Allegory in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe"

Term Paper, 2005

11 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Definition of allegory

III. C. S. Lewis and religion

IV. Short summary of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

V. Allegorical images in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

VI. Allegorical themes in the story

VII. C. S. Lewis’s appeal to children

VIII. Conclusion

IX. Bibliography

I. Introduction

The children’s book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Clive Staples Lewis is very popular both among adults and children. The publication of the story and its success inspired the author to write another six books in a very short period of time, which together with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe forms the series The Chronicles of Narnia. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe attracts special attention not only of children, but also of theologians. The latter are of the opinion that the book contains veiled Christian messages. It is interesting to examine this supposition, because the author gives no direct clues in the book that the underlying meaning of the whole story is religious. It seems apposite to hypothesize that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is an allegory for the gospel themes of betrayal, death and resurrection. Our target is to find and to analyze the allegorical parallels with the Bible in the children’s book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. We are going to answer the question how C.S. Lewis uses allegory to present the story of Jesus Christ to children in this work of children’s fiction.

II. Definition of allegory

C. S. Lewis uses many stylistic devices in the novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Allegory is one of the most prominent figures of speech used by the author. Before we start analyzing allegorical patterns in this work of children’s fiction, it is reasonable to find the right definition of allegory.

There are several meanings of the term. The electronic free encyclopaedia “Wikipedia” defines allegory as “a figurative mode of representation conveying a meaning other than […] the literal” (, 06. 04.06, 19:23) According to this statement allegory is a symbolic means of depicting something. It expresses a meaning different from the literal one. Since Wikipedia is not the most reliable source of information, we are not going to ascribe much weight to this definition.

Another treatment of allegory is more complete. The author of the definition describes allegory as a term, used in literature, which deals with the “disguised representation for meanings other than those indicated on the surface”. (The Columbia Electronic Encyclopaedia) Here the words “disguised” and “surface” give us additional information about the character of the meaning of the word allegory. Thus, we can conclude that allegory contains two meanings: one is the so-called surface meaning, the other is the meaning veiled by the surface meaning.

The electronic dictionary of literary terms presents allegory as an “extended metaphor, in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative, are equated with the meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. The underlying meaning has moral, social, religious, or political significance, and characters are often personifications of abstract ideas as charity, greed, or envy.” (

Hence, an allegory is a story with two meanings, a literal meaning and a symbolic one. Allegory contains other stylistic devices within itself, e.g. personification or extended metaphor. According to the Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913), personification is a “figure of speech in which an inanimate object or abstract idea is represented as animated, or endowed with personality” (

J. Peck and M. Coyle compare allegory with symbolism and differentiate between them. Symbolism implies some underlying meaning as well as allegory. The difference is, however, due to the obscurity of meaning rendered by symbolism. In allegory we can state with assurance the precise meaning which lies behind the surface of the other meaning. (J. Peck, M. Coyle 1993, 134)

Recapitulating, allegory is a figure of speech, which represents a disguised meaning lying behind the surface meaning. It alludes to religion, politics and society. Allegory is usually accompanied by personification in a literary work; i.e. inanimate objects acquire personal qualities and become animate.

III. C. S. Lewis and religion

C. S. Lewis is famous not only as a writer and a philosopher, but also as a Christian theorist. An extended list of works on Christianity belongs to his literary creation. Most of his works are penetrated with Christian ideas. However, his way to religion was protracted and thorny.

C. S. Lewis was born 1898 in Belfast. Little Clive Staple was raised in a Protestant tradition. As a child he was taking seriously daily prayers at school and at home. Gradually, however, C. S. Lewis got more sceptical about his belief in God. He eventually lost his faith and became an atheist. But his relationship with God was not completed yet. Many years later the writer totally changed his views on Christianity. In 1931, at the age of 33, he converted to Christianity and joined the Anglican Church of England. This event was preceded by the years of C. S. Lewis’s atheism, doubts, and quests.


Excerpt out of 11 pages


Allegory in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe"
University of Osnabrück
20th Century Children's Fiction
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ISBN (eBook)
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396 KB
Allegory, Lion, Witch, Wardrobe, Century, Children, Fiction
Quote paper
Yulia Saltowski (Author)Yulia Skirgika (Author), 2005, Allegory in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe", Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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