The Imagination is the Gateway to the Mind


 

This is the essay that i wrote for a class.

ISU Rough Draft

November 2, 2010

The Imagination is the gateway to the mind

The world through the eyes of young children is different from that of teenagers, young adults and adults. Young children have yet to be heavily influenced by societal norms, mainstream media and reason unlike the mind of ‘normal’ adults, who have conformed to the wider and more society accepted version of the world. A child’s mind is more innocent, more creative in its thinking and unbiased, as its entire world revolves around it. Both novels, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis are stories of fantastic, un-real worlds that have been created via the power and creativity of a child’s mind. Based upon these two novels I will demonstrate that one needs to understand imagination to comprehend a child’s mind by utilizing Alice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Lucy from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

Both girls have similar backgrounds. They are both English and are presumably about the same age and seem to be the youngest in their families. There are suggestions that Alice has a more distant relationship with her parents, unlike Lucy, which was common during the Victorian era as children during this era spend most of their time with nannies, tutors and governesses (Victorian). As for timelines Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland occur during Victorian times and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is set during World War 2, which is the reason Lucy and her older siblings are sent away to avoid the bomb runs in the city. There are differences in the overall styles of Wonderland and Narnia, which depicts that Alice has a more dynamic, unique and exposed imagination where as Lucy, is more innocent, simple and normal as compared to other young girls.

Wonderland is a representation of Alice’s mind through her imagination and in conjunction with her exposure to the world through reading, as was suggested by the books lined on the shelves as Alice fell down the rabbit-hole (Carroll 2). Her readings have exposed to new and unique things such as the proceedings of a Court of Law as is stated by the narrator, “Alice had never been to a court of justice before, but she had read about them in books,” (Carroll 106) and hookahs. This merger between the power of a child’s imagination and ideas and facts obtained through reading is the foundation of Wonderland, the reason that logic still has a place in this nonsensical world. Thus it can be said that Alice’s mind is in a state of confusion, partly due to logical fallacies that she incorporates in her thinking. A perfect example of these fallacies is Alice’s conclusion that if she falls into the sea, she could easily go back by railway (Carroll 15). This conclusion is based upon her premises that during her only visit to the seaside she had noticed a railway station there, and then assumed that anywhere on the English coast, a railway station would be present (Carroll 15). David S. Brown, in his essay “Reasoning Down the Rabbit Hole: Logical Lessons in Wonderland”, quotes G.K. Chesterton saying, “Wonderland is a country populated by insane mathematicians,” and “Fairyland is nothing but the sunny country of common sense,” (Davis 79). These two statements support the issue of Alice’s mind being confused and nonsensical yet there are roots in common sense and logic.

As for Narnia, I do not believe it exists in contrary to the surface story of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It is a figment of Lucy’s imagination, the representation of her mind, as a result of being away from her parents, more importantly her father; whom I believe is her preferred parent. Narnia varies from Wonderland in the sense that it is more of a fairy tale scenario with a very direct good-versus-evil plot. Narnia’s influences probably stem from stories that were told or read to her by her father. Lucy being the youngest of four children was probably shown more affection, which is a typical scenario in most families. The lost of this affection coupled with the fear caused by the war and the unconscious shock of being taken to a new environment is the reason that Narnia is formed, to help keep her safe and help her deal or avoid the fact of being away from her parents. It is her minds defense mechanism, which according to psychoanalytical theory, the Ego utilizes in order to protect Lucy from the anxiety stated above (Nye 27). Defense mechanisms hold a vital role, as without a way to filter and protect one from anxiety, unpleasant thoughts experiences, sanity and functionality would be a rare thing to come by (Garrett). These are done unconsciously by Lucy, and as depicted by the creation of Narnia, to mask the reality of a situation via modification or falsification of reality (Nye 27).

Furthermore, child-parent relationships of both girls can be analyzed through the fantasy worlds via the support of the Oedipus complex. From the point of view of Lucy in context to Narnia and Alice in context to Wonderland, there are characters that could be representations of their parents. An average child, especially a young child, associate parents with power and authority, as no one is held in higher regard from their perspectives, and within Narnia there are two influential figures that hold power, Aslan the Lion and the White Witch. Aslan is presented as brave, kind, fierce-looking yet caring and good. In the novel, Mr. Beaver speaks very highly of him declaring that, “Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion,” (Lewis 76). Aslan could be the representation of Lucy’s father in her fantasy, as the Hero who inspires them to victory. This in a vast contrast from the depiction of the White Witch, which could be the representation of her mother, who is cold, evil, manipulative and selfish, the opposite of Aslan. Lucy mentions that, “she is a perfectly terrible person,” (Lewis 43). This is in line with the Oedipus complex that suggests that a daughter holds an unconscious resentment against the mother for all the attention given to her by the father, and wants to displace her (Nye 22). This of course would place the father in better light as compared to the mother as demonstrated in Narnia.

A similar situation occurs in Wonderland, the King and Queen of Hearts are the most powerful characters in the story and have command and control over all the other characters, with the exception of Alice. I believe that the King is a representation of her father and the Red Queen that of her mother. The Queen is portrayed negatively as being hot-tempered, demanding and unreasonable while the King is more sensible (than the Queen) and calm. This again ties in with the Oedipus complex as the characters are profiled in a manner that favors the representation of the father. This makes sense, as both Narnia and Wonderland are creations of the imaginations of Lucy and Alice respectively, hence the manner of depictions of the characters mentioned.

Through the fantasy worlds, I have observed a major factor in the workings of the mind, representations of the Id and Ego. As Dr. Nye states, this is a concept of Freud that allows us to look at significant constituents of the framework of the personality as it experiences a dynamic process of development through childhood as well as during adulthood, when it is in a more stable state (19). Furthermore, he goes on to mention that it can be hard to pinpoint the difference between the id and the ego in an infant and that only after significant efforts to deal with the environment will it become more clearly distinguished (20). Thus it can be said that differentiating the components of Freud’s structural model of the personality on the actively developing minds of Alice and Lucy might not be definitive.

In the world of Narnia, the biggest battle is between the White witch and Aslan, could this be the representation of the Id versus Ego? The Id is described as more primitively hostile and the Ego as the component used to satisfy our needs as we relate to our physical and social world, as to ensure the Id is controlled (Nye 21). Therefore it can be observed that the White Witch is the Id and the Ego is Aslan. The witch is more primitively hostile while in contrast Aslan is only hostile in order to defeat the witch in order to regain control over Narnia, Lucy’s mind. The best evidence of this is the scene in which Aslan surrenders himself to the White Witch; she humiliates him and then kills him in cold blood (Lewis 143). Aslan, like the ego, acts only when the White Witch tries to completely establish her control or otherwise when Narnia needs him (Lewis 75), as does the Ego to protect the mind or control the Id. The irony in symbolism of the Ego and Id, the Ego being a ferocious lion and the Id bearing resemblance to a human, could be due to the before mentioned fact that the Id and Ego may not be clearly differentiated, yet, in a child’s mind.

As for Wonderland and Alice, it can be easily observed that the Red Queen is the representation of the Id and the Red King is that of the Ego. In this scenario, in contrast to Narnia, they are not in conflict, which could define a controlled Id or a weak Ego, but they are married. The Id is able to act freely as the Ego takes an active role in cleaning up its messes, which demonstrates that the Ego is in fact doing what is needed, to maintain whatever little order there is Wonderland, Alice’s mind. This is clearly displayed during the croquet match in which, the Queen sentences everyone there, except for Alice, to death by decapitation (Carroll 88). The King later sorts this out by pardoning everyone who was sentenced (Carroll 88).

Freud’s psychoanalysis work has been heavily scrutinized in recent history but nevertheless is still able to provide readers a different approach to obtaining deeper understanding of works of literature. The imagination whether it is expressed through dreams or fantasy worlds is able to provide insight in to a person mental state. Alice is a very dynamic and independent little girl where as Lucy is more innocent and is undergoing a lot of anxiety during this time in new surroundings. The issue of understanding oneself is taken for granted as people assume they know the entirety of their personalities at their fingertips when it is not so. This theory that one needs to understand the imagination to comprehend the mind is not limited to just children but can be applied to everyone as a way to understand ourselves in more depth so as to discover the reasons behind our actions, such as that is used by law enforcement profilers. The reasons behind our personalities lie deep within the unconscious mind, and extracting the information is no easy task.

Works Cited

Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. London: Harper Press, 2010, Print.

Davis, Richard Brian. Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2010.

Garrett M.D., Floyd P. “Addiction and Its Mechanisms of Defense.” Psychiatry and Wellness. Behavioral Medicine Associates. 2009. Web. 31 October 2010.

Lewis, C.S. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. London: Collins, 1998, Print.

Nye, Robert D. Three Psychologies. Canada: Wadsworth, 2000, Print.

“Victorian Family Life” Nettlesworth Primary School. n.d. Web. 31 October 2010.

 

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