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The Best Characters in the Narnia Stories

The Narnia stories include some memorable characters. Here is my selection of the best. I am not counting Aslan.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
The White Witch. She's more a force of nature than a character, perhaps, but she is the most memorable figure. The thing about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is that it's driven by images rather than character. The White Witch riding around on her sleigh, turning people into stone, is unforgettable.
Possibly the Professor. He's a minor character, but memorable.
Possibly Mr Tumnus. He's memorable, but more for the setting: in the snow with the parcels, in his cosy cave with the fascinating books, and so on. The unanswered question is why he was working for the White Witch. Perhaps it was like the Stasi in East Germany; very hard to avoid getting sucked in.
Prince Caspian
Trumpkin. He's a cheerful sceptic, to start with—less intellectual than McPhee in the Interplanetary Trilogy but perhaps still related to Lewis's tutor William Kirkpatrick. Probably the most vivid character in the book. He has a superb scene where, after making clear he does not believe in the magic horn, he volunteers to go on the mission based on it. "You've had my advice, and now it's time for orders."
Reepicheep. The chivalrous Mouse who fears no one and nothing. He even talks back to Aslan.
Possibly Dr Cornelius, who is "passing" as human. I would consider Nikabrik too.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Reepicheep again, of course. This time he gets a wider range of settings in which to be brave and adventurous, but also we see more of his character, notably his kindness and his mystical streak.
Possibly Eustace but he's rather overdrawn initially and then becomes less interesting when reformed.
The Silver Chair
Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle. Marvellously lugubrious, but the sort of pessimist who is undaunted when things really get bad. Also, the scene where he resists the Witch's enchantment is superb.
Eustace and Jill. They're a lot more interesting than the original four children. They manage to get almost everything wrong until the vital moment.
The Horse and His Boy
Bree the Horse. He's vain and conceited, but he's extremely likeable and good at heart. Hwin is a less prominent character.
Aravis. Her elite background makes her a bit conflicted. She is running away from Calormen, but has difficulty setting aside her assumptions of privilege. She looks down on Shasta. When they come to Tashbaan she feels resentment at having to creep through disguised as a peasant when she would normally have been arriving in luxury and splendour. Part of the story is about her overcoming these prejudices.
Lasaraleen. Lasaraleen is a believable character. She and Aravis have different characters and have taken different paths, but there is a real friendship there, and Lasaraleen is brave—not brave like Aravis, but the bravery of a person without natural toughness. Lasaraleen is ditsy and a comic character, and yet she is very likeable.
Prince Rabadash. A hothead and an unattractive young man, but he's got something; a recognizable type. In Archenland his captors are ready to make some allowances for how he has been brought up.
The Magician's Nephew
Uncle Andrew. As a character, matched only by Puddleglum in the whole series. Although he is a villain, the story of how he devised the magic rings is actually quite impressive. He is beautifully drawn. His deluded crush on Queen Jadis is almost admirable in a stupid way. "A dem fine woman, sir." He is probably the only major villain in the stories who reforms (unless you count Edmund). It's never clear quite how much he reforms but I think it's sufficient.
Jadis. In this prequel she is a bit different from her later role as the White Witch. Less of a force of nature, but more memorable as a character.[1] Her arrogance about the people she ruled has pretty clear parallels to real-world dictators (and even others).
Possibly Polly and Digory, more especially Polly.
The Last Battle
Eustace and Jill again, but they're less interesting this time.
Possibly Puzzle and the Ape,[2] but neither is really a memorable character on the level of those in other stories.
Tash is memorable, though not really a character.

For the grand prize? It's between Puddleglum and Uncle Andrew. I would go for Puddleglum.

[1] It's worth noting though that the White Witch combines elements of modern dictatorship with her fairy-tale nature. Tumnus's home is smashed up, with a note signed by the chief of the "Secret Police" in distinctly 1930s–40s style. [Return]

[2] At one point the Ape memorably parodies Hegel: "You think freedom means doing what you like. Well, you're wrong. That isn't true freedom. True freedom means doing what I tell you." (Chapter 3.) (Indeed, not only Hegel.) [Return]

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