The female figures in Lewis Carroll’s “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” all adhere to the traditional ideas of femininity in literature. Lucy is the figure of female curiosity and youth, Susan and Mrs. Beaver take on the roles of the good mothers, and the White Witch is symbolic of the bad mother archetype.
Lucy is the curious sibling. Her inquisitive nature prompts her to explore further into the wardrobe. When Lucy entered Narnia, she “felt a little frightened, but she felt very inquisitive and excited as well” (Carroll 7). Lucy is the embodiment of the traditional image of female youth- trusting, naïve, and innocent. She is quick to befriend the Narnians and always sees the best in others. She was eager to befriend Mr. Tumnus and even after he nearly sold her out to the White Witch, still believed in his good character. The gifts Father Christmas gave the girls is also suggestive of the traditional female roles. Father Christmas gave Lucy a dagger and healing potion, the dagger to aid in self-defense, but not for battles, and the healing potion because women are typically nurturers.
Susan is one of the two “good mother” figures. She is the elder of the female Pevensie children and assumes a maternal role amongst her siblings in the absence of their own mother. “And anyway- it’s time you were in bed,” she tells Edmund while trying to act like their mother on the children’s first night without one (Carroll 2). Susan behaves the way traditional females should behave. She prefers comfort to adventure and looks after her siblings. Often times, Susan complains about the uncomfortable situations the Pevensie children get into on their Narnian quest. Father Christmas gave Susan a bow and arrows, removing her from the thicket of hand-to-hand combat in battle, and a horn, to call for help.
Mrs. Beaver, wife of Mr. Beaver, also falls into the “good mother” archetype. She is warm, caring, and hospitable. When Mr. Beaver brings the Pevensie children to their home, she immediately got to work preparing a meal for them. Lucy and Susan also helped prepare the meal while Mr. Beaver and Peter caught the fish. The roles they played during the preparation of dinner also fell into typical gender roles.
The White Witch is the embodiment of the “bad mother” archetype. She is cruel, but beautiful, queen of Narnia. Unlike Mrs. Beaver, during the White Witch’s first encounter with Edmund Pevensie, she gives him false nourishment in the form of enchanted Turkish delight; the more Edmund ate, the more he craved. She then promises him more Turkish delight in a trick to get the Pevensies to her castle. Like the typical “bad mother” character, the White Witch seeks to dispose of the Pevensie children because they threaten her position in Narnia.