forces him to help catch them after slapping him and giving him no more Turkish Delight. But her power is failing and a thaw stops her sleigh.

The other children reach Aslan and a petulant Edmund is rescued by them, just as the Witch is about to kill him.The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Ethics and Success

Under an ancient law giving her possession of all traitors, she rightly demands that Edmund is returned to her. Aslan offers himself in Edmund’s place.

The Witch accepts, torturing and killing Aslan who comes back to life and finally kills her with the help of:

  • Peter (who kills one of her wolves), and
  • Edmund (who destroys the Witch's wand).

 Aslan persuades Edmund to tell his brothers and sisters that he's sorry, and they forgive him.


Lessons for ethics and success


1. Self-sacrifice is special

To save Edmund, Aslan (representing Jesus):

  • endures torture.
  • sacrifices his life.

After rising from the dead, he kills the Witch, so destroying the evil she represents.

 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Ethics and Success

2. Forgive and forget

Aslan and the other children forgive their betrayal by Edmund, particularly because he is so sorry for what he did.

 The four children are pictured right in the 2005 film.


3. Always strive to be a better person

Edmund turns himself from a spiteful traitor into a brave hero who helps to kill the Witch and realizes how foolish he was to assist her.

In Narnia the children learn the importance of:

  • self-sacrifice.
  • friendship.
  • forgiveness.
  • courage (see point 4).

 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Ethics and Success

4. Courage is cool

Great physical and moral courage is shown by:

  • Peter (who killed one of the Witch's wolves),
  • Edmund (who smashes her wand).
  • Aslan (who sacrifices his life) - pictured right in the film.


5. Greed isn’t goodThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Ethics and Success

The Witch wins over Edmund by giving him lots of magical Turkish Delight which he becomes obsessed with.

This symbolizes Adam’s eating of the apple (and so disobeying God) in the Garden of Eden.

 The Witch (Tilda Swinton) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes) are pictured right in the film.


6. Make up your own mind

Edmund only becomes a better person when he:

  • breaks the Witch’s hold over him.
  • takes control over his life.

 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Ethics and Success

7. Have faith in people you trust

Professor Kirke (Jim Broadbent, pictured right in the film) is the only person to believe Lucy’s story about Narnia, because he trusts her honesty.

He tells Peter and Susan any decision must be based on what :

  • they know to be true.
  • they have observed.


8. Friendship is fantastic

The children are helped by selfless and kind friends like:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Beaver
  • Aslan. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Ethics and Success
  • Mr. Tumnus (James McAvoy, pictured right, in the film)


Key quote on religion

 There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies or she is mad, or she is telling the truth, Professor Kirke’s reason to Peter and Susan why they should believe Lucy’s story about Narnia.

C. S. Lewis used the same argument to support a belief in Jesus in his book, Mere Christianity.


Key quote on life

If things are real, they're there all the time, Peter


Two literature websites to recommend 

1. sparknotes.com

2. litcharts.com


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