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How Setting Affects the Mood in "The Chronicles of Narnia"


C.S. Lewis uses seasonal symbolism and imagery to set the mood in “The Chronicles of Narnia.” The seven-book series describes the history of the fantasyland and injects young people from the real world with talking animals, mythical beasts and magic. By understanding how Lewis uses settings in the classic narratives, a reader gains a better understanding of how he portrays good and evil throughout the stories.

Cold, Dark and Unfriendly

Throughout the “Narnia” series, Lewis describes settings that are dark, cold and frightening to create a mood that is sad, dreary and bleak. In the original first book of the series, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” the Pevensie children escape the Blitz in London to find themselves in a frozen landscape. The author expresses a sense of hopelessness when Mr. Tumnus says that it’s always winter, but never Christmas. The dark, cold and desolate setting of the White Witch’s castle portrays it as an evil place where the witch exacts her revenge. Similarly, Lewis conveys a mood of fear and desolation throughout the series as the protagonists sail through frigid waters and travel through more dark, snowy lands.

Sunshine, Calmness and Hope

Lewis uses springtime settings to create a mood of happiness, hope and new life. “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” concludes with the end of the Age of Winter. Lewis sets the scene with the arrival of Christmas and spring. The snows melt, birds sing and the sun shines after the defeat of the White Witch. As the characters in “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” brave rough seas, the waters calm and lose their saltiness as the young people reach Aslan’s country. In the “Narnia” series, Aslan’s country has tall mountains that snows never cap, blue skies, beautiful trees and colorful birds. When Narnia experiences the same spring-like setting throughout the series, there is peace and joy in the land. An example of this is in “The Magician’s Nephew,” as Lewis describes the newly-created Narnia.

Kingdoms in Ruins

The protagonists throughout “The Chronicles of Narnia” series of books sometimes return to the enchanted world of Narnia only to find parts of it desolate or in ruin because of the reign of evil rulers. When this occurs, Lewis sets a tone of urgency and desperation as the land and its inhabitants encounter tragedy. In “Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia,” the Pevensie siblings encounter ruins when they return to Narnia and find their royal possessions in the rubble of a castle. In “The Silver Chair,” the main characters pass by two sets of ruins as they search for Aslan’s country. The characters in “The Magician’s Nephew” also encounter a palace in ruins when they visit a desolate city in Charn, the birthplace of the White Witch.

Battles in Narnia

Lewis was a Romantic writer who incorporated Arthurian themes in “The Chronicles of Narnia.” The battles in his books pit good against evil as the protagonist and antagonist fight for the ultimate rule of the land. The moods in the battle scenes convey courage, as the protagonists aren’t afraid to make sacrifices. In “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” Lewis describes the bravery and comradeship of all the good beasts, animals and people in Narnia as they prepare to fight the White Witch, who feels threatened by the return of Aslan. The dramatic final conquest in the last book of the series, “The Last Battle,” takes place following the return of Aslan. Like in the first book, Aslan rewards those who are loyal to him or the land of Narnia. After the battles, Lewis evokes a sense of peace, happiness and hope with images of shooting stars, blue skies, grassy clearings and warm weather as if to communicate the idea that joy follows struggles.

About the Author

Flora Richards-Gustafson has been writing professionally since 2003. She creates copy for websites, marketing materials and printed publications. Richards-Gustafson specializes in SEO and writing about small-business strategies, health and beauty, interior design, emergency preparedness and education. Richards-Gustafson received a Bachelor of Arts from George Fox University in 2003 and was recognized by Cambridge's "Who's Who" in 2009 as a leading woman entrepreneur.

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