Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)

8-2011

Type of Culminating Activity

Thesis

Degree Title

Master of Arts in English, Literature

Department

English

Major Advisor

Linda Marie Zaerr, Ph.D.

Abstract

C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia ends with the absence of one the main characters. Susan Pevensie is not included in the reunion at the end of The Last Battle. Other characters attribute her absence to exclusive interest in “nylons and lipstick and invitations.” There is a blank space in Susan’s story related to her absence from The Last Battle and in this space critics have inscribed a variety of meanings. Critics argued that Lewis found beauty and femininity to be suspiciously evil and that in order for a girl to succeed in Narnia she must reject them to become as good as a boy. Others have argued that Susan’s difficulty is not her femininity but her failure to mature in an optimal way. In this thesis, I argue that these reversals are intended to emphasize the primacy of the divine in Narnia. I show how Susan’s story illustrates Lewis’s sense of the necessity of purgatorial redemption, the way he saw that courtly love might lead a person to the divine, and the positive, although subordinate, role in the Chronicles for women and enchantment. The ending of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe ensures that while Susan’s story is unresolved in the Chronicles, her return would be more consistent with the internal logic of the series than her absence. While her absence offers weight and sorrow to the otherwise joyful conclusion, Aslan’s blessing over the four children as they are crowned “Once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen” (Lewis, The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 131) speaks of their return.

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