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Voyage Of The Dawn Treader Analysis

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The literary works that C. S. Lewis read seeped into his own fictional writings. In the novel Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lewis draws from the literary tradition of Arthurian legend and Dante’s Purgatorio and Paradiso to shape his book’s story, style, and theme. These literary allusions and similarities contribute to Lewis’ rise to literary significance and the timelessness of his Narnia books. Arthurian legend “subtly but consistently” influenced Voyage of the Dawn Treader’s plot, theme, and characters (Tolhurst 158). Lewis read Malory’s Morte DarArthur for the first time at age sixteen, and it held a lasting impact on his life and works (Tolhurst 142). Lewis parallels his narrative Malory’s Quest Grail story (Tolhurst 159). In Malory’s…show more content…
Though Arthurian legend played a prominent role in Lewis’ Narnia book, Lewis was influenced by Dante as well. The story and style of Purgatorio and Paradiso impacted the story and style of Voyage of the Dawn Treader; however, the main connection between Dante and Lewis is their dealings with biblical material and concepts (Daigle 41). Like Dante, Lewis draws from the Bible to aid in his novel’s plot. Both he and Dante take a typological approach to their narratives (Daigle 42). “The major events of salvation history become the norm for all events, the standard by which all events are interpreted and to which they all conform” (Daigle 42). The typological approach takes reenacts or prefigures the typos of salvation (Daigle 42-43). In Dante’s epic, he writes a three-part journey that takes his traveler to hell, purgatory, and finally paradise; Lewis’ Reepicheep goes on a similar voyage (Schuknecht 71). Even though there is a distinct parallel in plot, that does not automatically mean that Lewis was influenced by Dante, but the movement towards the sun’s light in strongly suggests that Lewis did draw from Dante’s Purgatorio (Schuknecht 72) For Reepicheep and Dante, the sun represents both spiritual and physical paths. Their journeys in the physical world end at the brink of the sun, and the sun is a boundary to paradise. Lewis writes that Aslan’s mountains are beyond the sun, which further suggests that Aslan’s country is not of this world. “What they saw—eastward, beyond the…show more content…
The conclusion to Voyage of the Dawn Treader echoes Dante’s Paradiso (Daigle 49). “the experiences of Lewis 's protagonists reflect the experiences of Dante 's pilgrim in the Paradiso and the shape of the Narnian journey is an adaptation of several events that transpire in the Paradiso” (Daigle 53). Like Dante, Narnians must leave the earth behind and go to the east, which is the equivalent to heaven (Daigle 54). After going through “purgatory,” Lewis’ characters already “...feel that they have already sailed beyond the world” (Lewis ###). This boat metaphor makes Dante’s “heavenly” journeys literal (Daigle 54-55). Dante sojourns to heaven through a spiritual force, while Narnians find heaven by actually sailing eastward. The symbol of the sun also returns in Voyage of the Dawn Treader’s final part; the physical sun “functions exactly like the spiritual light in the Paradiso but only in terms of the increasing intensity of light” (Daigle 55). The light of the sun produces the same effect for the Narnians as it does for Dante. Both Dante and Lewis’ characters must be transformed, in a way, in order to withstand the intensity of the rays (Daigle 55-56). Dante is transformed by the light itself, while the Narnian questers are strengthened by sacred water. In the end, both Dante’s traveler and Reepicheep find their way to heaven in a very similar manner, and these stark resemblances prove that Lewis reimagined Dante’s story to create his own fantasy and
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