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Iconographies of bestiaries in C. S. Lewis’ The chronicles of Narnia


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Pugar, Petra. (2016). Iconographies of bestiaries in C. S. Lewis’ The chronicles of Narnia. Diploma Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of English Language and Literature. [mentor Polak, Iva].

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Animals are an important and omnipresent element in both fantastic and medieval literature. The thesis examines the relationship between the medieval bestiary iconography and the literary genre of the fantastic, specifically analysing the zoonyms present in C. S. Lewis’ novel series The Chronicles of Narnia. The paper considers contemporary animal studies approach and analyses the phenomenon of the animal in The Chronicles of Narnia from that perspective as well. After the introductory presentation of the structure and historical function of the bestiary, a medieval illustrated didactic genre that popularized some Christian interpretations of the animal, the thesis observes the ways in which Lewis uses the bestiary to create a Christian allegory within the fantastic genre. It puts a special focus on the lion, the wolf and the fantastic fauna, i.e. monsters. The lion occupies the first place among the bestiary animals and appears in each of its versions, where the description of physical and behavioural characteristics of this big cat is usually followed by a symbolic Christian explanation. The wolf serves as an embodied antithesis to the lion, being the representation of the Devil in the Middle Ages. This animal repeats its function in the Narnian menagerie through the character of Maugrim, a Talking Wolf and a servant of the White Witch Jadis. Other than the lion and the wolf, Lewis presents ancient monstrosities by using some monsters present in a medieval bestiary of monsters, Liber Monstrorum. Fantastic literature relies heavily on such creatures when creating medieval-like worlds, and C. S. Lewis is no exception. The proposed analysis demonstrates that the established bestiary iconography performs a central function in the creation of C. S. Lewis’ Christian allegory, and poses a question of whether anthropocentrism is present in The Chronicles of Narnia.

Item Type: Diploma Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: C. S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia, bestiary, lion, wolf, fantastic animals, Christian allegory, animal studies
Subjects: English language and literature
Departments: Department of English Language and Literature
Supervisor: Polak, Iva
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2016 11:16
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2016 11:16

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