Throughout C.S. Lewis’ story “The Lion, The Witch, And the Wardrobe” he presents a hierarchy of characters. C.S. Lewis determines this hierarchy by dividing those who are good, those who are evil and those who are both. He does this by presenting those characters that have complete control over their actions and those characters that can only do so instinctively. At the bottom of the hierarchy, are the animals and trees, above them are the Pevensie children and Mr. Tumnus, above them is the White Witch, and finally at the highest level is Aslan.
Within his hierarchy, Lewis places the animals and trees on the bottom. “‘They’re good birds in all the stories I’ve read. I’m sure a robin wouldn’t be on the wrong side… [Similarly] most of [the trees] are on our side, but there are trees that would betray us to her’” (Lewis 67-73). The trees and the animals share a common bond. Both the animals of the story and the trees can only be good or bad, neither can be both. These characters are on the bottom of the hierarchy because they cannot change from bad to good or vice versa instead they can only act on instinct.
The next level of the hierarchy contains both the Pevensie children and Mr. Tumnus. “It wasn’t a very good excuse, however, for deep down inside of him he really knew that the White Witch was bad and cruel” (Lewis 97). Although Edmund starts out as a loathsome character, he soon realizes the evil he has caused and starts out on a new path towards redemption. Like Edmund, Mr. Tumnus also finds redemption after he too sees the error of his ways. “‘Of course I can’t give you up to the White Witch; not now that I know you’” (Lewis 22). Though he knows that letting Lucy leave may cause his ruin, Mr. Tumnus does it anyway because he knows that it is right. This level of the hierarchy is rather important to the structure because it shows human and half human characters who can be both good and evil.
In the next level of the hierarchy is the White Witch. “‘Now I will kill you instead of him…But when you are dead what will prevent me from killing him as well? In this knowledge despair and die’” (Lewis 170). The White Witch is completely evil. She is the temptress of all chacters. The White Witch is a slave to her own selfishness and cannot be good. She is an animal in humanlike form because she acts on her instincts and own personal gain.
Finally the highest level of the hierarchy contains Aslan. “‘[W]hen a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead the table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards’” (Lewis 179)Through Aslan’s sacrifice Edmund is able to be redeemed. In contrast to the Witch, Aslan is all good and helps others to achieve goodness. Though an animal, Aslan embodies human characteristics; he is even greater than that because he is pure of heart.
The many character of C.S. Lewis’ story live within a hierarchy of Narnian society which presents both the good and evil of the story, who can control their actions and those who cannot. The level of awareness of each character determines his or her level within the hierarchy. By presenting the different levels of characters Lewis teaches his audience – mainly children – that one is responsible for his or her actions.