What is Father Christmas Doing in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe?


What is Father Christmas doing in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe?

Why do Silenus, satyrs (fauns) and other creatures from classical mythology appear in the story?

In his famous study of Lewis’s work called Planet Narnia, Michael Ward asserts that he has found an underlying system behind all seven of the Narnia books: each of them is built around, represents, or is inspired by, a planet in the medieval cosmology. In the Middle Ages, these were Mercury, Venus, the Moon, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, all orbiting in perfect circles around the Earth which formed the ‘ground’ of the universe. Specifically, Ward finds that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has the qualities of Jupiter or Jove (which helps explain Father Christmas); Prince Caspian is based on Mars; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader on the Sun; The Silver Chair on the Moon; The Horse and His Boy on Mercury; The Magician’s Nephew on Venus and The Last Battle on Saturn.

Ward carefully counters any objections, pointing out that Lewis was intensely interested in both astronomy and pre-Copernican symbolism. He also points to various similar references to the planets in Lewis’s science fiction trilogy, and in his poetry.

In one sense, it doesn’t matter whether you agree with Ward or not for two reasons - Planet Narnia is a close reading of what has become known as the Narniad and is fascinating regardless of the overlying theory; and it doesn’t harm Lewis’s books either way.

But though Planet Narnia is well worth reading for anyone who enjoys Lewis’s work, one can’t help thinking that there is another, perhaps deeper or wider point about Lewis’s fiction which is being missed. All of these detailed references to aspects of mediaeval cosmology - which are certainly there whether or not you believe that they add up to a cohesive code for the books - must serve a purpose, especially in the hands of a master author like Lewis. The very first question that one should probably try to establish about Lewis as a writer is this:

'What effect did he want to create for the reader?'

Apart from obvious effects, like laug