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Dark Like Blood

Magical Freedoms

"'Holy wisdom is not clear and thin like water,
but thick and dark like blood'" (50).
C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces (1956)


Points of Reflection

The Bible: Genesis 1-3

1. where does the Genesis account of the creation overlap with Lewis's version of creation?

C. S. Lewis's The Magician's Nephew (1955)

1. Lewis’s narrator occasionally compares the era in which his tale is set to the period in which the tale is told (and published).  Which does he seem to prefer, the contemporary moment or the historical one?

2. consider the London citizens who accumulate near Digory’s house midway through the story (103-11).  What sociological conclusions does Lewis appear to have reached about the behavior of large masses of people?

3. Digory floats the possibility that Uncle Andrew is quite insane.  Does the tale appear to reinforce this idea, critique the man and his studies as instead bent by sin, or actually validate his uncle’s life of metaphysical enquiry?

4. how does Lewis go about making Uncle Andrew incredibly creepy?

5. what does Uncle Andrew think about traditional morality?

6. is the magic in this book always laced with a moral flavor, or is it ever morally neutral?

7. is the Witch the more powerful, female equivalent of Uncle Andrew in any significant ways, or are they two very different types of magicians?

8. is Charn’s tragic condition simply a product of magic gone awry, or a function of human error?

9. in Charn, are Digory’s actions swayed by sin or by magic?

10. how does Lewis go about distinguishing between good and evil magic in this story?

11. to what ends does the Witch employ violence?

12. at what point does Uncle Andrew become more pitiful than ominous?

13. does Uncle Andrew learn or grow over the course of this story, or does he himself prevent such maturation?  Does he become a different person?

14. does the creation of Narnia map neatly onto the Genesis account of creation?  Should it?  Does Lewis make any significant changes?

15. in The Problem of Pain, Lewis claims to be incapable of understanding the mystery behind the Genesis account of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  What do you make of his attempt to decipher it, in this story, fifteen years later?  Does his elaboration make good sense?

16. what array of Christian virtues are emphasized in this tale, either directly or indirectly?

17. consider the construction of gender.  Is Polly inferior, equal, or superior to Digory in any way?

18. what messages about animals does Lewis slip into this tale? Do any of these seem serious, or can we write off all his comments as fantasy?

19. at what points in this tale does silence and inaction appear to be more appropriate than activity?

"Study for the Jewel, 'Chalice of Life'" (1954)
Salvador Dali

Dr. Paul Marchbanks