Aslan (// or //) is a major character in C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia series. He is the only character to appear in all seven books of the series. Aslan is depicted as a talking lion, and is described as the King of Beasts, the son of the Emperor-Over-the-Sea, and the King above all High Kings in Narnia.
|Race||Talking Lion / Deity|
Role in The Chronicles of NarniaEdit
Aslan is first introduced when Mr. Beaver tells the Pevensie children (Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy) about him. Mr. Beaver explains that Aslan is the true king of Narnia and that the children (as Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve) are the chosen ones to help end the tyrannical rule of the White Witch. When the Witch claims the right to execute Edmund for treason, Aslan offers himself in Edmund's place, and the Witch kills him on the Stone Table. However, Aslan rises from the dead, frees the prisoners that the Witch had turned to stone, kills the Witch in battle, and crowns the Pevensie children as Kings and Queens of Narnia.
The Pevensies are summoned into Narnia from their world to help Caspian—the rightful King of Narnia—overthrow his usurping Uncle Miraz and restore freedom to the land. When they get lost in the forest, Aslan calls Lucy to lead her siblings to him; some obey more faithfully than others. Aslan helps Peter, Edmund, and Trumpkin the Dwarf to come to Caspian's aid in time to thwart an attempt on his life. Aslan then leads an army of awakened Trees and Maenads to victory against Miraz's Telmarine occupation. He later crowns Caspian as King and creates a door whereby surviving Telmarines can leave the Narnian world if they so choose.
Edmund and Lucy Pevensie are transported to the eastern ocean of the Narnian world along with their cousin, the recalcitrant Eustace, where they join King Caspian on a seafaring journey. When Eustace falls under an enchantment and becomes a dragon, Aslan delivers him from the enchantment. Aslan appears at various points of the journey to provide guidance. When they reach the world's end, Aslan appears as a lamb before returning to his usual form. He shows Reepicheep (a Talking Mouse) the way to his country.
Aslan brings Eustace and his classmate Jill to Narnia. He explains to Jill that she and Eustace are charged with the quest of finding King Caspian's son, Prince Rilian (who had disappeared years before), and gives her four Signs to guide them on their quest. Aslan makes no further appearances until the end of the story, but his Signs prove central to the successful quest. When he returns Eustace and Jill to their world, Aslan shows himself to the bullies at their school to frighten them.
Aslan's influence is at first hidden from the characters. Prior to the story's opening, he delivered the infant Prince Cor of Archenland from his enemies to a Calormene fisherman who named him Shasta. At one point in the book, Aslan—pretending to be a common "witless" lion—chases Shasta and the talking horse Bree so that they will meet Aravis and Hwin, who become their traveling companions. He comforts Shasta in the form of a cat and defends him as he sleeps; later, he chases Shasta and the others so that they will reach Archenland in time to warn that nation of the impending attack of Prince Rabadash of Calormen. After Rabadash is defeated, Aslan turns him into a donkey as punishment.
This book tells the story of Aslan's creation of Narnia, his crowning of its first King and Queen, and his gift of the power of speech to some of the animals. Aslan tells the two main characters—Digory Kirke and Polly Plummer—that the evil Jadis (later to become the White Witch) will pose a great threat to the Narnians. Aslan charges Digory and Polly with a quest to acquire a magic apple that, when planted, will protect Narnia from Jadis.
Though Shift the Ape and the other villains act in his name (dressing the naïve donkey Puzzle in a lion-skin), Aslan himself only appears late in the story in a paradise entered through a stable door. He brings Narnia to an end, and leads into his own country such of its inhabitants who, coming to the Stable Door as the world ends, look into his face and love him, some to their own surprise. At the end of the book, he informs the other characters that "all of you are—as you used to call it in the Shadowlands—dead", and that the afterlife in which they now find themselves is the true reality as they go "further up and further in".
Although Aslan can be read as an original character, parallels exist with Christ. According to the author, Aslan is not an allegorical portrayal of Christ, but rather a suppositional incarnation of Christ Himself:
If Aslan represented the immaterial Deity, he would be an allegorical figure. In reality however, he is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question, "What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?" This is not allegory at all.
In one of his last letters, Lewis wrote, "Since Narnia is a world of Talking Beasts, I thought He [Christ] would become a Talking Beast there, as He became a man here. I pictured Him becoming a lion there because (a) the lion is supposed to be the king of beasts; (b) Christ is called "The Lion of Judah" in the Bible; (c) I'd been having strange dreams about lions when I began writing the work."
The similarity between the death and resurrection of Aslan and the death and resurrection of Jesus has been noted; one author has noted that like Jesus, Aslan was ridiculed before his death, mourned, and then discovered to be absent from the place where his body had been laid. In this interpretation, the girls Susan and Lucy who witness Aslan's death, mourn him and witness his resurrection would stand for The Three Marys of Christian tradition.
Aslan's words to the Calormene in The Last Battle ("I take to me the services which thou hast done to [the false god]... if any man swear by [him] and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by [Aslan] that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him"), ratifying the good deeds the latter did even in service to a false god, have been the subject of controversy because they implicitly endorse inclusivism.
In the 2005 film, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the CGI Aslan is voiced by Liam Neeson. Neeson returned to voice the character in the sequel, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian in 2008, and the third film in the series, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in 2010.
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