Friday, June 14, 2013

A Secret Theme?

I came across an article recently in which a Reverend claims to have found the "Secret Theme behind Narnia."  (The full article can be found here) According to Reverend Dr. Michael Ward, each of the Narnia books line up with a planet that made up the heavens in medieval astrology.

The article states:
"He claims Lewis' knowledge of medieval history, of which he was one of the leading scholars, made him familiar with the characteristics attributed to the seven planets during the period. Each of these planets gives one of the books its theme. Prince Caspian, for example, is a story ruled by Mars, who is manifested by soldiery and battle, while The Voyage of the Dawn Treader focuses on the Sun, with its light and gold themes. In The Horse and His Boy, based on Mercury, the planet that rules the star sign Gemini and is associated with the power of communication, the characters include twins and a talking horse."

While I do believe it is likely that there could be a secret theme behind the stories, I am a bit hesitant to take this theory to heart.

Lewis's Christian allegory runs thick throughout the Narnia stories and it is not hard to pick out these references, such as Aslan's depiction to Christ.  But a secret theme aligning with the planets seems a bit...well...out there.

Dr. Ward's book, Planet Narnia, and his official website can be found here: Planet Narnia

What are your thoughts? Could Lewis have been weaving in a secret theme throughout the Chronicles of Narnia without disclosing such information? If so, why do you think he would he have done such a thing?


  1. I don't think it's outside of the realm of possibility that the books have a secret theme. I think many authors are influenced by a variety of factors, though, and that doesn't necessarily make subtle themes mysterious or secretive.

    I also think that we, as readers, can analyze the crap out of literature and even glean meaning and symbol when it wasn't the author's original intent. That said, even if the author didn't originally intend to have a secret theme of medieval astrology, someone has identified a theme, and that is valid...whether or not Lewis intended it. Literature has a life of its own once it is presented to readers, and the interpretations of individual readers are not necessarily incorrect. I think that just means Lewis wrote so well that he allowed for layers upon layers upon layers for us to analyze and discuss.

    1. My thoughts exactly!
      I remember taking a literary criticism class where we analyzed all sorts of literature in different perspectives. While it is fun to debate what the author actually meant, I doubt many writers intentionally put secret themes behind their writing - they might have meant what they said.

      Each reader is going to have a slight bias based upon their own lives and circumstances. What I get out of a novel could very well change the next time I read it based upon my experiences at that point in my life. Meanings change and analyzing occurs.

      I think about this with Scripture a lot, too. We are always trying to uncover secret meanings, where I think it is quite possible that Jesus meant what he said :)

  2. While I don't profess to be a Lewis "scholar" by any stretch... Dr. Ward's proposition seems to be just that-a stretch.

    I have no doubt that Lewis' writings, particularly Narnia, are teeming with allegory and symbolism, And while it seems plausible that Lewis would cloak a such a theme, it's unlikely on the grounds of it is not an "orthodox" tendency of Lewis.

    Let me clarify...

    I can recall reading an interview with Lewis' stepson following the release of the newest Disney adaptation of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." In the interview,his stepson Douglas Gresham indicates that the Christian imagery and allegory evident in the Narnia series were not a well-thought-out scheme of C.S. For the most part, they were not even intentional. Rather, as Gresham argues, the metaphors naturally manifested themselves in the novels because the faith of Lewis permeated every aspect of his life.

    The point?

    If the metaphors evident in Narnia are naturally birthed out of Lewis' theological foundation, it is highly unlikely that he would "unnaturally" go out of his way to weave in metaphors to something that was not foundational to his worldview.

    Lewis' metaphors seem to be unintentional and naturally occurring because of his faith. For Dr. Ward's hypothesis to be correct, it would mean that Lewis would deviate from this tendency to write intentional and unnaturally occurring metaphors because of his knowledge.

    In other words, I'm not buying it.


    1. ..."metaphors naturally manifested themselves in the novels because the faith of Lewis permeated every aspect of his life."

      I love that!

      I feel our lives should reflect our faith just as naturally as Lewis's did.

  3. I suppose if the metaphors in Narnia were natural manifestations of C.S. Lewis's beliefs, its quite possible that his knowledge of medieval astrology could have also influenced the mythology he created in Narnia.

    That said, each book correlating with the theme of a planet seems far fetched.