This book, which is by far the most well-known of the series, is the first written and first published of the Chronicles. Lewis uses its pages to portray themes of evil, treachery, addiction, loyalty, self-sacrifice, and rescue.
Setting. The first part of the story takes place in a professor’s country home in England. When four children play hide-andseek, one of them discovers a mysterious wardrobe, which eventually transports each of them to the magical world of Narnia.
Plot Summary. To protect them from London’s bombing during World War II, the Pevensie children— Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy—are sent to stay in a professor’s home. There they discover an enchanted wardrobe, which transports them to Narnia, a place where a witch has caused it to be “always winter and never Christmas.” The witch approaches Edmund, the youngest brother, and tempts him with enchanted candy and promises of power if he will betray his siblings.
At a key point in the story, the evil White Witch turns on Edmund and cites an ancient law of Narnia that gives her the right to execute him. She demands that Aslan turn the traitorous Edmund over to her so she can put him to death. But Aslan offers his own life as a substitute for Edmund’s.
After being killed on a stone table, Aslan comes back to life and enables the children to defeat the White Witch and restore his kingdom. Delegating his authority, the great lion puts the children on thrones as kings and queens of Narnia. Later, as young adults, they go back through the wardrobe to earth, only to find that little time has elapsed and they are children again.
Spiritual Parallels. The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe beautifully illustrates the biblical theme of substitutionary atonement and redemption (2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13; Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18). In Narnia, the White Witch acts as an evil usurper who seeks to dominate her subjects and destroy all opposition. As a personification of evil, the witch symbolizes how the devil personally tries to control our own world (1 Jn. 5:19; cp. 2:15-17).
In this story, the White Witch has heard of a prophecy in which two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve break her spell over Narnia. In an effort to disrupt the prediction, she tries to ensnare Edmund, the youngest brother, by addicting him to an enchanted candy called Turkish Delight. The candy is a powerful picture of the seductive power of evil to capture and control the human heart. Edmund is willing to betray his brother and sisters if only to have another bite of the delicacy he craves.
The story behind this story is found in the Bible, which describes the inclination of a race of people who are enslaved to their own wrongs. Without Christ’s rescue they are prone to make choices “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind” (Eph. 2:3).
Aslan, who reenters his rightful kingdom of Narnia to reestablish his authority, rescues Edmund from the clutches of the White Witch. Through an act of self-sacrifice, Aslan gives his own life in behalf of the traitorous little boy who followed his own desires and betrayed the trust of his siblings.
Aslan’s sacrifice symbolizes the Bible’s own drama of substitutionary atonement and redemption through the life, death, and resurrection of the King of kings. The Scripture portrays Jesus as the Sovereign Lord who rescues us from the sin of choosing our own selfish way instead of following Him (Mk. 10:45).