Was the White Witch Really Narnia’s Villain?

Cold as ice or just a cool cat?

Greetings son of Adam or daughter of Eve.

I realise that this question might seem controversial or obvious. The White Witch is an iconic villain, appearing again and again throughout the Chronicles of Narnia as she attempts to thwart Aslan’s plans. But I wonder what version of events she would give in regard to Aslan and the children who came to claim Narnia for themselves. Is she truly a cruel ice queen? Here are a few points to ponder: 

1.Why should she yield power to Aslan and the Pevensie children? 

Picture this: you’re a powerful queen with knowledge of a prophecy foretelling that four children will bring about your destruction. Do you: 

a) let them bring about your doom with no questions asked

b) defend your life and your right to rule

If your answer was ‘b’, and you had the audacity to carry on existing and ruling Narnia, then you’re in icy company. Why should the White Witch be content to yield her leadership to a newly arrived Aslan and some kids who got lost in a wardrobe? In regard to the portent that warned two daughters of Eve and two sons of Adam will take her life and the throne at Cair Paravel, I’m not surprised she has ambitions to stop them.

2.She turns enemies into stone whereas the Pevancy children have actual weapons

In The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, the White Witch turns enemies into stone with her magic wand. However, this witchcraft is reversible. At the end of the novel, her victims are reanimated and freed from their temporary state. On the other hand, the Pevensie boys are armed with blades from Father Christmas and Susan is given a knife. Perhaps the White Witch is wise to have it ‘always winter but never Christmas’ if Christmas in Narnia is a synonym for getting armed to the nines. What did Santa drop off in the Pevancy parents’ stocking – a trebuchet? I don’t recall Edward’s, Peter’s or Susan’s victims being resurrected at any point. At all. I know who I’d rather fight. 

3.C.S.Lewis had old-fashioned views about women

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was published in 1950. C.S.Lewis’ writing embodies the old-fashioned and sexist attitudes prevalent at this time. These attitudes are particularly evident in his final Narnia installment The Last Battle. In The Last Battle, the Pevancy children reunite in the magical world beyond the wardrobe. However, Susan is ‘no longer a friend of Narnia’ and denied entry to the world because she is interested in ‘nylons and lipstick’ and will ‘waste all the rest of her life’. While the White Witch might be cruel, C.S.Lewis and his moral mouthpiece Aslan are hardly free from intolerance. Like the White Witch, Susan was once a queen of Narnia. Under Aslan she is not permitted to return because she wears tights and makeup. If these are valid grounds to exile a woman, readers should treat Lewis’ description of the White Witch with extreme caution indeed in addition to casting serious doubt over Aslan’s famed ‘benevolence’.

Cruel ice queen or misunderstood leader – what do you think about the White Witch?

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