Lewis vs. L'Engle

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

pat and yasmins essays

Pat: I think Pat's essay was an interesting commentary on the book. I don't think that his thesis was very striking because it was almost a mere personality assesment of the characters. It worked out pretty well that he was able to compare two Christian writers' manifestations Christian virtues in their main characters.
Yasmin: She did a very good job of making her story fit into the overall theme of Lewis' chronicles. I think that one of the big ideas in his book is returning problem situations to more peace. While this particular story doesn't deal with good vs. evil as Lewis does, the story does deal with taking a struggling society and righting the problems in it. Yasmin does a good job of even incorporating L'Engle's influence into the work. The one part that this was most obvious to me was when Reepicheep was being hypnotized by the snake and was about to give in when he heard Aslan's voice give him the strength to make the right decision and break the spell. Likewise, Meg is about to give in to IT in Wrinkle in Time when she recalls Mrs. Whatsit's voice telling her that she is loved. That helps her to shake ITs spell and rescue Charles Wallace.

zarin on lengle

I want to comment on something I read in Zarin's article on L'Engle: the article says that when A Wrinkle in Time was published, many publishers stayed away from publishing it because they thought it would be too controversial because they believed that Charles Wallace was a Christ-like figure.
I find this to be very odd that they would think so. I would argue that he is definately not Christ-like for a few reasons. First, Jesus never succombed to the temptations before him and always refused to test Gods stregnth just for the sake of proving it. Charles Wallace was so arrogant in his own strength that he thought he could easily overpower the Man with the Red Eyes and it. second, L'Engle never makes any statement that Charles Wallace is divine at all, if anything he is more like an X-Men or a comic book hero because he has these superhuman mental skills. and Third, there is no mention or parallel to the Easter story. Charles Wallace never dies, and certainly is never ressurected in a Wrinkle in Time.
Charles does have a few Christlike characteristics however. He is differrent than any other person that has ever lived. He is supposedly going to save the universe some day. But in general, I think that while although there are definately Christian themes in the book, Charles Wallace is not one of them.

Wind in the Door

I found the same problem in this book that I did in the last one. L'Engle is very good at creating complex problems for her characters to get into, but just like in A Wrinkle in Time, L'Engle solves the 1st trial for Meg with love. L'Engle should try and mix up the solutions to her problems some because I think that really makes her writing boring if you know that every problem is going to be solved the same way. I did find it creative that Meg was able to identify and recognize the only real Mr. Jenkins because he was the only one that was human enough to make mistakes.
Lewis does a much better job of teaching in his stories. He has multiple problems arise with different solutions each time. The plotlines to each of his Cronicles is very different from the other. That is not to say that all of L'Engle's books are the same exactly, but I find that she simplifies her problem solution structure too much. It's always good versus evil and she makes such wide distinctions between them like creating the Black thing which is an embodiment of evil, or the ecthroi which is an embodiment of evil. There isn't the range of character types that there are in Narnia. Even in Narnia, there are characters that appear evil that are really good, like the fox that helps them escape from the chasing wolves, and Mr Tummnus who changes sides. Also in Narnia, Edmund starts out as an evil character by choice, there is no such human evils present in L'Engle's work.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The End of WiT

I have a big problem with the way that L'Engle ended a Wrinkle in Time. I think that it isn't so much the fact that love is the anwser to defeating IT that bothered me. The writing was too simple, it was too convienent for her and too easy to destroy IT in the writing. L'Engle does a great job of using her voice to portray complex ideas in simple ways, but this is a terrible oversimplification. It left me thinking that the book on the whole was corny.
The book on the whole, I think, is a commentary on the downfall of civilization, and more specifically on loss of humanity. The dark things are symbolic of the growing evil and apathy towards evil is what helps IT grow. In this view, love is something that would combat such an evil. A problem I see is that Meg is not the only one that loves Charles Wallace and yet it is only her that confronts IT; furthermore, if IT could be defeated by love then wouldn't the love of the entire group be more powerful than just Meg and Charles?
L'Engle should have spent more time developing the idea that love is what defeats IT. The book ends too abruptly for a concept like love to be fully rationalized.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Time Question

In Narnia and in WiT there is a very distorted sense of time. L'Engle does a much better job of keeping time consistent throughout her novel then Lewis does. For example, Lewis states that every year in regular time is equal to three years in Narnia in one of his books, but in another, hundreds of years or more have gone by over the course of one year. There is no consistency in time, nor is there any explanation for the discrepancy. Also, the 4 children spent years and years in Narnia during the Golden Age, but when they returned no time had been spent at all. Time continues in no particular order at all in The chronicles of Narnia.
In A Wrinkle in Time, L'Engle explains somewhat the different types of time in different worlds. They say that there are planets that have time that go forwards and backwards and 3-D. So there is not way of telling how much time has been spent according to another world's time. Furthermore, L'Engle makes it possible to take Time Wrinkles. These extra explanations free L'Engle from the contradictions that plagued Lewis' chronicles. Since Lewis was a major inspiration to L'Engle, it seems to me that she saw these contradictions in his work and sought to correct them in her own writing.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


The most striking thing about this book so far is Charles. It is so fantastic to believe that a 5 year old kid could be so intellectual. It seems even more improbable that someone so mentally advanced and that can read minds and absorb information from concentrating on it can't read. I get the feeling from the reading so far that Charles is very much like his father, although obviously the father has yet to be introduced.
I think that L'Engle's style of writing makes you identify heavily with Meg's situation. She writes everything so the reader can decipher barely enough to keep going and not feel completely lost, but at the same time you do feel completely lost; Meg feels the same throughout this section of the novel, so far as I can tell. Meg is a terribly confused person in general though: she is confused about her dad's job and safety, she is confused about Calvin, she is confused about anything in school aside from math, she is confused about Charles, about the Mrs.s, about the wrinkles and tesseracts, and any number of other things. I would imagine that as the book continues we will see her resolve a lot of these issues; perhaps a theme of growing up.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Too Old

Something that has concerned me about the end of Prince Caspian is the fact that Aslan tells Peter and Susan that they are too old to come back to Narnia ever again. It seems like Peter Pan in some ways, where the lost boys are forever young, but in Narnia there are adult as well as child heroes. Furthermore, near the end of LWW the four children have already grown into adulthood before they are reverted to childhood by returing through the wardrobe.
Another concern that I have about Caspian is that Lewis makes a point of it in chapter 12 to mention how Prince Caspian was bitten by the werewolf creature. I am not an expert in mythology by any means, but I do recall that if you are bitten by a werewolf you become one yourself after the next full moon. It is important in the story to have Caspian out of the fight with Miraz so that Peter could be in the battle, but Lewis seems to have forgotten or ignored the awful existance that Caspian should have experienced as a werewolf. I think that this may be the plot for my fairytale if I choose to write my own; what happened to Caspian as a werewolf?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Prince Caspian Post

The scene in this book when the tree spirits come out of the forest for the first time and fall upon the Telmarine army reminded me a great deal of the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. In fact, the two books are similar in a few ways. This scene in particular is similar to LoTR because when the ghost armies come down out of the mountains they easily dispatch the enemy hordes, turning the battle quickly for the good side, just as the tree spirits do in this book. Prince Caspian himself is similar to Aragorn in LoTR seeing as how he left his family and then led his army against the forces of evil, while regaining his crown in the process.
I do think that the comparisons we were making in class between this book and Hamlet are somewhat accurate, but the closer the two are examined the less they seem to be alike. I think that Shakespeare and Lewis are both merely drawing on common English historical themes. I imagine that deceit and treachery in the quest for power are attractive plot lines for any author, although I won't rule out the possibility that Lewis was influenced by Shakespeare, and that perhaps in Lewis' quest to introduce young people to classic literature he would make allusions to great English writers.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Narnia from the Beginning

I finished reading the Magician's Nephew today, having just read LWW, I found a slightly different perspective on LWW. First of all, I see LWW as far more allegorical than I did before.
That is not to say that I didn't believe LWW to be allegorical, but I could see Lewis' argument that it was not necessarily an allegory. There are many parallels to the stories and obviously Aslan is modeled after Jesus in more than one way.
I found that until the tie to the creation of Narnia, and the demonstration of his god-like power that Lewis wasn't making a real direct comparison so much as embodying those Christ-like characteristics into the hero of his story.
The fact that Aslan was there at the creation of Narnia, even singing the song that made it, and that the Witch was there as well, shows a large parallel to the Judeo-Christian mythology. Aslan even knew at the beginning how and when the White Witch was to be defeated; this demonstrates the omnipotence of Aslan or at least a connection to an omnipotent being, similar to Jesus Christ. These two examples in particular from the Creation story drove home for me the undeniablity of the nature of the text. Basically, it balanced the equasion for me, that Lewis would include parts from the entire gospel in his writings proved to me that he was intentional in shaping the world of Narnia around Judeo-Christian mythology.