Friday, November 2, 2012

King Caspian = King Arthur?

On further thought, I have decided to divide out my (in truth, brief) comparison of Narnia and Arthuriana. This first section will focus on Caspian and his relation to Arthur; the second will be more about the "after events" of the searches for Rilian and the Holy Grail. I know I spoke very briefly on this subject three or four years ago, but I won't be concerned about repeating myself. If I do, I think it will be very little (since it was so briefly that I talked about it before), and I trust that most of my readers now weren't here quite so long ago.

We all know the story of King Arthur pulling the sword from the stone and thereby showing himself rightful heir to the throne. Caspian may not have quite a grand moment like this, but aren't the basics the same? He, too, was not raised by his parents, and he, too, became the young king endowed by fate and divinity into this position. Like Arthur, he became a Narnian legend--Caspian the Seafarer. Instead of his Knights of the Round Table, he has those who accompanied him on the voyage into the East.

And like Arthur, his death is complicated. Arthur receives his deadly wound from Mordred and is carried off to Avalon--leaving us with a more symbolic than practical hope that he will recover and return. Caspian, in his old age, sails off once more; when he dies, Eustace and Jill see him once more in Aslan's Country. After Aslan has restored him to youth, he even accompanies the two back to England briefly before going back with Aslan. So while Caspian definitely died and never came back to that Narnia again, his death is connected to life and continuance in a way that is similar to Arthur's.

You see, I am in a class right now on Arthurian legends and their many re-imaginings. Reading this material has made me in greater and greater awe of The Chronicles of Narnia. Their brilliance is in their fantastic simplicity; yet they still reference and evoke so much. Back when I first compared Eustace's constant failures on his search for Rilian to Percival's shortcomings searching for the Holy Grail, I didn't realize how right on the mark my "random" comparison actually was. But that is the topic for next time.

To read Part 2, click here

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