The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (plot summary)

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Lucy and the Wardrobe

It is 1940. The Second World War has not long begun, and four children have been evacuated from London to the countryside because of the air-raids. The oldest of the four children is Peter (aged 14), followed by Susan (aged 12), Edmund (aged 10) and the youngest, Lucy, who is eight. They go to live with an elderly professor called Digory Kirke, who lives in a big house with his housekeeper Mrs Macready and his three servants.

One day, the four children are exploring the house when they find an empty room. They all move on after a few seconds except for Lucy, who looks inside a wardrobe (actually partly made of wood from a tree grown of an apple brought back from Narnia years before by Professor Kirke who visited the land at its creation as a boy in The Magician's Nephew) and finds a snowy wood. She walks into the wood and reaches a lamp-post. A faun suddenly appears and introduces himself as Mr Tumnus. He has never met a human before and invites Lucy back to his cave for tea. After they have eaten tea, Mr Tumnus tells Lucy that Narnia was once a beautiful place with wonderful weather, but it all changed one day when the land succumbed to endless winter. He then begins to play a tune on his flute and Lucy goes to sleep. She wakes up to find Mr Tumnus in tears. He confesses to being in the pay of the White Witch, who had given him orders that if he ever saw a Son of Adam or a Daughter of Eve in the forest he was to hand them over to her. Mr Tumnus quickly goes back on his word and says that there is no way he could hand Lucy over to the Witch. He agrees to walk her back to the lamp-post and make sure that she returns home safely.

Edmund and the Wardrobe

When Lucy leaves the wardrobe, she realises that the other three children are just a few feet out of the room. They don't believe her story and she gets very upset. Edmund is especially spiteful to her about the whole business and keeps asking her if she's found any new countries in wardrobes. Peter and Susan keep trying to persuade Lucy to admit that it was all a joke but being as honest as she is, she sticks to her word that there is a country in the wardrobe.

A few days later, the children are playing a game of hide and seek when Edmund follows Lucy to the room with the wardrobe. He gets into Narnia but can't find Lucy anywhere. He walks deeper and deeper into the wood until a horse-drawn sledge appears. It has two occupants. The first is a dwarf sitting on the front of the sledge, the second is a great tall lady with a dead-white face sitting on a high seat at the back. The lady introduces herself as the Queen of Narnia. She questions Edmund and gets him to admit that he is a human. Eventually she becomes friendly with him and with her magic wand gives him the food he would like to taste best in all the world - Turkish Delight.

The Queen is very inquisitive and gets Edmund to tell her that he has two sisters - one of them has been in Narnia before and had tea with a faun - and one brother. The fact that there are four children seems to interest the Queen. She promises to make him a Prince - and later a King - and give him more Turkish Delight when he returns to Narnia, but he must bring the others with him. She then bids farewell and Edmund walks back to the lamp-post.

Lucy suddenly appears and tells Edmund that she has been to see Mr Tumnus, and that the White Witch has not done anything to him for protecting her. Edmund realises from Lucy's description that the White Witch is no other than the Queen of Narnia that he has just made friends with. But he is still determined to taste that Turkish Delight again more than anything else.

Back on This Side of the Door

When Edmund and Lucy find the other two children, Lucy tells them that they have both been in Narnia. Edmund then tells them that he and Lucy have been playing a game, pretending that the country in the wardrobe is real. Lucy gets upset and runs off. Peter is angry with Edmund for encouraging Lucy about the country in the wardrobe, which he still thinks is a hoax. Peter and Susan then decide to go and see the professor about Lucy's 'fictional' country in the wardrobe, and he tells them that there could well be such a place.

After that, Edmund stops teasing Lucy about the country in the wardrobe and all four children manage to enjoy themselves. For a while it looks as though the whole business with the wardrobe had come to an end. But that was not to be.

Back in Narnia

One day, the four children are exploring the house when they bump into Mrs Macready, who is showing some visitors around. They have been told to stay out of the way when visitors are being shown around the house, and make a run for the wardrobe. Mrs Macready is showing the visitors around the wardrobe room and the four children manage to hide in the wardrobe just in time to avoid being caught. They then notice light in the back of the wardrobe and walk towards it to find themselves in a snowy wood. Peter realises that they are in Narnia. Edmund then tells them that they should be heading towards the lamp-post and Peter is furious with him for trying to make out that Lucy was telling lies.

Lucy then says that they should go and see Mr Tumnus. But when they reach his cave they find him gone and the place ransacked. A note has been left behind. It is from Maugrim, Chief of the White Witch's Secret Police. Mr Tumnus has been arrested and is awaiting his trial on charges of high treason, 'for comforting her majesty's enemies, harbouring spies, and - above all - fraternizing with humans'. Lucy realises that she is the human that Mr Tumnus had been fraternizing with. She is determined to save him.

The children soon see a beaver and he calls for them to come closer. They soon realise that the beaver is in the good and he urges them to speak as quietly as possible. He gives Lucy a handkerchief (the one she gave to Mr Tumnus when he was crying), and tells her that Mr Tumnus gave him the handkerchief just before his arrest. They then go back to Mr Beaver's house on the top of the river dam, where Mrs Beaver is cooking their tea.

Mr and Mrs Beaver

After eating tea, Mr Beaver begins to tell the children that Aslan is on the move. Aslan is the great lion from across the sea who has not been to Narnia for many years. And now that he is coming the White Witch's reign is definitely coming to an end. Mr Beaver also has the chance to tell the children about what has happened to Mr Tumnus. He has, without a doubt, been taken away by the Secret Police to the White Witch's castle. Mr Beaver is unsure about Mr Tumnus's exact fate, but not many people taken in the castle ever come out again. The few people who have come out say that the courtyard is full of statues, so are the stairways and the hall. Statues of people she has turned to stone.

Mr Beaver then explains to the children that they will be going to meet Aslan at the Stone Table, which is a long walk from the house on top of the dam. He also tells them about a prophecy, which means that when two Sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve sit on the thrones at Cair Paravel (the capital of Narnia down on the coast), then it will not only be the end of the White Witch's reign but of her life. And that is why Mr Beaver and the children had to be so cautious as they came along, for if the Witch had known about the four children then she'd have been more dangerous than ever.

Everyone had been attending so hard to what Mr Beaver was saying that they had noticed nothing else for a long time. Then Lucy notices that Edmund has vanished. Everyone searches the small house for him and they run outside shouting his name, but he is nowhere to be seen. Mr Beaver tells everyone that they will be going at once. Peter says that they should split into search parties and go off in different directions. Mr Beaver says there is no point looking for Edmund because they already know where he's gone. The three children don't understand what Mr Beaver means. He then explains that Edmund has gone to the White Witch. He asks if Edmund has ever been in this country before on his own, and Lucy says that he has. This convinces Mr Beaver that Edmund has met the White Witch and joined her side, as he had the look of someone who had been with the Witch. It was something that you could tell if you had lived long in Narnia, something about the eyes.

Mr Beaver then orders everyone to start packing their bags because there isn't a moment to lose.

The White Witch's House

Edmund had sneaked out of the Beaver's house while the conversation was in full swing and made his way to the White Witch's house. He first encounters Maugrim the wolf, Chief of Secret Police, and explains to him that he is the Son of Adam who had met the White Witch in the forest a few days earlier. Maugrim then returns and tells Edmund to come inside. Edmund then approaches the White Witch and she is furious with him for coming alone. He explains to her that he has brought his brother and sisters with him into Narnia and that they are down at the Beaver's house. He also tells her that Aslan has come to Narnia as well. The Witch is shocked and immediately orders one of her slave dwarves to prepare the sledge without bells - 'We'll creep up silently and burst open them!' she comments to herself. She also orders Maugrim to take with him the swiftest of his wolves and head at once to the house of the Beavers, and to kill anyone he finds. If they are already gone, he must make all speed to the Stone Table and wait for her in hiding.

When the sledge is ready, Edmund joins the Witch and her dwarf on the long journey to the Stone Table. It lasts for hours and hours, all through the night.

The Spell Begins to Break

Meanwhile, the Beavers and the three children are preparing for their long walk to the Stone Table. It is dark by now, and they walk for several miles in the snow. Mr Beaver is careful to lead Mrs Beaver, Peter, Susan and Lucy on a careful route where the White Witch would not be able to reach on her sledge.

Maugrim and another wolf have reached the Beaver's house but find it empty. There are no tracks and the scent is cold, so Maugrim does not try and find the Beavers and the children. He and his sidekick made all speed for the Stone Table.

Mr Beaver leads his wife and the three children to a concealed large hole in the ground, which is a hiding place for beavers in bad times. They have something to eat and drink, and everyone is soon asleep.

The Next Morning

After the seemingly endless journey on the sledge, Edmund is woken up by the White Witch letting out a surprised cry. He suddenly realises what she is surprised about: at the side of the road, a group of animals are sitting at a table eating a tasty-looking meal. Edmund is sure that he can smell something like plum pudding. The Witch is furious with the animals and demands to know where they got the food from. One of the animals, an old dog-fox, says that the food was given to them by Father Christmas. The Witch is horrified and cannot accept the thought that Father Christmas could have been in Narnia. She then calms down and tells the animals that they will even now be forgiven if they say they have been lying. Then one of the animals, a squirrel, protests that Father Christmas has been to Narnia and the Witch turns all the animals into stone. Edmund then realises that he has allied with the evil side and begins to wish that he had stayed with the others.

The Beavers and the three children, meanwhile, are awakened by the sound of jingling bells. Mr Beaver is convinced that they are the bells of the White Witch's sledge, and creeps outside to hide in a bush so he can see the Witch pass. He runs back a few minutes and tells everyone that it's all right to come out. The jingling of the bells was not the White Witch, but the jingling of the bells on Father Christmas's sledge. He gives them all presents. Peter has a sword and shield, Susan has an ivory horn with a bow and arrow, and Lucy has a dagger with a small bottle of cordial which will restore any ill or injured people to their full health. Father Christmas then gives them all Christmas dinner and wishes them a merry Christmas before heading off.

Meanwhile, the White Witch, the dwarf and Edmund are still travelling through the snow on their sledge. Suddenly the horses stop and the dwarf gives them several lashes with his whip in a bid to get them moving. But they don't budge and the dwarf admits that they have no hope of carrying on. Edmund also tries to help push the sledge but it still won't move. The White Witch then orders the dwarf to tie Edmund's arms behind his back and make him walk in front of them both.

When they finally stop, the snow has virtually melted. The dwarf tells the Witch that her winter has been destroyed by Aslan. She then threatens to kill whichever person mentions the name Aslan again, so Edmund and the dwarf keep quiet.

The Stone Table

The Beavers and the three children reach the Stone Table and by now there is no snow left at all. They meet Aslan and his people, and Aslan sends off a rescue party of animals including winged horses to go and rescue Edmund.

While Aslan is showing Peter the view of Cair Paravel, where he will be made High King, Susan suddenly starts blowing her horn. Peter rushes towards the Stone Table and finds people running around and screaming. A wolf is standing on the Stone Table and Peter begins to fight him with his sword. Peter finally manages to kill the wolf and is credited as 'Lord Peter Wolf's Bane' by Aslan.

The wolf killed by Peter was Maugrim, Chief of Secret Police. His sidekick flees the Stone Table and eventually finds the White Witch. He tells her that Maugrim has been killed by a Son of Adam who was at the Stone Table with Aslan. The White Witch then decides that there is no need for her to go to the Stone Table, and she sharpens her stone knife in preparation to kill Edmund.

Suddenly, Aslan's creatures appear and rescue Edmund. He is taken back to the Stone Table and reconciled with his brother and sisters. Soon afterwards, the Witch's dwarf appears and asks Aslan's permission for the Witch to have safe conduct to talk to Aslan. Aslan agrees and a few minutes later the White Witch arrives, demanding the return of Edmund - claiming that he is a traitor and that the Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time means that all traitors are her property. Aslan then tells everyone that he will talk to the Witch alone. Minutes later he returns and announces that he has resettled the claim on Edmund's blood.

Deep Magic From the Dawn of Time

That night, Susan and Lucy notice that Aslan is missing from the encampment and go out to look for him. They find him nearby and walk with him until they reach the Stone Table. He orders them to hide nearby because it was not safe, and they soon see why. The White Witch and her people are standing around the Stone Table, and Aslan approaches them. He does not fight back as they tie him to the Stone Table. The Witch finally kills Aslan after saying that she will go back on their deal and kill Edmund as well. Then the Witch and her army leave the Stone Table, convinced that they have achieved victory.

Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time

Susan and Lucy remain at the Stone Table all night and during that time they notice hundreds of mice biting away at the cords which hold Aslan's dead body to the table. After dawn has broken, they hear a loud rumbling noise from by the table. They notice that the table has cracked in half and Aslan has gone. Lucy reckons that it is magic. A voice from behind her says 'Yes, more magic!'. It is Aslan, alive again. Before the dawn of time, another spell was cast - older than the one cited by the White Witch - which guaranteed that if a willing victim took the place of a traitor on the stone table, the table would crack, and he would come back to life.

The Great Battle

Aslan then takes Susan and Lucy on his back for a ride in the sky, and they finally land in the courtyard of the White Witch's castle. Aslan restores hundreds of statues, including Mr Tumnus, and Giant Rumblebuffin kicks open the gate to free all the prisoners and they all run to the forest where Aslan's side is about to go to war with the White Witch and her army.

The White Witch begins to turn some of Aslan's ranks into stone while several others are wounded by the Witch's army. Edmund then smashes the Witch's wand with his sword, just as she was about to turn one of Aslan's satyrs into stone. She then knocks him unconscious with her severed wand, only to be chased away by Peter and several other members of Aslan's army. The White Witch is finally chased to her death by a roaring Aslan, she falls into a ravine and is killed instantly. Aslan and his army are jubilant, while the remnants of the White Witch's army either give themselves up or flee.

Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are later crowned kings and queens of Narnia at Cair Paravel and rule for many happy years.

The Hunting of the White Stag

After the Pevensies have ruled for many happy years in Narnia, rumours spread that a white stag is on the loose in Narnia. If it is captured then it will give a wish to anyone who catches it. The kings and queens are out on horseback one day when they spot it in the Wild Woods of the West. They eventually lose track of the stag and dismount their horses. The monarchs then pass the lamp-post which they had seen on entering Narnia many years before. They continue walking until they pass through the wardrobe and return to the spare room in the professor's house. Mrs Macready is still outside with the visitors, and Peter realises that no more than a few minutes have passed since they went into the wardrobe.

The four children then tell the professor all about their adventures in Narnia. He tells them that they will not be able to get into Narnia through the wardrobe again, and this was proved correct. But it was only the beginning of the adventures in Narnia.

Return to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (book)


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