Author Archives: mschloem

They’re Watching You

 

Often in the fantasy world, villainous characters use their power to corrupt the world around them so that they can maintain control over those they rule. The Villainesses of Terry Prachett’s “Witches Abroad” and C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” are no exception to this stereotype.  Although Lilith and the White Witch often go about it differently, their goal to be the head of a totalitarian society is the same. Through trickery, magical objects and manipulation, both Lilith and the White Witch strive to maintain control over others.

The first similarity that Lilith and the White Witch, or Jadis, share is seen in the white color of their dress. The color white is a symbol of purity and innocence but when these two villainesses wear it, white becomes a distortion of purity and innocence. Lilith wears white to hide the evil of her inner soul. “The white of Lily Weatherwax’s dress seemed to radiate; if all the lights went out, she felt Lily’s dress would glow.” (Prachett 282) The purity of white becomes hypocritical when Lilith wears the white dress because it serves to hide her true intentions, it is no longer innocent. Jadis also uses white to disguise herself. By wearing white, Jadis tricks a smitten Edmund into trusting her because he cannot and will not look past her disguise and see her for who she truly is. “She…was covered in white fur up to her throat… [and] [h]er face was white-not merely pale, but white like snow or paper…[i]t was a beautiful face.” (Lewis 33-34) Similar to Lilith, Jadis also uses her appearance of innocence and purity to trick others into believing that she is good. Both Lilith and the Jadis use the distortion of white to further expand their control.

Another way these two women strive to achieve their goal of a totalitarian society is through the magical tools they use throughout their stories. Without these tools, both women are completely powerless. Through mirrors, Lilith is able to keep an eye on her enemies, making her indestructible because she knows their next move. “[A] broomstick was lying in shards of broken glass. Her horrified gaze rose to meet a reflection. It glared back at her… ‘You broke my mirror.’” (Prachett 337) When the mirrors are destroyed, Lilith becomes a more equal opponent and is able to be defeated because she no longer holds power over the other characters. Jadis also has a magical object that she uses to conquer her enemies: a wand that turns other characters into stone. “ ‘And when he reached her he had sense to bring his sword smashing down on her wand…Once her wand was broken we began to have some chance[.]’”(Lewis 196) Undefeatable with her wand, Jadis is able to strike fear wherever she goes. However, when it is destroyed, she becomes more evenly matched with the other characters and is able to be defeated.  Without their magical objects, both Lilith and the Jadis are rendered useless and can no longer maintain their totalitarian society.

Finally, both villainesses take away the freedom of those they rule to make sure that no one is able to defeat them. In Genua, Lilith takes away the freewill of the inhabitants of the city and forces them to be a part of stories she creates. Though she does not want to marry the Duc, Ella explains that she must because Lilith wants it to happen, “It’s all been arranged. My other godmother says I’ve got to do it. She says it’s my destiny,” (Prachett 241) Ella is unable to break from Lilith’s control because she is a part of a story that Lilith has planned which will force Ella to live a “happy ending.” Unlike Lilith, Jadis is a bit more subtle in how she takes away others’ freedom. Instead of using magic like Lilith, the White Witch uses spies to watch other characters and let her know if they are up to something. “‘There are the trees…They’re always listening… there are [some] trees that would betray us to her; you know who I mean [.]’”(Lewis 73) Although Jadis does not necessarily control how the other characters behave when they are alone, she does control how they behave when they are in public. By forcing their subjects to act in certain ways, Lilith and Jadis are able to ensure that no one speaks out against them, especially where they can be heard.

Within the stories “Witches Abroad” and “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” the two villainesses of these tales, Lilith and Jadis, are continually using similar ways to ensure the security of their rule. Lilith and Jadis are both selfish and greedy and therefore they use any means necessary to hold on to their power. However, it is because of their greed and selfishness that they ultimately cause their own downfall.

 

 

What Makes a Hero?

Throughout the literary world there is an assortment of different types of heroic characters. Although each of these figures faces different challenges within their stories, many of them share similar tales in how they each became a hero. Within these stories there is a theme of both the beginning of a person’s life and the deeds of the person shaping the person into a hero. In keeping with this theme J.K. Rowling writes about Harry Potter in her story, “The Prisoner of Azkaban”, becoming a hero because he is molded by both his circumstances and actions.

 

Ever since he was little the wizarding world has always admired Harry as a hero because it was through him that Voldemort was defeated. “Harry had escaped from the same attack with nothing but a scar on his forehead, where Voldemort’s curse, instead of killing him rebounded upon its originator” (Rowling 6). In the beginning of the story, “The Prisoner of Azkaban” it is the events that surround Harry’s first meeting with Voldemort that make him a hero, not Harry’s accomplishments.  By causing the collapse of Voldemort’s power Harry begins his journey of heroism.

Another reason Harry is a hero is because he is willing to help others even when it puts him in danger. “‘Right-who wants ter go first?’ The hippogriffs were tossing their fierce heads… ‘No one?’ said Hagrid with a pleading look. ‘I’ll do it,’ said Harry” (Rowling 115). Hippogriffs are dangerous creatures and no one is willing to try their hand at making friends with them because they are too scared. Harry is also nervous, however because he loves Hagrid he is willing to face the hippogriffs even though he could get hurt. In this scene Harry begins to become a more active type of hero because he allows himself into a situation that could cause him harm.

Finally, Harry is a hero because he is persistent in the sight of danger. “Harry felt a lurch of fear. He wasn’t ready. How could he make a dementor less frightening…it came to halt at Harry’s feet. He raised his wand, ready” (Rowling136-138)[.] Harry is truly frightened by the dementor even in boggart form; however he faces his fear and strives to defeat the monster anyway. Though he fears the dementors Harry shows ultimate courage in his decision to continue trying to conquer the dementors.

Throughout “The Prisoner of Azkaban,” J.K. Rowling shows a continual theme thoughout literature in her character Harry Potter.  Like most heroic characters it through both events within his life and his courageous deeds that cause him to become a hero. Although the events surrounding his birth affect his heroism, it is truly his unselfishness, courageousness, and persistence that make Harry Potter a true hero.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awareness Makes Me Higher

 

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.

 

Fins or Feet, that is the Question?

Within Hans Christian Andersen’s story the “The Little Mermaid” we are given a view of two very different worlds, that of the human world and that of the merpeople’s world. Both worlds are very important to the main character, the Little Mermaid. The Little Mermaid is quite different from all other merpeople because she is always searching for something more than the life around her.  Therefore, of the two worlds, it is the human world, not her own, that attracts her most. To the Little Mermaid, the human world is the most alluring because it holds all she cannot have as a mermaid.

 

Disney’s Little Mermaid Google Images, Favim.com; N.p., n.d. Web.17.Sept.2011 

Unlike humans, mermaids do not have souls and cannot go on living forever. “We’ve no immortal soul; we shall never have another life…But human beings have a soul which lives forever; still lives after the body has turned to dust”(Andersen 224). The Little Mermaid is greatly troubled that she cannot live forever and therefore she desperately wants a soul. Of all the mermaids, she seems to be the only one that fears death, all the rest look at death as a natural part of life. It is her desire for a soul that drives the Little Mermaid’s desire to become human. 

Another reason the Little Mermaid is attracted to the human world is because within it she can truly show emotion, whereas under the sea she is unable to do so. In Andersen’s tale the world of the mermaids is a sort of Utopia, not only can the Little Mermaid not cry, but there is no reason to do so in the world of the mermaids. “She would have cried, only a mermaid hasn’t any tears, and so she suffers all the more” (Andersen 220). The other mermaids always appear to be happy. Within the human world however emotions seem to be everywhere and when the mermaids go above water they to experience emotions much more than they ever did below the ocean. The Little Mermaid wants to escape this world where she must always be happy and content and live with the humans who will accept her faults and all.  

Finally the Little Mermaid wants to be a human so that she can have feet. Within the story, feet symbolize freedom for the mermaid because through them she is able to do things she could not do before. “[T]hey could… climb the tall mountains high above the clouds; and the lands they owned stretched with woods and meadows further than her eyes could see” (Andersen 223). With feet the Little Mermaid can explore the world around her; with fins she is limited to the ocean. The Little Mermaid desires so much more than what she sees around her as a mermaid.               

The Little Mermaid is a sort of philosopher; she is always searching to know more about the world around her, however, she is stuck in a world where questions are not asked and the mermaid way of life is completely accepted. In the human world, she is unlimited in her pursuit of knowledge and therefore she desires to be a part of it. It is as a human that the Little Mermaid is eventually able to recognize her true potential and ultimately gain true happiness.