Friday, February 24, 2006

Are you Peter, Susan, Edmund or Lucy?

Yesterday I mentioned the movies I'd been seeing lately, and how the good vs. evil movies left the biggest impression on me.

Today I want to talk about the main characters of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and the personal journeys they took. Spoiler alert: if you haven't seen the film, and don't want to know what happens, you'd best save reading this till later.

In film parlance, it's called the character arc - a term I don't like so much, because an arc starts low, gets to a peak and then lands down low again. A really satisfying character journey, I feel, leaves someone higher than where they started. So I'll use the term journey.

Peter (William Moseley) begins the film bearing a heavy burden. The children are without their parents, and as the eldest he feels the pressure to become a father figure. His siblings are not so sure they want that, though.

They enter into the kingdom of Narnia, where very real danger haunts them. Instead of decreasing, Peter's responsibilities increase to epic scale. First he just wants to get his brother and sisters out of Narnia safely; before he knows it, he's carrying a sword and shield, and leading armies into battle!

And then there's the disparaging voice of reason, coming from sister Susan: "Just because Father Christmas gave you a sword doesn't make you a hero!"

Thankfully, there's another voice - the terrifying, gentle encouragement of Aslan: "Don't help (Peter)," he says to his soldiers. "He must fight this battle." He does, and by the end he is crowned Peter the Magnificent.
Sometimes we feel we need a break from life, but instead of getting better, it gets worse. Often, that's the best thing for us.
Susan (Anna Popplewell), as the second eldest, and the eldest girl, feels some of the parental responsibility that Peter feels. But as second eldest, she also feels a little bit helpless - she never has the final decision, and feels out of control of the situation. Maybe that's why she tries to stop Peter fulfilling his destiny - because it's not safe!

It's interesting, then, that Susan receives the bow and arrow - a weapon that lets her wage war from a distance, and the perspective that comes with that. (Quite cool, too, that CS Lewis could give his female characters weapons and an active role in battle - quite something for the 1940s!)

Susan's Narnia experience gives her a sense of herself - she no longer feels like a spare wheel, or out of control. She no longer needs to control the situation, and in the end is crowned ... Susan the gentle.
Crises can give us the wherewithal to stand up and know our role for that minute - and not worry about the roles of others.
Edmund (Skandar Keynes) is in the end crowned Edmund the Just, which is ironic, considering his role as traitor in the beginning. (An interesting theological point there by CS Lewis, too.)

Edmund travels the furthest in his journey. He starts as a solitary, surly character, given to adjusting the truth to whatever's convenient. But when he's in too deep, when his love of Turkish Delight - and approval - has gotten him in deep, deep trouble, Edmund realises he has choices to make.

Time after time he must walk the line between preserving his own life and saving the lives of others. To save others, he must stay alive, so it's not a black and white choice. Where once Edmund took the easy path every time, there is no longer any easy path. He rises to the challenge.

Later, when he has been atoned for by Aslan, Edmund is suited up and ready for battle. He faces a similar challenge to Peter - fighting his own battles. Peter tells him to fall back, to retreat, but instead Edmund attacks the witch (Tilda Swinson) and saves Peter's life, risking his own.
The easy way will not always be there. Start seeing the choices you have in life early, and take the high road, not the easy road.
While Edmund has the longest character journey, Lucy (Georgie Henley) has the shortest. She begins as a child full of wonder and compassion, and ends in much the same way.

At the end, Lucy is crowned Lucy the valiant. Her valiance is driven by her compassion, and fear never gets in the way. Though she's the youngest in the family, Lucy's curiosity and credulity leads the rest into the magical wonderworld that is Narnia.
Curiosity and compassion are two forces in the world that appear weak, but are incredibly strong.
One last note: At the beginning, the siblings are a group of individuals. At the end, they are a team. Crisis taught them how to look after each other, and let each other become the best they could be.



At 6:05 AM, Blogger dilbertfan01 said...

"what makes us followable"? It's quite simple: if you want to be a leader, ask to be elected! For some startling consequences of this, read this great e-book Why your boss is programmed to be a a dictator at - fascinating read on leadership, in a way you've never looked at before.

At 7:00 AM, Blogger Sandra said...

Edmund, I'm Edmund. I hate to admit that, but deep down, it's true.


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