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Why was the wardrobe closed?

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Why was the wardrobe closed?

Postby Glumpuddle » Jul 18, 2010 10:36 pm

After Lucy's first adventure in the wardrobe, she runs out and tells her story. Peter, Susan, and Edmund inspect the wardrobe, but find it's just an ordinary wardrobe. The way is shut. They are unable to get through. My question: Why?


CS Lewis (LWW, Ch. 3) wrote:She rushed ahead of them, flung open the door of the wardrobe and cried, “Now! go in and see for yourselves.” 

“Why, you goose,” said Susan, putting her head inside and pulling the fur coats apart, “it’s just an ordinary wardrobe; look! there’s the back of it.”

Then everyone looked in and pulled the coats apart; and they all saw—Lucy herself saw—a perfectly ordinary wardrobe. There was no wood and no snow, only the back of the wardrobe, with hooks on it. Peter went in and rapped his knuckles on it to make sure that it was solid.

Lets examine how the characters get to Narnia throughout the series...

1. Exploring the House (LWW): Lucy steps into a wardrobe while exploring the house, and to her surprise, finds Narnia. All four children inspect the wardrobe after Lucy tells her story, but find it is just an ordinary wardrobe. They are unable to get through.

2. Hide-and-Seek (LWW): During a game of hide-and-seek, Lucy goes to the wardrobe because she is starting to doubt if her experience was real. But when she gets there, she hears footsteps and, thinking it's Susan coming to catch her, jumps into the wardrobe with the intention of hiding. Edmund followers her in to tease her.

3. Running from the Macready (LWW): They all climb into the wardrobe with the intention of hiding from Macready.

4. The Horn (PC): Caspian blows the horn, and calls the four Pevensies to Narnia.

5. The Picture in the Bedroom (VDT): Edmund, Lucy, and Eustace are looking at a picture, when, to their surprise, it comes to life and pulls them in.

6. Running from Bullies (SC): Eustace and Jill are running from bullies. They open a door with the intention of escaping them, but to their complete shock and surprise, they find it leads to another world.

7. Jumping into a Pool (MN): Digory, Polly, and a few others jump into a pool, thinking it leads to Charn, but to their surprise, find they are an empty world...which soon becomes Narnia.

8. A Frightful Jerk (LB): Eustace and Jill are on a train when they feel a most frightful jerk (which they later learn was the train crashing)...and find they are in Narnia.


My Conclusion: You can't get to Narnia by trying.

Evidence: 1)There are no examples in the Chronicles where someone did something with the intention of getting to Narnia and succeeded. 2) It answers the question in the title of this thread: They couldn't get through because they were trying, and you can't get to Narnia by trying.

I have given this a great deal thought, and would really like your thoughts. I think this conclusion is at least a strong possibility. In order to show that my conclusion is not possible, you must give an example of a character doing some action with the intention of getting to Narnia, and succeeding. In other words, having that action directly result in getting to Narnia.

If you have another theory, I think it must explain why the wardrobe was suddenly shut after Lucy's first adventure. That seems like a key point.

Another question to ponder: For Lucy's second visit to Narnia, why did Lewis choose to have Lucy hear footsteps, and jump into the wardrobe to hide? Why not just have her climb in, and have Edmund see her and follow? My answer: Because you can't get to Narnia by trying, so Lewis needed to come up with a way to get her to Narnia without her trying.

I'm very interested in hearing your thoughts and theories. What do you think?
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Re: Why was the wardrobe closed?

Postby Aslans Country » Jul 19, 2010 12:44 am

This is very interesting. In my head the explanation for 'why was the wardrobe closed?' has simply been as a random chance - that the wardrobe was very rarely open anyway. And storywise, Peter, Susan and Edmund need to disbelieve Lucy; it wouldn't have worked for them to discover Narnia at that time.
This is a more logical explanation though. And as far as I can think, it seems to work every time.

It can certainly be backed up by the Professor at the end of LWW saying "Indeed, don't try to get there at all. It'll happen when you're not looking for it." And he would know, from his own experience in entering Narnia.

Also, in LB Eustace says, "you can't go just by wanting to" (Although in fact they do try soon after by going to dig up the rings).

It does seem like every time characters have tried to get to Narnia they haven't succeeded. In addition to the Pevensies failing to get through the wardrobe the first time:

-Jill and Eustace could not get to Narnia by facing East and calling Aslan's name (although they in fact ended up in Aslan's Country a few minutes later, Aslan clearly says "you would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you").
-In LB, the Friends of Narnia try to dig up the the Magic Rings, but are in fact pulled back into Narnia before they can use them.

I would have said that Lucy entered the wardrobe the second time with the intention of confirming whether it had all been a dream or not, but the book is clever in that when she actually enters Narnia, she was simply trying to hide. Of course, the film leaves this point out..

I think the only possible exception to the rule is SC, because depending on your interpretation of the line "you would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you", it could still be said that Eustace and Jill were trying to get there when they were calling to Aslan, and that Aslan pulled them in as a result of this, even though Aslan was the one that called them first. But that isn't really my interpretation. Aslan was already calling them when they called to him. Either way, they were not expecting to get to Narnia when they actually pulled the door open.

It is also interesting that the Pevensies never did try to seek Narnia (as far as the books go) after being told by the Professor not to. They were not attempting to, and hadn't been attempting to get in at all, not merely that their actions at the time were not actions of entering.
On the other hand, in both SC and LB, the characters are intending to get to Narnia, but are taken there before they can.. complete their request, I suppose.

I'm now very confused and don't really know what to think, but I think this theory works. You cannot get to Narnia by wanting, or trying, or doing anything intentionally. Aslan will bring you to Narnia when you are not expecting it.
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Re: Why was the wardrobe closed?

Postby Glumpuddle » Jul 19, 2010 10:08 am

Excellent post, AC! :)

Aslans Country wrote:It can certainly be backed up by the Professor at the end of LWW saying "Indeed, don't try to get there at all. It'll happen when you're not looking for it." And he would know, from his own experience in entering Narnia.


Good quote.


Aslans Country wrote:I would have said that Lucy entered the wardrobe the second time with the intention of confirming whether it had all been a dream or not, but the book is clever in that when she actually enters Narnia, she was simply trying to hide.


Yeah, I think that's another key point. Why did Lewis decide to have Lucy hear footsteps and then jump into the wardrobe to hide? Lewis could easily have simply had her climb in, and then have Edmund see her and follow. Why did he have her hear footsteps? My answer: Because Lewis had to find a way to get her to Narnia without her trying.

Aslans Country wrote:I think the only possible exception to the rule is SC, because depending on your interpretation of the line "you would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you", it could still be said that Eustace and Jill were trying to get there when they were calling to Aslan, and that Aslan pulled them in as a result of this, even though Aslan was the one that called them first. But that isn't really my interpretation. Aslan was already calling them when they called to him. Either way, they were not expecting to get to Narnia when they actually pulled the door open.


Exactly. Why did Lewis decide to have them chased by bullies? Why not just have them be transported to Narnia after they "asked"? My answer: Because you can't get to Narnia by trying, and Lewis had to find a way to get them to Narnia without them trying.
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Re: Why was the wardrobe closed?

Postby daughter of the King » Jul 19, 2010 2:16 pm

Huh. I never really thought about it before. I guess I just accepted it as part of the storyline, which is easy to do after Peter and Susan's conversation with the Professor, especially this part: "Well, sir, if things are real, they're there all the time." "Are they?" said the Professor; and Peter did not know quite what to say. LWW Back on This Side of the Door Anyway, I think you've drawn the right conclusion, glumpuddle.

Aslans Country wrote:It is also interesting that the Pevensies never did try to seek Narnia (as far as the books go) after being told by the Professor not to. They were not attempting to, and hadn't been attempting to get in at all, not merely that their actions at the time were not actions of entering.

I think that is a key idea for what might have been going on in between books. They talk about Narnia, but they never attempt to try and get back. They know if they are going to go back it will happen when it happens and they can't do anything about it.
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Re: Why was the wardrobe closed?

Postby Gilby's Angel » Jul 19, 2010 5:33 pm

Interesting topic gP. I agree with your deduction, you can't get to Narnia by trying. This in itself is a lesson to each of the children...that there is something greater than his/her wants and desires. Aslan knows what is going on in both Narnia and in the children's world(I think). He knows the lessons each child needs to learn so he is the one who determines the how, when and why each child returns. And somehow, it seems the children learn this lesson, too because although they talk about Narnia, they don't try to get there through their own power/strength. Thanks for outlining the Narnia arrivals so clearly! :ymhug:
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Re: Why was the wardrobe closed?

Postby Boy Scout » Jul 20, 2010 8:31 am

Maybe it could only be open when Aslan wants it to. Nothing happens by chance. Mom's thoery, "It was closed because it wasn't open."
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Re: Why was the wardrobe closed?

Postby Josh » Jul 20, 2010 8:41 am

Actually I do think Jill and Eustace got to go to Narnia in SC because they asked. The bullies were just Aslan's way of leading them to the doorway.
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Re: Why was the wardrobe closed?

Postby queenKT_the_gentle » Jul 20, 2010 8:09 pm

That is a really interesting and well-written article. It makes a lot of sense and I think the same way too, but there's the part in The silver Chair where they call to Aslan. They are trying to get to Narnia, are interrupted, and then finally get to Narnia. In that case they were trying to get to Narnia. They only had a minute between when they called to Aslan to when they actually got to Narnia. I think that you can only get there if you're not trying, but I am not sure about that case.
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Re: Why was the wardrobe closed?

Postby Lady Haleth » Jul 21, 2010 5:58 am

I'm not sure. There was also the time in TLB when they were trying to get to Narnia with the Rings, but they got there by the wreck instead. I wouldn't say that they never got there when they were trying, but that even when they were trying, Aslan never takes them to Narnia in the way they expect.
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Re: Why was the wardrobe closed?

Postby Aslans Country » Jul 24, 2010 4:15 am

Josh wrote:Actually I do think Jill and Eustace got to go to Narnia in SC because they asked. The bullies were just Aslan's way of leading them to the doorway.

But Aslan says "You would not have been calling to me if I had not been calling to you", which shows that although to them (and the reader at the time) it seems like they were 'trying', it was because Aslan had called them first.

Lady Haleth wrote:I'm not sure. There was also the time in TLB when they were trying to get to Narnia with the Rings, but they got there by the wreck instead. I wouldn't say that they never got there when they were trying, but that even when they were trying, Aslan never takes them to Narnia in the way they expect.

Yeah.. I sort of see what you're saying, but when I read this part it seems more like Aslan prevents them from trying to get there by trying, and does it himself instead. And they certainly were not trying to get there when they were on the train.

"You can't get there by trying" is more of a statement about the actions and intentions of the characters during the process of getting to Narnia rather than anything to do with how they were feeling generally.

Coincidentally, I was watching LWW with a couple of friends a few days ago and one of them (who had never seen it before) said, about 30 minutes into the movie: "is it that you can't get there by trying?" Strange how she immediately picked up on something that most of us never thought of. :p
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Re: Why was the wardrobe closed?

Postby daughter of the King » Jul 24, 2010 9:50 am

Yes, there are instances where they try to get to Narnia, but in the end they're trying is not how they got there. Eustace and Jill call to Aslan to try and get into Narnia. But they actually get to Narnia while they're trying to get away from the bullies. Again Eustace and Jill try to get to Narnia using the rings, but they never even see the rings before the train wreck. Lucy is going to try and get to Narnia during the hide-and-seek game, but when she actually gets to the wardrobe she doesn't try. She hears footsteps, assumes it's Susan, and just jumps in because it's the only place to hide. You can try to get to Narnia, but either the way will be shut or you'll be interrupted and get their some other way when you're not looking for it.

Boy Scout wrote:Mom's thoery, "It was closed because it wasn't open."

;)) Ah, but to paraphrase Digory, grownups are always coming up with uninteresting explanations.

Aslans Country wrote:"You can't get there by trying" is more of a statement about the actions and intentions of the characters during the process of getting to Narnia rather than anything to do with how they were feeling generally.

I think you've got it right. They all want to get there, and they sometimes try, but it always happens when they're not looking for it.
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