Literature: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
The first written, first published, second book chronologically and the most famous of the seven books of The Chronicles of Narnia
Some forty years after the events of the prequel The Magician's Nephew
, four siblings (Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie) pass through a magical wardrobe owned by "Professor Kirke" into the land of Narnia
which has been cursed with eternal winter by Jadis, the White Witch, who calls herself the "queen" of Narnia. In accordance with the prophecy
, the children, helped by Aslan (Turkish for "Lion
"), defeat her, and are jointly crowned as the four Kings and Queens of Narnia. After fourteen years
, the children accidentally return through the wardrobe, reverting to childhood.
The action of The Horse and His Boy
takes place during their reign.
This book provides examples of:
- Adaptation Dye-Job: Lucy is a blonde in the books but is brunette here. Georgie Henley's hair was actually lightened for the film but it's still noticeable. Edmund is commonly portrayed as a blond too, but is played by brunet Skandar Keynes. Peter meanwhile is dark-haired in the illustrations but blond in the film. Susan is the only Pevensie to keep her book hair colour (black). Jadis's hair is never mentioned in the books but illustrations give her black hair. She is a blonde in the film.
- The BBC adaptation once again had Lucy as a brunette, and Susan as a blonde.
- Adaptation Expansion: All adaptations feature the battle at Beruna, which happened offscreen in the book. The live action film also adds an extended sequence showing the Blitz in London - and a scene where Maugrim meets the children and offers them a chance to surrender.
- The film also greatly fleshes out the personalities of the children. Peter's Big Brother Bully tendencies are played up a lot more between him and Edmund - with Peter feeling that he has to act as a Team Dad to compensate for their father being in the war. Edmund is portrayed as much more sympathetic, with his Heel-Face Turn getting much more development. Susan likewise becomes an Agent Scully type, presumably foreshadowing her later fate in the books.
- Adaptation Personality Change: Susan in the books doesn't have much of a personality and leans more towards a Team Mom. The film portrays her as a believer in logic and reason - often showing Arbitrary Skepticism towards Narnia. She also gets upgraded to The Lancer towards Peter, especially at the frozen waterfall sequence.
- Adult Fear: In the Walden Media version of the movie, Peter uses his sword to split the ice on a frozen river to allow him and his sisters to escape the White Witch's wolves. He and Susan wash ashore and begin picking themselves up. Susan suddenly looks around and asks where Lucy is. Peter realizes that he is holding Lucy's empty jacket and Susan positively shrieks "What have you done?!" Fortunately Lucy turns up shortly, perfectly fine except for being cold and asks if they've seen her coat.
- Always Chaotic Evil:
- Dwarfs, Wolves, Minotaurs, Hags, Harpies, Giants and all the other races that are loyal to the witch. This would technically make them evil but these races probably obey the witch because none of them are brave enough to try to backstab her and usurp the throne for themselves. This is later subverted by dwarfs, a giant, and even wolves rescued from the Witch's castle, who later fight for Aslan.
- The movie had the dwarfs divided between sides.
- In this, it's being true to the later books. Prince Caspian and The Last Battle have dwarfs divided between the sides of good (Trumpkin, Poggin) and evil (Nikabrik in Caspian and the rebels in The Last Battle). The dwarfs' appearances in other books are even farther from the doctrine of dwarfish depravity; indeed, if you only read those books you'd think the dwarfs are just another of the many Always Lawful Good races in Narnia.
- Giants are also divided between good and evil in later books.
- However, in the only other appearance of a Hag (and a Werewolf), in Prince Caspian, it's implied that they really are Always Chaotic Evil.
- An Ice Person: The White Witch has ice powers. She froze all of Narnia you know.
- Arbitrary Skepticism:
- Susan in the Walden Media film remarks that a beaver shouldn't be speaking, never mind that she's just travelled through a wardrobe into a magical land.
- Lucy, when she first comes to Narnia, wonders why there's a street light in the middle of the forest... a forest she discovered inside of a wardrobe.
- As You Know: Done in an aside from the narrative, as Lewis notes several times that his readers all know better than to shut themselves into a wardrobe. This was probably done to avoid inspiring kids to lock themselves in by mistake. See also Don't Try This at Home.
- Ironically, one of the outakes from the 2013 film shows the actor of Edmund shutting the door behind him as he climbs into the wardrobe...and demonstrating why Lewis was careful to emphasise the warning against doing that.
- Author Avatar: People who know about Lewis's life story will recognise definite parallels between him and the grumpy professor the children go to stay with.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: For all four Pevensies at the end. Aslan himself is there.
- Being Evil Sucks: This realization spurs Edmund to make his Heel-Face Turn.
- Big Bad: Jadis is the evil queen causing all the problems here, from the winter to the oppression.
- Big Brother Bully: Edmund is this to Lucy. The film plays this up between Peter and Edmund too.
- Big Good: Aslan is The Paragon of goodness in this world. The kids are the main characters, but he is the one who saves the day. This is lampshaded by the Beavers.
- Blitz Evacuees: The Pevensie children
- Bound and Gagged: In the 2005 film adaptation, Edmund winds up tied to a tree and gagged mid-way, as Ginabrik taunts him on his upcoming fate. When Aslan sends his army to follow a wolf after Maugrim is killed, they manage to rescue Edmund... and make Ginabrik take his place as the tied-up individual.
- Break the Haughty: Edmund starts off arrogant and becomes more so under the witch's influence. Then she decides he's more useful as a prisoner.
- Captain Obvious: See Deadpan Snarker below.
- Creepy Souvenir: The whole garden of people/animals the White Witch has turned into stone. In the Walden Media film version, she also wears Aslan's shaved-off mane into battle.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: Aslan, AKA "Lion Jesus". He's the son of "The Emperor Across the Sea" and enacts Christ's Passion to save a sinner.
- Death by Adaptation: Jadis's dwarf. It's What Happened to the Mouse? in the book but Susan shoots him with an arrow in the film.
- Don't Try This at Home: Every time someone climbs into the wardrobe, to the point where one begins to wonder if it's an inside joke or a Running Gag.
- Dark Action Girl: The White Witch is usually an Evil Sorcerer but she can join close combat too. She certainly participates in the battle at Beruna. The animated film and TV series have her as a Lady of Black Magic while the live action film shows her actively fighting.
- Deadpan Snarker: Professor Kirke, of all people. In the 2005 film, when he's talking to Peter and Susan, we get this:
Susan: It's our sister, sir. Lucy.
Professor Kirke: The weeping girl?
Susan: Yes, sir. She's upset.
Professor Kirke: Hence the weeping.
- Disney Death: Edmund gets stabbed by Jadis. He's definitely near death until Lucy's healing cordial revives him.
- Disney Villain Death: Averted in the book and most adaptations - Aslan crushes Jadis by jumping on her (in the film it's implied he eats her). But in the BBC TV series, Aslan roars and causes her to fall off a wall.
- Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Professor Kirke.
- Dreaming of a White Christmas: Averted in that in Narnia, it is always winter and never Christmas and when Christmas finally does come, it heralds a thaw.
- Dub Name Change: Maugrim, the wolf servant of the White Witch, had his name changed to Fenris Ulf in earlier American editions (which also changed Peter's first title from "Wolfsbane" to "Fenrisbane"). Then they went back to using Maugrim.
- Endless Winter: The White Witch casts a spell on Narnia so that it is always winter but never Christmas.
- Evil Albino: The White Witch is deathly pale. It's implied this is because she's not human; only looks the part.
- A later book in the series (a prequel) reveals that this is the result of her eating from the fruit of a magical tree she's picked herself. The fruit heals those it's given to by others in compassion, but when selfishly consumed with the intent of gaining power or immortality has the side effect of turning the eater snow pale.
- Evil Is Deathly Cold: The White Witch, and her effects on the Narnian environment, are all cold, and evil.
- Face Death with Dignity: Aslan did it knowing exactly what would happen if he were to die. In more than one way.
- Faeries Don't Believe in Humans Either: Tumnus the faun reacts this way to Lucy the first time he meets her, and owns a book called Is Man a Myth?
- Faux Action Girl: Susan. She's an archer, and at least in the film, a good one. Yet she's never part of any of the battle scenes, being limited to calling for Peter's help and shooting one stray dwarf in the ending.
- First Name Basis: We only find out the children's last name in later books (it's "Pevensie").
- Follow the White Rabbit:
- A robin leads the children to Mr. Beaver.
- Inverted later when they are hunting for a stag, and it leads them back to the gate to the normal world.
- Food Chains: See G-Rated Drug below.
- The Friends Who Never Hang: A variation. Susan and Edmund barely interact in the stories. They're the only two Pevensies not to get any scenes alone together.
- Furry Confusion: The BBC Series has people in animal costumes, actual animals and animated creatures all on the screen at once. At one point, Maugrim even appears to shapeshift into a regular wolf, though he's supposed to be a regular wolf anyways.
- G-Rated Drug: The White Witch's Turkish Delight. Word of God states it's an analogue for sin.
- Gender-Equal Ensemble: Two boys (Peter and Edmund) and two girls (Susan and Lucy).
- Genre Savvy: All the Pevensies, seeing as they're children who are pretty familiar with fairytales, and (rightly) assume a fairytale world will work according to fairytale rules. For example, their decision to follow the robin is based on Peter's observation that robins are always good birds in books.
- Good Animals, Evil Animals: The book splits talking beasts more or less along the standard lines between those on the side of the Witch and those on the side of Aslan. This doesn't show up so much in the rest of the series when Narnia was united, but "evil" animals don't show up much at all then.
- Grim Up North: It's grim everywhere in Narnia due to the Hundred Year Winter, but particularly near the Witch's Castle in the north.
- Heel-Face Turn:
- Hollywood Tactics: The Walden movie. You've an entire air force of griffons armed with rocks; do you fly them far above arrow range and just start dropping rocks on the charge to scatter it, or do you neatly line them up to Jadis' crossbows so they can try taking out individual soldiers? The Griffins dropping rocks would make sense because Peter, being the General for the battle, brought knowledge of bombers with him. How good of knowledge is the issue here as he isn't versed in military tactics.
- All of Peter's tactics are terrible. He wastes most of his best fighters on a pointless charge into the heart of the enemy army when they are already charging into terrain that favors his more organized forces and nullifies the enemy numbers advantage. Then when that force is broken and has retreated he has no flankers to cut off the Queen and her vanguard when they follow them into the ravine. This is in contrast to the book, where he had actually nearly won the battle by the time Aslan and reinforcements showed up through superior tactics and Edmund destroying Jadis' wand.
- Ice Palace: The Witch's castle was created by her own power.
- I'm Not a Hero, I'm...: In the Walden Media film:
Peter: We're not heroes.
Susan: We're from Finchley!
- Interdimensional Travel Device: The wardrobe allows travel between Earth and Narnia — sometimes.
- It Only Works Once: The White Witch's justification to Edmund for why she cannot give him more Turkish Delight in the sleigh. The wardrobe is a straighter example. Although it transports the children to Narnia three times in the story, Professor Kirke says it won't work again afterwards.
- It Was a Gift: Father Christmas's gifts to the Pevensies.
- Jerkass: Edmund is rude, arrogant and sells out for candy.
- Kid Hero All Grown Up: Two examples. The children grow up to be royalty in Narnia, but return to our world and get de-aged and we find out that Diggory was a Kid Hero in The Magicans Nephew.
- Light Is Not Good: Jadis, the White Witch is evil. Notable in that Tilda Swinton was going to portray her as a brunette but producers thought she looked "too gothic".
- Limited Wardrobe, ironically: Examining the pictures closely reveals that the children are always wearing the same clothes (bar the addition of fur coats for the third entry to Narnia) despite the early chapters of the book taking place over several days. Perhaps justified, given the time period the book is set in.
- Men Are the Expendable Gender: Father Christmas infamously tells Susan and Lucy, "Battles are ugly when women fight." This is why Peter gets a sword, Susan gets a bow, and Lucy a dagger (self-defense only).
- The Marvelous Deer: The wish-granting stag — that is not caught. Instead the hunt sends them back home.
- The Mole:
- Edmund, for the first half, although it is revealed to the reader at the start of the plot thread.
- Jadis also fooled Edmund into thinking she was on his side long enough for him to lure his siblings to Narnia.
- Mr. Tumnus was this to Lucy, then oddly became a Reverse Mole to the Witch after his Heel Realization
- Mr. Exposition: The beavers fulfill this role, and it avoids As You Know territory since the kids are new to that universe and really don't know any of the expository material.
- Mustache Vandalism: Edmund does this to the stone lion in the witch's courtyard.
- My God, What Have I Done?:
- Edmund's reaction when the White Witch turns a dinner party to stone for refusing to deny it was provided by Father Christmas over his protests. At that point, Edmund realizes the evil he has sided with and wishes with all his heart that he could undo what he has done. Fortunately, Aslan later helps him do just that.
- Mr. Tumnus reaches it immediately when he tries to kidnap Lucy for the Witch. Since he's a nice guy who was only doing it on pain of being turned to stone, she's able to talk him out of it.
- My Rule-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: Aslan and Jadis argue about the Deep Magic and she seems to win. In the end it turns out there are things he knows about it that she doesn't.
- Nightmare Fuel: Invoked by the Lemony Narrator, who explains that if he were to describe some of the more hideous creatures, your parents probably wouldn't let you read this book.
- Noodle Incident: The talk Aslan gives to Edmund after his Heel-Face Turn. The narrator tells us it's a moment that belongs to only the two of them, and he won't intrude.
- The Noun and the Noun ...And the noun.
- Pinned to the Wall: The White Witch sticks a sword through Peter's chain mail sleeve, pinning him to the ground so she can kill him.
- Portal Slam: The wardrobe's door.
- Pretty in Mink: Fur coats are necessary in the deep and eternal cold.
- Prophecies Rhyme All the Time: Almost.
When Adam's flesh and Adam's bone
Sits at Cair Paravel in throne,
The evil time will be over and done.
- Rain, Rain, Go Away: The children are prompted to explore the house (and thus kick off the plot) because it's too rainy to do anything outside.
- Redemption Equals Death: Subverted. It looks as if Edmund will suffer this after redeeming himself by destroying the Witch's wand, but he is saved by Lucy's cordial.
- Reverse Mole: Fox in the Film of the Book, is truly on Aslan's side but pretends to serve the Witch.
- Running Gag: The first few chapters are insistent on reminding you what a very foolish thing it is to lock oneself into a wardrobe. It's said that Lewis wrote this in so that young readers playing pretend would not lock themselves in real-life wardrobes. In one of the movie's Hilarious Outtakes, Skander Keyes (Edmund) does get himself locked in the wardrobe.
- Savage Wolves: Maugrim and his pack work for the witch as a secret police and enforcers.
- Sibling Rivalry: Edmund and Lucy, with more on Edmund's part, due to the fact that he enjoys tormenting her. Fortunately, they got better.
- Skewed Priorities: Coupled with Values Dissonance. Father Christmas says to Susan "battles are ugly when women fight". He's saying she shouldn't fight because she's a girl, as opposed to because she's just a child. It's fine for Peter to fight in battle when he's only a year or so older than her. (Lucy gets a dagger to defend herself. Edmund isn't present to be compared with). However, Susan gets a bow and arrows. This may be Fair for Its Day, considering that even the U.S. military didn't allow women in combat zones at all until the 1990s.
- Spring Is Late: By about a hundred years.
- Supernatural Aid: Father Christmas' gifts to the Pevensies such as a Healing Potion.
- Taken for Granite: How the White Witch deals with people she doesn't like.
- Tender Tears: Susan and Lucy shed these during Aslan's Passion.
- "They Still Belong to Us" Lecture: The Witch tries to reclaim Edmund after his Heel-Face Turn by telling the other heroes that he is a traitor and his blood is her property. The problem is, according to the laws of magic in Narnia, she's right. This is why Aslan has to sacrifice himself in Edmund's place.
- This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Aslan tells the others to stay back and let Peter fight Maugrim alone. It directly echoes the story of Edward III saying of his son, the Black Prince, at the Battle of Crécy, "Let the boy win his spurs." (The spurs were a symbol of knighthood.)
- This Is Your Brain on Evil: One of the consequences of Edmund's G-Rated Drug usage is a lowering of his IQ.
- Transhuman Treachery: Mr. Beaver invokes this trope as he advises the Pevensie children that if something claims to be, used to be, or may become human, "keep an eye on it and feel for your hatchet."
- The Vamp: The White Witch for Edmund but with candy instead of sex.
- The movie sure kicks up that subtext, however.
- Victory Guided Amnesia: After being crowned Kings and Queens of Narnia, the children slowly forget their old life on Earth — until one day, while out riding...
- Weapon of Choice: Father Christmas's gifts to Peter, Susan, and Lucy include a sword and shield, a bow and quiver of arrows, and a dagger respectively.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The animals having a dinner party before being turned to stone by the Witch (leading to Edmund's Heel-Face Turn) are never mentioned again. Lewis was even asked about this by one of his readers (or the reader's mom) and hastily wrote back a Word of God that of course the animals at the dinner party got turned back, just not on stage, and he was very sorry the child was distressed about the issue.
- Also, the Dwarf that drives the Witch's sleigh is a fairly prominent aspect of the story, yet his fate goes unaccounted for in the book. In the film, he gets shot by Susan in his attempt to finish off an injured Edmund.
- Winter Royal Lady: Although not fitting the title part of the trope, Jadis fits the other parts; calls herself queen, dresses in winter colors and styles etc.
- Woman in White: The White Witch.
- World War II: In the background; treated more prominently in the first film. The kids are in the Professor's house in the first place because they were sent into the country to get away from places that might be bombed.
- You Imagined It: Averted; none of the Pevensies were concussed or on hallucinogens at the time. The narrative suggests Lucy invoking this at the start but she won't because she's too truthful.