Monday, December 20, 2010

Influences on C.S. Lewis's Perspective

Hannah Morris takes a look:

Perspective. Defined by as "the state of one's ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship," perspective is the lens through which individuals view the world. People from across the globe have differing ideas about how the universe works due to contrasting customs, religious beliefs, and geographic locations. It is inevitable that humans will have different perspectives about their environments and that the biases they create will shine through in their everyday lives, especially in their work. This is particularly obvious in the work of authors.

Authors of all kinds are inspired to write based on their own experiences and beliefs. A prime example of this can be seen in The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. This classic piece of literature is one that was heavily influenced by the Christian Bible and Lewis's religious beliefs. This relationship is particularly strong in the second book in the series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Here Lewis constructs a fantasy world, Narnia, based off of the Biblical description of the creation of our world. He also creates characters that symbolize Jesus Christ, Satan, and numerous other Biblical figures. After reading this piece it is undeniable that an author's environment had an immense impact on his work, and how the audience reacted to it.

While the Good Book is never actually mentioned in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, its influence is clear through the character of the almighty Aslan. In the first book of the Chronicles, The Magician's Newphew, we are introduced to this ferocious yet compassionate lion. Similarly to Jesus Christ, Aslan creates his own world and calls it Narnia. This world is intended to be perfect and Lewis even includes a reference to the Tree of Good and Evil. This tree is forbidden and the residents of Narnia are advised not to eat from it. However, much like Adam in the Garden of Eden, a wicked witch indulges in the tree's fruit and therefore Narnia is corrupt. Fast forward a few fictional years and Narnia is entirely under the control of the evil witch. She has transformed this once prosperous land into a frozen dungeon where anxiety runs high, and even the trees are spies. It is here that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe begins. Aslan has left the area and all of the animals in Narnia are desperate for him to make a glorious return. This is directly related to Jesus' return to earth. According to the Gospel earth had become a wicked place, and the death of God's Son was the only way for humans to be forgiven for their many sins. As The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe continues the connection between the two becomes increasingly obvious, until the great Aslan sacrifices himself in order to save the rest of the animal kingdom. Over and over the reader is bombarded with allusions to the Bible and Lewis' influences become increasingly clear.

In conclusion it is obvious that C. S. Lewis was heavily influenced by his surroundings when penning The Chronicles of Narnia. His Christian beliefs and knowledge of the Bible are evident in the entire series and his references to them are particularly clear in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Reading this piece is comparable to reading the Bible and substituting animals in place of main characters. This shows that authors of all kinds, and especially those from the fantasy genre, are influenced heavily by their environments and perspectives of the world.

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