The Power of Self-Realization
Course code: SEN 62L
School of Education and Environment
The Power of Self-Realization
in C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with special reference to
The author, David C. Downing in his Into the Wardrobe C.S. Lewis and The Narnia Chronicles claims that “the most interesting psychological cases in the chronicles are those
who do not remain fixed in character but are profoundly changed by their time in Narnia
perhaps the best example is Edmund Pevensie” (Downing 92). Downing’s assertion is useful
in demonstrating that Edmund’s behavior causes him to be disliked by his siblings. A review
by Alison Waller makes known the development of children regarding the theme of the
“problems inherent in a child recalling their development into adulthood” (Waller 313).
Waller uses Edmund as an example to show how he develops from having a
being gluttonous, revealing his siblings to the White Witch
who wants to kill them, andchanging his behavior to become a noble person.
This essay discusses how Edmund Pevensie’s growing self-awareness in The Lion, the Witchand the Wardrobe comes as a result of his awareness that he must change his unacceptable
behavior to become a respectable person. The essay argues that Edmund initially exhibits
unseemly behavior, and that contributes to an unreceptive relationship with his siblings.
However, he gradually realizes the need to become a noble person. The main areas of
discussion include Edmund Pevensie’s initial bad temper, his gluttony, betrayal of his
siblings, and his desire for wealth and power. These are compared with his later acts of
compassion and courage, which are the direct result of his growing self-realization.
The analysis in this essay demonstrates the problems and temptations that Edmund undergoes
as result of maturing from childhood into adulthood. In his maturity process, Edmund begins
by disrespecting his siblings, which often results in tensions between the eldest, Peter, and
him. His encounter with the Queen and the Turkish Delight nearly result in his death.
Edmund’s behavior and his traits are important in the essay, and through a close reading, this
literary work’s complexity is revealed (Lynn 18). Edmund’s self-realization results from his
ability to change his behavior, and as such every part of the essay contributes to this unified
theme. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines self-realization as having skills
and abilities and achieving as much as a person is possible to achieve.
Narnia is both a country and a world of its own.
The White Witch is also the Queen of Narnia turns the country into winter, and capable of
turning people into stones.
Other authors include Flexer, who writes about Edmund’s self-awareness and explains that
even though Edmund betrays his brother and sisters, his later self-awareness helps him to
redeem himself from ill-tempered behavior (Flexer 26). He gains courage which helps him
play a significant role in saving Narnia. The author Driggs, who also writes about Edmund’s
self-recognition, explains that through his self-understanding Edmund is able to unite with his
siblings and helps free Narnia from the Witch’s cruelty (Driggs 78). Flexer and Driggs
summarize that Edmund’s ability to become a noble person comes from his self-insight. This
essay also shows that as a result of his self-awareness, Edmund realizes the cruel behavior of
the White Witch, and that encourages him to play an active role in helping to destroy her.
Critics of the Narnia stories, for example Goetz, explain about the theme of pride and
humility, revealing that Edmund’s pride comes about through internal and external factors.
Goetz explains further that his desire for power and superiority over his siblings contribute to
his surrender to the queen’s wishes (Goetz 230). Edmund’s desire to rule and his quest for
dominance are another manifestation of his self-centered pride. Goetz argues that Edmund’s
humility comes as a result of his need to redeem himself from his pride (Goetz 232). Another
critic, Williams, explains Edmund’s behavior from a Christian perspective and compares
Edmund’s temptation to the biblical temptation of Jesus when he faces the temptation of
changing stones into bread. Williams explains that one of the reasons people commit crimes is
because of their inability to withstand temptation (Williams 51). Towards the end of the
novel, Edmund’s pride leads him into temptation and his self-awareness helps him to change
his behavior; this then demonstrates his intention to become humble.
From the beginning of the novel, Edmund’s ill-tempered behavior establishes the fact that he
hates his siblings. The narrator explains that Edmund wants his brother and sisters to be
turned into stones (Lewis 99). Edmund even wants revenge when his elder brother Peter calls
him a “poisonous little beast” (Lewis 65). Edmund thinks that he should not be called a beast,
but ironically he is a ‘beast’ because he is dangerous and has malicious intentions to hurt
others. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines “beast” as a person who is cruel
and whose behavior is uncontrolled.
Edmund is merciless towards his siblings and does not
know the importance of relationships. Nodelman offers an explanation that some children are
emotionally vulnerable and easily upset when they are exposed to painful matters (Nodelman
Peter’s remarks make Edmund feel emotionally vulnerable as Nodelman explains, and as
a result refuses to forgive him.
Edmund’s ill-tempered behavior alienates him from his siblings. Edmund complains bitterly,
for example, about a rainy day (Lewis 11), causing Susan to rebuke him to “stop grumbling”
(Lewis 10), which demonstrates that he does not respect his brother and sisters. The word
“grumble” indicates his bad-temper. He is the only one of the Pevensie’s children who is
unhappy because he cannot go outdoors. In explaining children’s behavior in relation to how
they understand society, Nodelman concludes that children are not absolutely developed in
their thoughts and therefore do not know the importance of showing respect (Nodelman 73).
Edmund’s bitterness demonstrates how he conducts his behavior towards his siblings.
Edmund’s constant complaining is not only disrespectful towards Lucy, but he is even
malicious, mean and spiteful towards her (Lewis 51). He keeps on asking her about new
countries in other cupboards in the old Professor’s house in order to belittle
behavior makes him unable to accept the robin’s story, because he thinks that trusting the
robin will only lead them into a trap (Lewis 70).
In demonstrating that Edmund is very
wicked, Downing explains that Edmunds mockery of Lucy’s imaginary world inside the
wardrobe results from his intention to hurt her (Downing 93). Edmund’s mockery shows that
he does not fear his siblings and he is even ready to reveal their presence in Narnia to the
Edmund’s bad temper is demonstrated again when he questions Susan’s authority over him,
as indicated in the following rhetorical question “who are you to say when I’m to go to bed?”
(Lewis 10). His answer discloses that he strives to dominate his siblings and enforce respect
from them. The author emphasizes Edmund’s ability to enforce recognition when he tells
Peter that “oughtn’t we to be bearing a bit more to the left, that is, if we are aiming for the
lamp-post?” (Lewis 64). Edmund’s remark demonstrates that he wants his siblings to listen to
whatever he says. Edmund’s authoritative response to Susan also attests to his quest for
identity. His quest for authority also shows that he wants his siblings to recognize him as an
Edmund’s bad temper makes him be disrespectful to his sister Susan, even though she is the
elder, and he tells her to stop making unnecessary remarks (Lewis 10). His comment
substantiates the argument that he wants to take advantage of his parent’s absence in order to
enforce his authority over his siblings. Edmund demands respect from his brother and sisters,
and he does not want the White Witch to recognize his siblings, or to give them the same
respect as she accords him (Lewis 98). Edmund thinks that he should be regarded as being
just as important as Aslan, who is the King and God of Narnia (Lewis 87) or Maugrim who is
the Queen’s Secret Police (Lewis 108). The author Waller, who writes about the Chronicles of Narnia, claims that the Narnia stories are full of distinguishable characters as mentioned
above (Waller 312). Edmund’s quest for being regarded as an esteemed person explains his
want of being in control and his dominance over his siblings.
Edmund’s belief in his own dominance over his brother and sisters clarifies that he wants to
be the eldest of the Pevensie’s children. He therefore sees his sister Lucy as weak and his
subordinate. She is afraid to rebuke him, and he tells her she is silly (Lewis 11). Edmund’s
utterance and his reply to Lucy establish the fact that he is not ready yet to accept any
atonement from his siblings (Lewis 36), and his derogatory remarks demonstrate that he is
neither afraid nor remorseful. The word “silly” here suggests stupidity, and he thinks that his
sister is such a person.
Researchers have made assertions about the plight of female characters
in relation to their male characters. They maintain that young female children have fewer
confrontations with authority and thus have less need to demonstrate an ability to challenge
that authority (Coleman and Hendry 185). As a result of Edmund’s eagerness to dominate his
siblings, his sister Lucy is not able to challenge him over what she thinks is right.
The author, in the The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe clarifies that changes in family
structure affect a child’s behavior. A notable example is when the Pevensie children are sent
away from London to the house of the old Professor in the country (Lewis 9). The author, in
revealing the old Professor’s unconcerned behavior towards the Pevensie children, gives an
example when Peter says “that old chap will let us do anything we like” (Lewis 10). Western
tradition underscores that children should respect their elders. Here, Edmund does not even
respect the old Professor, because he considers him an “old chap” and he even mocks his
eccentric looks by pretending to blow his nose. The old Educator, who is unable to counsel
Edmund about his behavior, contributes to the manner in which Edmund conducts himself.
Therefore the absence of Edmund’s parents and the Professor’s inability to advise him creates
an atmosphere where Edmund does whatever he wants.
The type of family and the social background children find themselves in are important. The
essentiality of such social and family compositions plays a remarkable role in the upbringing
of children. The sentence above shows that when a child for instance moves from his or her
parents and lives with another family, such a change in parenting, is one of the factors that
contribute to a child’s poor behavior, for instance lack of showing respect and compassion to
others. In showing that the social conditions in which children are brought up contribute to
their behavior, Nodelman explains that the plight of children is related to the character of the
social environment in which they find themselves (Nodelman 72). The Professor’s inability to
rebuke Edmund makes not only the latter disrespect the professor as stated above, it also
makes Edmund disrespect his brother and sisters.
Considering the effects that different social conditions have, Coleman and Hendry discuss
how a change in family set-ups can affect children. They argue that,
Changes in social compositions have two possible implications for young children. In the
first place it is possible that values and beliefs about marriage, family and parenting are
shifting as children grow up in family circumstances which are, relatively speaking, less
stable than was the case for their own mothers and fathers (Coleman and Hendry 4).
Their research demonstrates that parents have an important role to play in their
children’s social and moral development. They maintain that it is important for parents
to have frequent contact with their children by finding out what interests them, planning
for their future, advising them, and acting as disciplinarians.
The Professor is incapable of understanding Edmund’s ill-tempered and spiteful behavior
(Lewis 53) since he seems to live in a world of his own. Also, he has not lived with Edmund
for sufficiently long to discuss his weaknesses. As discussed above, the problems mentioned
previously concerning the old Educator’s attitude are clear indications of his inability to act as
a parent to Edmund effectively. Edmund’s ill-temper (Lewis 10) and his mockery of the
Professor even shows Edmund’s difficulty accepting the professor’s view of Narnia, since he
thinks he is only pretending with Lucy (Lewis 55). Another aspect of poor parenting is the
reclusiveness of the old Professor, whose role is only seen at the beginning of the novel and at
Edmund’s lack of appropriate counseling contributes to his crafty behavior, and in choosing
an animal that represents his character, he selects a fox (Lewis 11), which often refers to
someone who is sly, or deceives people. The word “fox” therefore suggests Edmund is clever
at adopting a cunning behavior just to hurt his siblings (Lewis 52) without considering the
consequences. Children’s unpleasant behavior towards one another is partly due to their
absence of self-restraint. In showing the plight of youngsters, Nodelman explains that children
are inherently savage and animal-like: they are not disciplined and therefore they need to be
cajoled into understanding the need for self-discipline, and that helps to keep them safe and
sane in dealings with each other (Nodelman 73).
Edmund’s untruthfulness about Lucy’s story
causes his siblings to distrust him, and he does not even know that his dishonesty plays a role
in destroying the relationship with his siblings.
One of the consequences of the overwhelming desire for the Turkish Delight
is Edmund’sbetrayal of his brother and siblings by assuring the Queen that he will make the “best” effort
to bring his siblings to her (Lewis 47). Edmund’s desire for the Delight shows that, even
though he is aware of the Queen’s malicious intentions and recognizes that she is a dreadfully
harmful person (Lewis 48), he is not worried about bringing his siblings to her. The word
“best” shows that he is very willing to fulfill the Witch’s demand irrespective of the
consequences. Brennan in discussing the Chronicles of Narnia explains the difficulty in
resisting temptations, and shows the aftereffect of Edmund’s gluttony. In his article “The
Lion, the Witch and the Allegory” Brennan clarifies Edmund’s continuous desire for the
magic confectionery as follows: “Edmund’s significant sin is to succumb to the temptation of
gluttony” (Brennan 6). The word “succumb” suggests that Edmund is weak which makes him
obey whatever the Queen says.
Edmund’s obsession with the magic candy causes him to obey the Witch, and makes him
even more eager to go to the Witch’s house for more of the Turkish Delight (Lewis 79). His
gluttonous attitude renders him weak, and that makes him fall easily into temptation. In
showing challenges people encounter during seduction, Vaus clarifies the difficulties in
overcoming temptations, which is due to a person’s greediness (Vaus 27).
what he thinks has to be done in order to achieve his goal. He therefore forgets that his desire
for magic candy causes him to reveal his siblings.
Turkish Delight is enchanted, and causes a person to want more until he or she dies.
Edmund cannot be held accountable for his frantic consumption of the enchanted candy. They
are not ordinary, and have the ability to make him want more (Lewis 49). However, his
continuous desire for the charmed candy occurs long after leaving the Witch. In relating a
person’s desires to the biblical lesson about covetousness, Apostle Paul clarifies that many
live as enemies of the cross of Jesus, and their destiny is destruction because their life is their
stomach and their minds are on earthy desires (Philippians 3:18-19). From a biblical
perspective, gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins, but Edmund fails to realize the
consequences of such greediness.
In addition to his gluttony, Edmund does not want to reveal his knowledge of the Witch to his
siblings (Lewis 51). As a result, he ends up lying to them about his discovery of Narnia as he
claims that in saying that “Lucy and I have been playing- pretending that all her story about a
country in the wardrobe is true” (Lewis 52). Edmund is unwilling to confirm Lucy’s story,
and he uses words in the quotation such as “playing” and “pretending” to support his view
about Narnia. From a Christian perspective, Apostle James shows the importance of being
truthful. He explains that “every good gift and every perfect present comes from heaven; and
that comes from God, the Creator of the heavenly lights, who does not change or cause
darkness by turning. By his own will he brought us into being through the word of truth, so
that we should have first place among his creatures” (James 1:17-18). Apostle James’s
biblical view shows that truthfulness plays a role in determining a person’s upright behavior
His gluttonous behavior makes Edmund a captive of his own insatiable desire because after
having “eaten his share of the dinner, [...] he hadn’t really enjoyed it because he was thinking
all the time about the Turkish Delight” (Lewis 98). Edmund thinks that eating a part of the
food i.e., “share of the dinner” will not make him satisfied, and desires more of the charmed
confectionery. He affirms that he is enslaved by his own overwhelming desire since the
absence of the magic candy makes him ill (Lewis 50). Even after eating dinner he still wants
more of the enchanted candy (Lewis 49). Edmund demonstrates that his gluttony causes him
to focus his attention only on the candy.
Edmund’s insatiable desire for the candy also makes him feel that he is being alienated from
his siblings. As a result, he tries to find alternative sources of pleasure. He feels that his
siblings are “taking no notice of him and trying to give him the cold shoulder” (Lewis 98).
The expression “cold shoulder” testifies that Edmund feels his siblings do not recognize him
as a member of the family. He thinks that the enchanted candy has the ability to make him
“quite warm and very comfortable” (Lewis 43). Edmund also feels that he has the magic
candy as a friend and does not bother about his siblings. The words “warm” and
“comfortable” demonstrate that Edmund has found companionship and happiness by being on
the side of the White Witch (Lewis 50).
His alienation from his siblings also makes him believe that the latter does not accept his
.He does not understand the reason why his brother and sisters believe the robin’s idea
(Lewis 70), and even trust what Mr. Beaver
tells them (Lewis 75). He is therefore under theimpression that his siblings are self content prigs (Lewis 65), which substantiates the fact that
he thinks his siblings have no right to tell him what to do.
Nodelman explains that in order to
be happy, children always look for interesting events (Nodelman 83). Edmund’s alienation
therefore causes him to focus on and to desire the candy as a means of attaining happiness.
Edmund’s desire for Delight causes him to forget one of the basic rules of eating, namely to
avoid talking with your mouth full (Lewis 43). He also forgets to use the appropriate courtesy
in addressing the Queen, forgetting to address her with appropriate title and politeness (Lewis
44). Edmund’s focus on the charmed candy makes him forget to ask himself the reason for the
Queen’s curiosity (Lewis 43). Manlove explains that Edmund’s desire for the magic
confectionery makes him drawn to the Witch by his own self conceit, and as a result he is
disinclined to ask about the Queen’s intentions (Manlove 36). Edmund’s attraction to the
Delight and his allegiance to the Witch show that he lacks the goodness of Aslan, who is the
lord of the whole wood. Edmund’s longing for the Turkish Delight therefore means death,
because the magic confectionery has the ability to charm a person by desiring it more and
more until he or she dies.
Edmund’s gluttony makes him unable to distinguish between the White Witch and the Queen
of Narnia, as evidenced in the following question “the White Witch? said Edmund, who’s
she?” (Lewis 48). Edmund therefore thinks that the derogatory remarks made by Mrs. Beaver
about the Queen being cruel and evil
(Lewis 91) refers to another person called the “WhiteWitch”. He also believes that the Witch is a different person because the Queen is friendly to
Mr Beaver is loyal to Aslan, the lord of the wood.5
Has ability to cause harm.
him (Lewis, p. 99). Edmund’s difficulty in telling the difference between the Queen and the
Witch is due to her promises of making him a king (Lewis 45). With Edmund’s uncertainty,
Downing summarizes that Edmund falls prey to the Queen and her flattery appeals to his
pride, just as the Turkish Delight appeals to his gluttony (Downing 93), showing that Edmund
is very confused, and he does not know what to do with himself.
Though Edmund demonstrates a confused state of mind, his gluttonous behavior makes him
think that he “owns” the enchanted candy. His feeling of owning the magic candy testifies
that he is outstanding, and he says to the Queen that there is nothing special about his siblings
(Lewis 46), since he thinks only people of higher status should have companionship with the
Queen (Lewis, p. 49). Edmund’s quest for higher status results in accepting the Witch’s
request to become a prince (Lewis 45). In showing how characters fight for higher positions
in a society, Brennan
argues that Edmund’s quest for being highly regarded in status
continues to fill his mind with earthly desires, and results in him continuously succumbing to
the temptation of the magic candy (Brennan 6). Edmund’s focus on the magic confectionery
actually diverts his desire for the greater good, and his thoughts obstruct him from seeing the
relevance of unity with his siblings.
Edmund’s gluttony causes him to be treated dreadfully by the Witch. The Queen for instance,
shouts at him to walk “faster! faster!” (Lewis 132). The Queen’s commanding voice shouting
at Edmund to walk “faster” demonstrates her evil intentions. The Witch thinks that by
subjecting Edmund to walk “faster”, she is punishing him by letting him walk more than his
usual walking pace. The Queen’s severe treatment frightens Edmund (Lewis 104), which
makes him resentful and disappointed (Lewis 121). Another consequence of gluttony is made
out when young creatures such as squirrels are killed by the White Witch (Lewis 126). The
killing of the squirrels reaffirms that Edmund’s overwhelming desire for the Turkish Delight
is likely to have a similar consequence.
Edmund’s innocence about the enchanted nature of the candy contributes to his deliverance
before death by the Witch. The Queen even
knew quite well what he was thinking, for she knew, though Edmund did not,
that this was enchanted Turkish Delight and that anyone who has once tasted it
would want more and more of it, and would even, if they were allowed, go on
eating it till they killed themselves (Lewis 44).
The negation “did not’” shows that Edmund is not aware of the magic nature of the candy
The expression “if they were allowed to go on” shows that Edmund’s death is preventable.Aslan confirms that he has settled with the Queen about saving Edmund from death (Lewis
).Manlove explains that Edmund, for example, is too young to differentiate between what
is good as compared to what is evil (Manlove 39), demonstrating his unawareness about the
Delight’s charm and that contributes to his rescue by Aslan.
Edmund’s rescue, as a result of his gluttony plays a significant role in freeing Narnia. The
argument is that if Edmund had not fallen into his insatiable desire for the candy, he would
not have been taken by the Queen, which then causes Aslan to eventually negotiate for his
freedom (Lewis 155). Therefore Edmund’s gluttony plays a role in freeing Narnia, and
fulfilling the prophecy; that when Aslan comes (Lewis 88), his blood will prevent Narnia
from becoming “overturned and perish in fire and water” (Lewis 153
).The prophecy confirms
that Narnia is able to be saved from destruction. Edmund’s overwhelming desire makes him
realize the Queen’s evil intentions, and eventually plays an active role in freeing Narnia.
In addition to helping fight the Queen of Narnia, Edmund is also able to find where the Queen
lives. The Queen gives him directions that the next time he visits her, he only has to look for
the lamppost, the two hills and then walk through the woods until he reaches her palace
(Lewis 46). Edmund’s ability to find the location deepens his knowledge and experience to be
able to find other locations in Narnia. Waller explains that children need information, such as
getting new ideas and skills in order to enhance their knowledge. He explains further that
children need to understand issues, as well as, having ability to remember in order to move to
a new stage in their development, for example from childhood into adulthood (Waller 313).
Children should therefore not be deprived of experiences that make them less limited in
achieving their objectives.
Despite a number of Edmund’s achievements mentioned above, Edmund reveals the presence
of his brother and sisters in Narnia to the Witch (Lewis 108). The narrator confirms that
Edmund has gone to the White Witch to betray his siblings (Lewis 94). The Witch is fearfully
aware of the prophecy that states that “when two sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve sit
on these four thrones then it will be the end not only of the White Witch’s reign but of her
life” (Lewis 92), and knowing that Edmund is a “son of Adam” (Lewis 40), the Queen
decides to kill him and his siblings so that she can nullify the prophecy. Concerning betrayal
in the novel, Brennan writes about Edmund’s dishonesty from a Christian perspective. He
explains that Edmund’s betrayal of his siblings is an allegory of Judas
(Brennan 6).Edmund shows that he does not like his siblings, and he therefore betrays them (Lewis 51).
His action suggests that he is not honest and cannot be trusted as a brother. He also betrays
Lucy for calling the Witch a terrible person (Lewis 48). Edmund is already half on the
Queen’s side (Lewis 50), as she is helping him to become a king. He has therefore no other
alternative but to lie about Narnia. His betrayal is also seen as a result of not trusting Aslan,
and he thinks that the Witch is much nicer (Lewis 99).The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe shows that Edmund feels unhappy as a result of his
disloyalty. Edmund, after betraying his sister Lucy feels sick and looks awful (Lewis 50). His
desire for the magic confectionery makes him forget that he must pretend to never have been
in the wood before, and the moment the words are revealed, he realizes that he has betrayed
himself (Lewis 64). In supporting how characters react emotionally after committing crimes,
Vaus who writes about myth and religion, explains that Edmund feels very remorseful after
betraying Lucy, and his emotional actions make him physically sick (Vaus 25). Edmund’s
attitude and unconscious physical reactions show that he is regretful of what he has done.
Though Edmund betrays his sister and feels remorse, he sees the need for an industrialized
Narnia, and that makes him have thoughts about what he intends to do when he becomes king
of Narnia. He reflects as follows,
When I’m King of Narnia the first thing I shall do will be to make some decent roads. And of
course that set him off thinking about being a King and all the other things he would do and
this cheered him up a good deal. He had just settled in his mind what sort of palace he would
have and how many cars and all about his private cinema and where the principal railways
would run and what laws he would make against beavers and dams and was putting the
finishing touches to some schemes for keeping Peter in his place (Lewis. 100 & 101).
Edmund thinks that in order to achieve his aim, he must accept whatever the Queen says
about being a king (Lewis 79). He thinks that just as the Queen has the power and authority to
make Narnia become winter, and never Christmas (Lewis 67), he must also have a similar
power to do what he intends. In showing the need to rule a country, Don W. King reveals the
importance of unity and development towards a country’s success. He explains that a
See Mathew chapter 26 verses 14-15.
disintegrated society such as Narnia, makes rulers achieve their objectives through their effort
of unifying the country (King 4).
Edmund’s eagerness to become a ruler supports the notion
that he does not want to be made a king by Aslan, since he thinks that the Queen is better than
Aslan (Lewis 99).
Edmund’s first consideration, if he were king, is to have good roads. He realizes that the
absence of roads “kept him slipping into deep drifts of snow, and skidding on frozen puddles,
and tripping over fallen tree trunks, and sliding down steep banks, and barking his shins
against rocks, till he was wet and cold and bruised all over” (Lewis 100). His thoughts about
constructing good roads only contribute to his imagination about being a king. The expression
“bruised all over” makes him realize the problems involved with road transport in Narnia.
Nodelman explains that it is inappropriate to underestimate what children are capable of doing
(Nodelman 17). Edmund’s intention to construct roads shows that even though he is a child,
nothing prevents him from thinking as a ruler, hence Edmund’s thoughts about developing
Narnia, and even improving the quality of the roads.
Edmund also thinks about constructing railways as a means of making Narnia become
industrialized. He believes that rail transport plays an important role in facilitating his journey
from London during air-raids (Lewis 9). He thinks that such a development is a sign of good
governance (Lewis 197). In showing the importance of the railway construction, Downing
summarizes that such a development contributes to the success of Narnia. He claims that the
manufacturing of railway engines would play a significant role in commercial activities in
Narnia (Downing 93
).Edmund is therefore anxiously waiting for the Queen to make him a
king in order to achieve his objectives.
Even though Edmund thinks to improve Narnia through the construction of railways, he also
thinks to enact laws against Mr. Beaver. He says that “if it comes to talking about sides, how
do we know you’re a friend?” (Lewis 75) demonstrating his support for the Queen because he
does not trust Mr. Beaver. He thinks that the laws will benefit every citizen of Narnia, and his
prevention of Mr. Beaver from making a dam close to the Queen’s palace (Lewis 78-79) is a
means of improving the country. By enacting laws in Narnia, Downing explains that such
laws are meant to make the country better, since some rulers try to abuse power by making
laws to suit their purposes (Downing 111). Edmund’s quest for power therefore shows that he
wants to betray his siblings in order to achieve his aim, and to rule over them as well.
In addition to Edmund’s vision for an industrialized Narnia, he also realizes the need to show
compassion to others, and that shows a change from unacceptable behavior to an upright
manner of conducting himself. His compassion is firstly due to his regret for the role he plays
in betraying the others, and as such he experiences choking feelings (Lewis 154). Secondly,
his compassion is explained by the narrator’s assertion that Edmund for the first time feels
sorry for someone besides himself (Lewis 127), demonstrating that Edmund has great
empathy for others. In supporting the significance of compassion, Downing summarizes that
recognizing other people’s problems and showing feelings give joy and gratitude (Downing
101). His claim serves as a good reference in explaining Edmund’s feelings and his
compassion for others.
Sympathizing with others implies that Edmund has acquired experience associated with
psychological emotions, for example when the Queen whips him (Lewis 130), and when he
has to travel in cold conditions (Lewis 123). His treatment causes the narrator to confirm that
Edmund is undergoing immense suffering (Lewis 121), demonstrating that Edmund’s ability
to show compassion results from the torments he suffers from the Witch. Downing
summarizes that after having undergone such suffering and having endured the painful
consequences of his own choice of becoming friends with the Witch, Edmund finally
discovers the need to care for others (Downing 100). Edmund’s compassion for others and the
pains he encounters indicate his realization of the need for unity by the people of Narnia
Edmund’s suffering and compassion make him change his behavior, and that also gives him
the courage to help destroy the Queen (Lewis 148). The narrator comments on Edmund’s
effort in the battle (Lewis 192), demonstrating that the unrevealed conversation between
Aslan and Edmund contributes to the latter’s nobility and bravery (Lewis 121). In addition to
Edmund’s fearlessness, he takes the risk to smash the Queen’s magic wand, a valorous action
that helps turn the tide of the battle. Commendations and encouragements give inspiration to
people. In giving further clarification, Vaus shows that in motivating a person, appropriate
advice and helpful comments are important to consider as they help improve a person’s
abilities towards his or her achievements (Vaus 31). Aslan’s motivation contributes in helping
Edmund to be brave and to destroy the Queen’s magic wand.
Edmund demonstrates that he is fearless in all of the battles. He approaches the Queen’s castle
that has been built with pointy spines and sharp needles (Lewis 102), and even ventures
nearer a lion (Lewis 104). He also confronts the Queen and tries to stop her from killing some
citizens of Narnia (Lewis 126). In showing the importance of bravery, Walter Hooper sees the
need to encourage children by exposing them to stories concerning heroism. He thinks that in
educating children they should at least hear of brave knights, brave feats, and heroic deeds
that serve as inspiration and motivation for them (Hooper 13). Edmund’s courageous actions
all show that he cares about the welfare of the citizens of Narnia.
Edmund’s bravery and his outstanding role in the fight against the Queen result in being made
a king by Aslan (Lewis 194). With Aslan’s goodness, Edmund sees the importance of noble
qualities as opposed to mere riches and jewels in Narnia (Lewis 201). His view suggests that
he does not want to remember his acquaintance with the Queen, since such unpleasant
happenings make him sad (Lewis 200). Downing shows the importance of encouraging
children towards heroic ambitions. He writes that children must be strengthened and guided to
enable them to discover the very essence of bravery (Downing 105
).Children’s stories should
contain positive role models such as Edmund, who is fearless and ready to show mercy for
Edmund’s self-realization results from his need for justice since the Queen is cruel towards
him and the citizens of Narnia (Lewis 91). The fact that she is willing to turn everything into
stone or kill whatever stands in her way, even a defenseless animal such as a squirrel (Lewis
123) motivates Edmund’s decision to change sides. Edmund is human and he reflects about
all that he has gone through with the Witch (Lewis 152). Once Edmund realizes the Queen’s
malicious intentions, not even the promise of becoming the King of Narnia (Lewis 124)
convinces Edmund to be with her. Edmund’s self-insight shows an immense change of his
Edmund’s self-awareness comes not only from his inner ability to change his behavior but
also from his awareness about changes in the season. The narrator explains that Edmund
“realized that the frost was over” (Lewis 129), where the approaching end of winter is a
metaphor for the end of the White Witch’s cruel acts (Lewis 90). Further, Edmund realizes the
Witch’s evil intentions (Lewis 99), and that result in Edmund not wanting to be on her side.
The disappearance of snow makes Edmund recognize the need to change his uncompromising
behavior to become a better person again (Lewis 194). Manlove shows the importance of
acceptable behavior and cooperation among the characters in Narnia (Manlove 37). Edmund’s
decision to change his behavior makes him improve his deplorable relationship with his
brother and sisters.
Continuing with the change in the season, i.e. the sudden presence of spring, Edmund realizes
the importance of nature, and that plays a role in inspiring him to change his behavior. The
narrator expresses that,
Then the mist turned from white to gold and presently cleared away altogether. Shafts of
delicious sunlight struck down to the forest floor and overhead you could see a blue sky
between the tree tops. Soon there were more wonderful things happening. Coming suddenly
round a corner into a glade of silver birch trees Edmund saw the ground covered in all
directions with little yellow flowers – celandines (Lewis 131).
Even if Edmund does not learn logic at school (Lewis 36), he is able to recognize the changes
in the season and the appearance of flowers. He thinks that the “celandine” as defined by The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary as a small wild plant with yellow flowers that grows
in the spring is enough evidence that shows that the Queen’s enchantment and the winter
season is over. The result of such an event is also what contributes to his realization that he
must also become a better person.
A great number of changes in Edmund’s behavior contribute to his development. Edmund’s
efforts to help destroy the Witch make him recognize the importance of cooperating with
other characters. Aslan and Edmund’s conversation is important, which “Edmund never
forgot… and said to each of them in turn I am sorry” (Lewis 150). The conversation does not
give adequate information about what happens between Aslan and Edmund; their
communication suggests though that Edmund realizes his mistakes and therefore is ready to
unite with his siblings. In emphasizing the need for teamwork, Downing explains that
Edmund is carried away to meet Aslan and also to be united with his siblings (Downing 102).
Edmund’s realization and compromise with his siblings reaffirm his intention to help destroy
the Queen of Narnia.
Edmund’s change of behavior shows that he is a
dynamic character. The author Lukens, who
writes about children’s literature, explains that such a person “changes in the course of the
action and he or she may change from being shy to being poised or even domineering or from
cowardly to brave” (Lukens 89). With reference to Lukens’s definition, Edmund is initially
ill-tempered and a traitor. However, he gradually transforms himself into a courageous
teenager, who stands up for himself, his siblings and the land of Narnia. Edmund is also a
round character, as he is one of the main characters known throughout the novel. As Lukens
explains, such a character is prominent in the novel because of his actions, pronouncements
and opinions (Lukens 88). This essay shows many aspects of Edmund’s tensions, such as his
disagreements with his siblings and the tension between him and the Queen, which are all
important in unifying the essay.
In order to summarize what contributes to Edmund Pevensie’s realization of the need to
change his behavior, a revisit to his former behavior is important. His behavior makes him
come into contact with White
Witch and Turkish Delight, which prompts him to betray his
siblings. A vital lesson drawn from Edmund’s former attitude is that characters are not
flawless. In showing that characters make errors, Kaufmann summarizes that a person whose
progress is thwarted as a result of their mistakes are capable of redeeming themselves and
becoming respectable people (Kaufmann 58). Even though Edmund tries to kill his siblings he
makes frantic efforts to redeem himself and to become the King of Narnia.
His courageous actions play a crucial role in the novel in two particular respects. Firstly,
through his bravery, Narnia has once again gained freedom through Edmund’s destruction of
the Witch’s magic wand (Lewis 192). Secondly, his act of heroism contributes to his title
“King Edmund the Just” (Lewis 198), demonstrating that he has gained knowledge about the
importance of acceptable behavior and to accord everyone with respect. In explaining what
bravery means, Downing claims that to be courageous does not only mean that a person is
fearless, but rather his or her abilities to save a dangerous situation (Downing 103). Edmund
shows his commitment and determination to oust the Witch even at the peril of his own death.
Edmund’s courageous fight and his self-insight shows that he understands what it means to be
an adult, and to experience the process of maturing. As a result of the disappearance of winter,
Edmund realizes the importance of an acceptable behavior compared to being ill-tempered.
He shows great determination and heroism to fight against the Witch (Lewis 193). Edmund’s
fight is thus not only a simple matter of showing great courage, but also demonstrates that it is
a situation with potentially fatal consequences. Edmund’s selfless contribution also exposes
the fact that he has learnt to fight against injustice and recognize that people differ in their
ability to face danger, pain and uncertainty. Therefore his nobility, which results from his
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