Religion in Narnia: Aslan vs. Tash

Devorah West '07 English 65, Fantasy, Brown University, 2004

During the last great battle of Narnia on Stable Hill between the faithful Narnians and the Calormenes, King Tirian finds himself fighting against the Calormene leader, Rishda Tarkaan. At length, the pair fights just outside the stable door. Tirian, knowing that Rishda wants to shove him into the stable where the wrathful Tash is waiting, leaps into the door and pulls Rishda along with him. Although Tirian expects to see the inside of the dark, dingy stable, he instead finds that he is in a beautiful, luscious land. There he reunites with Eustace, Jill, and all of the other people involved in Narnian adventures of the past. They meet with Aslan and watch the ending of the world of Narnia. Aslan then tells them to come further up and further in. As Tirian and the others follow Aslan, they come across a Calormene soldier, Emeth, who had previously entered the stable with the wish to meet the great Tash but instead had found himself meeting Aslan in this land. Emeth relates the story of his meeting with Aslan to the others.

"Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him. But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son thou art welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me that he had truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.

"Then he breathed upon me and took away the trembling from my limbs and caused me to stand upon my feet. And after that, he said not much but that we should meet again, and I must go further up and further in. Then he turned him about in a storm and flurry of gold and was gone suddenly" (204,206).

Questions

1.

What is the relationship between Tash and Aslan? If Aslan was the creator of Narnia, then why did he create some creature like Tash? Or is Tash a creature outside of Narnia and Aslan's control?

2.

Who is Tash? What is Tash? When people or animals come through the stable door, why does he only sometimes appear? For example, he is seen when Shift comes through, but not when other creatures such as the dwarves enter into the stable.

3.

What does Lewis mean by needing to "go further up and further in"? What are the connotations of this statement?

4.

In this passage, Aslan tells Emeth that "if any man swear by Tash . . . it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted." Does Aslan pardon names and replace them with the importance of actions? Or is there some other message that is being implied here? In other words, is Aslan saying that it is not important what name one calls God, but rather, it is the actions and what one does in the world that are more consequential.

5.

Why is the language here so much more formal than it is anywhere else in the book? What effect does this create?

References

Lewis, C. S. The Last Battle. New York: HarperCollins, 1956.


Victorian Web Overview C. S. Lewis Victorian courses

Last modified 16 February 2004