The Chronicles of Narnia is notable for its extraordinary comings and goings to and from Narnia and our own world. In all of the books excepting one, there is a doorway or portal which will take you to or from Narnia.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe portrays a wardrobe as the magical doorway into Narnia; thus the wardrobe has become an icon for the entire series.
“This must be a simply enormous wardrobe!” thought Lucy, going still further in and pushing the soft folds of the coats aside to make room for her. Then she noticed that there was something crunching under her feet. “I wonder is that more moth-balls?” she thought, stooping down to feel it with her hand. But instead of feeling the hard, smooth wood of the floor of the wardrobe, she felt something soft and powdery and extremely cold.
“This is very strange,” she said, and went on a step or two further. Next moment she found that what was rubbing against her face and hands was no longer soft fur but something hard and rough and even prickly.
“Why, it is just like branches of trees!” exclaimed Lucy. And then she saw that there was a light ahead of her—not a few inches away where the back of the wardrobe ought to have been, but a long way off. Something cold and soft was falling on her. A moment later she found that she was standing on the middle of a wood at night-time with snow under her feet and snowflakes falling through the air.
In the case of Prince Caspian at the ending of the story, there was a wooden doorframe that Aslan created for the purpose of sending the Telmarines and the Pevensies back to earth from whence they came.
At one end of the glade Aslan had caused to be set up two stakes of wood, higher than a man’s head and about three feet apart. A third, and lighter, piece of wood was bound across them at the top, uniting them, so that the whole thing looked like a doorway from nowhere into nowhere.
Later, in Prince Caspian when the Narnians and Telmarines have assembled at the doorway, one of the Telmarines accepts Aslan’s offer of a different world. This Telmarine walks through the doorway, never to be seen in Narnia again. All of the other Telmarines that were there went through the door by the end of the day.
There was a silence for a moment. Then a burly, decent-looking fellow among the Telmarine soldiers pushed forward and said:
“Well, I’ll take the offer.”
“It is well chosen,” said Aslan. “And because you have spoken first, strong magic is upon you. Your future in that world shall be good. Come forth.”
The man, now a little pale, came forward. Aslan and his court drew aside, leaving him free access to the empty doorway of the stakes.
“Go through it, my son,” said Aslan, bending towards him and touching the man’s nose with his own. As soon as the Lion’s breath came about him, a new look came into the man’s eyes – startled, but not unhappy – as if he trying to remember something. Then he squared his shoulders and walked through the Door.
Everyone’s eyes were fixed on him. They saw the three pieces of wood, and through them the trees and grass and sky of Narnia. They saw the man between the doorposts: then, in one second he had vanished utterly.
Further on in the chapter, Lewis describes how it is for the Pevensies as they walked through the Doorway and they were magically transported back to the train station where the whole adventure started.
And then, wonderfully and terribly, it was farewell to Aslan himself, and Peter took his place with Susan’s hand on his shoulders and Edmund’s on hers and Lucy’s on his and the first of the Telmarines’ on Lucy’s, and so in a long line they moved forward to the Door. After that came a moment which is hard to describe, for the children seemed to be seeing three things at once. One was the mouth of a cave opening into the glaring green and blue of an island in the Pacific, where all of the Telmarines would find themselves the moment they were through the door. The second was a glade in Narnia, the faces of Dwarfs and Beasts, the deep eyes of Aslan, and the white patches on the Badger’s cheeks. But the third ( which rapidly swallowed up the other two) was the grey, gravelly surface of a platform in a country station, and a seat with luggage round it, where they were all sitting as if they had never moved from it – a little flat and dreary for a moment after all they had been through, but also, unexpectedly, nice in its own way, what with the familiar railway smell and the English sky and the summer term before them.
The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’ begins with Edmund and Lucy talking about a painting of a ship which looks like it is from Narnia. Eustace, who is a little tease, is drawn into the painting along with the other two; this magic painting of the Dawn Treader serves as the portal into Narnia, drawing all three into it.
I’ll smash the rotten thing,” cried Eustace; and then several things happened at the same time. Eustace rushed toward the picture. Edmund, who knew something about magic, sprang after him and told him not to be a fool. Lucy grabbed at him from the other side and was dragged forward. And by this time either they had grown much smaller or the picture had grown bigger. Eustace jumped to try to pull it off the wall and found himself standing on the frame; in front of him was not glass but real sea, and wind and waves rushing up to the frame as they might to a rock. He lost his head and clutched at the other two who had jumped up beside him. There was second of struggling and shouting, and just as they thought they had got their balance a great blue roller surged up round them, swept them off their feet, and drew them down into the sea. Eustace’s despairing cry suddenly ended as the water got into his mouth.
Further along in the story, after having sailed to the end of the world and into Aslan’s Country, the three of them meet Aslan himself. After a long conversation, Aslan opens a door in the sky, and sends Edmund, Lucy and Eustace back into England.
“Come, I am opening the door in the sky.” Then all in one moment there was a rending of the blue wall (like a curtain being torn) and a terrible white light from beyond the sky, and the feel of Aslan’s mane and a Lion’s kiss on their foreheads and then—the back bedroom in Aunt Alberta’s home in Cambridge.
In The Silver Chair, Jill and Eustace are trying to escape the bullies at their wretched school. There is a gate that leads to moors by Jill and Eustace’s school and it’s almost always locked. Here, this gate is the doorway into Aslan’s country; from there, the two of them are blown into Narnia by Aslan. This entrance to by being blown is probably the most peculiar in the series.
“It’s sure to be no good,” said Eustace with his hand on the handle; and then, “O-o-oh. By Gum!!”
For the handle turned and the door opened. A moment before, both of them had meant to get through that doorway in double quick time, if by any chance the door was not locked. But when the door actually opened, they both stood stock still. For what they saw was quite different from what they had expected. They had expected to see the grey, heathery slope of the moor going up and up to join the dull autumn sky. Instead, a blaze of sunshine met them. It poured through the doorway as the light of a June day pours into a garage when you open the door. It made the drops of water on the grass glitter like beads and showed up the dirtiness of Jill’s tear-stained face. And the sunlight was coming from what certainly did look like a different world—what they could see of it. They saw smooth turf, smoother and brighter that Jill had ever seen before, and the blue sky, and, darting to and fro, things so bright that they might have been jewels of huge butterflies. Although she had been longing for something like this, Jill felt frightened. She looked at Scrubb’s face and saw that he was frightened too.
“Come on, Pole,” he said in a breathless voice.
“Can we get back? Is it safe?”
At that moment a voice shouted from behind, a mean, spiteful little voice. “Now then, Pole,” it squeaked. “Everyone knows you’re there. Down you come.” It was the voice of Edith Jackle, not one of Them herself but one of their hangers-on and tale-bearers.
“Quick!” said Scrubb. “Here. Hold hands. We mustn’t get separated.” And before she quite knew what was happening, he had grabbed her hand and pulled her through the door, out of the school grounds, out of England, out of our whole world into That Place.
After Jill and Eustace complete their task in Narnia, they come back to Aslan’s Country. By now, King Caspian is in Aslan’s Country, and he joins them in a playful combat against the bullies at Experiment House, Caspian and Eustace with the flats of their swords, and Jill with a switch that Aslan has turned into a riding crop. Aslan comes with them and roars a great big roar which knocks down the wall thru which they came to Narnia in the first place. When that is finished Aslan repairs the wall and goes back to his own country.
The most significant portal in the series is the door to the stable. In The Last Battle, a wicked ape named Shift has created a false Aslan and placed it in a stable; from there, he sends messages to the Tisroc of Calormen and has him send an army of Calormenes to Narnia. Though Shift has created a beautifully clever plot which has both the Narnians and Calormenes in submission by creating ‘Tashlan’, –a mash-up name of Tash and Aslan– he never thought that the real Tash would turn up. Tash enters the stable and doesn’t leave for a good long while.
“I feel in my bones,” said Poggin, “that we shall all, one by one, pass through that dark door before morning. I can think of a hundred deaths I would rather have died.
“It is indeed a grim door,” said Tirian. “It is more like a mouth.”
“Oh, can’t we do anything to stop it?” said Jill in a shaken voice.
“Nay, fair friend,” said Jewel, nosing her gently. “It may be for us the door to Aslan’s county and we shall sup at his table tonight.”
After a hard battle with the Calormenes, all three pass through the stable, and enter Aslan’s Country. Digory, Polly, Peter, Edmund and Lucy are already there, having died in the same train wreck which sent Jill and Eustace into Narnia at the beginning of the story.
“And what has been happening since you got here?” asked Eustace.
“Well,” sad Peter, “for a long (at least I suppose it was a long time) nothing happened. Then the door opened— “
“The door?” said Tirian.
“Yes,” said Peter, “The door you came in—or came out—by. Have you forgotten?”
“But where is it?”
“Look,” said Peter and pointed.
Tirian looked and saw the queerest and most ridiculous thing you can imagine. Only a few yards away, clear to be seen in the sunlight, there stood up a rough wooden door and, round it, the framework of the doorway: nothing else, no walls, no roof. He walked toward it, bewildered, and the others followed, watching to see what he would do. He walked round to the other side of the door. But it looked just the same from the other side: he was still in the open air, no a summer morning. The door was simply standing up by itself as if it had grown there like a tree.
In the entire Chronicles of Narnia there are Biblical parallels, some are downright obvious, some are hidden carefully, and some are just faint likenesses to the Bible. This conversation between Aslan and Jill from The Silver Chair has its own similarities to what was said in the book of Revelations.
“I was wondering—I mean—could there be some mistake? Because nobody called me and Scrubb, you know. It was we who asked to come here. Scrubb said we were to call to – to Somebody—It was a name I wouldn’t know—and perhaps the Somebody would let us in. And we did, and then we found the door open.”
“You would not have been calling to me unless I had been calling to you.”
Here, Aslan is basically saying that he is calling to you, but what happens will depend on what you do, be it to answer or ignore him. This is pretty much what the verse below is says.
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him– Revelations 3; 20
There are other similarities to this verse in other parts of the series, such as when the four Pevensies are trying to escape from Mrs. Macready’s tour of sight seers. They all decide to just go in the wardrobe to escape, rather than be chased all over the house trying to evade “the Macready” as they call her. What the Pevensies think is just an annoying coincidence is actually magic, trying to herd them into Narnia so they can deliver it from the White Witch as was prophesied.
Not all entrances to Narnia are by doors or doorways, there are also the magic rings from The Magician’s Nephew. Aslan is always a way back into this world. Aslan says that there are ‘chinks and chasms’ between the worlds, but they have grown rarer. At that time, he was referring to a cave on an island, which was one of the last doorways into Narnia, but not the last. When he said this he most likely was hinting at the wardrobe, and the painting that Edmund, Lucy and Eustace went through, not to mention the gateway at Eustace and Jill’s school. As Professor Kirke’s advice to the Pevensies at the end of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, referring to trying to get back to Narnia is extremely useful:
“Indeed, don’t try to get there at all. It’ll happen when you not looking for it.”
So watch for things that look as if they may transport you to a different world and remember what the Professor said; his advice may come in handy if you can remember it in time before you begin searching for the nearest wardrobe in the area.
Lewis, C.S. The Complete Chronicles of Narnia. New York: Harper Collins, 1998. Print.