Both texts further contain elements of time slip fantasy. In order to make time slip fantasies believable, both authors begin their novels by placing their protagonists in the present. Usually, the characters are contemporary boys or girls, with whom the reader can identify with and the beginning of the novel is spent in drawing the reader into the character’s worlds and problems. Once the authenticity of this final world as been established, the protagonist experiences a time shift into either the past or the future.
Egoff, states that “It is the time in the real world that stands still; the presence of the time traveller must be accounted for in the other world”. Once placed into another time, the setting again becomes crucial to the believability of fantasy, that is why the authors in both The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Tom’s Midnight Garden expend an enormous amount of time and energy to develop ‘place’ in the other world.
In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe the children enter into the magical world of Narnia, and when Lucy makes the first discovery, this is when the reader first realises that time in Narnia works differently to that of the real world. Lucy is anxious to get back home, as she is worried that her siblings will be looking for her: “I’ve got to go home at once. The others will be wondering what has happened to me”. However, when she returns, she is shocked and horrified when she realises that time has not past by, and seen as though she has “been away for hours and hours”, she cannot comprehend how the others have not been in search for her.
This is due to the fact that time comes to a stand still in the real world, and when they enter Narnia time works in a different way. While time passes by in Narnia, and the children go through several adventures, the time in reality remains stagnant. But why does the author do this? This is due to the fact that time is the only means in which the reader can evoke something different and ‘other’ because everything else in Narnia, such as living conditions, good and evil take place, just like the normal world. So in order to differentiate fantasy and reality the author must use the thematic and symbolic importance of time.
Time in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is extremely significant because without it the story would not have been possible, as the children would not have had any time in Narnia, to have experienced any of the adventures. It is the halting of time in the real world which makes the story possible and a success. The children are not confined or constrained by time, this being the excitement and thrill of it all, as this is what intrigues the child reader, as every child longs for freedom of time, especially when out on discoveries and adventures.
Furthermore, it is only through the passage of the literal time along with the passage of the narration, that the children learn and in a sense explore the journey from childhood to adulthood. This is definitely seen within the character of Edmund. For the first half of the book, Edmund is as spiteful and mean as it is possible for a young boy to be, but his character through time of the narration and the time slip fantasy, allows him to transform half way through the novel.
The witch’s box of Turkish delights initially seduces Edmund, and this magical candy causes insatiable greed for more in the unfortunate eater. However, it is a mixture of greed along with innocence and gullibility that lure Edmund into the hands of the evil witch. Being a child, he is unable to peruse the witch’s tactics and ulterior motives. Originally, Edmund is a traitor because of his greed and Turkish delight. Later, it is evident that Edmund is corrupted by desire for power and by the lavish promises of the witch.
As time passes by in Narnia, Edmund eventually comes to realise that the witch treats him like a slave rather than a prince. He also expresses empathy and latent kindness when he witnesses the witch petrifying a happy group of small forest animals, and for the first time in the novel he “Felt sorry for someone besides himself”. Eventually, Edmund fully realises the witch’s true intentions and the benevolence of Aslan, a discussion with Aslan seems to cement this change. It is only through the passage of time that Edmund realises his mistakes.
As a result, he distinguishes between good and evil, which is symbolic in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as Christ and the devil. At the beginning Edmund was afraid of the witch, but in the end he stands up for himself in battle and helps slay the white witch, which earned him the title king “He was called King Edmund the Just”. Here we see time has matured him, from a timid and naive child, believing everything the witch says to him, he transforms into a man who fights for what he thinks is ultimately right.
However, when he returns to the real world, he becomes a child once again, although he still has recollection of the events in Narnia which matured him. A further aspect of the book, which is significance of the symbolic theme of time, is the changing of the seasons. From the harsh, cruel and violent winter, the season then changes to spring. It is the witch that casts an enchanted, eternal winter on Narnia, symbolising a dead, stagnant time. Nothing grows, animals hibernate, and people crouch around fire rather than enjoying the outdoors.
Nearly every human being has a visceral negative reaction to winter, even when it is at a normal length. We can imagine how quickly eternal winter would become intolerable. The witch’s winter destroys the beauty and the life in Narnia. There is a pristine appeal to woods blanketed in snow and frozen waterfalls, but our overall impression is of a barren, empty land. The season of winter is a perfect and ideal way to represent that Narnia has fallen under an evil regime. Not only is nature frozen, but the witch also freezes the poor Narnians when they annoy her; she freezes them into stone with her gold wand.
The fact that she turns living things into stone, suggests that she is freezing time, as time cannot progress due her evil powers. She denounces time, as through time the seasons change, which she detests as she wants to have Narnia under the season of winter eternally. However, when Aslan arrives in Narnia, spring occurs but of course, Christmas occurs before spring can come. Christmas in the novel is definitely a significant symbol of time, because Christ was born at Christmas.
It is Christmas time that signals hope for mankind: With the birth of Christ we are given hope of new life. Spring follows Christmas and all of a sudden the woods are completely alive. Flowers are blooming, springs and brooks are chuckling, birds are singing, and delightful smells waft pass on gentle breezes. Therefore, this time change of the seasons is very significant in Narnia, because they are not ordinary seasons. Winter is the time of season which symbolises death; therefore with the occurrence of spring, Narnia is experiencing the epitome of life.