The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Contrasting Regions: Narnia and England Theme
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader repeatedly contrasts the "real world" with the world of fantasy and magic. Like many of the fantasy novels that follow in its wake, this book develops a fantasy world that seems vaguely medieval, hosts fantastic creatures like dragons and sea serpents, and involves magic spells and powers. This fantasy world is contrasted with our "real world" of modern technology and contemporary social structures. The narrator sure thinks that the fantasy world is far better than the real one. Yet we also learn that experience in one world can function as preparation for the other, and that the real world may be more similar to the fantasy than anyone thought.
Questions About Contrasting Regions: Narnia and England
- Which character is most likely to make explicit comparisons between Narnia and England? Given what this character is like, do you think the narrator of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader considers such comparisons useful?
- How would Narnia be different if it had the same level of technological advancement as 20th-century England? Would it be possible for Lucy, Edmund, and Eustace to learn the same ethical lessons in a more technologically advanced version of Narnia?
- How do Narnian and English ideas about the role of women in society differ? Describe Narnian chivalry, especially as it pertains to Lucy, and contrast it with the "modern" ideas that Eustace has learned from his parents. In what ways do the Narnians treat Lucy as an equal to Caspian or Edmund? In what ways do they consider her limited by her gender?
- Why does Aslan need to bring Edmund, Eustace, and Lucy to Narnia in order to learn about him? Couldn't he just reach out to them in their own world? Explain your answer.
Chew on This
By setting The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in a world that is not industrialized or mechanized, C.S. Lewis allows the narrative to focus on the development of characters rather than the development of the world around them.
Eustace's constant need to contrast the world of Narnia with the world he comes from is symptomatic of his dissatisfaction with himself; wherever he is seems unpleasant because he makes it unpleasant.