The Empress Jadis of Charn
Next week, I will be moving into my study of C S Lewis’ wonderfully wicked Jadis, or the White Witch–the villain of both The Magician’s Nephew (TMN) and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (TLTWTW).
So Jadis…are you truly evil, are you a helpless product of the world that bore you, or are you just terribly misunderstood? Are you a tragic figure or are you a monstrous creature deserving of your fate?
What strikes me in Lewis’ description of her are the words he uses repeatedly: beautiful and proud. The closest he comes to mentioning her intellect is when he calls her “cunning”. While Jadis is an allegory of Satan in Lewis’ Narnian creation story in TMN, and later on in the death and resurrection allegory in TLTWTW, Jadis is not given the same respect as Satan. That seems very interesting to me and it also seems very telling of the era in which The Chronicles of Narnia were written. Jadis is written as a woman to further show the evil character’s unnatural state. Women of power, as Jadis certainly was, were not natural. Women of intellect simply had to be crafty, manipulative, and untrustworthy. Because, C S Lewis could have easily created the villainous “Satanic” antagonist as an evil “king”. And, Jadis as a female opens the audience to the seductive “wantonness” yet inevitable “helplessness” of evil. So evil as the diseased whore–a spectacle of grotesque feminine.
Satan, however, is regarded in most texts about him as true and powerful masculine, a cruel and fearless warrior of enormous intellect. In Milton, he is both tender and heartless. Lewis’ Jadis, has only one brief instant of something resembling grief as she looks out over the ruins of Charn, and laments its greatness now laid waste. Jadis is from start to finish, ruthless and emotionally consistent. Who she truly is inside is not actually seen–unlike the emotional wreck that is Milton’s Satan.
But is she evil? Or is she just nuts? If she is insane, then she cannot be evil–since evil requires a rational mind and a free will to choose against the natural good in order to manifest itself. My look at Jadis will discover whether or not Jadis chose against the natural good and found herself consumed by evil, and at what point this transformation took place. Because, like Satan, Jadis wasn’t always evil.
Stay tuned… 😉