Engl 112A TR 12-1:15
9. Explain the change in Edmund during the course of the story. How is Edmund's "addiction" relevant to Lewis's life?
Edmund transitions from a lying, disrespectful, little boy to an honorable young man who risks his life to save others. In the beginning of the story Edmund taunts and teases Lucy, he shows no respect for his elder brother and sister and feels the need to pretend and be dishonest in order to cover up his true feelings. “I think he’s an old dear, said Susan. Oh, come off it! said Edmund, who was tired and pretending not to be tired, which always made him bad-tempered (2).” “When Peter suddenly asked him (Edmund) that question he decided all at once to do the meanest and most spiteful thing he could think of. He decided to let Lucy down (48).” Edmund, led by addiction, betrays his siblings and turns to the White Witch. His siblings are left with the decision to both look for him risking their own lives to save his and put their mission on hold, or to face the fact that he has betrayed them and hope for the best. This is much like C. S. Lewis’ brother, Warnie whose alcoholism caused him to run off on drinking binges leaving Lewis to search for him often causing him to put his life on hold.
The realization that the White Witch, herself, has betrayed Edmund along with the abuse he endures, while under her control, breaks Edmund of his spiteful attitude. “All the things he had said to make himself believe that she was really good and kind and that her side was really the right side sounded to him silly now. He would have given anything to meet the others at this moment- even Peter” Edmund had been carrying a grudge against Peter that fueled his desire to betray his family, a grudge filled only with selfish rewards. Faith is restored in Edmund when he redeems himself at a time when he is needed most. “And when he reached her he had sense to bring his sword smashing down on her wand instead of trying to go for her directly and simply getting made a statue himself for his pains (196).” By the end of the story Edmund is transformed into “Edmund the Just” meaning “guided by reason and fairness (Webster’s Dictionary)” not one who is spiteful and deceiving.