Sunday, April 16, 2006

Blog 3 - The Silver Chair

In The Silver Chair, the significance of Jill's inability to remember the signs that Aslan gave her to follow strictly, demonstrates the impression C.S. Lewis has of education and of women. First, Jill and Eustace are the product of Experiment House, a school that does not focus on the traditional lessons of education, but rather on allowing children to do as they liked. The impact of this education on Jill and Eustace is that of comprise. When it comes down to completing an important task, they find difficulty in adhering to the prescribed rules. Not following these rules leads them into greater danger and the lack of constant vigilance causes the travelers to muff three out of the four signs. While they do stay roughly on task, the focus given to forgetting these tasks emphasizes the lack of formal education, revealing Lewis’ appreciation for this type of education.

C.S. Lewis comments on his opinion of women through Jill, the only female of the group. She is saddled with the simple, yet highly important task of remembering the signs. While she fails periodically, the more significant comment is on her lack of desire to remember. “Puddleglum’s question annoyed her because, deep down inside her, she was already annoyed with herself for not knowing the Lion’s lesson quite so well as she felt she ought to have known it. This annoyance, added to the misery of being very cold and tired, made her say, ‘Bother the signs’” (Lewis 596). Another instance of Lewis’ comments on women comes through Puddleglum, Scrubb, and Jill’s conversation with Prince Rilian, before he is revealed as the Prince. Rilian speaks of his desire, though he is under a woman’s spell, to listen implicitly to the word of his Lady, who happens to also be an evil serpent. Jill asserts the following. “Where I come from…they don’t think much of men who are bossed about by their wives” (622). This is likely a reference to Lewis’ own experiences with strong-willed women. However, the narrator urges the audience to not dislike Jill for the rest of the story when she does womanly things, such as crying in front of a giant King and Queen!


Blogger Dale Sullivan said...

I don't think women come off to wll in SC. As you point out, Jill forgets the rules and the sorceress is, well, female and wicked. I suppose though, that Lewis' favorable treatment of Lucy elsewhere may help make up for his treatment of Jill here, in part at least. The forgetting of the signs seems to be a comment on the need for memorization of important things, perhaps sacred texts, perhaps the 10 commandments?

6:36 AM  

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