The Chronicles of Narnia was my favorite set of books when I was a kid. The series was written by C.S. Lewis way back in the 1950s, but it was re-released as a box set by HarperCollins in 1994. I was ten at the time, pretty much the perfect age to enjoy the books. The series consists of seven books that follow a set of children as they visit the magical world of Narnia…pretty much like a earlier version of Harry Potter, only good.*
* Just kidding Harry Potter fans. I’ve never actually read any of the magical wizard books.
At the time, I was too young to understand the Christian symbolism throughout the series. It wasn’t until college, when I took an entire class based on Lewis’s The Problem of Pain that I realized that The Chronicles of Narnia was basically one huge Christian allegory. Which is pretty impressive when you think about it: one of the best-selling series of children’s books of all-time is based on the Bible, and most kids never even realize it.
I put The Chronicles of Narnia in the general influences section even though it sorta appears in season four. In that season, we are introduced to Charlotte Staples Lewis, named after the author. This makes sense – although The Chronicles of Narnia is Lewis’s most famous work and the work I am reviewing here, much of his other writing also influenced Lost, so the writers saw fit to name a character after him rather than include just one book.
Additionally, in the season five episode The Lie, we see the DHARMA Initiative Lamp Post station for the first time. The station is named after the Lamp-post, an important geographical landmark in the land of Narnia.
This review will be a little different than most of my Literature of Lost reviews. It would be a bit over the top for me to write extensive reviews of all seven books, so I am going to merge a quick review of the books with my description of how the books fit in with Lost.
Like the Island, Narnia is a mysterious land inaccessible to the outside world except in exceptional circumstances. It exists outside of the normal stream of time and space.
The four original children find the land of Narnia through a wardrobe in an elderly professor’s house. We later find out that only certain chosen people can reach the land of Narnia and that they have to be summoned there. This is similar to Jacob touching the candidates that eventually make it to the Island.
Narnia is in the middle of a battle of good and evil that should seem familiar to Lost fans. On the good side, there is the lion king Aslan. However, when we first learn of Narnia in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, it has been taken over the evil White Witch. The Witch has made the inhabitants of Narnia live in a perpetual winter for the duration of her rule. Eventually, the children defeat the White Witch and reign over the kingdom as kings and queens – just like Hurley and Ben’s reign over the Island after Jacob died and the Man in Black was defeated.
In the second book, Prince Caspian, the children are summoned back to Narnia. Lucy is the youngest child and barely remembers Narnia. She is emotional upon her return, as she questioned whether the land actually existed. In Lost, Charlotte was on the Island as a young child before evacuating shortly before the Incident. She was convinced that the Island existed, even though her mother told her that it did not. She spent most of her adult life trying to find the Island before finally making an emotional return on the Kahana.
Finally, in The Last Battle, the final book in the series, it is revealed that the children died in a train accident and entered a place better than Narnia called “Aslan’s Country.” Aslan’s Country is reminiscent of the flash-sideways timeline in which things seem to be a perfect version of the lives of the Oceanic passengers.
But the most important theme throughout all of Lewis’s works is faith. The Problem of Pain, the book I read in college, dealt with the issue of how an omnipresent, and all-loving God could exist in a world in which evil also exists. In many ways, this parallels the journey of John Locke in Lost. Locke was a man of faith…and if any one person on the Island had a reason not to believe, it was him. Throughout both Lost and The Chronicles of Narnia, the same theme pops up time and time again: have faith, even when it is extremely hard to believe. As John Locke says on faith, “it’s never been easy!”
For more book reviews, return to the Literature of Lost.