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Monica Kempski Short Paper #2

WGST 199-01

Professor Uman

2/3/10

Lewis: Gender to the extremes

C.S Lewis created the story of Narnia, where the powerful masculine Aslan attempts to

defeat the White Witch, a demonic being who is feared by all and pure evil. Jean Graham notes

in her article " Good and evil become polarized along gender lines: the deity remains masculine,

while the two witches replace male characters in assuming responsibility for the fall of mankind

and the crucifixion of mankind's Savior" (32). Indeed, Lewis’ examples of using the wicked

Circe and Lilith as basis for the White Witch, serve to show that a woman will utilize her powers

to enforce evil. On the other hand, Lewis portrays Aslan as the male virtuous savior, displaying

that men are the ultimate power for doing good. Thus, Lewis implied that a woman should not be

given power because she will use it for evil and bring about catastrophe to the world.

Lewis formulates the White Witch two characters originating from earlier works about

mystical and terrible woman forces. First, the White Witch is comparable to Circe. Circe

possessed a powerful wand which with she turned her competitors to pigs. The White Witch also

yielded a wand with which she turned her enemies to stone. With this power, she is able to

spread fear over the citizens of Narnia so that no one opposes her. Then, she can exercise her

complete control and carry out her evil plans.

Lewis directly references the White Witch being from “your father Adam’s first wife-

they call her Lilith” (85). Lilith was beautiful and used her seductive power to meet her horrid

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goals. The White Witch is very similar in this way. First and most forwardly, she is described as

having “a beautiful face” (38). Then, she uses her wand to produce Turkish Delight to entice

Edmund to do her bidding. Perhaps she had done this to appeal to his selfish nature, by giving

him food, (something he seems to deeply care about) and to offer him a rank over his brothers

and sisters. In this way, she is seducing him to do her bidding. Because Edmund is only a boy,

she preferred to satisfy his selfish side, rather than his sexual side. At his stage in life, he would

probably not find her sexual appealing to the point of desire. Thus, the White Witch is seductive

to accommodate his personality rather than his sexuality. With achieving the goal of having

Edmund bring his brother and sisters to her, she can kill them and end the prophecy that the two

sons and daughters of Adam will destroy her reign in Narnia. In eliminating her over throwers

who are the only good forces in Narnia, her powers become unstoppable and she can continue

her realm of disorder that she has created. With her powers of controlling the people, spreading

fear, and eliminating her opposition, Lewis created a dangerous female character that is a threat

to humankind.

Aslan is in direct comparison with the Christ figure, the greatest hero and powerful savior

of the Catholic Church.“He is the King….word has reached us that he has come back” (85).

Thus, Aslan is like Jesus because he comes to the world in a great time of need to save the

people. Aslan is the ultimate protector, so it is no coincidence that he is a lion. A lion has always

been a symbol of masculine power and courage, which is exactly what Narnia needs to defeat the

White Witch. Aslan is also a Christ figure because of his sacrifice. He gave his life for Edmund

at the hand of the White Witch. The White Witch, in turn is like the devil because she has

influenced Aslan (the all powerful benevolent opponent) to give himself up with her ambition of

retaining her power. Thus, she invokes chaos and evil on Narnia by taking away the people’s

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savior with her power of control. In using this interesting parallel, people may subconsciously

have a hatred toward women because of the witch’s actions, and a compassion filled with

righteousness towards the male because of Aslan’s actions of hope and sacrifice.

With the actions of the White Witch, Lewis clearly illustrates that a woman should not be

given power because she will only use it to suit her personal evil ambitions. The White Witch’s

power is contrasted with the masculine and benevolent Aslan, who uses his power to bring hope

to Narnia. Here, Lewis evidently draws the line that women are evil and men are ultimately good

through the ways they choose to use their power.