I’m working on a group of sonnets that will feature the characters in these books. I plan to post the sonnets in no particular order — mainly because I don’t have an expected order for their completion. Today’s post will be the first with others to follow as I’ve satisfactorily completed them.
I love this book cover with its sympathetic depiction of Eustace Scrubb, the dragon. In spite of his unappealing nature at the beginning of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, something about this picture captures the vulnerability of Eustace that lies hidden beneath his initial characterization … “dreadful cousin,” an imperious child of progressive parents (whom he addresses by name).
These and other clues help the reader to understand Eustace is a self-centered child and also illustrates why the Pevensie cousins (Lucy and Edmund) aren’t fond of him. Further, despite all Eustace’s progressive education, he is initially unfamiliar with a dragon’s lair (Lewis points out) because he has “read only the wrong books.” With this statement, the child-reader easily comprehends the depth of Scrubb’s educational deficit.
Something else I enjoy about the above book cover is the diminutive and valiant Reepicheep standing guard between the dragon’s claws. Regardless of how Eustace has previously treated him, Reepicheep (a student of chivalry) will faithfully stand by Eustace and keep him safe for the sake of Lucy and Edmund.
Dawn Treader is a wonderful adventure tale … for children of all ages. (See my previous post about it here.)
In the sonnet below, I’ve verybriefly described the transformation of Eustace. Even for readers who find Eustace an unpleasant character in the early chapters, I think Lewis created an interesting character with whom children easily identify. Scrubb’s subsequent transformation doesn’t sand off all the rough edges (nor bring Eustace anywhere close to perfection) but children see a petulant child whose behavior becomes more tolerable and likable. It’s a partial transformation, one that will continue to unfold in the book that follows, The Silver Chair.
As The Voyage of the Dawn Treader concludes (see previous post), Lucy, Edmund and Eustace catch a view of a range of mountains so high, they recognize immediately they’re seeing into “Aslan’s country.” When the fourth volume of the Chronicles of Narnia begins, Aslan has summoned Eustace Clarence Scrubb and his schoolmate, Jill Pole, back to a precipice on the edge of those mountains … and into the Lion’s presence. Eustace is only on the mountain momentarily; Jill (who hasn’t previously been to Narnia) must first be instructed by Aslan before she is transported into Narnia.
The Silver Chair introduces us to a Narnian world many years later than when Eustace reluctantly (kicking and screaming actually) joined the sea voyage of the Dawn Treader. Eustace’s initial travels in Narnia have stood him in good stead; though he still has an occasional lapse into self-absorption, even Jill acknowledges Scrubb is “different” than last term. His encounter with the Lion has been transformative.
Once more, Lewis brings his characters in The Silver Chair to a quest, singular and quite specific: rescuing Prince Rilian, son of Caspian X who has grown quite old since he and Eustace parted in Dawn Treader. Rilian has been missing ten years and all efforts to find him have been for naught. With Caspian’s impending demise, Aslan tasks Eustace and Jill to bring the young prince home. Continue reading “Few Return to Sunlit Lands”→
An adventure! Such a romp of the first order! C. S. Lewis’s third book in the Chronicles of Narniaseries, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, ushers readers into an exciting (and sometimes perilous) sea voyage. Pevensie siblings Peter and Susan aren’t present in this volume, having been told in Prince Caspian they will not return to Narnia. Lucy and Edmund are joined in this adventure by their insufferable cousin, Eustace Clarence Scrubb.
The adventure commences almost immediately as Lucy, Edmund and Eustace gaze at a picture hung on the wall of the bedroom, while Eustace insists “it’s a rotten picture.” Suddenly the wind picks up, blowing objects around the room, and quickly, the sea spray has drenched them from head to toe, sweeping them off their feet and down into the sea!
This Narnia installment brings the return of an older, more seasoned Caspian (from the previous volume Prince Caspian). Within a few paragraphs, we’re also introduced to “the most valiant of all the Talking Beasts of Narnia,” the Chief Mouse Reepicheep. Of course, finicky Eustace thinks this “performing animal” is disgusting (“silly and vulgar” he says). He wants nothing to do with the mouse. Ever the valiant beast (and loyal knight), Reepicheep will somehow tolerate − for the sake of this “glorious venture” − the far more beastly, though human, Eustace.
Throughout Dawn Treader, Lewis uses delightful images of ever-increasing light, both in the world of Narnia and in the character enlightenment that takes place. The ship is sailing east on a quest to find seven Lords, friends of Caspian’s deceased father. (The seven men were sent out beyond the Eastern Seas by the usurper Miraz.) Caspian seeks to determine if they’re still alive or dead. Continue reading “Looking Along the Sunbeams”→