Eustace's Metamorphosis

Anna Isaacs '07 English 65, Fantasy, Brown University, 2004

In C.S. Lewis's The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, a young boy named Eustace unwillingly visits the fantastic world of Narnia with his cousins Lucy and Edmund. He finds himself on a sailing ship with the current King of Narnia, who is on a great quest. Eustace attemps to evade work when the ship and crew reach Dragon Island by running away. He gets lost in the mountains and accidentally discovers a dragon's lair. After seeing the death of the great dragon, Eustace stumbles onto the its treasure during a rainstorm. His greed for the treasure causes him to turn into a dragon. Neither Eustace nor the crew can find any way to reverse the transformation. Later, Edmund sees Eustace in boy form, and Eustace tells the incredible story of his metamorphis back to his original physical self.

" Then the lion said -- but I don't know if it spoke -- "You will have to let me undress you." I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it." [115]

Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off -- just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt -- and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me -- I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on -- and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I'd turned into a boy again. [116]

Questions

1. Why can't Eustace peel off his skin to the lion's satisfaction?

2. Is Eustace's experience in the above passage comparable with being "born again" in the Christian religion?

3. Could Eustace's being thrown in the water constitute a sort of baptism?

4. What does the dragon skin symbolize if anything? Past sins?


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Last modified 16 February 2004