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In C.S. Lewis's Narnia books, it's very clear that the Narnians are meant to represent Christianity, with Aslan symbolising Jesus (in fact, Aslan is literally Jesus in-universe), while the Calormenes are meant to represent Islam. Which invites the question: what about Judaism? (Yes, I know that other religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, are practised more in the world in general than Judaism, but Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are the religions most likely to be familiar to Lewis and his western audience.)

I seem to remember reading somewhere that the dwarfs could be interpreted to represent Judaism, but I'm not sure what this was based on. At least in The Last Battle, the dwarves seem more like atheists than anything else, although the role of atheists could also be given to the Telmarines in Prince Caspian.

Were any characters in the Narnia books intended to represent Jews?

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Note: This does not in ANY WAY represent my own religious views.


It's possible that C.S. Lewis meant for the Dwarfs to represent the Jews. At the end of The Last Battle, the Dwarfs refused to be 'taken in' by Aslan. It's possible that C.S. Lewis meant for this to represent the Jews refusing to believe in Jesus.

The Jews didn't believe in Jesus. They don't think that he fulfilled the requirements to be the Mashiach (Messiah). I think I read that Christians believe that they'll get hell for that. And, in Narnia, the Dwarfs are refusing to believe in Aslan, leaving themselves to be stuck sitting there, believing that they are in a barn, for eternity.

There's also the fact that the Dwarfs are often presented with beards (quotes eventually), and Jews often wear their beards long.

After posting this, I had been doing some research on what Lewis thought of Judaism. I found Lewis's Trilemma, in which he says:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell.

...As this is almost exactly what Judaism believes, that he was deified by his followers, he seems pretty critical of them.


On this webpage, they make some points:

First, in Luke 23:1-2, the Jews opposed Jesus being their Savior because they were fearful of Him. They feared Him because He did not follow their laws and how could their Messiah not respect their ways.
...
Similarly, the dwarves were blinded by their fear like they were being held in a dark stable and could not escape. They could not see the paradise that Aslan created and that there were no doors at all on this stable. Secondly, the Jews did not believe in Jesus even though he saved lives and performed miracles in front of them. (John 12:37) In the book, Aslan performed a miracle in front of the dwarves. He made banquet food appear out of nowhere but the dwarves believed that the food was donkey food. Thirdly, to believe in God, one must give up all control. In the Bible, Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must give up all his worldly possessions to have salvation in Him. Nicodemus cannot give up this control. (John 3:1-21) In the book, the main problem for the dwarves is that they do not want Aslan to control them.


So, ways in which the Dwarfs could represent Jews:

  1. Their belief in Aslan's return.

    The Dwarfs have always been a little reluctant to believe in Aslan, or at least his return. Remember in Prince Caspian?

    "Oh, Aslan!" said Trumpkin cheerily but contemptuously. "What matters much more is that you wouldn't have me."
    -Prince Caspian, chapter 6

    ...

    "But they also say that he came back again," said the Badger sharply.
    "Yes, they say," answered Nikabrik, "but you'll notice that we hear precious little about anything he did afterward. He just fades out of the story. How do you explain that, if he really came to life? Isn't it much more likely that he didn't, and that the stories say nothing more about him because there was nothing more to say?"
    -Prince Caspian, chapter 12

    And the Jews don't believe that Jesus came back to life.

  2. Not believing in miracles performed right in front of them.

    Aslan raised his head and shook his mane. Instantly a glorious feast appeared on the Dwarfs' knees: pies and tongues and pigeons and trifles and ices, and each Dwarf had a goblet of good wine in his right hand. But it wasn't much use. They began eating and drinking greedily enough, but it was clear that they couldn't taste it properly. They thought they were eating and drinking only the sort of stuff you might find in a stable.
    -The Last Battle, chapter 13

    Apparently Jesus did miracles and they still didn't believe that he was the son of God.1 | 2

  3. They are afraid of being 'taken in' and being controlled.

    "Well, at any rate there's no Humbug here. We haven't let anyone take us in. The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs."
    "You see," said Aslan. "They will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out. But come, children. I have other work to do."
    -The Last Battle, chapter 13

    And apparently from the source I mentioned before, some guy did something like that in the Christian Bible?1 He had to give up his money to do something, and he didn't want to?

    In the Bible, Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must give up all his worldly possessions to have salvation in Him. Nicodemus cannot give up this control. (John 3:1-21) In the book, the main problem for the dwarves is that they do not want Aslan to control them.


Also, the Dwarfs have always been old Narnians, even if they've had a rocky history with Aslan. They believe that Narnia is 'not a human country'. This is reminiscent of the Jews believing in one God, but not in Jesus. (Remember the note at the top? Not my views at all.)


Tl;dr: It's fairly likely that C. S. Lewis intended for the Dwarfs to represent Judaism from his point of view.


1My knowledge of Christian theology is very sketchy.

2

In the Gospel of John, Jesus is said to have performed seven miraculous signs that characterize his ministry, from changing water into wine at the start of his ministry to raising Lazarus from the dead at the end.
-Wikipedia

  • Your final point about the faithful losing faith is used here to say that Lewis's use of that motif implies future redemption, which the dwarfs don't seem to have any possibility of. – BESW Jan 24 '17 at 5:23
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    I think all the quotes you've posted equally support the notion that the dwarves represent atheists. They almost all boil down to skepticism/disbelief of Aslan and his deeds. – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Feb 1 '17 at 15:30
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    It is not so much that they represent atheists per se as that they represent "men without chests", people who are so concerned not to be taken in that they cannot look at any claim on face value, but must always think themselves too clever to be taken in. It is this empty skepticism, rather than atheism per se, which Lewis represented as an intellectual defect in The Abolition of Man. Atheism was merely a consequence of this defect. Occams razor suggests that identifying the Dwarves with the Jews is an unnecessarily complicated explanation. – user406 Feb 7 '17 at 5:28
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    I've just read through this answer again. As other commenters have said, is there anything to say that the Dwarfs were written to represent Jews as opposed to atheists? They seem sceptical about Tash as well as Aslan. Jews believe in God; do Dwarfs believe in anything supernatural? – Rand al'Thor Feb 28 '17 at 15:13
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    @Randal'Thor - that's what the point about them being Old Narnians was. – Mithical Feb 28 '17 at 15:29
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The Jews are represented in Narnia, it's the mice. The band of mice consists of twelve mice, the Jews consists of twelve tribes. The mice are the smallest animals in Narnia, the Jews are the smallest of all the people's on the earth. Jews are in this world often portrayed as mice even though they're the opposite.

David is represented also, he's represented by Reepicheep. The most valiant and bravest of all mice and probably of all animals in Narnia. Still he's soft and helpful to others, like you can read how he in his good heart helped the obnoxious boy at the The Voyage of the Dawn Treader while others minded their own business and laughed at him. He's king also, king of the mice. He's the only Narnian that ever got to the land of Aslan's father without death.

David is more represented. In Narnia Peter is represented as High King over Narnia, King David is Supreme King over Israel. Peter was taken from "outside", David was also taken from "outside" as a shepherd boy who minded his own business with his sheep and didn't bother anyone. King David was golden haired, like you can see in the movie "The Witch and the Wardrobe" Peter's hair in England was dark blond but after coming to Narnia started to look golden. For Peter Narnia is everything, the hero in the story that everybody counts on. With Israel that's David, a patriot to Israel at heart, the country belonging to his Father.

  • I don't see how this could be right. Theologically, there is one large difference between Jews and Christians that C.S. Lewis certainly would not have neglected. Jews don't worship Jesus Christ. But the mice worship Aslan. – Peter Shor Nov 25 '18 at 12:34
  • The early Christians were not Gentles but Jews. – bicycle Nov 25 '18 at 17:47
  • @PeterShor Actually C.S. Lewis was very correct. Whole Narnia is represented as Israel and Narnians as Jews. Between the time of Aslan being sacrificed and the time of Prince Caspian Narnia got infiltrated by the Telmarines. With Israel that's the Gentiles and Arabs, they are not Jews. When Aslan returned he came primarily for the Narnians, not the Telmarines. The same it will be when Jesus returns, he'll firstly come for the Jews and Israel as written in the Bible. – bicycle Nov 25 '18 at 23:36
  • That comment confuses me. Are you claiming that all the talking animals represent early Christians who had formerly been Jews? Then why single out mice in your answer? – Peter Shor Nov 26 '18 at 20:40
  • @PeterShor The whole Bible except for Revelations is almost entirely about Jews, not Gentiles or descendants from Ismael. Narnia is represented as Israel, the country where Aslan sacrificed himself and later in Prins Caspian returned back. I don't think it was C.S. Lewis meaning to create a literal translation of the Bible to Narnia but to inspire people to Christianity and Faith. David is a very significant figure in the Bible so it's not hard to contemplate why C.S. Lewis would include him even though he lived way before the story of Christ. – bicycle Nov 27 '18 at 15:59

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