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Research paper topic: C S Lewis - 994 words
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C. S. Lewis C. S. Lewis, a well-known author and apologist, is best known by people of all ages for his seven volume series entitled The Chronicles of Narnia.
As Lewis wrote about the land of Narnia, an imaginary world visited by children of this world, he had two obvious purposes: to entertain the readers and to suggest analogies of the Christian faith. Although some feel that his stories are violent, Lewis is successful at using fiction to open peoples hearts to accepting Christ as their Savior because he first entertains the audience with a wonderful story. Lewis talked about how he came to write the books of Narnia, saying that they "all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood" (Lewis 79). The Chronicles tell of the different adventures of English children as they visit the kingdom of Narnia and fall in love with the lion Aslan. Aslan, "the son of the Emperor over Sea," can be compared to this worlds Jesus Christ (Schakel 133).
As a child, Lewis always favored fairy tales and fantasies; as an adult, he decided to write one (Lewis 60). And so began The Chronicles of Narnia. Rather than planning to write a fictional book that succeeded in using apologetics, Lewis admits that the "element" of Christianity, "as with Aslan," entered "of its own accord" (Hooper 31). Walter Hooper, C. S.
Lewis biographer, describes Lewis as being the most religious man he ever met (Schakel 132). For this reason, no matter what Lewis wrote, his religion would greatly impact all of his works. Although Christian symbolism can be found in The Chronicles, Lewis recognized the importance of getting "past those watchful dragons" which are people who are not open to the beliefs of Christianity because they were told they should believe it (Hooper ix). But how should Lewis go about getting past those who are not open to the idea of Christianity? He believed that the best way to do this was to present it in a fictional world, a world in which it would be easier to accept. The audience grows to love Aslan and everything that he symbolizes; they begin to wish for someone like Aslan in this world.
After finding this love for Aslan, they will ideally transfer that love to Christ when presented with the Gospel later in life. It is important to remember that The Chronicles of Narnia are successful because many readers do not realize the resemblance of Aslan to Jesus Christ. Even though Christian themes are present, the Chronicles are not dependent on them (Schakel 132). Peter J. Schakel, a professor of English at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, states that a non-Christian reader can approach the book as a fictional story and "be moved by the exciting adventures and the archetypal meanings, and not find the Christian elements obtrusive or offensive" (132). For this reason, "the Narnian stories have been so successful in getting into the bloodstream of the secular world" (Hooper 99).
Hooper discusses how Lewis will be successful in sharing the gospel if he can get past the "partition of prejudices" that prevent non-Christians from accepting the beliefs of Christianity (99-100). In other words, to get past those "dragons," it is paramount that The Chronicles are self-sufficient in entertaining the reader (Schakel xiii). It is important to not describe The Chronicles of Narnia as an allegory, an "extended metaphor in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative . . .
are equated with meanings that lie outside the narrative itself ", but instead to describe them as "pure story" (Schakel xii). The readers should enter Narnia first with their hearts and only later with their mind (Schakel 134). When the audience begins by interpreting the symbolism evident in The Chronicles, they destroy Lewis primary intention: to entertain. It is especially important to respond in this manner when reading the stories to children (Schakel 134). Although Schakel suggests that adults should begin by reading about Narnia imaginatively and later to reflect intellectually, he warns that it would be harmful to "explicate the meanings of the books" (135).
If the audience cannot enjoy The Chronicles of Narnia as just a story, it will be impossible for them to get anything else out of it. Schakel believes it is important for the children to first fall in love with and long for Aslan and then to transfer that love and longing towards Christ (134). Schakel discusses it well when he says "children should be left to enjoy [The Chronicles] imaginatively and emotionally, without being asked to reflect upon [its] significance. out of that enjoyment meaning will come" (135). David Holbrook, a literary critic of fiction and fantasy works, begins by saying "I felt there was something seriously wrong with [The Chronicles.
Some people have found them to be] so full of hate" (9). Instead of presenting factual information, he offers opinions of unnamed people; for example, "I even heard of one psychotherapist"(Holbrook 9). Holly Bigelow Martin, a free lance writer living in New Jersey, supplies quotes that take the same views as Holbrook and then continues by giving a rebuttal to them and supporting the use of The Chronicles of Narnia in the secular classroom. Fifth grade teacher Susan Cornell Poskanzer admits that she is disturbed by the violence presented in The Chronicles, but she has also had "great success with the stories in her fifth grade class" (Martin 2). Third grade teacher Kathy Reilly and first grade teacher Lisa Fulton feel that children find more violence in other places, like television, and are therefore not worried about the small amount of violence found in The Chronicles of Narnia (Martin 2).
Others feel Lewis is not successful because of his "story telling abilities, his old-fashioned views, his alleged hatred of women, and his theology" (Martin 2). Peter Hollindale, another critic of Lewis, does not agree with the Old Testament theology that he uses as well as the "feudal dictatorship" found between Aslan and the evil characters of Narnia (Martin 3). Martin continues by off ...
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