Academic journal article Review of European Studies

The Scarecrow, Narnia, and Jesus of Nazareth

Academic journal article Review of European Studies

The Scarecrow, Narnia, and Jesus of Nazareth

Article excerpt


This article presents the Scarecrow Literature as a sub-genre of Fantasy literature, which was born in Anglo-Saxon countries in the 20th century. In it, a variety of traditions, cultures and religions are intertwined. They have several common characteristics: they embody and update Christianity's values, they employ fantastical clothing and use imagination as a tool. In this sub-genre, children make a journey from our world to a secondary world, as happens with the Pevensie children and other young characters in Narnia. And depending upon the historical moment in which the writer in question places their work, the setting is generally rural and is steeped in pagan tradition. It is here where the children perform some heroic mission. When the adventure concludes, the young heroes return to their primary world, while maintaining their anonymity, and as a reward for their work obtain the warmth of family or community.

Keywords: Narnia, hero, children's literature, scarecrow literature, Jesus of Nazareth

1. Introduction

Children feel a peculiar attraction to super heroes and idols be it in the world of cinema, music, literature, or sports. This simple observation gave rise to the thought that all of these figures possess a commonality and embody something rather special to have captured the imagination of children to the degree they have, as is evidenced in children's games and in their daily conversations. In our case, this curiosity became an obsession. We try to understand how the literature that deals with these figures could have exercised such an influence on its readers.

We began by examining works which in various encyclopedias, Internet pages and scholarly articles the Anglo-Saxon world includes in its literary canon - works like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1864), The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), Peter and Wendy (1911), The Hobbit (1937), The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950), and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997). We discovered that the young heroes featured in these works, by and large, did not coincide with the classic heroic typology wherein the hero, all-powerful and perfect, experiences an incredible adventure from which he -usually a man- always emerges victorious. This deviation prompted us to believe that perhaps we had encountered a new literary sub-genre in which a different heroic archetype emerged and, as such, begged further study. With this article, our contribution to the academic world is twofold: firstly, to identify and establish the framework for a new typology of the hero in children's literature described by the critical term Scarecrow Literature to articulate it; secondly, to present the young characters in The Chronicles of Narnia and the Biblical Jesus of Nazareth as heroes of the type of literature.

To date, the Spanish academic world has scarcely taken note of investigations that make reference to the child as hero in children's fantasy literature. When speaking about The Chronicles of Narnia, the theme of youthful heroism is rather beyond discussion (Kirk, 2005; Shea, 1993). Yet neither of these concerns themselves with children as heroes of the story, and as such does little to focus on the line of investigation we wish to pursue. In fact, given the existing gap in investigation into the concept of child as hero in general, and in The Chronicles of Narnia in particular, we find it opportune to set the present article within that unexplored framework. Moreover, we deal with the symbolism of the figure of the scarecrow and its relation to the world. We will try to demonstrate the elasticity of the heroic typology of Children's Scarecrow Literature that appears in Lewis's work and attempt to apply this new postulate to the figure of Jesus of Nazareth and observe the results to determine if Jesus might be considered a hero in this type of literature.

2. The Scarecrow

20th century literature has produced various writers who have tried to set forth a different vision of the world; a world in which all things possess intrinsic value. …

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