“That You may Know Me Better There”: Exploring the Themes of Rescue within C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia

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The motif of rescue has always held universal appeal with audiences because of the classic fairytale pattern of a hero rescuing a damsel in distress. Children and adults alike delight in the archetypal adventure, the seeming impossibility of the quest, and the victory in living happily ever after. Rescue, classically defined, means delivering a person from evil, trouble, or harm, or a distressing situation.[1] Joseph Campbell explains in The Hero with a Thousand Faces of the return of the hero of how “the adventurer still must return with his life-transmuting trophy.”[2] Rather than exploring the idea of the hero’s return journey, however, this thesis will explore the idea of the rescue within  The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, specifically the concepts of physical, mental and spiritual rescue, in addition to  the archetypes of the rescuer. Conversely, there are those who refuse rescue, and do not want to be saved in any way. By analyzing C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series, I argue that the three types of rescue entail suffering, sacrifice, and, at times, redemption as the one rescued is restored to a life of living and defending the Truth.

C.S. Lewis was born in Belfast, Ireland in 1898, and when he was ten years old, his mother died of cancer.  This tragedy caused Lewis to declare himself an atheist, for according to his logic, his mother’s death meant that God had ignored his prayers; therefore God must not exist. It took Lewis years to work his way back to a life of faith, and only through discussions with his peers, such as J.R.R. Tolkien and G.K. Chesterton, did he accept the existence of God. Lewis has even referred to himself as “the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”[3] His love of education also contributed to his rescue because it gave him a love of reading, fiction, and fantasy. He believed art should teach by delighting, which led him to write The

Chronicles of Narnia during World War II. He wrote those stories to delight the children who had been sent away from their homes to live with him in the safer part of the country, away from the bombings in London. His stories were immensely popular, and he put in great effort to answer all of the fan mail he received, particularly letters from children. Gina Burkart says of his letters, “All the letters show Lewis’s ability to speak to them (the children) as fellow scholars. He never speaks down or patronizes them…he admires and appreciates their wisdom.”[4] Lewis saw children as having just as much worth as adults, and treated them accordingly, as shown by the stories he wrote as a form of rescue for children. Rather than writing another fairytale for children containing familiar motifs of rescue, such as the prince rescuing the princess from the dragon, Lewis offers different kinds of rescue. He does not base them on romantic love, but instead on deep truths of the human experience like education, imagination, and spirituality.

The Chronicles of Narnia contain many elements of a variety of rescue types, none of them lining up with the typical fairytale notion of hero-and-damsel rescue. Leland Ryken comments on the rescue motif in the Narnia stories saying, “A rescue story requires a rescuer and a process by which the endangered person is protected and revived from harm.”[5] Usually the rescuer offers some type of sacrifice which allows the captive to be saved. In exploring the rescuer archetype, Campbell says, “The hero may have to be brought back from his…adventure by assistance from without. That is to say, the world may have to come and get him.”[6] While oftentimes stories have turned this into a romantic notion, The Chronicles of Narnia are rescue

stories of a different sort.Current criticism most often analyzes the theological aspects of the stories, like Aslan’s death as an allusion to Christ’s crucifixion or Aslan’s Country as depicted in The Last Battle representing heaven. However, this thesis broadens the idea of rescue, and shifts focus towards the physical, mental, or spiritual rescue as well as the failed rescue. Overall, the forms of rescue portrayed in the Narnia stories restores the person in danger and redeem him or her for a more community-oriented purpose.


Of the three kinds of rescue examined, one of the most present in The Chronicles of Narnia is that of physical rescue, which requires a tangible aspect, a physical hero, and a person in need of rescuing. The three characters that especially exemplify physical rescue are Mr. Tumnus from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Eustace Clarence Scrubb from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and Prince Rilian from The Silver Chair. Each of these characters experiences physical rescue, from a different level of incapacitation, and are reborn or renewed for a deeper purpose.

There are two different kinds of physical rescue depicted among these characters: one portrays physical entrapment, while the other shows the rescuee needing rescue from a physically dangerous or life-threatening situation. Those confined in a kind of physical entrapment are stuck, and need their rescuer to get them out of their situation, even though it is not immediately life-threatening. However, death or physical harm awaits those who are bodily restrained or imprisoned. Although each episode of physical rescues shares a similar structure, the individual characters require their own unique rescue which applies to their situation.

Mr. Tumnus the Faun, the first Narnian whom Lucy meets in the woods requires rescue from physical entrapment, rather than physical endangerment. The White Witch transforms him into a statue, freezing him in time. Although not in life-threatening danger, Tumnus’s need for rescue comes about as a result of his sacrifice at an earlier point in the story.[7] Mr. Tumnus finds himself in need of rescuing from his quiescent entrapment, and upon rescuing, is redeemed for another purpose.

In preparation for the battle against the White Witch, Aslan, Susan, and Lucy go to the Witch’s castle to gather soldiers and free those she turned into stone. The girls watch in wonder as Aslan begins to work on the statues: “He had bounded up to the stone lion and breathed on him…For a second after Aslan breathed upon him the stone lion looked just the same. Then a tiny streak of gold began to run along his white marble back…”[8] Using this method, Aslan rescues Mr. Tumnus from his fate as a statue in the White Witch’s castle. Lucy locates him, and in doing so, becomes part of his rescue. She runs to Aslan, and “A moment later Lucy and the little Faun were holding one another by both hands and dancing round and round for joy. The little chap was none the worse for having been a statue…” (LWW, 168). Mr. Tumnus required rescue and was unable to escape the statue state himself, but he was not close to death. The tangible aspect, Aslan’s breath, which is the element that does the rescuing, transforms Mr. Tumnus from a statue back into a living faun. Aslan renews Tumnus for a deeper purpose, in this case fighting for Aslan and defending Narnia from the White Witch. Mr. Tumnus’s rescue restores him to his individual life and purpose of both living honestly and contributing to the community.

Next, Eustace Clarence Scrubb, a boy who appears to be nasty and bitter beyond help, experiences multiple types of rescue throughout The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (VDT). However, he most prominently experiences a rescue of the physical kind. Similar to Tumnus, he is rescued from a non-life threatening physical entrapment, although his life as a boy has been halted. Eustace becomes a dragon due to his dragonish thoughts and behaviors, greedy obsession with treasure, and self-centered tendencies. Eustace’s misadventures present an important archetype of rescue: redemption. Eustace redeems himself from his former nastiness through the physical rescue provided by Aslan.

After transforming into a dragon and remaining so for several weeks, Eustace is physically rescued and turned back into a boy by Aslan[9]. The rescue takes place by a pond wherein both Eustace and Aslan take part in the rescue. Eustace, in describing the entire ordeal to Edmund, says, “‘So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and…my whole skin started peeling off beautifully…I just stepped out of it’” (VDT, 89). However, simply stepping out of the physical dragon skin is not enough to completely rescue Eustace from his dragonish state. He explains, “‘Then he caught hold of me…and threw me into the water…as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found…I’d turned into a boy again’”(VDT, 91). Aslan needs to dig deep into Eustace in order to assist his rescue–Eustace is incapable of solely rescuing himself. This physical rescue by water has deep sacramental and symbolic meaning, and shows the unique kind of rescue that Eustace required from his state of physical entrapment.

Eustace’s rescue from physical entrapment has two parts, both falling under the category of physical rescue, yet they have remarkable differences. The first part, the tearing of the skin, shows Eustace how he must physically step out of being a dragon. The second part, however, is a baptismal kind of rescue, according to Carl McColman in his book The Lion, The Mouse and the Dawn Treader. McColman writes that Eustace has “a baptismal rescue. Old skin is shed and a new person is born. He needs a physical change in order to be rescued.”[10] Eustace sheds the dragon skin and takes a bath, becoming a new and cleansed person, pointing to the transformative properties of baptism by water. Thomas C. Foster, in his book How to Read Literature like a Professor, explores the idea of baptism, both sacramentally and as a rescue motif. He writes on the idea of the sacrament of baptism “in which taking the new believer completely underwater causes him to die out of his old self and to be reborn in his identity as a follower of Christ.”[11] Eustace experiences baptism in this form, quite literally. He completely submerges in water and reemerges as not only a boy, but a believer in Aslan. From this moment, he changes from a nasty and vengeful boy into one who cares about others and becomes one capable of self-sacrifice. As Foster writes about baptism as a form of rescue and rebirth, he says, “A young man sails away from his known world, dies out of one existence, and comes back a new person, hence is reborn.”[12] Eustace is physically and tangibly rescued by Aslan by being thrown in the water and forced out of his skin, yet his physical entrapment is completely unique. Soon after his rescue and rebirth, Eustace is instrumental in saving the Dawn Treader from disaster when a sea serpent attacks the ship. Not only is he renewed as an individual, but he has been reborn for a good and beautiful purpose and he now better contributes to the common good. 

The third and final character who represents rescue is Prince Rilian from The Silver Chair (SC).[13] His rescue, like Eustace’s, consists of two parts except Rilian needs to be rescued from an actual life-threatening situation. He is in danger from the Lady of the Green Kirtle who kidnapped him and uses multiple enchantments, as well as physical entrapment by the Silver Chair, which keeps him docile. Jill, Eustace, and Puddleglum rescue him both from the physical bonds of the Silver Chair and from the prison of the Underworld and bring him back to the kingdom of Narnia.

After journeying to the Underworld to rescue Prince Rilian, Jill, Eustace, and Puddleglum discover that he has been under a spell from the Lady of the Green Kirtle. When the Prince is imprisoned in the Silver Chair, he reveals “‘My thought is that she saved me from some evil enchantment and brought me hither of her exceeding bounty…and this seems to me the likelier because even now I am bound by a spell, from which my Lady alone can free me’” (SC, 136). In reality, the antithesis of rescue, enslavement, has occurred. While tied to the Chair, Rilian understands the enchantment and is temporarily freed from the brain-washing of the Lady. During the  he reveals himself to be the lost prince of Narnia, which gives Jill, Eustace and Puddleglum the courage to completely trust Aslan, and enough reason to free him from the Silver Chair: “‘In the name of Aslan,’ they said and began methodically cutting the cords. The instant the prisoner was free, he crossed the room in a single bound, seized his own sword…that must have been a good sword. The silver gave way like a string…” (SC, 146). Not only does this show a physical rescue by Jill and Eustace and Puddleglum, but Rilian also physically rescues himself by cutting down the chair that had kept him imprisoned and enchanted for so long. However, this only details the first part of the rescue of Rilian, and the two Narnians and the two children must still escape the Underworld.

Rilian’s rescue contains a unique element of physical pain suffered on the part of the rescuer, portraying a physical sacrifice that can often be an aspect of rescue. In order to free everyone from the spell of the Lady of the Green Kirtle, Puddleglum realizes he must put out the fire, which has been enchanted to muddle their thoughts and keep them imprisoned in the Underworld. Lewis describes Puddleglum’s thought process: “But he knew it would hurt him badly enough; and so it did. With his bare foot he stamped on the fire, grinding a large part of it into ashes on the flat hearth…This instantly made everyone’s brain far clearer. The Prince and the children held up their heads again and opened their eyes” (SC, 158). Puddleglum takes on the injury to help rescue himself and the others from the Lady’s spell, even though he knows that he will have a burned foot and will bring suffering on himself. A rescue cannot happen without some kind of sacrifice, and Puddleglum assumes the burden and pain of rescuing the others. As Joseph Pearce writes in his book Further Up and Further In, “Puddleglum acts as Aslan himself would act; indeed as Aslan himself has already acted.”[14] In this instance, Puddleglum sacrifices his own safety and comfort to rescue and redirect the others after they have all become too muddled by the enchantment. After this rescue, the children are able to leave the Underworld and complete their mission assigned by Aslan to bring back Prince Rilian from captivity.

Within the rescue motif, an object or opponent must be faced, as well as the physical hindrances to restore the person in need of rescue. The rescuers must also have physical or tangible objects to battle that element. Each rescue described above has a physical aspect, whether by Prince Rilian’s sword, Aslan’s breath, or the shedding of Eustace’s dragon skin. Whether physical endangerment or physical entrapment, each rescue is unique to the captive’s level of incapacitation and requires different levels of sacrifice on the part of both the rescuer and the captive. However, with each rescue, the captive is either reborn, renewed or restored to both his original path, and a greater purpose in the pursuit of the good, true, and beautiful. Mr. Tumnus is both renewed and restored because he is no longer the captive and the servant of the White Witch. Eustace is reborn as an entirely different boy, one who accepts and defends Narnia. Rilian is restored as the rightful prince and later King of Narnia, and he is also reborn after being held captive under an enchantment for so many years. Joseph Campbell comments on the rebirth of the hero due to his rescue: “The hero adventures out of the land we know into darkness; there he accomplishes his adventure, or again is simply lost to us, imprisoned, or in danger; and his return is described as a coming back out of that yonder zone.”[15] Once the adventure is accomplished, or the physical rescue is complete, the captive is no longer the same person. In each case, physical rescue contributes to a fuller redemption of the captive as each is redirected to all become better defenders of Narnia and the Truth.


The next type of rescue, rescue of the mind, presents itself in two forms: education and imagination. Education denotes books and academia, aiming to rescue the mind through an intellectual medium. Imagination provides an escape from reality, or expands the mind to comprehend the idea that reality is not exactly as it seems. C.S Lewis, a great believer in the power of imagination, “held that a healthy imagination in adults and children is vital because of the enlargement of being and enrichment of life it offers, and because of the potential it holds for the deepening of faith and understanding.”[16] Education and imagination lead to a greater understanding, and a greater appreciation, of the human experience. Rescue of the mind,reorients or redirects the captive towards a greater purpose, that of knowing and defending the truth.

Of the three characters, Peter Pevensie is rescued solely through his imagination by Professor Kirk in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.[17] Education comes to the rescue for Caspian through his teacher, Doctor Cornelius, referred to by Marjorie Mead and Leland Ryken as the “imparter of revelation.”[18] Finally, Shasta in The Horse and His Boy is rescued by a combination of both imagination and education. He learns through stories and legends, as well as through actual academia and intellectual pursuits. Each of these mental rescues has a commonality among them, besides redirecting the mentally captive. Each person in need of rescuing has an older mentor who provides the rescuing. Therefore, there is a relationship to be discussed between the young and impressionable captives, and the older and wiser givers of knowledge who provide rescue.[19]

Peter does not initially believe Lucy when she returns from her first trip to Narnia. While he, of the three siblings, is most understanding towards Lucy, and tries to give her the benefit of the doubt, it is not until his discussion with Professor Kirk that he realizes the possibility of Narnia’s existence. He asks the Professor, “‘But do you really mean, Sir,’ said Peter, ‘that there could be other worlds–all over the place, just round the corner–like that?’” (LWW, 46). This question provokes the exasperated response from Professor Kirk: “‘Why don’t they teach logic at these schools? Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth…unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth’” (LWW, 45). Here, Professor Kirk provides mentorship in redirecting Peter’s imagination. As a more learned man, later revealed to know of Narnia, he shows the possibility of Narnia’s existence to Peter. The professor brings about the realization and expansion of Peter’s imagination, an older mentor to a youth held mentally captive by the bounds of reality in order to see the truth.

In Prince Caspian (PC), Peter once again finds himself held captive by his imagination and perception of reality. He does not believe that Lucy has seen Aslan, and stubbornly continues around the gorge instead of finding a way across it. He wants to believe Lucy, but he cannot work his way around what appears to be the reality of the situation. Peter says, “‘I know Lucy may be right after all, but I can’t help it’” (PC, 124). Even though he is the High King of Narnia, and has encountered Aslan time and time again, he still falters and lets the difficulty of reality hinder his imagination which affects his belief. However, as soon as he lets himself believe, Aslan appears in front of him and all his doubts disappear. He tells the others, “I saw something,’ said Peter. ‘But it’s so tricky in this moonlight. On we go, though, and three cheers for Lucy. I don’t feel half so tired now, either’” (PC, 146). Peter experiences this burst of belief when he allows his imagination to take over from reality shows how he has been redirected to his responsibility of leading the others as High King of Narnia.

Peter returns in the final installment of the series, The Last Battle (LB), when the characters who retain their belief in Aslan and Narnia are rewarded with eternity in Aslan’s Country. His two previous visits to Narnia have sustained his faith, and allowed him to see Aslan even in the harsh reality of the world. In fact, Peter remains so loyal that Aslan has him shut and lock the Door when Narnia comes to an end: “‘Peter, High King of Narnia,’ said Aslan. ‘Shut the Door’” (LB, 157). Reminiscent of Simon Peter, the rock of the Church and keeper of the keys to Heaven, Peter Pevensie is granted the same responsibility with the keys to Narnia. He fulfills his true purpose begun when he was crowned High King of Narnia as he bears the keys to Aslan’s Country. Like Peter Pevensie, Simon Peter had his doubts and denials, but remained faithful. Even though Peter needs rescuing multiple times throughout the stories, he allows himself to be rescued and his imagination redirected toward his actual purpose. His belief, or struggle thereof, comes to fruition when he is rewarded with eternity in Aslan’s Country at the end of his life.

In Prince Caspian, the title character has been brainwashed by his uncle in order to eliminate all knowledge of old Narnia. He knows nothing of the Narnia ruled by the High King Peter and his siblings, except for the stories he is told by his nurse. He is taught by his tutor, Doctor Cornelius, about Old Narnia who redirects Caspian towards his future responsibility as King of Narnia. As described in the story, “Of all his lessons with Doctor Cornelius the one that

Caspian liked best was History. Up till now, except for Nurse’s stories, he had known nothing about the History of Narnia, and he was very surprised to learn that the royal family were newcomers in the country” (PC, 41). At great personal risk, Doctor Cornelius tells Caspian of Old Narnia, even though the current King of Narnia, Uncle Miraz, has done his best to eliminate all memory of Narnia. Doctor Cornelius tells Caspian, “‘Don’t you know your nurse was sent away for telling you about Old Narnia? The King doesn’t like it. If he found me telling you secrets, you’d be whipped and I should have my head cut off’” (PC, 43). Doctor Cornelius represents the older source of knowledge who directs Caspian, and puts him back on the path toward leadership and kingship over Narnia. Even though Caspian is willing, and believes unlike other mental captives, he has much to learn and needs guidance from his mentor in order to fulfill his responsibilities.

Caspian’s mental rescue is one of education, and reorients him toward his future responsibilities as King of Narnia. Doctor Cornelius redirects him, even though that requires escaping from his uncle’s castle t. Doctor Cornelius readies him for his journey and gives him courage with these words: “‘Dear Prince, dear King Caspian, you must be very brave. You must go alone and at once’…and so King Caspian the Tenth left the castle of his father” (PC, 57, 59). Now that he has been educated and rescued from the brainwashing of the Telmarine kingdom, Caspian embraces his path as the future King of Narnia. Taking the education he has received from Doctor Cornelius, Caspian “…felt brave and, in a way, happy, to think that he was King Caspian riding to seek adventures with his sword on his left hip and Queen Susan’s magic horn on his right” (PC, 59). Transformed from a boy to a man ready to claim back his rightful kingdom, Caspian has been rescued through academics and the intellectual path. He has been essentially set free from his mental captivity by Doctor Cornelius, now with a moral knowledge of the Truth.

The third and final character who receives mental rescue is Shasta in The Horse and His Boy (HHB). Shasta, much like Caspian, has been brainwashed by his father, a Calormene fisherman. A visiting royal reveals that Shasta has been adopted saying, “‘This boy is manifestly no son of yours, for your cheek is as dark as mine but the boy is fair and white like the accursed but beautiful barbarians who inhabit the remote north’” (HHB, 5). The first creature in Shasta’s life to provide mental rescue is Bree, the Narnian Talking Horse. Bree does not pay the same respect to the Tisroc as Shasta has been brought up to do. When he does not use the proper title of respect, Shasta responds with “‘oughtn’t you to say May he live forever?’” (HHB, 11). Bree’s lack of respect for Calormene customs begins to break through Shasta’s mentality and awakens him to the reality of Narnia. Great happiness awaits him if he can find the courage to leave the fisherman and everything he has been brought up to know. Bree says, “‘The happy land of Narnia–Narnia of the heathery mountains and the thymy downs, Narnia of the many rivers, the plashing glens, the mossy caverns and the deep forests ringing with the hammers of the Dwarfs’”(HHB, 9). Bree’s idyllic image of Narnia provides the first sense of mental rescue for Shasta by freeing him from the mental captivity he has been under since living with the fisherman. Shasta’s rescue involves many people, all of whom provide an awakening of his mind and imagination.

The Hermit of the Southern March provides a form of mental rescue by reorienting Shasta on his path towards saving Archenland from the incoming Calormene attack. He pushes Shasta  with an unenthusiastic but obedient response from Shasta: “Shasta’s heart fainted at these words for he felt he had no strength left. And he writhed inside at what seemed the cruelty and unfairness of the demand…but all he said out loud was: ‘Where is the King?’” (HHB, 140). Even though he would rather rest, Shasta obeys the Hermit and continues running on to reach King Lune of Archenland in time. His mental clarity overpowers the needs and desires of his body, and he is ]able to renew his physical strength. Unbeknownst to Shasta, the Hermit provides mental rescue by pointing him towards his destiny as the future King of Archenland. King Lune then serves as a mental rescuer for Shasta because he provides him with education, once Shasta realizes his true identity as Prince Cor of Archenland. Shasta tells Bree at the end of the story that he “shall be learning reading and writing and heraldry and dancing and history and music while you’ll be galloping and rolling on the hills of Narnia to your heart’s content’” (HHB, 201). Even though Shasta is the hero of the book, there are many rescuers he meets on his path, who all play a role in reorienting him toward his true path as eventual King of Archenland.

The final rescuer that Shasta meets is Aslan, although more often than not, he does not realize he is in the presence of the Lion. Evan Gibson, in his analysis of C.S. Lewis’s works, writes “[Shasta] has a characteristic that Lewis prized highly — an imagination.”[20]Shasta’s imagination needs reining in, quite often, and he is scared by different stories and legends that he has heard, like the possibility of jackals among the tombs in the desert. When Aslan walks beside him, he redirects Shasta’s imagination and shows him where he went wrong, and how he has no reason to be afraid. He says, “‘I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept.’” (HHB, 158). Aslan makes the third rescuer of Shasta, but this time, redirects his imagination and shows him how to have faith. The other rescuers have provided redirection towards Shasta’s purpose and duties in life, and Aslan appears to give him comfort, security and reassurance. Shasta fits both criteria of needing mental rescue–both his education and imagination suffer from his upbringing. Shasta’s rescuers help him fulfill his journey towards his real family and his destiny as the King of Archenland.

The three mental rescues depict the critical need of a kind of rescue that goes beyond the physical boundaries. Sometimes, the captive needs to escape their mental demons just as much as they need physical rescue. Peter needs his eyes opened by Professor Kirke in order to believe in Aslan and lead his siblings eternal salvation in Aslan’s country. Doctor Cornelius educates Caspian in order to bring him to the light of reason and belief in Aslan, and so help him in becoming King Caspian the Tenth. Finally, Shasta needs both imagination and education to fulfill his destiny. All three characters are held captive either by fear, disbelief, or, in Caspian’s case, ignorance. They are all rescued for some greater purpose, reoriented towards future responsibilities and armed with the tools to know, defend and live the Truth.


The third and final type of rescue present in The Chronicles of Narnia is  spiritual rescue as the victims find themselves turned away from God. Those in need of spiritual rescue need redemption and are incapable of escaping from their situation on their own. Sometimes, the loss of spirituality leads the captive towards physical danger, or even to a merely relative existence riddled with doubt. The spiritual life is not easy to follow, and to need rescuing is an easy and common situation in which to be stuck. Carl McColman details the difficulties in following the spiritual life by saying “The spiritual life is a calling…only those who truly want it are called to persevere on the spiritual path…those are happiest and most at peace when they choose to conform their will with God’s.”[21]The spiritual rescue is aimed towards redemption, although whether or not redemption is achieved is yet to be seen–the choice remains with the captive rescued.

The first character shown in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe to need spiritual rescuing is Edmund Pevensie. He originally believes he has been rescued by Jadis, the White Witch, but as the story progresses, the false rescue in this notion becomes clear. However, the Witch tempts him and draws him with the idea of physical comfort. In Edmund’s first meeting with the Witch, she tells him, “‘I want a nice boy whom I could bring up as a Prince and who would be King of Narnia when I am gone. While he was Prince he would wear a gold crown and eat Turkish Delight all day long…’” (LWW, 34). A small boy who hates his siblings and meets a woman promising all of these temptations and comforts would find it difficult to say no, and Edmund falls victim to this delicious idea of self-gratification. Joseph Pearce comments on this idea by saying [Edmund’s] desire for self-gratification is as addictive as it is seductive. It is the destruction of one’s authentic or real freedom in pursuit of false or fallacious freedoms, the  latter of which leads to the addiction that destroys freedom.”[22] Edmund has been so enamored with this idea of escaping his siblings, and living a life of luxury with the Witch that he stops thinking straight. Edmund juxtaposes Aslan as a Christ figure and becomes the Judas figure as traitor.  Gina Burkart discusses Edmund in her analysis of Narnia and says “Anyone who has ever been lost knows how tough it is to admit when you’ve taken a wrong turn.”[23]Once he takes action, he cannot turn back, even though he eventually realizes how miserable his life will be. Edmund very much becomes a lost boy in need not only of rescue but also redemption.

Edmund, like so many other characters, has many rescuers, both in a physical and spiritual sense. While he physically needs rescuing from the clutches of the Witch, his spiritual redemption plays a much bigger role in his story. The physical rescue is not detailed in the story, yet Lewis hints at the spiritual rescue occurring as Aslan speaks to Edmund. Lewis writes “…Aslan and Edmund walking together in the dewy grass, apart from the rest of the court. There is no need to tell you (and no one ever heard) what Aslan was saying but it was a conversation which Edmund never forgot” (LWW, 135). From this conversation onwards, Edmund becomes a different boy. A person needs to reach a breaking point before he or she is willing to accept that they need rescuing, and turning to the Witch and her false rescue was Edmund’s point. As Gibson writes in his analysis of Lewis’s tales, “Edmund is just a small boy whose tendency to selfishness and bullying needs to be checked before it colors his whole life. And this is one reason why he has found his way into Narnia.”[24] Aslan rescues Edmund and shows him the error of his ways. His brother and sisters play a part in rescuing him as well in their forgiveness. Not only does Edmund need to be rescued from himself, but he needs to be forgiven so he may continue on the right path. Lewis writes, “Edmund shook hands with each of the others and said to each of them in turn, ‘I’m sorry,’ and everyone said ‘That’s all right.’ And then everyone wanted very hard to say something which would make it quite clear that they were all friends with him again” (LWW, 136). Their forgiveness provides the healing and support Edmund needs to continue his journey of spiritual rescue. His rescue exemplifies the aspect of spiritual liberation in which the captive is redeemed and restored toward a greater purpose.

On another journey to Narnia, in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, as part of fulfilling his deeper purpose, Edmund helps Eustace understand everything he has been through, and talks to Eustace about Aslan. He tells Eustace, “‘He is the great Lion, the son of the Emperor over Sea, who saved me and saved Narnia. We’ve all seen him’” (VDT, 92). He also reassures Eustace that he will be forgiven by the others, detailing everything that he did to betray his siblings. Edmund says “‘Between ourselves, you haven’t been as bad as I was on my first trip to Narnia. You were only an ass, but I was a traitor’” (VDT, 91). Had Edmund not been rescued, he would not have been there to help Eustace process his own rescue and conversion. This all follows that there was a plan from the beginning, of Edmund’s betrayal of his siblings and eventual rescue, both physical and spiritual. He goes from being a nasty and lying child to King Edmund the Just, all due to the rescue and forgiveness provided by Aslan. Because of this rescue, he is able to turn around and help others who are lost come to understand Aslan.

In Prince Caspian, the four children encounter a dwarf named Trumpkin upon their return to Narnia. Trumpkin is as loyal and steadfast, though perhaps a bit prickly and grumpy, a companion as could be found. However, he has no belief in Aslan–in fact, he has written Aslan off as a legend told to children in their nurseries. A Lion who is complete goodness in and of himself is not possible, at least not in Trumpkin’s mind. Joseph Pearce refers to Trumpkin as an “honest atheist,”[25]and there can be no more accurate description. Trumpkin is a good Dwarf, and he is not evil, malicious or irredeemable. He simply does not believe in Aslan in the slightest. Trumpkin even says, “‘I’ll go with the High king…but, if you ask my private opinion, I’m a plain dwarf…and I have no use for magic lions which are talking lions and don’t talk, and friendly lions though they don’t do us any good, and whopping big lions though nobody can see them. It’s all bilge and beanstalks as far as I can see’” (PC, 142). He is loyal and will follow Peter the High King to his death if need be, but no belief in Aslan accompanies this loyalty. Trumpkin is very much a realist, and will only believe in things that he can physically see and touch–a fact that Aslan very much knows when he appears to the children and the Dwarf later in the story.

Trumpkin the Dwarf, in all his goodness and loyalty, does not and will not believe in Aslan until he sees that Aslan is real. Aslan obliges this crisis of faith by appearing in the flesh to the children and the Dwarf. However, Trumpkin needs a little more convincing of a physical sort: “Aslan pounced…the Dwarf, hunched up in a little, miserable ball, hung from Aslan’s mouth. The Lion gave him one shake and…the Dwarf flew up in the air. He was as safe as if he had been in bed, though he did not feel so.” (PC, 149). This last sentence exemplifies a relationship with Aslan–perfectly safe and cared for, although it does not feel that way. It feels terrifying and dangerous and lonely sometimes, but none of the characters are ever abandoned by Aslan. He says to Trumpkin, “‘Son of Earth, shall we be friends?’ asked Aslan. ‘Ye-he-he-hes,’ panted the Dwarf, for it had not yet got its breath back” (PC, 149). This episode marks the beginning of Trumpkin’s spiritual rescue. For Trumpkin, spiritual rescue is not difficult in the way it was for Edmund–the layers of realism and doubt merely needed to be abolished by a physical sighting and interaction with Aslan.

Once Trumpkin is spiritually rescued by Aslan in Prince Caspian, he never stops believing in Aslan. He speaks of Aslan when he makes a brief appearance in the later story, The Silver Chair, and it is later revealed that he was brought to Aslan’s Country upon his death. The cause of his spiritual captivity is realism and doubt. Trumpkin simply cannot see past the evil that has taken over Narnia from the Telmarines. Since that invasion, the creatures of Narnia were driven into hiding and even the Talking Trees retreated into themselves. The tyrannical King Miraz cares nothing for Old Narnia and its creatures. All of these things have driven Trumpkin’s faith away, and he cannot see past all this evil in order to believe in Aslan. However, once Aslan appears to him, Trumpkin is reborn as a steadfast follower and believer in Aslan, and restored to a more complete life now that he has this faith to accompany him.

The Last Battle, the final installment of The Chronicles of Narnia, portrays the spiritual rescue of an entire land, which leads to eternal salvation. Narnia has become a very different land than shown in previous stories–this Narnia is deep in a spiritual crisis, and has fallen into the clutches of Shift the Ape and the Calormenes. The Narnians regress and believe that Shift is actually aligned with Aslan, and has become His mouthpiece. They are reduced to trembling and whimpering beasts who cower and Shift manipulates them into following him. Lewis writes, “‘All the Beasts trembled…and some fainted right away. And of course the Ape followed it up. ‘There, he says, see what Aslan does to those who don’t respect him. Let that be a warning to you all.’ And the poor creatures wailed and whined and said, ‘it will, it will…’” (LB, 78). Shift realizes how desperate the beasts of Narnia are for faith and how they seek comfort in Aslan’s love, and he completely abuses this in order to portray himself as their Savior. “A great wailing or howling went up, so loud that Tirian could hear some of the word. ‘Aslan! Aslan! Aslan!’ cried the Beasts. ‘Speak to us. Comfort us. Be angry with us no more’” (LB, 39). Shift, as the very definition of the Antichrist, tries to present himself as the new Lord of Narnia and the mouthpiece of Aslan. He distorts Aslan into a form so terrible that He inspires fear wherever he goes, instead of being the good Lion that embodies love in Narnia. The fear and frenzy Shift whips up is a spiritual corruption which, in turn, requires a spiritual rescue unlike any others in the whole series.

The end of Narnia becomes clear halfway through the story when King Tirian and the children realize the depth of Shift’s betrayal of Narnia, and there is no possible way they will escape the Calormene armies alive. However, their lifelong faith serves as a reward to them when they die, and are literally reborn in Aslan’s country. They watch night fall over Narnia, as Aslan, the real living Aslan, calls for an end to Narnia. As they begin to take in Aslan’s country, and the rich glory of it compared to the darkness and fear they experience in the earthly Narnia, Farsight the Eagle says, “‘Narnia is not dead. This is Narnia’” (LB, 169). Everyone rescued comes to realize the paradise they are in, and that this eternal paradise, Aslan’s Country, is the real Narnia to which they have longed to return. Everything about this country resembles Narnia,  but in a clearer and brighter way. Lord Digory, the first boy who was brought to Narnia at its Creation in The Magician’s Nephew, explains this new place: “‘But that was not the real Narnia. That had a beginning and an end. It was only a shadow or a copy of the real Narnia, which has always been here and always will be here…all of the old Narnia that mattered, all the dear creatures, have been drawn into the real Narnia through the Door’” (LB, 169). The Narnians, those who believed in Aslan and desperately needed spiritual rescue, have indeed been rescued by Aslan and brought to His country. Here, it becomes clear that the spiritual rescue brought Narnia to eternal salvation as the last possible form of rescue.

While the spiritually rescued characters previously mentioned have been reorientated toward a different purpose, or reborn as a new person, Narnia is ultimately rescued as a whole in The Last Battle. Aslan ends Narnia, quite literally, with the simple words, “‘Now make an end’” (LB, 157), and the giant, Father Time, heeds his words. “The giant…took the Sun and squeezed it in his hand as you would squeeze an orange. And instantly there was total darkness” (LB, 157). The country, with all its creatures, has been rescued for its ultimate purpose, its end. There is no deeper purpose than eternal salvation, and those in Narnia who believe have reached it. Joseph Pearce discusses Aslan’s Country, and says they are in a world “without shadows, in which they are being born again into a life far more real, far more alive, than anything in the dream that they had experienced thus far.”[26] Narnia has been brought out of the shadows, and is free of all evil. It can now be the real and true Narnia, filled with the love and goodness which Aslan embodies. Aslan’s Country goes to show that all rescue leads to a deeper purpose until the captive has not only been freed from their physical, mental, or spiritual prison, but has reached their end. Narnia is in its final captivity with Shift and the Calormenes, and they are rescued into Aslan’s Country, able to live freely and truly without fear of evil as Aslan originally intended.

The point of spiritual rescue is to free the captive from the worldly evil they find themselves mired in, and to reunite them with their purpose towards goodness. Within the Narnia stories, the spiritual rescuer is always Aslan in some form or another, bringing those who have fallen back into the light of His love and truth. He brings Edmund from the brink of evil, and reunites him with his siblings. He appears to Trumpkin in the flesh, helping to dissipate his doubt and bring him to the light of belief. Finally, he appears as the ultimate rescuer of all of Narnia in The Last Battle, defeating all evil for the last time and bringing all Narnians into His country. Often using others as his instruments of rescue, Aslan, as the ultimate rescuer, takes them out of the shadow of the human world and brings them to His country as a reward for striving to live the Truth. He tells all those He brings into His world, “‘The Term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning’” (LB, 183). All the evil and drudgery that has held them captive in the earthly world has been eliminated–they have been rescued and reawakened in eternal paradise.[27]


Among the many rescues detailed throughout these stories, there are some characters who, even though all the tools for their own rescue are laid before them, simply refuse to be rescued. Whether through fear, stubbornness, or evil, three characters spurn rescue in their own way. Susan becomes blinded by the world of adulthood–she gets swept up in what she thinks is the glamour of adult parties, fashion, and material comforts while forgetting Narnia. Uncle Andrew cowers behind science and tries to reason through Magic with academia, and he refuses to see the goodness of Aslan. The White Witch, a completely irredeemable character from the beginning, personifies pure evil and destroys any hint of goodness that she encounters in Narnia. Even though all the evidence of truth, goodness, and beauty, embodied in Aslan the Lion, lies right in front of them, these characters turn to what is familiar to them and away from rescue.

Susan, the second oldest of the Pevensie children and who was crowned Queen Susan the Gentle in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, grows up and pretends Narnia was just a childish imaginary game. Her fascination with adulthood and desire to be a grownup becomes increasingly obvious as she forgets about Narnia and turns to the material world of parties, invitations, and glamorous clothes. A scene in Prince Caspian when Susan turns condescending and nasty towards Lucy because Susan cannot see Aslan offers a glimpse of the grownup she will later become. Gibson offers an analysis of Susan by saying, “Only in Susan is there a somber hint of her future. She is the same practical person…but her fears seem more sharply outlined than before.”[28]Peter reveals the state of his sister in The Last Battle, when it becomes clear that only three of the four Pevensie children have been brought to Aslan’s Country. “‘My sister Susan,’ answered Peter shortly and gravely, ‘is no longer a friend of Narnia’” (LB, 134).

Jill quickly follows up, “‘she’s interested in nothing now-a-days except nylons and lipstick and invitations. She always was a jolly sight too keen on being grown-up’” (LB, 135). Susan, in short, grows up and forgets everything she learned about Aslan and Narnia, pretending that it was merely an imaginary game she and her siblings played as children. Even when her siblings try to bring her back to belief in Narnia, she turns away from reality and rescue.  

Susan refuses to abandon her world where she is distracted by the material glamour of adulthood. C.S. Lewis wrote of Susan’s fate in a letter to a fan who wrote to him asking questions about Susan. He says, “Peter gets back to Narnia in it. I am afraid Susan does not. Haven’t you noticed in the two you have read that she is rather fond of being too grownup. I am sorry to say that side of her got stronger and she forgot about Narnia.”[29] Susan makes the conscious decision to forget about Narnia–at some time while she grows up after her final visit to Narnia in Prince Caspian, she makes the decision not to pay attention to Aslan anymore. From that point forward, she forgets Narnia, forgets Aslan, and chalks it all up to an imaginary game that belongs in the childish past. Campbell says that the person being rescued has two choices: “he accomplishes his adventure, or again is simply lost to us, imprisoned, or in danger.”[30] Susan refuses the rescue offered by believing in Aslan and living the Truth, and also spurns her siblings’ attempts to rescue her. Susan’s refusal to be rescued lies in her unwillingness to give up the comforts of adulthood and believe in something that she cannot physically see or touch. Her lifestyle grants her some surface-level pleasures, while the other characters’ refusals to be rescued exist for much graver reasons.

A character mired in the depths of education, Uncle Andrew blinds himself with his science and pursuit of knowledge . He uses his knowledge as a crutch and excuse to do and believe whatever he wants, and, in turn, becomes unable and unwilling to be rescued. As the adult in the story, he is supposed to be Diggory’s mentor and caretaker, but instead he perverts this relationship of older mentor to younger child, and exploits Diggory and Polly for his own uses. According to Gibson, “Uncle Andrew places knowledge first…Humans and animals, he thinks, are there to be exploited for his own selfish purposes.”[31]Uncle Andrew sends the children to other worlds with the rings he created because he is too afraid to go himself, paralyzed by fear of the unknown. When Diggory suggests that Uncle Andrew face up to the mistakes he has made, Andrew flies into a rage: “‘The boy must be mad! A man at my time of life, and in my state of health, to risk the shock and the dangers of being flung suddenly into a different universe? I never heard anything so preposterous in my life!’” (MN, 22). Uncle Andrew, a true coward, hides behind his age and guilts Diggory into doing his bidding. As the older man, he should be offering wisdom to Diggory, or sacrificing himself to save Diggory from the unknown–he should be guiding and protecting Diggory. However, Diggory becomes the one to look after Uncle Andrew, completely reversing the roles. By hiding behind his science, Uncle Andrew refuses to be rescued by the spirituality of Narnia, even though he is brought to the same world as the others.

Uncle Andrew uses his science to pretend to be a god of sorts. He wants to have power and control, and when his studies yield stronger results than he can handle, he reverts to a sniveling coward. However, when he believes his experiments to be working, he becomes exceptionally arrogant, saying, “‘I am the great scholar, the magician, the adept who is doing the experiment. Of course I need subjects to do it on’” (MN, 23). He feels completely entitled to have loyal pawns who offer themselves up for his experiments, elevating himself above others. Uncle Andrew’s kind of science and education requires sacrifice, but unlike the sacrifice described above on the part of the rescuer, his requires sacrifice on the part of his subjects. As Joseph Pearce says, “it is not the sacrifice of the self for others of which he speaks but the sacrifice of others on the altar that the prideful self erects to itself.”[32] Uncle Andrew does not believe he needs to give anything up because he is above all other people, as an educated man, as a scientist. His education contributes to his god complex, which in turn prohibits him from being rescued–he believes himself to be like a god, so therefore there is no one greater and no who could rescue him.

The final stage which confirms that Uncle Andrew has progressed too far down the path of science and can no longer return to be saved comes to fruition when Uncle Andrew is brought to Narnia. He appears in the same world as Diggory and Polly do, but he instead becomes terrified at the purity and majesty of it all, rather than being in awe. When he hears Aslan’s song creating Narnia, he recoils and convinces himself of the horror in the song: “And the longer and more beautifully the Lion sang, the harder Uncle Andrew tried to make himself believe that he could hear nothing but roaring…He soon did hear nothing but roaring in Aslan’s song” (MN, 126). Uncle Andrew is no friend to Narnia, and therefore is convinced of the horror and evil that awaits him in this new world. According to Gibson, “The song makes him think and feel things that he does not want to remember…the music is food for those who affirm life and righteousness and poison to those who deny it.”[33] Uncle Andrew convinces himself that Aslan’s song contains nothing but horrific roaring, and he remains blinded by his false conceptions of the world. He has retreated too far away from Aslan and cannot be rescued. While his companions are drawn with wonder to Aslan and His song, Uncle Andrew wants to escape. This reaction to the pure goodness of Aslan shows a lost soul who has wandered too far and is beyond all hope of rescue. Once he finds comfort in Jadis and turns to her instead of Aslan, the inability to rescue is complete. He has turned to an evil Queen brought to the world, a being whose lost soul contains more evil than Uncle Andrew, and he will not be brought back into the light of Aslan.

While the other characters have lost their way, or fallen due to blindness, the White Witch, Jadis, has been lost from the very beginning. While Aslan is the embodiment of love and goodness, she is the personification of pure evil. She commits herself to destroying everything that is pure and good in Narnia, including Aslan himself. When Aslan offers himself as a sacrifice to mend Edmund’s betrayal in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, she gleefully gloats, “‘And now, who has won? Fool, did you think that by all this you would save the human traitor?…Understand that you have given me Narnia forever, you have lost your own life and you have not saved his. In that knowledge, despair and die’” (LWW, 152). She mocks Aslan’s sacrifice, completely hardened to and rejecting the love that accompanies His actions. She revels in despair, death and destruction, and wishes the same fate upon Aslan. From the very first time she first meets Aslan in The Magician’s Nephew, Jadis rejects Him from the very beginning. In fact, she even wishes harm upon Aslan, and she physically throws a metal bar, torn from a lamppost in modern England, at His face and hits Him solidly between the eyes. “She raised her arm and flung the iron bar straight at its head…the bar struck the Lion fair between the eyes. It glanced off and fell with a thud in the grass…the Witch shrieked and ran: in a few moments she was out of sight among the trees” (MN, 108). Her actions display a complete rejection of goodness, and a wish for physical harm on the one Being that embodies love, truth, and beauty. Her actions towards others, not only Aslan, portray a woman completely lost in evil with absolutely no hope for rescue or redemption.

Jadis represents the Devil, she has fallen completely away from Aslan, and she can never be rescued. In fact, she has such a fear of Aslan’s goodness that she does not want to be redeemed, and so remains completely lost. She tries to turn Diggory away from Aslan as well by wheedling him to eat a forbidden apple from the tree. She even eats an apple to convince him it will do no harm. In his letters to his children fans, C.S. Lewis confirms Jadis as irredeemable, saying that “Jadis was already very much fallen before she ate it.”[34] From the very beginning, there was no hope for Jadis–she was evil, and remained evil throughout her reign of Narnia until her death in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, completely incapable of being rescued.

Susan Pevensie, Uncle Andrew and Jadis all, in their own way, refuse rescue. Some of them have more hope than others to be rescued, like Susan, who could have been rescued if she had chosen to follow Aslan instead of her material grownup world. Uncle Andrew cowers behind his supposed knowledge, believes all answers to be found in science, and fails to recover his shattered mentality when he realizes there are far more powerful beings than he. Jadis, the personification of the Devil, has no hope of rescue, and instead delights in evil and chaos. The three characters all share common traits in that they do not want rescue–they remain perfectly content in their fallen worlds, desiring material comforts rather than the eternal joy that they would find with Aslan. Susan, Uncle Andrew, and Jadis remain lost throughout the stories and are never rescued and brought to Aslan’s Country because of their complete rejection of the good, true, and beautiful. 


The notion of rescue has always fascinated humanity, and has stood the test of time in remaining relatable for all audiences. The challenges faced–the bravery, courage, strength of the hero, gratitude of the one being rescued–lends itself to a thrilling story for children and adults alike. Peter Schakel says, “Children enjoy hearing again and again the suspenseful episodes…it is the quality of unexpectedness, not the fact that delights us.”[35] Schakel never mentions the romance that follows rescue, proving that rescue does not necessarily contain a romantic aspect. Rescue involves any person held captive, and needs to be saved. The biggest question that must be asked when rescue becomes necessary is how does the captive get to the point of needing rescuing? What makes a person so lost that they are no longer able to extract themselves from their situation?

All rescues, at some point, contain an element of suffering, whether by the captive or the rescuer. In order for a rescue to be successful, the captive must desire to be rescued–the idea of a passive rescue does not exist. As proven above with Susan, Uncle Andrew, and the White Witch, rescue does not always succeed because the captive simply does not want to be rescued. If the captive is unwilling to labor for their rescue, the rescue will not happen. C.S. Lewis himself received spiritual rescue, and even though he was a reluctant convert, he began to believe in God. His spiritual rescue came from a form of mental rescue because he came to believe through education and discussions with his peers. He simply could not deny the existence of God any longer because it was not logical. The rescue he experienced manifests itself in The Chronicles of Narnia, as many of his characters receive rescue in some form or another. In his letters to his adolescent fans, Lewis wrote of rescue: “the sense of a huge past, or lowering danger, of heroic tasks achieved by the most apparently unheroic people…is so exactly what living feels like to me.”[36] Rescue, according to Lewis, was a part of daily life and occurred far more often than commonly thought, hence why he uses rescue as a common theme throughout the Narnia stories.

Aslan often represents the rescuer to the person held captive in a given situation. He provides the physical, mental, and spiritual escape the captive desperately needs. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, he even tells Edmund and Lucy, “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there” (VDT, 216). He brings people to Narnia so they may come to know Aslan, be rescued by Him, and continue to grow their relationship with Him in their own world. As the ultimate rescuer, Aslan displays unending patience as characters need to be rescued repeatedly. According to Campbell, the rescuer must teach “what has been taught correctly and incorrectly learned a thousand thousand times, throughout the millennia of mankind’s prudent folly…that is the hero’s ultimate difficult task.”[37] Some characters need to be rescued more than once, and each requires a different type of rescue to grow closer to Aslan. As Campbell says of rescue and rebirth: “The values and distinctions that in normal life seem important disappear with the terrifying assimilation of the self into what formerly was only otherness.”[38] Each character receives a different and unique rescue, and they are wholly changed by their experience and transformed into new people. Whether their rescue be physical, mental or spiritual, every character discovers a new purpose. However, each type of rescue builds upon the other. For example, once physically rescued, each character becomes capable of taking on a mental rescue or reorientation. Therefore, each rescue acts as a contribution to that character’s journey toward eternal salvation–the ultimate form of rescue.

Edited by Ariel Hobbs


Burkart, Gina. Finding Purpose in Narnia: A Journey with Prince Caspian. Mahwah, NJ: HiddenSpring, 2008.

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1949.

Dorsett, Lyle W. and Mead, Marjorie E., edit. C.S. Lewis Letters to Children. New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1985.

Foster, Thomas C. How to Read Literature like A Professor. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2017.

Gibson, Evan K. C.S. Lewis Spinner of Tales: A Guide to His Fiction. Washington D.C.: Christian University Press, 1980.

Lewis, C.S. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1950.

—. Prince Caspian. New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1951.

—. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1952.

—. The Silver Chair. New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1953.

—. The Horse and His Boy. New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1954.

—. The Magician’s Nephew. New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1955.

—. The Last Battle. New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1956.

McColman, Carl. The Lion, the Mouse and the Dawn Treader: Spiritual Lessons from C.S. Lewis’s Narnia. Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2011.

Pearce, Joseph. Further Up and Further In: Understanding Narnia. Charlotte, NC: TAN Books, 2018.


Ryken, Leland and Mead, Marjorie Lamp. A Reader’s Guide to Caspian: A Journey into C.S. Lewis’s Narnia. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008.

Schakel, Peter J. Imagination and the Arts in C.S. Lewis: Journeying to Narnia and Other Worlds. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2002.

Stone, Elaine Murray. C.S. Lewis: Creator of Narnia. New York/Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2008

[1]Oxford Dictionary, s.v. “rescue”, accessed March 13, 2021, https://www.oed.com/

[2]Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1949), 193.

[3]Elain Murray Stone, C.S. Lewis: Creator of Narnia (New York/Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2008). All information about C.S. Lewis comes from this biography, even if not directly quoted.

[4]Gina Burkart, Finding Purpose in Narnia: A Journey with Prince Caspian (Mahwah, NJ: HiddenSpring, 2008), 84.

[5]Leland Ryken and Marjorie Mead, A Reader’s Guide to Caspian: A Journey into C.S. Lewis’s Narnia (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 49.  

[6]Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, 207.

[7]Tumnus at first lures Lucy to his cave on the pretext of having tea, and reveals himself to be employed by the White Witch. He redeems himself by sneaking Lucy out of Narnia, and accepting the following imprisonment.

[8]C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, (New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1950), 164-165. All citations of The Chronicles of Narnia will be from these editions and henceforth will be cited parenthetically in the text by book and page number.

[9]Eustace’s time as a dragon provides a mental rescue, and he becomes a nicer person. Lewis states later that, “To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy. He had relapses. There were still many days when he could be very tiresome. But most of those I shall not notice. The cure had begun” (VDT, 93).  

[10]Carl McColman, The Lion, the Mouse and the Dawn Treader: Spiritual Lessons from C.S. Lewis’s Narnia (Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2011), 41.

[11]Thomas C. Foster, How to Read Literature like A Professor (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2017), 86.

[12]Ibid., 84

[13]King Tirian in The Last Battle also serves as a character in need of physical rescue, after being tied to a tree and awaiting execution by Shift the Ape and the other enemies of Narnia. 

[14]Joseph Pearce, Further Up and Further In: Understanding Narnia (Charlotte, NC: TAN Books, 2018), 148.

[15]Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, 217

[16]Peter J. Schakel, Imagination and the Arts in C.S. Lewis: Journeying to Narnia and Other Worlds (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2002), 2.

[17]Jill Pole, in the Silver Chair, also serves as a character in need of mental rescue. Aslan comes to her in a dream and redirects her toward her original purpose in following signs toward rescuing Prince Rilian from the Lady of the Green Kirtle.

[18]Leland Ryken and Marjorie Mead, A Reader’s Guide to Caspian: A Journey into C.S. Lewis’s Narnia (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 43.

[19]Lucy is also a contrast to those who need mental rescue–she easily believes and needs little redirecting throughout the stories in order to remember her true purpose.

[20]Evan K. Gibson, C.S. Lewis Spinner of Tales: A Guide to His Fiction (Washington D.C.: Christian University Press, 1980), 148.

[21]McColman, The Lion, The Mouse, and The Dawn Treader, 88.

[22]Pearce, Further Up and Further In, 66.

[23]Burkart, Finding Purpose in Narnia, 46.

[24]Gibson, C.S. Lewis Spinner of Tales, 136.

[25]Pearce, Further Up and Further In, 96.

[26]Pearce, Further Up and Further In, 193.

[27]Bree the Talking Horse serves as a spiritually rescued character as well because he refuses to believe in Aslan as He truly is, and claims to know everything about Aslan. He is straying dangerously toward the spiritually prideful, and is only by Aslan appearing in the flesh as a true Beast that Bree has a spiritual conversion.

[28]Gibson, C.S. Lewis Spinner of Tales, 160.

[29]Lyle W. Dorsett and Marjorie E. Mead, edit. C.S. Lewis Letters to Children (New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1985), 51.

[30]Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, 217 

[31]Gibson, C.S. Lewis Spinner of Tales, 204.

[32]Pearce, Further Up and Further In, 36.

[33]Gibson, C.S. Lewis Spinner of Tales, 206.

[34]Dorsett and Mead, Letters to Children, 92.

[35]Schakel, Imagination and the Arts in C.S. Lewis, 55.

[36]Dorsett and Mead, Letters to Children, 81

[37]Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, 218 

[38]Ibid., 217

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