For us Narnia fans, we love the whole world of Narnia, from the lamppost all the way to the thrones at Cair Paravel. The talking animals, tea-drinking fauns and, of course, Aslan, draw us back again and again. But when it comes to human characters, here’s why I think Edmund Pevensie shines above the rest.
We Are All Edmund Pevensie
Let’s face it—we kind of hated Edmund in the beginning of the story, in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” He was always picking on Lucy, always had something smart to say, yelled at Peter, and lied about visiting Narnia and meeting the Witch.
Then, to top it all off, he brought his siblings back to Narnia to hand them over to the Witch in exchange for “sweeties” (darn that Turkish delight!). On the surface, Edmund is every bit the bunch of sour grapes we think he is.
But there’s a reason for that sourness, and that reason makes us more like Edmund than many of us would realize or care to admit. He misses his dad. He resents that his dad was taken from him, and he resents Peter’s attempts to act as the head of household. That resentment boils over (in his trademark adolescent, angsty fashion) into his interactions with his siblings, making him bitter, sarcastic and selfish.
This very human and deep need for his father makes his flaws suddenly resonate with us, and we see a little bit of ourselves in him. How many times have we spurned the love shown to us because we were pining after someone else’s presence, or resented someone because they seemed to be getting all the affection (as Lucy was from her older siblings)? And when we are promised that affection and shown gentleness, like the Witch showed Edmund, we are willing to do whatever it takes to seek that affection and feel it again.
While Edmund certainly didn’t think his decisions through, we can, as fellow human beings, relate to his mistakes and his motives. And that means that we are all, in some way, Edmund Pevensie.
Heart of Gold
But Edmund, as we soon realize, is not just sourness. He’s human, and though his need for affection drives him to extremes to get it, he soon realizes his huge mistake in seeking it from the Witch. In order to spare the lives of Mr. Tumnus and Mr. Fox, he tells the Witch where his siblings went; though this shows his lack of foresight about what might happen to his siblings, it shows that he couldn’t bear to see the Witch hurt those who were loyal to them.
After he’s rescued, he greets his siblings, including the ecstatic Lucy, with a hug. And when Peter suggests they all go home, Edmund refuses with this memorable heart-of-gold speech:
“I’ve seen what the White Witch can do, and I’ve helped her to do it. And we can’t leave these people behind to suffer for it.”
His turn from selfishness to courage for the sake of others is demonstrated beautifully in these words, as well as his innate sense of justice (Hello? King Edmund the Just!). Edmund truly does have a heart of gold; it just took some digging in the dark to bring it to the surface.
A True Penitent
After his experience in the service of the White Witch, Edmund has seen enough horrors to last him a
whole reign. And after he’s rescued and has his super-secret talk with Aslan (presumably about all sorts of wonderful redemptiony things), he’s not about to ever turn back.
In addition to refusing Peter’s suggestion to go home and abandon Narnia, he fights from then on to protect the Narnians. He even turns from degrading Peter’s attempts at leadership to confirming them; when the news of Aslan’s death reaches them, Edmund encourages Peter:
“Then you’ll have to lead us…Aslan believed you could. And so do I.”
Arguably, the most expressive moment in Edmund’s repentance is when he faces the White Witch in battle. Though against Peter’s wishes, Edmund refuses to flee the battle without at least trying to vanquish his enemy, more loathsome and bitter to him than perhaps she might have been to the other siblings. He’s seen her treachery and her evil firsthand.
He fights bravely and breaks her staff, the weapon to blame for the deaths of so many of his friends and the instrument of his first temptation. This represents Edmund’s final blow to the “old man” and the selfishness of his old life. If that’s not the sign of a true penitent, I don’t know what is.
King Edmund the Just is such a relatable and complex character, and though we start out hating him, he becomes one of the most beloved characters and boldest heroes in the books and films. This is why he rises above the rest, for me, and truly takes the title of ‘Awesome.’
I hope you enjoyed this post! Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you on the next ship in!
Tell me your opinion: Who is your favorite character from The Chronicles of Narnia? Which characters would you like to see me explore in the future? Tell me in the comments below; I’d love to chat!