The spiritual lessons one can take away from The Chronicles of Narnia at any age are too many to name. Within the pages of C.S. Lewis’ beloved fantasy are cracking good adventures and plenty of insights into the Christian theology he used as a framework for the fantastical worlds he constructed. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; The Horse and His Boy and the rest should be read by kids and their parents for the edification and entertainment of both and a terrific education on Lewis’ “Mere Christianity.” What they should not be read for is any sort of insight into sound governance or civic life because only through the eyes of hindsight does it become clear that Narnian politics are absolutely deranged.
I mean, what on earth? The White Witch may have been a cruel dictator who made it always winter and never Christmas, but you know what else she was? An adult. It’s very clear that she had to go, given her habit of turning her citizens into stone without even the semblance of a trial, but come on. Let’s look at the replacement plan logically here. The idea was to kick the White Witch out and replace her with her kids! Two little boys and two little girls! And not just any kids, but four siblings new to the area with virtually zero knowledge of the country or its people, let alone governing experience.
Look, obviously Lewis is predisposed to be sympathetic to monarchial rule and that’s his right, but that’s even what we’re talking about here. This land of talking animals, many of whom are shown to have deep knowledge of Narnian lore, just up and gave unchecked power to the first four children bored enough to wander to the back of a wardrobe and keep going. You could not conjure a more arbitrary political framework if you tried. Wholesale catastrophe.
“Well, it’s a prophecy.” OK, does this prophecy have anything to say about representative leadership? It’s hard to see what knowledge a 10-year-old British kid who’s defining character trait is a willingness to sacrifice his family for the most disgusting dessert his island ever had the misfortune of inventing would have about solving disputes between mermaids and talking squirrels. If the Pevensie kids want to live in Narnia, more power to them. Who wouldn’t? But can’t the power be more of the growth and self actualization variety, instead of actual, tangible power?
And it’s not limited to Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy who, let’s admit, eventually grew up to be seemingly well-loved monarchs. But there was clearly no contingency plan for what would happen if they all wandered out of Narnia one day. It’s obviously a little difficult to come up with a succession of power when your four rulers are brothers and sisters, but that’s hardly an excuse not to try. Why not Mrs. Beaver? She seems like she’s got a good head on her shoulders and has the benefit of actually having, you know, lived in Narnia and, not to belabor this point but, is a grown-up.
In short, Narnian politics are a disaster. It’s no wonder the place keeps falling apart. The only mystery is why they all keep turning to a cluster of preteens to get them out of whatever the latest mess is.
Tyler Huckabee is RELEVANT's senior editor. He lives in Nashville with his wife, dog and Twitter account.