The Book as a Whole

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The Book as a Whole

Postby Pattertwigs Pal » Jul 23, 2017 5:48 pm

1. What do you think about the title The Silver Chair? Any alternative suggestions?

2. What’s in a name? Eustace Clarence Scrubb is generally referred to as “Eustace” in VDT, but in SC, he is usually referred to by his last name, “Scrubb.” Is there any significance to this? Why does he use Eustace sometimes in SC and Scrubb other times? Is there a significance to when Lewis uses titles (the Owl, the Prince, etc.) and when he uses names Glimfeather, Rilian, etc.)

3. Does Silver Chair have a main character? If so, who? If not, explain why you think there isn’t a main character.

4. Compare and Contrast the Prince while he is enchanted and when he is not.

5. What themes are there in this book? Which theme do you think is the main theme?
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Re: The Book as a Whole

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Jul 26, 2017 7:03 pm

1. What do you think about the title The Silver Chair? Any alternative suggestions?

I've no objection to the title, The Silver Chair, as such. And so, I've no better suggestions for entitling the book. However, I've been quite puzzled at its significance in the story. We only see this eponymous Silver Chair once in the story, when Prince Rilian is tied into it whilst he has his nightly fit, and although Prince Rilian vents his fury on it when he is released from it, and the Queen of Underland, at least in the BBC TV version, seems to be somewhat miffed at its destruction, I quite fail to see what it actually does. Is the silver chair, itself, just a macguffin? A much sought after but otherwise a rather uncomfortable-looking chair? Or does it work more like an electric chair? Judging by Rilian's agony whilst sitting in it I would think so. And why silver in particular?

Oddly enough the thrones I've seen are either elaborately carved wooden chairs, maybe with some gold ornamentation, like the Coronation chair in Westminster Abbey. That particular chair is the proper one for England, at least, but was stripped of much of its gilding by Oliver Cromwell. Or that really stunning backdrop to the speakers' chair Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh use in the House of Lords in Parliament at Westminster when they go there to open Parliament. The thrones in Buckingham Palace seem to be made of metal tubing like we used to use for kitchen chairs in the 1960's, with monogrammed upholstery, similar to the one the Emperor Napoleon III (Bonaparte) used, which is now in the Louvre.

2. What’s in a name? Eustace Clarence Scrubb is generally referred to as “Eustace” in VDT, but in SC, he is usually referred to by his last name, “Scrubb.” Is there any significance to this? Why does he use Eustace sometimes in SC and Scrubb other times? Is there a significance to when Lewis uses titles (the Owl, the Prince, etc.) and when he uses names Glimfeather, Rilian, etc.)

What's in a name? Plenty. Eustace was called Eustace when he was at home with his own family, including his cousins, the Pevensies, that is to say, Lucy and Edmund, who shared his VDT adventure. At school, a business and work environment, after all, he would have been called Scrubb, in an era where language like "By Jove" was considered quite a normal way of talking for older boys, aping their dads, teachers, WW2 heroes and other authority figures. When Eustace tried to identify himself as Eustace to Trumpkin, who might have heard about that VDT story, Trumpkin misheard him thinking Eustace was calling himself Useless.

If you knew "Eustace the Useless" was a comic strip in one of England's newspapers in the 1940's and 1950's, what would you think of Eustace in VDT and now in SC? ;) No wonder Eustace answered to Scrubb for much of the rest of SC. However, that sort of formality usual and expected in UK and elsewhere in 1953, when The Silver Chair was first published, had largely disappeared by 1983, especially after the events of 31st August 1997, which are still discussed in today's news.

Calling Glimfeather by his name sometimes and The owl at other times is just a way to break up the amount of times it is necessary to call him, he, his etc, or Glimfeather. I am involved in an ongoing argument about this matter, with one of my nearest and dearests, because, to suit him, and his tendency to lose track of what is said, due to partial deafness, it would be cumbersome to use sentences like:

Glimfeather went to the Parliament of Owls because Glimfeather wanted to bring the matter before Glimfeather's fellow owls, to help Jill and Eustace. And the other owls were prepared to listen to Glimfeather even though Trumpkin complained that Trumpkin, not Glimfeather, could not hear Glimfeather who, Trumpkin said, didn't speak clearly.

The same applies to Rilian and Puddleglum.

3. Does Silver Chair have a main character? If so, who? If not, explain why you think there isn’t a main character.

Jill is the main character in The Silver Chair because much of the story is from her point of view and because it was she who Aslan commissioned to find Prince Rilian and bring him home to Narnia. The only real hero of the story, apart from Aslan, himself, is Puddleglum whose presence saved the situation several times, especially when he put out the Green Witch's fire and stated his case for preferring his own point of view. Though Eustace does the best he can under the circumstances.
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Re: The Book as a Whole

Postby Ryadian » Jul 27, 2017 1:27 pm

2. What’s in a name? Eustace Clarence Scrubb is generally referred to as “Eustace” in VDT, but in SC, he is usually referred to by his last name, “Scrubb.” Is there any significance to this? Why does he use Eustace sometimes in SC and Scrubb other times? Is there a significance to when Lewis uses titles (the Owl, the Prince, etc.) and when he uses names Glimfeather, Rilian, etc.)
I think it's largely because we see this book from Jill's perspective. She only thinks of Eustace as Scrubb pretty much until they shake hands in Underland, and she probably can't quite get over Glimfeather being an owl, and Rilian being the Prince is basically the whole point of her quest. In the case of the latter two, their role in Jill's story isn't so prevalent,
I don't think, as to completely overrule their actual names, though, which is why we get their real names from time to time.

As for why Eustace is sometimes called Eustace, I think it's usually when the story shifts to his perspective for a moment or two. I also believe that several of the uses of "Eustace" are in the later chapters of the book, when Jill and Eustace have become true friends.

Of course, never doubt the power of a little variety. ;)


3. Does Silver Chair have a main character? If so, who? If not, explain why you think there isn’t a main character.
I think the story is told from Jill's perspective, but that doesn't necessarily make her the main character. Aside from being the one who was given the quest, she doesn't really take many decisive actions on her own. She is probably the one who grows the most,
but aside from that m, I don't think she's more of a "main character" than Eustace is. I guess that also depends on how you define "main character". ;))

--

One thing this book always does is make me wonder -
what could have been? What would have happened had Jill not pushed Eustace over the cliff and they'd both heard the signs? If Eustace had known to speak to Caspian, would Caspian have lived longer, since he would have gone from having lost all hope to knowing that Aslan had tasked adventurers with finding his son? Would they have found and freed Rilian sooner? Or, if Caspian had outfitted them with a small army, would that have drawn too much attention and made the Witch too wary?

Ultimately, I believe things turned out exactly the way they were meant to be. If they'd turned out differently, I doubt either of the children would have been forced to grow the way they did.
And perhaps they wouldn't have been prepared for everything they'd face by Tirian's side.
Still, there are so many intriguing questions. It's too bad we're never told what would have happened. ;)
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Re: The Book as a Whole

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Jul 29, 2017 12:56 am

4. Compare and Contrast the Prince while he is enchanted and when he is not.

According to the book, the Prince "had something wrong with his face" when the travellers first meet him. He doesn't know who he is, exactly, or why he is enchanted. Altogether, he seems a bit like Hamlet, just like the gnomes are all sad. The reference to Billion and Trillion might these days suggest he thinks he is Mr Moneybags. He praises LOTGK, seeing her as a nosegay of all virtues. But nosegays smell. Pleasantly, I hope.

Rilian can relate LOTGK's plan for him to invade another country, how the spell he is under affects him, and why he has to be restrained whilst sitting in the Silver Chair. He remembers meeting the travellers at the Giant's bridge, and also the full inscription of which "under me" was part. But he doesn't know his own name. Rilian doesn't like the gnomes very much it would seem.

But then he gets some inkling his nightly fit is upon him. And everything changes. He sounds more normal and seems nicer even though he is in pain. Suddenly LOTGK, the "nosegay of virtues" becomes the posy of purulence and poison. All of a sudden he starts raving on about what sort of place this Dark Castle is. He dislikes the gnomes even more than he did at dinner. By the time Rilian reveals himself by asking them to release him in Aslan's name, the travellers think they are dealing with someone who is not sane. But they release him anyway. And he starts remembering who he is and why he was where he is.

The rest of the time we see Rilian in SC his behaviour, compared to what it was before his release, is a complete contrast. He tries to leave the Queen's castle politely enough, but that is so likely, isn't it? The Prince can remember everything now. Except for a wavering by the side of the chasm, where he was tempted by the knowledge of Bism, he is committed to returning to Narnia and his father.

5. What themes are there in this book? Which theme do you think is the main theme?

We've discussed this topic elsewhere on NarniaWeb, quite extensively, here and here, as well as in discussion of LOTGK. I may have missed other threads discussing this important topic. But this question is likely to recur anyway, even in discussion of what LOTGK does and intends to do.

Although Michael Ward's The Narnia Code might be overstating C.S.Lewis' intent in writing The Silver Chair it is striking how much of that book deals with night, the Moon, the metal silver, femininity, water, bathing, marriage, children and their behaviour. Does Michael Ward have a point in suggesting that if VDT represents the Sun that SC represents the Moon in Medieval cosmology?

And what about the virtues and vices depicted? Trust has been mentioned, as well as obedience. Aslan has commissioned Jill, and also Eustace to find Rilian. But LOTGK is out to stop them succeeding. And who could go past the splendid speech Puddleglum gave that exposed the falsity of LOTGK's brainwashing of the humans present?

I started out believing that there was a link between SC, the virtue of perseverance, and its opposite, sloth, as the one of the Seven Deadly Sins most relevant. LOTGK's realm does seem to glory in some dreadfully sloppy work practices, doesn't it? And isn't Underland such a poor imitation of not only Bism but of the rest of Narnia? Throughout the book there are examples of what should have been done but wasn't, and what was done that shouldn't. The undisciplined behaviour of the bullies at Experiment House, the slackness of the staff there, a door left opened, even though it was good for Jill and Eustace. Then there was Jill's careless behaviour at the cliff side, her and Eustace not realising who the old King was in time, thus leaving the children having to make do with whatever help they got.

When they set out with Puddleglum, the Ettinsmoor Giants' idea of playing games is more dangerous than if they intended to hit Puddleglum and the children. The Giant's bridge is in considerable disrepair, and then when they meet LOTGK and Silent Knight, LOTGK misleads the children with lies and false advertising. By the time the travellers reach Harfang they have almost forgotten the signs, and fail to notice how ruined is the surface they cross. Other clues, such as the badly made toys, suggest a certain lack of care and skill. The hospitality they get at Harfang, as good as it seems, initially, does not measure up to Narnian ethical standards, and the travellers are lucky to escape. And that is all before they get to meet LOTGK in the Dark Castle, where one can't look too closely.

But there is something else that is important maybe we all have missed. The difference between truth and the shoddiness of lies might well be a main theme of SC. Isn't that the meaning of Rilian's shield changing from tarnished black to silver?
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