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Literature / The Silver Chair

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The fourth installment of The Chronicles of Narnia and the sixth book chronologically. A few months after The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Eustace, with schoolmate and fellow outcast Jill Pole, returns to Narnia, and is sent on a quest to rescue Caspian's long-kidnapped son Rilian from a witch, who rules an underground kingdom preparing to invade Narnia.

It was adapted as a mini-series by the BBC in 1990, with no less than Tom Baker playing Puddleglum. A few decades later, a film adaptation was greenlit by The C.S. Lewis Estate and The Mark Gordon Company, with Joe Johnston attached to the project, but the movie was ultimately scrapped.

Not to be confused with the band of the same name, Silverchair.

This book provides examples of:

  • Adipose Rex: The Queen of the Giants of Harfang.
  • Advertised Extra: The titular chair is important, but doesn't really feel important enough to have the whole book named after it. (In terms of direct effect on the story, it's almost a MacGuffin, even.)
  • Allegory: The Lady of the Green Kirtle, ruler of Underland, uses genuine atheist arguments. Combined with her magic, she persuades the heroes that there is no Aslan (God). They have conceived of the great lion Aslan merely because they have seen a cat and imagined something greater. Likewise, they have conceived of the Sun merely because they have seen a lamp and imagined something greater. The fact they can only describe them by reference to other things is proof enough they do not actually exist, and in fact never existed. Best to put aside such childish fantasies and comforting delusions and live in the real world. Considering her association with snakes, Word of God connection to Jadis, and the fact that she knows those things do exist, having been to the upper world herself, she could be considered a Satanic Archetype or similar representation of demon-suggested doubts. This is likely intentional, as C. S. Lewis was himself a former atheist who converted to Anglicanism as an adult and is known for his Christian apologetics pieces (the Narnia series are his only childrens' books).
  • Amusingly Awful Aim: Puddleglum suggests that he and the children would be safer if the giants of Ettinsmoor were throwing rocks at them, instead of each other.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: The Lady of the Green Kirtle plans on marrying a brainwashed Rilian once he's seated on the throne.
  • Animal Nemesis: Rilian names the snake that killed his mother as his and vows to seek it to the ends of the world.
  • Author Filibuster: Puddleglum's Kirk Summation about the value of faith. Even if Aslan and the surface world aren't objectively real, Puddleglum asserts, his belief is far more meaningful than the villain's bleak so-called reality. The speech still manages to be rather impressive; it helps that it's not too long-winded as far as Author Filibusters go, and that Puddleglum manages to verbally kick ass even after conceding to everything the Big Bad said.
  • Author Tract:
    • At the end of the book, where the Lady of the Green Kirtle is set up as a Hollywood Atheist of the "completely evil" variety and Lewis puts into her mouth some dubious philosophical arguments against the existence of Aslan—although given her own supernatural nature, she could be read as more like a demon than an atheist (even if she is certainly tempting the protagonists to atheism). Specifically, the Lady's arguments are all based on the Genetic Fallacy, to dismiss an idea on the basis of its origin. All the more egregious for the fact that the Lady knows full well that both Aslan and the outside world exist. Of course, the magic of her mandolin and the "sweet and drowsy smell" of the green powder she throws on the fire make the arguments more convincing to the protagonists than they otherwise would be.
    • The introduction rails against schools that go easy on bullies, the horrific environment they create, and how easily the system can be manipulated to make even the worst of bullies Karma Houdinis. C.S. Lewis was famous for considering schools a necessary evil, but this is the only Narnia book where it is front and centre.
  • Badass Boast: Aslan does one of these, which is a bit unusual for him: "I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms." The narration does state, "It didn't say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it."
  • Batman Gambit: The Lady of the Green Kirtle's plan revolved around Rilian being the kind of person to seek revenge against a wild animal, and around him being easily swayed by beauty. She was right on both counts.
  • Big Eater: When Eustace is told the centaurs haven't finished their breakfast, he incorrectly assumes that they started late. Actually, they started before he awoke, and have been eating for several hours!
    Faun: A Centaur has a man-stomach and a horse-stomach. And of course both want breakfast. So first of all he has porridge and pavenders and kidneys and bacon and omelette and cold ham and toast and marmalade and coffee and beer. And after that he tends to the horse part of himself by grazing for an hour or so and finishing up with a hot mash, some oats, and a bag of sugar. That's why it's such a serious thing to ask a Centaur to stay for the weekend. A very serious thing indeed.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: Jill and Eustace's school, which is a mix of the author's personal experience and educational theories he spoke against in The Abolition of Man. Unusually for the trope (and interestingly considering C. S. Lewis's own childhood experience under a Sadist Teacher), the school's abuses stem not from draconian discipline but from an indulgent lack of discipline that allows gangs of bullies to run wild, terrorizing ordinary students like Jill and Eustace. The children's school seems to be more inspired by the "Wyvern" period of Lewis's life, as detailed in Surprised by Joy.
  • Brainwashed: The Big Bad has brainwashing powers that she uses on a lot of people, most notably all the earth-men, Prince Rilian, and very nearly all our heroes at once.
  • Brown Note: The Lady of the Green Kirtle's mandolin has a pacifying brainwashing effect.
  • Bully Hunter: Eustace, Jill, and Caspian get Aslan's blessing to deliver a very satisfying butt-whooping to the gang of bullies in Experiment House when they return from Narnia.
  • Call-Back: Eustace's introduction in this book, like his first appearance, notes his awful name. This time, however, it's noted that "he wasn't a bad sort," rather than the "he almost deserved it" from Dawn Treader.
  • Carnivore Confusion: The distinction between eating a regular non-sapient animal and eating a talking animal is a plot point, as the "gentle giants" of Harfang are discovered to have killed a talking stag, which our heroes unknowingly ate for lunch. There's an interesting range of opinions even among the heroes: Jill is sad as she would be when she thinks about any animal suffering; Eustace who has been friends with talking animals is horrified as though hearing of a murder; but Puddleglum who is a native Narnian is appalled almost to the point of suicide and compares it to a human discovering they had eaten a baby. Eventually they are all persuaded that Puddleglum's point of view is the correct one. Of course, the fact that they find out later that the giants intend to eat them likely influences this decision.
  • Casting Gag: In the BBC TV adapation, the giant nurse is played by Patsy Byrne, who played "Nursie" in the second series of Blackadder.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Puddleglum has one, I shouldn't wonder.
    • The Gnome warden ends all his speeches with, "Many sink down, and few return to the sunlit lands."
  • Catchphrase Interruptus: Puddleglum finally gets tired of all the "few return to the sunlit lands" stuff supplied by the warden and cuts him off, explaining that he already knows what's coming as the warden seems to only think about that one idea.
  • Central Theme: Things are not always exactly as you expect them to appear.
  • Clipped-Wing Angel: The Lady of the Green Kirtle turns into a serpent and Rilian chops its head off.
  • Collapsing Lair: Underland, after the queen's death. It collapses in a convenient way, however; first a chasm opens to the land of Bism in the far deep earth, whence the earth-men came and to which they gladly return, then closes again before the rising underground ocean can pour into it.
  • Comfort Food: At school, when Jill is crying behind the gym, Eustace offers her a peppermint.
  • Creepy Cave: In search of the missing prince, the protagonists end up falling into "Underland," a civilization of Mole Men housed Beneath the Earth in massive natural cave systems. The whole area is decidedly Played for Horror, with the initial journey to the central city making use of all the frightening elements of a real-life caving expedition such as crossing dark waters and crawling through small, tight tunnels. There is a sense of claustrophobia and encroaching darkness throughout the Underland chapters, and to make matters worse, the whole place starts flooding after the climactic confrontation.
  • Cuckoo Nest: The Lady of the Green Kirtle attempts to brainwash the heroes into believing that Narnia was a dream and that her kingdom is the only real world.
  • Curiosity Is a Crapshoot: Is the man in the Silver Chair telling the truth or lying?
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The army of the Lady of the Green Kirtle is mostly composed of mind-controlled slaves who turn out to be friendly and fun-loving once freed from the witch's control. The witch herself plays the opposite trope. Said mind-controlled slaves were taken by magic from their home deep in the ground, farther than anyone has ever gone. They think it's a fantastic place to live and describe some nice things about it before returning there, while expressing some amount of horror at the idea of going out onto "the outside of the earth" and being exposed to the wide empty sky.
  • Dead Hat Shot: An episode of the BBC adaptation has a Cliffhanger ending of a shot of Puddleglum's hat under a rock thrown by the giants.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Puddleglum, in the most extreme sense of the word "deadpan": not only is he snarky, he's The Eeyore.
    • Aslan, of all people:
    "Are you not thirsty?" said the Lion.
    "I’m dying of thirst," said Jill.
    "Then drink," said the Lion.
    [..] "I daren’t come and drink," said Jill.
    "Then you will die of thirst," said the Lion.
  • Distressed Dude: Rilian is under the enchantment of the evil Lady of the Green Kirtle. Jill, Eustace, and Puddleglum rescue him.
  • Ear Trumpet: Trumpkin uses one. This is both for comic effect (he mishears a good bit of information before he finally gets his ear trumpet) and to emphasize how old he is, and thus how much time has passed since the last trip to Narnia.
  • Eat Dirt, Cheap: The gnomes reveal that they do this in Bism, with gems that they describe as juicy and alive—apparently, what we mine out are the "dead" ones, no good for eating.
  • The Eeyore: Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle, though unusually for this trope, his pessimism saves their lives more often than not. Though the other Marsh-wiggles don't get much screen time, it's shown (in part by other Narnian's reactions to Puddleglum) that it's the entire species' hat; Puddleglum is said to be one of the most optimistic examples. We can only imagine how depressing the others must be.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: The Lady of the Green Kirtle claims not to believe in lions or any other aspect of the outside world. She's lying, but she nearly bewitches the overlanders into agreeing with her. This is a typical C. S. Lewis allegory; in order to describe Aslan or Narnia to the Lady, who says they don't exist, they have to do so in terms of things that she does accept the existence of, allowing her to dismiss it with "So you made up a bigger version of a cat, and called it a lion", in the same way as heaven, whether or not it exists, can clearly only be described in terms of the mortal world by those who haven't experienced it (which may be everyone).
  • Evil Smells Bad:
    • When Eustace and Puddleglum free Rilian from the silver chair, Rilian grabs his sword from the table and destroys the chair with one blow, causing, just for a moment, "a loathsome smell".
    • Inverted with the green powder the Lady of the Green Kirtle throws on the fire to enchant Eustace, Jill, Puddleglum, and Rilian. It gives off "a very sweet and drowsy smell" that makes it hard to think.
  • Exact Words: The Lady of the Green Kirtle sends the giants "two children for the Autumn Feast." She neglects to tell them what the giants eat at the Autumn Feast...
  • Exotic Entree: The protagonists discover that the venison served at the table of the "Friendly Giants" came from a Talking Stag. Talking Animals are fully sentient and sapient beings with all the same rights as humans and other humanoid races such as dwarves, so the author notes that for anyone of Narnian culture, this is the equivalent of cannibalism. If that weren't enough, the characters later find out they are on the menu for the following night.
  • Extradimensional Emergency Exit: Eustace and Jill find themselves the targets of school bullies, forcing them to flee through a gate that just happens to lead directly into Narnia.
  • Faint in Shock: Subverted: When Eustace falls off a cliff, Jill collapses to the ground and hopes she'll faint, but the author comments it's not that easy.
  • First-Name Basis: Eustace and Jill when the group begins to escape Underland.
  • Fish People: Marsh-wiggles, though they're more like amphibian people.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Since this book was published before The Horse and His Boy (though written afterwards) the mention of Cor and Aravis (as recited by a Narnian poet) and the ballad of Corin Thunderfist (whistled by Rilian in the Underworld) become this. Chronologically, they're a Continuity Nod, considering that in Narnia, they lived over a thousand years ago. Confused?
    • In the Underland, the heroes see Father Time and several giant monsters sleeping who will awaken at the end of the world.
  • Friend or Foe?: After the death of the Lady of the Green Kirtle, there's confusion about whose side the gnomes are on, as they are seen rushing about in a furtive manner and some gather into a military formation. This is because they in turn are unsure which side the overlanders are on, not knowing that Rilian was brainwashed as they were, and expect the Narnians to attack them.
  • Gang of Bullies: The progressive teaching methods at Experiment House have the effect of indulging bullies while making learning difficult for other students. Jill and Eustace's attempt at escaping the bullies sets off the plot and provides a satisfying moment of Bully Hunter revenge at the end.
  • Genre Savvy: Puddleglum on several occasions explains how quests like theirs tend to turn out, hanging a few lampshades as he goes, such as his guess of the Queen's reasoning for being a Load-Bearing Boss.
  • Glamour: The Lady of the Green Kirtle seems to have employed one on Rilian to first ensnare him.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: The Lady of the Green Kirtle, as well as the queen of the Gentle Giants, turn out to be people you wouldn't want ruling you.
  • Grim Up North: A notable use of this trope; the whole book takes inspiration from Norse Mythology. Ettinsmoor, for example, is a Shout-Out to the Norse Jotunheim.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Given Rilian is the child of a woman who was half-human, half-star.
  • Happy Ending Override: Poor Caspian. His queen, who he brought back from far across the sea in Dawn Treader, was murdered and their son kidnapped, never to be seen again until the day of Caspian's own death.
  • Have a Gay Old Time:
    • "Gay", said Puddleglum... "That's what we've got to be. Gay. You must watch me, and do as I do. I'll be gay. Like this."
    • Also, "[Jill] made love to everyone — the grooms, the porters, the housemaids, and the elderly giant lords..." In the parlance of the time, the phrase didn't necessarily have romantic or sexual connotations; here, it means something like enthuse, flatter or ingratiate oneself.
  • Hooked Up Afterwards: A potential interpretation of Jill and Eustace's relationship, given Jill developing genuine affection for Eustace during their time in Narnia.
  • Homage: Jill and Eustace's conversation with the witch before she turns into a snake is an homage to Plato's allegory of the cave.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: On hearing the story of Rilian's mother's death from Glimfeather, Jill is perceptive enough to realize that the beautiful woman and the deadly snake are one and the same. Later on the trip, when they come across the Lady of the GREEN Kirtle riding her horse in the middle of nowhere, Jill remains totally unsuspicious.
  • Hypocritical Humour: In his first chapter, Puddleglum says he could tell a story about a girl but that might get their spirits down and he never does that. Though apparently, by the standards of his species he's an optimist.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: When the protagonists learn that they have been eating a Talking Stag.
  • I'm a Humanitarian:
    • Not literally, but it's mentioned that, in Narnian culture, eating talking animals is considered equivalent to cannibalism, as they have human-level intelligence. When Puddleglum finds out what the giants served him, he is absolutely horrified, the way you might feel if you learned you'd been eating a baby.
    • As they later discover, to their horror, the giants do the literal version too.
  • Immaturity Insult: Jill is indignant when the giant Queen treats her like a young child. However, Jill later plays up to this, so the giants do not suspect them of trying to escape.
    Giant Queen: Give her lollipops, give her dolls, and possets, and comforts, and lullabies, and lovely cuddly toys. Now, little girl, don't cry, or you won't be good for anything when the Feast comes.
  • Invited as Dinner: When the children meet the Lady of the Green Kirtle, she tells them to present themselves to the giants as being there for the Autumn Feast. They do, and are welcomed with open arms. It is only after Jill runs across a cookbook that she realizes that the traditional dish at the giants' Autumn Feast is man.
  • James Bondage: The prince is tied to, well, the Silver Chair.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • The Head at Experiment House never gets punished for her gross mismanagement of the school, being Kicked Upstairs instead. This is still sort of a happy ending, though: by reducing her to a sinecure, at least she's out of action and can't cause more harm to the children.
    • The Gentle Giants get away with killing and eating a Talking Stag and planning to do the same to Jill, Eustace and Puddleglum.
  • Kicked Upstairs: This happens to the Head of Experiment House, after it is revealed that she is utterly incompetent at running the school. Played for Laughs when she ends up in Parliament.
    The Head's friends saw that the Head was no use as a Head, so they got her made an Inspector to interfere with other Heads. And when they found she wasn't much good even at that, they got her into Parliament where she lived happily ever after.
  • Kirk Summation: Puddleglum gives an Author Filibuster about the value of faith even after conceding to everything the Big Bad said.
    Puddleglum: One word, Ma'am. [coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain] One word. All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things—trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play-world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we're leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that's small loss if the world's as dull a place as you say.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Puddleglum. He will fight to the bitter end on the side of good and never doubt for a second and assume the worst every step of the way. His cynicism keeps Eustace and Jill firmly grounded and sensible.
  • Lady and Knight: The children meet the Lady riding with her Knight (who turns out to be Rilian in disguise).
  • Lawful Stupid: According to the owls, as regent Trumpkin tends to stick to the letter of the law without considering whether an exception should be made. This causes trouble, because Caspian previously banned people from throwing away their lives looking for his son, and Trumpkin doesn't understand that he should make an exception for someone who was sent on the quest by Aslan himself.
  • Let's Meet the Meat: Subverted in that Puddleglum overhears some giants talking about the stag they were eating and how it had told them that it was tough and that they would not like it.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: The Underland floods once the Lady of the Green Kirtle is killed. Justified since she's a witch who set the place to magically self-destruct if she died.
  • MacGuffin Title: Played with. The chair of the title is indeed very important to the quest, but they don't know anything about its existence until fairly late in the story.
  • Mondegreen Gag: Owing to being hard of hearing without his Ear Trumpet, Trumpkin at first mishears "The girl's called Jill" as "The girls are all killed." He also mistakes "Eustace" for "Useless."
  • More than Mind Control:
    • The Lady's attempt to convince the four that Narnia doesn't exist and the Underland is the only world. It almost works, until Puddleglum decides their so-called fantasy world is far superior to the dreary "real" world of the Lady, thank you very much.
    • While not stated outright, it's implied that her influence on Rilian is also this, or at least started out this way. When the assisting magic momentarily wears off, though, he is not amused.
  • Muggle in Mage Custody: A dark version. Prince Rilian (who seemingly has no magical powers of his own) becomes a brainwashed slave of the Green Lady, an evil sorceress.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The reaction of the children and Puddleglum when they learn they are eating a talking stag, to varying degrees:
    Jill, who was new to that world, was sorry for the poor stag and thought it rotten of the giants to have killed him. Scrubb, who had been in that world before and had at least one Talking beast as his dear friend, felt horrified; as you might feel about a murder. But Puddleglum, who was Narnian born, was sick and faint, and felt as you would feel if you found you had eaten a baby.
  • My Greatest Failure: The kids seem to think that they have failed three of Aslan's four signs as they make their journey to find and save Rilian, and are particularly hard on themselves throughout the story. However, while they clearly have difficulty in their interpretation of the signs and their failures do make things harder, they still succeed; they have the help Aslan promised them in Puddleglum, and they eventually find their way to the Lady of the Green Kirtle's castle and save Rilian.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Puddleglum says that he's actually quite cheerful, at least compared to all the other Marsh-wiggles.
  • Mystical City Planning: Variation. A message from Aslan is hidden in the ruins of a giant city. The words are part of a carving that was basically "Ozymandias", not part of the city itself. The letters are large enough to walk into because they were made on a giant's scale, and because of this size, the characters aren't immediately aware that they are letters.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: A mild example, but when the heroes find the page on cooking humans in the giant's cookbook, Eustace starts reading it out of interest.
  • Nightmare of Normality: The Green Lady has managed to enslave Prince Rilian for years by hypnotizing him into believing that he is a general in her army and that his life aboveground was a dream. When Jill, Eustace, and Puddleglum arrive to rescue said prince, she uses her powers to try and convince them that Narnia doesn't exist and that their heroic adventures so far were just delusions.
  • Noble Demon: The Knight initially seems to be one, as despite being arrogant, he's reasonably pleasant to be around and doesn't seek to harm the protagonists, instead waiting for his Lady's judgment on what should be done with them. Then it turns out he's the Prince under brainwashing.
  • No Matter How Much I Beg: The Knight has to be tied to a chair because he's about to have an episode of madness, and he orders Puddleglum and the kids not to free him no matter what he says. Once tied up, he begs to be released in the name of Aslan. The protagonists have to let him loose, because they’ve previously been instructed to honour the first request they hear “in my (Aslan’s) name,” for the speaker will be the Prince they are looking for. Correctly, it turns out, because he was Not Himself before; at the same hour every day when he is tied to the chair, he is in his right mind, and letting him go broke the spell.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The tactic by which Eustace, Jill, and Puddleglum escape from Harfang. Jill especially plays a foolish little girl so well she has all the giants cooing over her, while the other two mostly stay out of her way.
  • Oh, Crap!: Aslan gives Jill a series of signs that will help in accomplishing the quest that she's being sent upon, but she, Eustace, and Puddleglum miss their chance at each one and get progressively more reactive to each one, culminating with the final one: when the knight is tied to the eponymous silver chair, he begs them to help in the name of Aslan. As helping someone who invoked Aslan's name was the final sign, they panic as they're not sure if the knight is mad or who they're supposed to help. They decide to trust the sign. Though, as Puddleglum points out, following the sign doesn't guarantee their safety:
    Puddleglum: Aslan didn't tell Pole what would happen. He only told her what to do. ... But that doesn't let us off following the sign.
  • Orcus on His Throne: The Lady appears very little in the story and only meets the protagonists twice. Given she has an entire brainwashed army to manage and never learned what exactly Eustace, Jill, and Puddleglum were up to until they had already fulfilled their task, this is possibly justified.
  • The Owl-Knowing One: Eustace and Jill receive some guidance from Glimfeather and the Parliament of Owls.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: Puddleglum does a memorable one. The BBC Television adaptation is more concise without losing any of its impact, especially when delivered by Mr Baker. It can be seen here.
    Puddleglum: There is one thing to say. Suppose we have only dreamed and made up these things, like sun, sky, stars and moon and Aslan himself. In that case, it seems to me that the made-up things are a good deal better than the real ones; and if this black pit of a kingdom is the best you can make, then it's a poor world. And we four can make a dream world to lick your real one hollow. As for me, I shall live like a Narnian! Even if there isn't any Narnia, so thanking you very much for supper. We're going to leave your court at once and make our way across your great darkness to search for our land ABOVE!
  • Playing Drunk: That's Puddleglum's story, at least, when he seems to have a bit too much to drink in Harfang. Of course, if that's the case, he's also playing having a hangover the next day.
  • Plot-Sensitive Latch: Near the beginning, Eustace and Jill are escaping from some bullies towards a door that is always locked, and of course it turns to be unlocked. Justified in that Aslan has magically caused this to happen, but they don't know it at the time.
  • Plummet Perspective: In the BBC TV Series, Eustace stumbles into a hole when crossing the giants' bridge, and has to be pulled up by Jill and Puddleglum. His quiver of arrows is seen falling down into the river foaming thousands of feet below.
  • The Pollyanna: Other Marsh-wiggles consider Puddleglum to be this, and advise him to go on the trip for his own good—to sober him up. Of course, the joke is that Marsh-wiggles as a species are so morose that by human standards, Puddleglum is still a very gloomy fellow.
  • Prefers the Illusion: Played With. When faced with the Lady of the Green Kirtle's claim that Aslan and Narnia are simply things they dreamed up, Puddleglum answers that if that's true he prefers them to reality. So he's actually preferring reality to the illusion, but in the magical confusion he's afflicted with, he prefers what he is starting to think is an illusion (actually reality) to what he is starting to think is reality (but isn't).
  • Pretty in Mink: At one point, Jill is given a mantle trimmed with white fur.
  • Quick Nip: Puddleglum drinks often from a brown bottle kept on his person, offers spirits to children (they don't like the taste), and on one occasion ends up utterly legless after downing a large cup of giant-strength liquor. It's cool; no one minds.
  • Reformed Bully: Eustace, although not a full-fledged bully, used to at least curry favour with the main gang at the school before his first adventure in Narnia changed him for the better.
    Eustace: I was a different chap then. I was — gosh! what a little tick I was.
  • Remember the New Guy?: The species of Marsh-wiggles, which appear to be a familiar part of the Narnian landscape, but have never been mentioned before this book (oddly, not even in the genesis of Narnia, which C.S. Lewis wrote after this one).
  • Reptilian Conspiracy: From within her Elaborate Underground Base, the Lady subtly acquires power through governmental infiltration and mind control, and she alternates between a regular human form and a Scaled Up form. Of course, since this largely remained an Unbuilt Trope back in The '50s, the Lady bears many differences from this trope as we know it today. For example, her reptilian form isn't humanoid like most examples today, but rather a massive venomous snake. Also, instead of being a whole species of invaders, the Lady is the only example that we see. Lewis never reveals her origins beyond vaguely hinting that she could be somehow connected to the White Witch from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, nor does he specify whether her original form is humanoid, reptilian, or something else entirely.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Exploited by the Lady of the Green Kirtle. She killed Rilian's mother knowing Rilian would go off alone to try to avenge himself on the snake that killed her, allowing the Lady to get him alone.
  • Scaled Up: The witch can transform herself into a snake.
  • Silver Has Mystic Powers: The title item has brainwashing powers.
  • Slap Yourself Awake: Puddleglum employs this technique when he stomps out the fire that the Lady of the Green Kirtle is using as part of her hypnotic magic. Not only does it quash the aroma that was lulling the heroes into a trance, but the pain (he's barefoot) is specifically said to give him a moment's perfect clarity. The others bandage Puddleglum's foot with clean shirts from Rilian's bedroom, torn into strips and greased with butter and salad oil from the supper table.
  • Sneaking Out at Night: This trope is inverted in that when Jill, Eustace and Puddleglum are planning to escape from the castle of Harfang, they decide that their best chance of doing so is by day, rather than night, when doors and windows are more likely to be open, and they would look less suspicious wandering outside in the daytime. The narrative mentions that this applies to many situations, and that it's hard to make adults believe you are not up to something if you are caught sneaking out at one o' clock in the morning.
  • Sour Supporter: Puddleglum, despite being on the good guys' side, is chronically gloomy and can always find the cloud around any silver lining.
  • Straw Hypocrite: The Lady of the Green Kirtle comes off as an atheist trying to convince the protagonists that Aslan (along with the world up above) don't actually exist, but it turns out that she knows very well they do. It was just an evil scheme for confusing them.
  • Strawman Political: Experiment House is basically Lewis' critique of modern secular education, and especially of experimental/progressive schools. Though there is certainly a touch of criticism against the traditional English public schools there as well. Basically, EH is the worst of both worlds.
  • Technicolor Toxin: Discussed and inverted; the Lady of the Green Kirtle and her serpent form are both described as "green as poison".
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Eustace and Jill, before turning into Fire-Forged Friends.
  • Thanatos Gambit: The Green Lady has prepared spells that will cause her kingdom to be destroyed in the event of her death, thus presumably also taking out whoever killed her.
    Puddleglum: She's the sort that wouldn't so much mind dying herself if she knew that the chap who killed her was going to be burned, or buried, or drowned five minutes later.
  • To Serve Man: The Lady of the Green Kirtle sends Eustace and Jill to Harfang with instructions to greet their hosts from her and say she is sending them two Southern children for the Autumn Feast. "It's a cookbook," indeed—they literally find one.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: A subtle example. Eustace and Jill hear the tale of The Horse and His Boy (which had not been published at the time) while in Cair Paravel. The narration describes it as "the grand old tale of Prince Cor and Aravis and the horse Bree," spoiling Shasta's true identity.
  • Uncanny Village: Harfang, the castle of the Gentle Giants.
  • Unfortunate Names: "His name unfortunately was Eustace Scrubb, but he wasn't a bad sort." This line is also a Call-Back to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Eustace was a lot meaner in that book, and was introduced with the line "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."
  • Unnaturally Blue Lighting: The cold, blue lighting of Underland.
  • The Vamp: The Lady of the Green Kirtle for Prince Rilian, even resorting to Mind Control.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Lord Drinian (who was the Captain of the Dawn Treader) plays a fairly central role in the story of Rilian's disappearance, but is not accounted for in the present day. Considering how old Caspian is, and the fact Drinian is probably older than him, even being referred to as one of the older courtiers about ten years before the story begins, it is likely he died in the intervening time.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Jill's claustrophobia makes the trip to Underland through several dark, incredibly cramped passages and tunnels paralyzingly terrifying for her. Eustace has a similar aversion to heights.
  • Wish Fulfilment:
    • When Aslan, Caspian, and Eustace teach the bullies at the boarding school a lesson. Note that Lewis' autobiography, Surprised by Joy, reveals that he had a bad experience at a boarding school.
    • An in-universe example as well. Caspian said several times how it was his dream to visit a land on a planet that's round. Aslan allows him to briefly visit Earth.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: After Rilian kills the Green Witch, he mentions that he's glad she turned into a snake, because he would have felt guilty for killing a woman.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: The man in the silver chair really doesn't do much to dispel their suspicions that he's a raving lunatic. He's really just, during his brief moments of sanity, very aware of how strongly he's enchanted and he is beyond desperate to escape it, thus coming across as insane and reinforcing the lie that those few moments are of madness rather than clarity.
  • You Killed My Father: Mother rather than father, but after his mother was killed by a serpent, Rilian then spent his time searching the area to kill it. It turns out the witch entrapped him this way and was the serpent...
  • You Won't Like How I Taste: How the protagonists realize they are eating a Talking Stag. They overhear the giants discussing the hunt, and one of them mentions that the stag must have been lying when he protested that he would be too tough to eat.