Escaping the Darkness

by Dr. Everett Piper

In The Silver Chair, the fifth book of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, we find three main characters: two children named Scrubb and Jill and a Narnian friend called Puddleglum. These three adventurers meet up with Aslan (the Christ figure) who gives them instructions to go in search of Rilian, the prince of Narnia, who is being held captive by an evil witch.

In the midst of their journey through the deep caves of the Underworld they find the prince. He is in a dark cavern, tied to a silver chair that has mysterious powers over him. He has been brainwashed to believe that the witch is his ally not his captor, that darkness is, in fact, light and that his bondage is, indeed, his freedom.

Upon discovering Rilian, the kids and Puddleglum begin to untie the prince so that they can escape from the cave before the witch returns. But, alas, they are too late. She comes back and catches them.  Standing before her in the cave, barely lit by smoldering smudge pots, the kids, the prince and Puddleglum confront their captor. They demand that she let them return to Narnia so they can be with the great lion Aslan and to see the sun and feel its warm rays.

Now here is what is interesting. In responding, the witch doesn’t use physical force. She instead chooses to use the power of words and deception. Here is how Lewis describes it.

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“What is this sun that you all speak of?”[said the Witch] …Can you tell me what it’s like…?”

“You see that lamp [said the prince]. It is round and yellow and gives light to the whole room; and hangeth… from the roof. Now that thing which we call the sun is like the lamp, only far greater and brighter. It giveth light to the whole [world] and hangeth in the sky.”

“Hangeth from what?” asked the witch and then, while they were all still thinking how to answer her, she added, with another of her soft, silver laughs, “You see? When you try to think out clearly what this sun must be, you cannot tell me. You can only tell me it is like the lamp. Your sun is a dream and there is nothing in that dream that was not copied from the lamp. The lamp is the real thing; the sun is but a tale, a children’s story.”

Does this argument sound familiar?

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