Thursday, May 17, 2012

Images of Faith and Discipleship in C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia (2)


The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:  Gluttony

“In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the character, Edmund Pevensie, personifies gluttony, the sin of excessively using things in themselves legitimate, normally associated with the appetite, and, in effect, making one's belly the god he serves (Phil. 3:19). Jadis, the White Witch, exploits Edmund's weakness when she meets him in a snowy woods, offering him a warm drink and Turkish Delight, his favorite candy. From the first bite, he is hooked, for each "piece was sweet and light to the very centre and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious." As she pumps him for information regarding his brother and sisters, he readily replies, driven by an insatiable hunger for more and more Turkish Delight: "At first Edmund tried to remember that it is rude to speak with one's mouth full, but soon he forgot about this and thought only of trying to shovel down as much Turkish Delight as he could, and the more he ate, the more he wanted to eat, and he never asked himself why the Queen should be so inquisitive" ( 32; all references to the Narnia stories are from the Collier edition, 1970). This scene recalls Eve's gluttonous indulgence in Milton's Paradise Lost where she first eats the apple:

. . . . for Eve
Intent now wholly on her taste, naught else
Regarded, such delight till then, as seem'd
In fruit she never tasted, whether true
Or fancied so, through expectation high
Of knowledge, nor was God-head from her thought,
Greedily she ingorged without restraint,
And knew not eating Death. (IX, 785-92)


Like Eve's, Edmund's gluttonous desire has deadly ramifications, for later in the tale, after he has betrayed his brother and sisters in order to obtain more and more Turkish Delight (which, ironically, he does not receive), Jadis demands his life by invoking Deep Magic: an ancient Narnian law that entitles her to the blood of any traitor. And while Edmund is saved by the intervention and intercession of Aslan, the cost is deadly to the latter. Lewis' point in emphasizing Edmund's gluttony is to illustrate vividly the effects of sins in general and this sin in particular; over indulgence blinds us to the truth, turning us inward, making us slaves to our own insatiable desires.”

Don W. King, “Narnia and the Seven Deadly Sins,” Mythlore 10 (Spring 1984): 14-19. (http://cslewis.drzeus.net/papers/7sins.html)

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