Study Guide

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Good vs. Evil

By C.S. Lewis

Good vs. Evil

Chapter 4

But Edmund secretly thought that it would not be as good fun for him as for her. He would have to admit that Lucy had been right, before all the others, and he felt sure the others would all be on the side of the Fauns and the animals; but he was already more than half on the side of the Witch. (4.52)

Although Edmund initially chooses the wrong side, he recognizes right away that there are clearly defined sides in the struggle for control of the world of Narnia.

Chapter 6
Edmund Pevensie

"If it comes to that, which is the right side? How do we know that the fauns are in the right and the Queen (yes, I know we've been told she's a witch) is in the wrong? We don't really know anything about either." (6.60)

Edmund raises an interesting point here – he and his siblings are really just stumbling into the middle of a complicated political situation that they may not understand. Yet we as readers instinctively know that he is wrong. The Queen is obviously evil, and Mr. Tumnus is obviously good; that's how this book works!

Chapter 8
Mr. and Mrs. Beaver

"Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you." (8.26)

Mr. Beaver distinguishes between being fundamentally good and being gentle or "safe" to be around. Aslan is good, but he's also terrible, awesome, and powerful. In this book, good is not going to just lie down and turn the other cheek. Well, OK, it is, but it's going to be pretty awe-inspiring at the same time.

Chapter 9
Edmund Pevensie

"Because," he said to himself, "all these people who say nasty things about her are her enemies and probably half of it isn't true. She was jolly nice to me, anyway, much nicer than they are. I expect she is the rightful Queen really. Anyway, she'll be better than that awful Aslan!" At least, that was the excuse he made in his own mind for what he was doing. It wasn't a very good excuse, however, for deep down inside him he really knew that the White Witch was bad and cruel. (9.3)

Edmund may try to deceive himself, but, like Lucy and the others, he has an instinctive, fundamental knowledge of good and evil. The White Witch sets off all the alarms marked "evil" in his brain, but he tries to drown them out with foolish arguments and ridiculous reasoning.

Chapter 11

All the things he had said to make himself believe that she was good and kind and that her side was really the right side sounded to him silly now. (11.10)

When Edmund is finally confronted with the fact that he has chosen the wrong side, he's not really surprised, but it's a painful recognition.

Chapter 12

But as for Aslan himself, the Beavers and the children didn't know what to do or say when they saw him. People who have not been in Narnia sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time. If the children had ever thought so, they were cured of it now. For when they tried to look at Aslan's face they just caught a glimpse of the golden mane and the great, royal, solemn, overwhelming eyes; and then they found they couldn't look at him and went all trembly. (12.8)

One of the most interesting aspects of Aslan is that he's an embodiment of all that is good, but he is still fearsome. Like a blinding light, Aslan is dazzling to the children and to the inhabitants of Narnia. He's not a comfortable or tame sort of good.

Chapter 13

A few minutes later the Witch herself walked out on to the top of the hill and came straight across and stood before Aslan. The three children, who had not seen her before, felt shudders running down their backs at the sight of her face; and there were low growls among all the animals present. Though it was bright sunshine everyone felt suddenly cold. The only two people present who seemed to be quite at their ease were Aslan and the Witch herself. It was the oddest thing to see those two faces – the golden face and the dead-white face – so close together. Not that the Witch looked Aslan exactly in his eyes; Mrs. Beaver particularly noticed this. (13.36)

When the leaders of Good and Evil finally meet face to face, Evil is no match for Good. Aslan is clearly dominant over the Witch, so we have to wonder why he hasn't vanquished her long before.

The White Witch

"Summon all our people to meet me here as speedily as they can. Call out the giants and the werewolves and the spirits of those trees who are on our side. Call the Ghouls, and the Boggles, the Ogres and the Minotaurs. Call the Cruels, the Hags, the Spectres, and the people of the Toadstools. We will fight." (13.16)

As the head of the forces of Evil, the White Witch isn't playing a lone hand. There are many different types of creatures in Narnia that follow her, and she merely acts as their captain. Evil is not an isolated incident in this world – it's a major dimension of things and wields a great deal of power.

Chapter 15
Aslan

"Oh, children," said the Lion, "I feel my strength coming back to me. Oh, children, catch me if you can!" He stood for a second, his eyes very bright, his limbs quivering, lashing himself with his tail. Then he made a leap high over their heads and landed on the other side of the Table. Laughing, though she didn't know why, Lucy scrambled over it to reach him. Aslan leaped again. A mad chase began. (15.40)

Part of Aslan's nature is playfulness. After he is revived by the Emperor's magic, Aslan romps with Susan and Lucy, and all three simply enjoy the feeling of being alive and playing together. There is something simple and beautifully good about their play.

And Aslan stood up and when he opened his mouth to roar his face became so terrible that they did not dare to look at it. And they saw all the trees in front of him bend before the blast of his roaring as grass bends in a meadow before the wind. (15.42)

In a moment, Aslan can transform himself from kittenish romping to a fierce, angry lion. The powers of good have in them to be lighthearted and fun, but also to become terrifying judges with authority and might.

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