Prince Caspian: A Lesson in Trust
By Dennis E. Hensley
CBN.com Editor’s Note: The Disney movie of “Prince Caspian” arrives in movie theatres during the third week of May. The following interview provides insights on the book and its author.
“If you distill the essence of Prince Caspian into just two words,” says Dr. Pamela Jordan, “it all comes down to an examination of faith and trust. Three central characters represent the options the readers, themselves, have related to trust. People can have deep faith, they can have no faith, or they can fence straddle and be skeptical. In the end, however, an individual’s belief system—what he or she bases a life upon—will shape that person’s character and destiny.”
Dr. Jordan is one of America’s leading authorities on the life and writings of C. S. Lewis. She holds a doctor’s degree in British literature from Ball State University. She is chair of the English department at Taylor University Fort Wayne, where she has developed specialized seminars and courses she has taught for 17 years on C. S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and George MacDonald. She also serves as a consultant for the Center for C.S. Lewis & Friends and has lectured on Lewis nationwide from Baylor University in Texas to Indiana-Purdue University in Fort Wayne.
“The examination of faith is evidenced in the four Pevensie children, of that there is no denying,” says Jordan. “Lucy has a large capacity of faith, so she is the first to see Aslan in the novel Prince Caspian. Edmund sees Aslan second. Peter later says, ‘I saw something…but it’s so tricky in the moonlight.’ Susan, last to have the faith to believe in the appearance of Aslan, finally says, ‘I see him now. I’m sorry.’ Her faith is weakest, and after this novel she never returns to Naria.”
However, Jordan says it is the Old Narnians in the novel, those animals with the capacity to speak, who are the most prevalent models of faith at its three levels.
“Trufflehunter the badger is a model of loyalty, devotion, trust, and dedication to the memory of and belief in Aslan,” she explains. “Trufflehunter insists that although in Narnian time 1,300 years have passed since the appearance of Aslan, the beasts have not changed, and they still hold true to their faith in Aslan. Trufflehunter never wavers.”
She adds, “But Nikabrik, the Black Dwarf, discounts the old beliefs and old ways, and thinks of the tales of Aslan as being outdated and silly. Furthermore, he has deep prejudices against humans, so the very idea of loyalty to the memory of King Peter is out of the question. Unfortunately, Nikabrik’s lack of belief eventually leads to his downfall.”
Jordan says that Trumpkin, the Red Dwarf, is a skeptic. “Trumpkin falls into the camp of ‘seeing is believing,” she says. “He hasn’t seen any magic, so he can’t bring himself to believe in it. However, like Thomas in the New Testament, when Trumpkin encounters Aslan, he not only becomes a believer, but he also subsequently turns into the most obedient servant of Prince Caspian after he becomes the new king.”
When asked to compare the Lewis novels to the Hollywood movie versions, Dr. Jordan says, “Overall, I am pleased with the film version of ‘The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’ and the previews and trailers for ‘Prince Caspian.’ Naturally, Hollywood overplays the battles, which amounted to just two or three actual pages in each novel. But that’s to be expected, I suppose.
“What is more important to me is that the high-tech movies are inspiring more people to read the actual novels. All this modern technology would be overwhelming to C. S. Lewis. He never learned to drive a car, and he couldn’t even use a typewriter.”
Pam Jordan, herself, discovered the writings of Lewis many years ago when her church youth leader had everyone read The Screwtape Letters and then discuss it. Later, she read Lewis materials during a philosophy course in undergraduate school, as well as his books in survey courses in graduate school. Her doctoral dissertation included a study of the writings of George MacDonald, a writer whom C. S. Lewis was greatly influenced by.
When asked to place Prince Caspian in its functional role within the nine-book trilogy, Jordan says, “This particular novel encapsulates the key values focused on in all of the Narnia chronicles. There is the theme of how it is right to have and sustain faith in something greater than yourself. There are examples of great courage as Caspian’s evil uncle is confronted in battle. There are lessons in trust and loyalty, which leads to the good guys winning in the end. The essence of righteous nobility permeates this novel and paves the way for additional, subsequent stories in this same vein.”
And will the interest be sustained? Yes, says Dr. Jordan. “The Narnia books have never been out of print since first being released. Their fairy tale beauty appeals to children, and their lessons in moral fortitude inspire adults. They are timeless.”
Watch for more from CBN.com's Prince Caspian special feature
Dennis E. Hensley, Ph.D., is a contributing editor and columnist for Writer's Journal and Advanced Christian Writer magazines. He is the author of 51 books, including The Power of Positive Productivity (www.possibilitypress.com), Man to Man (Kregel Publishers), and The Gift (Harvest House). "Doc" Hensley is a judge each year for the Evangelical Press Association Awards, the Christy Fiction Awards, and the Gold Medallion/Christian Book Awards. He directs the professional writing major at Taylor University Fort Wayne, where he holds the rank of full professor of English. During 2001-02 he was the "Distinguished Visiting Professor of English and Journalism" at the Regent University Graduate School of Communications.
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