C. S. Lewis's world of Narnia is one of the most enchanting fictional places in existence, but it's also super, duper messed up. Talking animals aren't the only weird things about Narnia. From racism to sexism to painting entire species with a broad brush, there's a whole lot of this fictional land that strikes the modern reader as more than a little suspect. Though the novels themselves are ostensibly for audiences of all ages, there are some pretty disturbing things about Narnia.
Sure, we could answer the question of whether the Chronicles of Narnia are racist by hand-waving it as a product of its time. But as a highly influential piece of literature that's often given to fantasy-loving children, it's important to consider the dark implications of Narnia. Fun and engrossing though it may be, the Narnia series holds some pretty disturbing truths buried in there as well.
Girly-Girls Don't Get To Go To Heaven
The fate of Susan has been hotly debated for ages. According to Peter, she's "no longer a friend of Narnia," and Jill explains that, "she's interested in nothing now-a-days except nylons and lipstick and invitations." Sure, it's not nice, and sure, it's not explicitly said that Susan will never get to Narnia, only that she isn't there at the time.
But that doesn't erase the fact that her story is never finished, and that her siblings seemingly don’t care she may never join them in Heaven. Worse, Susan – because she denies her belief in a magical land you travel to in a wardrobe in a time when saying such a thing (especially as a woman) could get you thrown in a horribly abusive asylum – now has three dead siblings, a dead cousin, and apparently two dead parents as well. Remember, the other Pevensies see them all in Heaven, except for Susan. She's all alone for the crime of trying to grow up at a reasonable rate.
Women Are Healers, Men Are Fighters
"Battles are ugly when women fight," Father Christmas tells Lucy in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Not "battles are ugly when children fight," which is true, nor, "battles are ugly," which is also true, but specifically that battles are ugly when women fight, which is bullsh*t. That's why Lucy is given a healing cordial and Susan is given a magic, help-summoning horn, but Peter is given a sword.
Though Susan and Lucy are given tools to defend themselves, both are specifically told the means NOT to use them. Women are meant to support the men in battle with their healing and magic horns, not fight for themselves, no matter how much is at stake. In a world with witches, talking animals, and magical beasts, women are still relegated as helpers, not warriors.
Teaching Little Kids To Kill Is Super Dope
Battles may be ugly when women fight, but when 13-year-old boys fight, battles are proving grounds. In The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Peter must prove himself in front of Aslan by slaying the wolf that's threatening his sister. Nevermind that Peter is only a year older than Susan, nor that Aslan (the giant f*cking lion) is right there; instead, he has to test his new sword against a battle-hardened wolf.
Aslan may have known Peter would win, and that there were even harder battles in Peter's future, but there's still something deeply disturbing about a Jesus-inspired lion teaching a young boy how to kill so he can properly rule a country that isn't his own.
Changing An Entire Race's Appearance And Function Is Fine If You're Aslan's Buddy
The entirety of the Dawn Treader's stay at Coriakin's island is bizarre. After speaking to a group of invisible beings, Lucy is tasked with making them visible again, only to find out that the Dufflepuds turned themselves invisible, not, as they claimed, the magician Coriakin. But then it gets disturbing.
It turns out the Dufflepuds were originally dwarves, and they were turned into one-footed creatures by the magician because they disobeyed him. Coriakin is a kindly figure shown to be friends with Aslan, making this whole situation utterly bizarre. Though the magician is the Dufflepuds' overseer, it seems unnecessarily cruel to completely change their appearance because they didn't listen, but apparently it doesn't matter because he's friends with Aslan.