Chris Burgess English 112 A Prof. Patten
To over simplify a complex entity such as the self, it could be said that the self is the individualized identity of a person, their essence of being which is distinct from any other person or self. This "self" is thus the functioning and thinking part of what makes up a person’s imagination, learning, and the many other myriad aspects of the brain or mind. In Lewis’s book the house that the children visit can be seen as a metaphor for the mind or self.
One of the first descriptions of the house illustrates the complexity of it as being " . . . the sort of house that you never seem to come to the end of, and it was full of unexpected places" (4). This first reference of the house is open to interpretation. If we are to look at he house as a metaphor for the self then it is apt to interpret this first description as how a mind may work. The children in the story have been taken away from their "real" home because of the war and they have been essentially forced into this situation. Their minds are young and open to imagination and learning. The house like their young minds, is endless and open to new possibilities.
To take this a step further we need only to look at another description of the house. The children are wandering about and they ". . . came three steps down and five steps up, and then . . . a little upstairs . . . and then a whole series of rooms that led into each other . . ." (5). What appears to be happening here is that they are becoming lost not only in the house but more importantly in "themselves." There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the levels or the boundaries of the house. It is somehow multi-layered and independent of any written "rules" of architecture or space. The house mirrors what is to become of the children. It mocks what is real but becomes more of a true reality unto itself. The children learn to use their "imagination" vividly and this allows them to experience the "real" world of Narnia. They have left London and entered into a whole other world which will teach them many more valuable lessons of self, imagination, and belief of who they are. The wardrobe is the ey to the story and it is telling how it appears in the house and the importance it has for only Lucy initially. They all see the room together and it "was quite empty except for one big wardrobe . . . " (5). The room is empty and the children are "empty" more or less at this point of the book. They haven’t yet experienced their ability of imagination and growth. "’Nothing there!’ said Peter, and they all trooped out again – all except Lucy" (5). Peter, the oldest of the children says there is nothing to see in the room, but the contrary is true. Lucy, who is the youngest, and can be seen as having the most "open" mind stays behind to explore. This displays the ability of the innocent (the young) to use their imagination more readily. All the children eventually fall into the world of Narnia, but it takes some belief and eventual "luck" for them to do so. Later in the book the Faun. Tumnus, calls the human world Spare Oom. Spare brings to mind connotations of not being used, and ultimately of not being however, is that this spare extra, or rarely used, needed. What in fact this shows room is paramount in the growth of the children. It opens up the world of imagination for them and they grow immeasurably from this experience.
Another aspect of the house which can match up to the human self is a remark that the professor makes. The children don’t know if they should believe Lucy so they go to the source of knowledge (an adult) and ask his opinion. His answer uses logic and it further leads to the understanding of the house being linked to self. "If there really is a door in this house that leads to some other world," the professor says, "and I should warn you that this is a very strange house, and even I know very little about it . . . " (46). This can be looked at in two ways. The first taking it on a literal level of the description of the house. But the second level of this statement ties into the theory that the house is a metaphor for the self. The door is a gap or entrance into another world and it is thus a entry into the imagination of oneself.
The professor doesn’t know all there is to the house and of course nobody knows all there is to oneself or the abilities of mind and imagination. The doors of the house and the rooms are representative of what the children, and all people, contain in their own minds. They are mysteries and are meant to be explored and entered into in order to use the imagination as well as reason. Nobody knows all there is to know and the house itself is a mystery much like the mind.
This leads to a conclusion which can be loosely made in regards to the self or the mind and individualized essence of a person. The children have to go within themselves and approach what seemingly isn’t right or "real" and to enter this world of the imagination. once they are able to leave the empirical world and to use their imagination they are thus able to better understand and experience who they are. As Peter says early on in the book: " . . . if things are real, they’re there all the time" (45). As they find out this is definitely not so.