Meaning in Lucy's Magic Story

C. S. Lewis, his worlds, and his faith.

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Meaning in Lucy's Magic Story

Postby Ithilwen » Jul 27, 2010 12:36 am

I've always felt there was some meaning in the story which becomes Lucy's favorite in Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Chapter 10. She reads it, loves it, becomes a part of it. Then when it's over, all she can remember of it is that it involved a cup, a sword, a tree, and a green hill.
When she asks Aslan if He will tell the story to her, he replies that he will tell it to her for years and years.
That last statement by Aslan reminded me of another statement He made at the end of the book, when Lucy asks him to tell her the way to get to His country from our world. And he replies, "I shall be telling you all the time."

I was wondering if the story maybe was the story of Christ dying on the cross, and salvation. The "cup" could be the part when Jesus prays, asking that the cup will be taken from him. The 'sword" could be the sword Peter uses to cut the ear of the man when they come to arrest Jesus. The "tree" could be the cross. I'm not sure about the green hill, though. Maybe where he was crucified? Or rose to heaven? Or heaven itself?

What does everyone think?
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Re: Meaning in Lucy's Magic Story

Postby Lady Haleth » Jul 27, 2010 7:50 am

That is a very interesting theory. I never quite saw it that way before, (I always supposed it to be some mythological reference), but I see what you mean. I suppose it could mean that. I really really like the idea! :)
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Re: Meaning in Lucy's Magic Story

Postby 220chrisTian » Jul 27, 2010 12:05 pm

Great thread, Eustace+Jill! :ymhug:

I was wondering if the story maybe was the story of Christ dying on the cross, and salvation. The "cup" could be the part when Jesus prays, asking that the cup will be taken from him. The 'sword" could be the sword Peter uses to cut the ear of the man when they come to arrest Jesus. The "tree" could be the cross.
Correct. :) Consider these verses.

Zechariah 13:7: "Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones."

Matthew 26:27-28, 39, 42: "And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. . . .And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. . . .He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done." (Also Mark 14:23-24, 36-37; Luke 22:17, 20, 42; John 18:11)

Matthew 26:51-52: "And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." (Also Mark 14:47, Luke 22:49-51, John 18:10-11)

John 19:34: "But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water."

Acts 5:30: "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree." (See also Acts 10:39, 13:29.)

Galatians 3:13: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree."

1 Peter 2:24: "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree."

I'm not sure about the green hill, though. Maybe where he was crucified? Or rose to heaven? Or heaven itself?
I'm pretty sure the 'green hill' refers to where Jesus was crucified. I think Calvary (Latin) / Golgotha (Greek), 'the place of the skull,' was on a hill. It was probably one of the highest points of the city. [It was outside the walls of Jerusalem in Jesus' day. Check out Hebrews 13:11-13.] Click here for the Wiki article on Calvary. Calvary/Golgotha: Matthew 27:33, Mark 15:22, Luke 23:33, John 19:17.
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Re: Meaning in Lucy's Magic Story

Postby daughter of the King » Jul 28, 2010 3:13 pm

I always thought the story was the story of salvation, especially because Lucy says that it was the most beautiful story she had ever read or ever would read. I'm not sure if the objects mentioned are supposed to draw direct parallels, but it's interesting to think about.

This may sound odd, but I never thought of Golgotha as a "green" hill. I always imagined it being very rocky, but that might be because I've seen Ben-Hur a few too many times.
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Re: Meaning in Lucy's Magic Story

Postby Devin Brown » Jul 31, 2010 3:19 pm

The Spell for Refreshment of the Spirit is a topic that many Lewis fans have thought about. Here is what I say about it in my forthcoming book, Inside the Voyage of the Dawn Treader--sorry for the length!

Lucy comes to a spell “for the refreshment of the spirit,” an incantation which is more story than spell (156). Lucy becomes a part of the spell as she reads it, “living in the story as if it were real.” Coming to the end, she exclaims, “That is the loveliest story I’ve ever read or ever shall read in my whole life” (156-7). Lucy wants to read the story again, but finds not only that she cannot turn the pages back but also that the details are gradually fading from her memory. Soon all she can remember are its four major elements: “a cup and a sword and a tree and a green hill” (157).

The spell for refreshment of the spirit works perfectly well simply as a mysterious story, one with vague hints readers are not meant to fully understand. However three arguments may suggest that the story Lucy reads in the Magician’s book is the story of Christ’s last supper, arrest, death, and ascension.

First, the four elements, as they are given, line up chronologically with the details from the New Testament. The cup can be seen as the cup which held the wine at the Last Supper. The sword can be seen as the sword drawn by Peter during Jesus’s arrest. The tree can be seen as the cross. The green hill can be seen as the hill from which Jesus ascended into Heaven.

Second, it is a story that does not seem to belong in Narnia since Lucy forgets all but the four details and the wonderful feeling she is left with. Why should Lucy forget this spell but remember the others? Arguably because Narnia is not its proper place. Aslan promises he will tell Lucy this story of a cup, a sword, a tree, and a hill “for years and years” (160), a time when she will be in England.

If Lucy forgets the story, or nearly all of it, why include this spell at all? A third reason to link the spell for refreshment of the spirit with the Gospel story is that, coming after Lucy’s greatest transgression in the Chronicles—reciting the eavesdropping spell and spying on her friend—it provides the way for her spirit to be made fresh again. As Peter Schakel has observed in The Way into Narnia, Lucy’s “fall and loss of innocence are quickly followed by grace and redemption” (65).

After Edmund’s great wrongdoing in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe—his betrayal of his siblings—Aslan supplied a way to atone for this failing through the events at the Stone Table. Since Lucy’s offense of eavesdropping on her friend is linked to this world, not Narnia, it could be argued that the atonement for it—Lucy’s Stone Table event—must take place here.

This scene is one of my favorite parts. I hope that it was able to be included in the movie! --Devin Brown
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Re: Meaning in Lucy's Magic Story

Postby Music From The Heart » Jul 31, 2010 11:25 pm

Wow! That is such an interesting theory! I've never even considered the legit possibility of there being significant meaning to that story. I can see how there certainly might be though.
I'm new to the Narnia Forum, and I'm so thankful to you guys for keeping up a Christian section of the forum! I'm excited to hear what you guys think about the different aspects of Narnia, C. S. Lewis, and so forth. :)

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Re: Meaning in Lucy's Magic Story

Postby Aravis Narnia » Aug 01, 2010 2:27 pm

Maybe the hill is green because of the new plants of springtime. Passover and Easter take place during the spring. Part of Easter is rebirth. New things. New hope.

The sword could be metaphoric- being ready to fight for good.

The tree could actually mean various things- both the literal tree, and the rebirth as well.

The cup- oh, the mysterious Holy Grail. But also can mean replenishing water and drink in general.
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Re: Meaning in Lucy's Magic Story

Postby RoseRed » Aug 13, 2010 7:56 am

it's funny, I always prided myself on being able to see the biblical references, even as a kid, but this one just flew right by me! ^_^ quite right it could be highly symbolic...I'm thinking tree- tree of life, tree of knowledge or one of the references to the cross that 220chrisTian found :)
hill-I'm thinking Golgotha? can't think of any other biblical hills...
the sword could be the one they pierced Jesus' body with after death and the cup that they offered him myrrh in, or the communion cup...or many others in fact. for now I'm just happy to realize that there's probably some more symbolism in there! yay! go c.s.lewis! :D
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Re: Meaning in Lucy's Magic Story

Postby Rilian » Oct 01, 2010 10:44 am

Devin Brown wrote:“a cup and a sword and a tree and a green hill” (157).


I always understood the story she read to be the Christ story. I made the connection between the cup, the tree and the green hill but wasn't sure about the sword. I suspected it was just a sword as in a punishment from the state, referring to the crucifixion itself, but Peter's sword might make more sense.
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Re: Meaning in Lucy's Magic Story

Postby Liberty Hoffman » Oct 02, 2010 9:41 am

Eustace+Jill: wow, I never thought of it that way before :) I love your idea and now when I read the book I will think of it that way! :D
that is a very cool thing. I wonder if Lewis himself made it that way or if he left it up to the reader's interpretation?
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Re: Meaning in Lucy's Magic Story

Postby Queen Emmie » Nov 26, 2010 5:50 pm

Wow, that is fascinating; I had not drawn that connection before.
VotDT is so full of fascinating parallels with Christianity, it is so thrilling!
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