🧙 The Tolkien Forum 🧝

Welcome to our forum! Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox! Plus you won't see ads ;)

Close similarities between Narnia and Middle Earth

Hammersmith

Irresistible Ork Child
Joined
Jan 19, 2005
Messages
477
Reaction score
3
Location
An afternoon's ramble from Buckland
I know this is a subject that has been touched on countless times, with the relationship between the authors, the mutual fans of both books and the impending and released movies, but I thought it would be interesting to start a thread on the similarities between the two authors' very different worlds. It could be intriguing should anybody be able to shed light on who "borrowed" from whom. Regardless, here are a handful of noted matches between the two highly enjoyable and classic tales.
  • Narnia sees Puddleglum and his human charges travel to Harfang, their journey taking them across the Ettensmoor. Tolkien includes in his books the location of Ettinmuir
  • In the same journey in The Silver Chair, the travellers run a gauntlet down a ravine populated by several giants who initially appear to be stone, and indeed in the BBC dramatisation are interpreted as almost completely stone. Tolkien includes in The Hobbit his (almost entirely abandoned) "stone giants". I cannot remember if they are throwing stones around like Lewis' giants, but I have my suspicions...
  • The Silver Chair itself, the instrument of sorcerous control and torture depicted in Lewis' book of the same name, bears in my mind striking resemblences to Morgoth's chair in which he places Hurin. Indeed the entire story of Rillian matches aspects of Hurin's tale, including the ploy of an enemy using a heroic king against his own people (though I cannot suggest Morgoth's chair to be silver, nice as it would be!). The juxtaposition of having one king betray his people through his knowledge (Hurin) and the other (Rillian) almost betray his people through lack of knowledge is also interesting.
  • The (already commonly discussed) use of the word Bree, as the nickname of Shasta's horse and Tolkien's famous village.
  • The already discussed creation, both mythologies of which have music as the catalyst for the world's birth.
  • A very touchy point, but Lewis uses the dark-skinned Calormenes as some of his arch-villains, while Tolkien's "swarthy" Easterlings skim very close to the same unsavoury insinuations. Sorry if that point was either tasteless or offensive.
  • Cair Paravel, Narnia's capital city and the seat of the High King's power is also referred to as a fortress. Tolkien's much lower profile fortress Cair Andros has a very similar name, and the "Cair" can reasonably be assumed to be some sort of linguistic reference to its function (I don't speak elvish :eek: )
  • King Caspian the Tenth is known as Caspian the seafarer, and speaks of the Telmarine golden age of seafarers, which his own father Caspian IX participated in. Indeed, it is his own voyage in the Dawn Treader gives him his nautical moniker, one similar perhaps in feel to the Numenorean "Sea Kings" (I believe they were called in the Akallabeth?). Perhaps a weaker point, but one worthy of discussion or notice, surely?
  • In Prince Caspian more than other books, the trees live and awake. While this is a feature of Narnia from the beginning ("Be talking waters. Be walking trees"), the trees behave in a very entish way in this book that I feel cannot be overlooked.
  • The general geography is similar enough. A large land mass bordered on one side by an ocean, distant and largely unexplored desert to the south, mountains to the north, a distant and eternal country (Valinor/Aslan's Country hold many similarities) far across the only ocean, impossible to visit save for those chosen by the gods (Aslan in a vision summons Reepicheep, then allows Eustace and Jill to be sucked across from their world, and we all know about Earendil :) )
  • This last is a much weaker point, and one that I cannot base on literary reference, rather describing my own thoughts on the books. Roonwit, the centaur in The Last Battle, I have personally always equated with Tom Bombadil. He is an old and wise creature and noble, though the chief similarity is rather the way that he interdicts the main characters near the story's beginning and remains with them for a period of safety, preparing them before releasing them into the heart of adventure.
Again, there are more similarities that are clearly enough rooted in other histories and mythologies that they need little mention here. Lewis' talking animals and Beren's hound are one instance that springs to mind. The dwarves and their strikingly similar characteristics, as well as the possible hidden messages in the books, which one can choose to either see or ignore as circumstantial. I would also note the similarity between the noble Eldar households and the Pevensy and other human children, who eventually become the mythological and revered kings and lords of Narnia in The Last Battle, easily equatable with Fingon and Fingolfin, or Glorfindel. Anyway, my aim is not to belittle either of the book series; I love them both, and it amazes me sometimes how many common facets each world shares with the other. Written at roughly the same time by colleague writers, it is perhaps an unsurprising observation, but I make it nonetheless. I'd love to see other links between the two, or even evidence of the inventor and the tribute-payer, but I imagine much of that will only ever be known by the authors themselves.
 
Last edited:

Morgul Agent

Fallen Numenorean King
Joined
Dec 23, 2004
Messages
53
Reaction score
0
Location
Vancouver, Middle-Earth.
I can't believe NO one has replied to this thread! I think those similarities are quite interesting. It's been over 10 years since I read the Narnia series, so even though it was one of my favorites, I can't remember enough detail.

Yes, Tolkien's stone giants are indeed tossing around rocks! I always thought that part of the Hobbit was exceedingly strange!
 

Hammersmith

Irresistible Ork Child
Joined
Jan 19, 2005
Messages
477
Reaction score
3
Location
An afternoon's ramble from Buckland
Goodness, I'd quite forgotten about this thread! Yes, since writing that I've confirmed that those mysterious giants were indeed throwing stones :rolleyes:

1937 was The Hobbit's publication and Tolkien finished LOTR in 1949 (I think?), both of which dates are easily before 1950 and The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe

Unfortunately, being such close friends, you'd have to go through an awful lot of unpublished writings to even get a hint of the original conceptions. Even then it would be imperfect without an actual admission from one of the writers. Ah, well.
 

Corvis

Registered User
Joined
Aug 29, 2004
Messages
159
Reaction score
0
Location
The Withywindle Path
Great examples Hammersmith, I also remember reading about Dwarves and talking trees (sounds llike Ents) in the Chronicles of Narnia series.
 

Narsil

The Sword that was Broken
Joined
Aug 30, 2003
Messages
375
Reaction score
2
Location
Rivendell
Lewis was writing the CoN at the same time Tolkien was writing LOTR. In fact, Lewis was reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to Tolkien shortly before Tolkien completed LOTR. I don't think it's a coincidence that there are so many similarities between Narnia and Middle Earth.

Hammersmith, that's a great post. I honestly can't think of a thing to add to it. I read the Narnia books when I was 14 and reread them last year after reading Tolkien. It didn't surprise me to learn that Tolkien and Lewis were good friends.
 

Ciryaher

Witch of Resurrection
Joined
Aug 18, 2001
Messages
2,207
Reaction score
2
Location
Baltimore, MD, United States
Narnia sees Puddleglum and his human charges travel to Harfang, their journey taking them across the Ettensmoor. Tolkien includes in his books the location of Ettinmuir
If you may recall, both men were linguistically inclined. The names of these two places are rooted in language, as their names (I would wager) have the same meaning.

A very touchy point, but Lewis uses the dark-skinned Calormenes as some of his arch-villains, while Tolkien's "swarthy" Easterlings skim very close to the same unsavoury insinuations. Sorry if that point was either tasteless or offensive.
As in many fables, the residents of one place are the "good guys" and all outsiders are not, generally.

Cair Paravel, Narnia's capital city and the seat of the High King's power is also referred to as a fortress. Tolkien's much lower profile fortress Cair Andros has a very similar name, and the "Cair" can reasonably be assumed to be some sort of linguistic reference to its function (I don't speak elvish )
Cair has relatives in Celtic languages, such as Welsh "caer", which is "fortress" or "castle".

In Prince Caspian more than other books, the trees live and awake. While this is a feature of Narnia from the beginning ("Be talking waters. Be walking trees"), the trees behave in a very entish way in this book that I feel cannot be overlooked.
The spirits of the trees to which you refer are called "dryads" and "naiads." The idea of sentient trees is fairly common to mythology.

The general geography is similar enough. A large land mass bordered on one side by an ocean, distant and largely unexplored desert to the south, mountains to the north, a distant and eternal country (Valinor/Aslan's Country hold many similarities) far across the only ocean, impossible to visit save for those chosen by the gods (Aslan in a vision summons Reepicheep, then allows Eustace and Jill to be sucked across from their world, and we all know about Earendil )
I would think this a common idea in mythologies and can be seen in history. The sea is a barrier, what lies beyond? The edge of the world, forbidden lands, etc etc.

This last is a much weaker point, and one that I cannot base on literary reference, rather describing my own thoughts on the books. Roonwit, the centaur in The Last Battle, I have personally always equated with Tom Bombadil. He is an old and wise creature and noble, though the chief similarity is rather the way that he interdicts the main characters near the story's beginning and remains with them for a period of safety, preparing them before releasing them into the heart of adventure.
Too general. See my above points about common themes in mythologies.
 

Wolfshead

Formerly CraigSmith
Joined
May 27, 2002
Messages
1,410
Reaction score
5
Location
Scotland
The already discussed creation, both mythologies of which have music as the catalyst for the world's birth.
I have an exam on Tuesday on a course entitled 'Celtic Mythology in the Modern World' so I'm brushing up on my Tolkien and Lewis for it. This is probably the first of several threads I will ressurect today as part of my revision.

My knowledge of Lewis' mythologies is very limited (I never really got much further than the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when I was a kid). Could someone with more knowledge on the topic enlighten me as to what happened in the creation of Lewis' world? One of the questions I have to answer could well be on these two authors so it would be useful to draw parallels between the two.
 

Urambo Tauro

Registered User
Joined
Oct 23, 2004
Messages
266
Reaction score
4
Location
New Gondor
Fascinating observations, Hammersmith!
I guess I never bothered to read these posts until now. The current low activity on TTF makes an update to any thread interesting! (Not that the material in this thread is boring; I simply would have overlooked it otherwise.)

Thanks for resurrecting the thread, Wolfshead.
I'm not sure what you mean by "the creation of Lewis' world".
Are you asking how, in the story, Narnia is sung into existence?
Or are you referring to Lewis' overall task of sculpting the world he is presenting in these books?
 

Wolfshead

Formerly CraigSmith
Joined
May 27, 2002
Messages
1,410
Reaction score
5
Location
Scotland
I'm not sure what you mean by "the creation of Lewis' world".
Are you asking how, in the story, Narnia is sung into existence?
Or are you referring to Lewis' overall task of sculpting the world he is presenting in these books?
HS mentioned that Lewis' world was brought about by music in a similar fashion to Tolkien's. I was wondering how similar the two processes were.
 

Urambo Tauro

Registered User
Joined
Oct 23, 2004
Messages
266
Reaction score
4
Location
New Gondor
In The Magician's Nephew, our main characters stumble into a world, right at the point of its creation. Digory & company find themselves in a lightless "void", and soon begin to hear....
In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing.... Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once.... Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it....
Before long, the "First Voice" is joined by many others, making an indescribable song, as stars, the sun, and other things slowly begin to appear. Land, vegetation, and animals all come into being. The "First Voice" is that of a lion(Aslan) walking around, singing the world into existence. When the singing is over, the Lion opens his mouth, breathes a "long, warm breath", then says, "Narnia, Narnia, Narnia, awake. Love. Think. Speak. Be walking trees. Be talking beasts. Be divine waters."
 

yhwh1st

Call me Meg :)
Joined
Jul 18, 2005
Messages
235
Reaction score
3
Location
OR, USAmerica
There are similarities in the descriptions of the melodies used to create the worlds as well. If you’ve read The Silmarillion (which I’m sure you have if you’re even asking this question) you’ll know that the Ainur had different melodies (or “themes of music” if you will) which ended up creating different things. Melkor’s, shall we say 'personal touches', added, I think, mountains and valleys and caverns and such. If I remember correctly.

Lewis ‘created’ Narnia in the same way (by singing, that is). In The Magician’s Nephew Lewis also connects the melody with what comes into being. For example: Chapter 9 pg. 65
C.S. Lewis said:
Polly was finding the song more and more interesting because she thought she was beginning to see the connection between the music and the things that were happening. When a line of dark firs sprang up on the ridge…she felt that they were connected with a series of deep, prolonged notes which the Lion had sung a second before. And when he burst into a rapid series of lighter notes she was not surprised to see primroses suddenly appearing in every direction.
Sorry about the lack of quotes from the Sil. It has been too long since I’ve read it and would also take too long to sift through everything for what I need.

Edit/Add: Smitty! We miss you! :(
 
Last edited:

Maltapilindë

Registered User
Joined
Mar 7, 2010
Messages
15
Reaction score
1
Location
Valinor
Not sure if anyone brought this up but both have similarities to the Bible. However i think that Narnia does this much more literally. For example in the magician's nephew there is a walled garden with a tree that bears the fruit of immortality. The fruit of immortality is referred to in many cultures and then there is the fruit that Adam and Eave eat...

Then there's the whole Gandalf v. Aslan v. Christ. Aslan is the "son of the great emperor across the sea" and he sacrifices himself for the sake of others and then comes back to life. Gandalf also was sent from across the sea and sacrifices him self for the greater good then is sent back until his task was done.

Then there are the rings. In both stories there are magic rings.

I believe that it could be a possibility that they were meant to be the same place. Narnia and Middle Earth. It's just that Narnia is in later years towards the end of the world and on the other side of the continent. In The Last Battle, we finally find out the fate/ gift of men. I mean, both are kind of suppose to be Europe right?

Finally, they were friends!!!!!! Tolkien and C. S. Lewis were friends. They started of writing about the same world but had different views of what that world should be. For example, Tolkien - elves; C. S. Lewis - Bible. They decided to write about diferent sides of the world with the same beginning and the same end.
 

Thread suggestions

Top