• Amy MacKinnon

Narnia as a Fairy Tale

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

Which is better: Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, or the Chronicles of Narnia?


How many times is that question asked by fans of both series?


The problem with that comparison is that J.R.R Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were using different styles of storytelling.


Lord of the Rings is written in an epic style.


Narnia is written in the style of fairy tales.


Which is better: Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, or the Chronicles of Narnia? How many times is that question asked by fans of both series? The problem is that Tolkien and Lewis were using different styles of storytelling. Lord of the Rings is written in an epic style. Narnia is written as a series of fairy tales.

The stories by Lewis are longer than most fairy tales, but they have these fairy tale elements:

  • Simple style of writing

  • Time is different in Narnia than in our world

  • Talking animals

  • Magic (either objects, animals, or people)


And the “must have” for a fairy tale:


Happy ending


Those are all elements of fairy tales, so Narnia definitely has the elements of a fairy tale.

The most important element that makes a story a fairy tale (and more generally a Christian story), is that it’s about salvation.


How Does this Happen in Narnia?


If you read the books in the order in which Lewis wrote them it’s harder to see, but that is definitely the order in which you should read them the first time!


If instead you start with The Magician’s Nephew the first time through, the story itself will be weird and not make much sense, and so will A Horse and His Boy. It will also be incredibly boring because you’ll miss all of the little gems hidden in the story that refer to characters and events in the other books.


The Second Time Through


After you’ve read all 7 books, if you read them again in chronological order what you’ll see is the creation, fall (The Magician’s Nephew), and redemption (The Last Battle) of the world of Narnia.


What About Magic?


If a story is a fairy tale, magic has to be involved in some way.


(For more on magic, see my previous posts on magic: Harry Potter and Magic, Harry Potter and Spells or this webinar series: Magic in Middle Earth, Narnia, and Hogwarts)


There may be:

  • People who can do magic

  • Magical animals

  • Plants that have magical abilities

  • Objects that have magical properties


All of these indicate that the story is either in the World of Faerie, or that something from Faerie has entered our world.


In each of the seven books in the Narnia Chronicles, there are at least some of these elements.


Happily Ever After


To be a fairy tale, it has to end happily ever after. If it looks like a fairy tale but ends badly, it’s either a cautionary tale or possibly a fable.


The happy ending includes either a wedding, a gathering of a community, or both.


Both of those elements are what we see in the end of the book of Revelation.


Marriage is a symbol of the relationship between God and His Church. As members of His Church, we are the bride to Christ the Bridegroom (Ephesians 5).


A community that gathers can be either good (ecclesia) or evil (qahal). Happy endings have a separation between the good from the evil, and it’s the community of the good who are gathered together in the end, while those who refused to repent and chose evil are apart (and often suffering) in the end.


This is what Lewis does at the end of The Last Battle.


The ones who embraced evil definitely had their day, and then Aslan came.


He, as the Just Judge, meted out the final judgment for every individual in Narnia.


In the end, those who refused to repent continued to suffer, while those who repented and sided with Aslan went to Heaven.


Those are the ones who lived “happily ever after” as part of both the community of believers (ecclesia) and the Bride.



FREE Downloadable PDF, "4 Questions for Christians on Harry Potter"


Click on this link to request the free download (with quotes from J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and J.K.Rowing)


or click on the image itself







List of Posts in this Series:

Why Read Fairy Tales?

Disney and Fairy Tales

Women in Fairy Tales: Good or Bad?

Fairy Tales, Cautionary Tales, and Myths

How Are Fairy Tales Christian?

Cinderella: A Christian Fairy Tale

Snow White: A Christian Fairy Tale

Hansel and Gretel: A Christian Fairy Tale

Sleeping Beauty: A Christian Fairy Tale

Beauty and the Beast: A Christian Fairy Tale

Little Mermaid: A Christian Fairy Tale

Velveteen Rabbit: A Christian Fairy Tale

Narnia as a Fairy Tale (this post)

Why Are There So Few Fairies in Fairy Tales?

Fairy Tales and Multiculturalism

Fractured Fairy Tales

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