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Written by Daisy Fayne
The Ruins of Old Narnia
"The orchard through which they had come into the ruins turned out not to be a good place for firewood. They tried the other side of the castle, passing out of the hall by a little side door into a maze of stony humps and hollows which must one have been passages and smaller rooms, but was now all nettles and wild roses. Beyond this they found a wide gap in the castle wall and stepped through it into a wood of darker and bigger trees where they found dead branches and rotten wood and sticks and dry leaves and fir cones in plenty. They went to and fro with bundles until they had a good pile on the dais.At the fifth journey they found the well, just outside the hall, hidden in weeds, but clean and fresh and deep when they had cleared these away."
This description appeals to the reader's sense of sight and also to our touch as the author describes nettles and roses which will sting if touched and have thorns respectively. The description also shows that the castle has been ruined for quite some time and that there is mostly only dead and rotten and dry cracking wood, and that the walls that are left have been overwhelmed by plants and weeds. Weeds themselves also suggest a place that has been left untended for some time. However, the fact that there is clean, fresh water in the well illustrates that once the place is given care and attention it can blossom and become beautiful and cared-for again.
"It was long and steep, but when they came out on the roof of the tower and Caspian had got his breath, he felt that it had been well worth it. Away on his right he could see, rather indistinctly, the Western Mountains. On his left was the gleam of the Great River, and everything was so quiet that he could hear the sound of the waterfall at Beaversdam, a mile away. There was no difficulty in picking out the stars they had come to see. They hung rather low in the southern sky, almost as bright as two little moons, and very close together."
The author here appeals to our senses of vision and hearing, and has managed to describe a moment in which the silence is actually audible. He is able to hear the waterfalls over a mile away because the night is so still where he is, and the brightness of the stars against the sky tells us that it is a beautifully clear night. This is a wonderful vivid description of the world from an elevated perspective and though it is dark it is illuminating to Caspian and the reader.
Seven Brothers of the Shuddering Wood
"The next visit was to the Seven Brothers of the Shuddering Wood. Trumpkin led the way back to the saddle and then down eastward on the northern slope of the mountains till they came to a very solemn place among rocks and fir trees. They went very quietly and presently Caspian could feel the ground shake under his feet as if someone were hammering down below. Trumpkin went to a flat stone about the size of the top of a water butt, and stamped on it with his foot. After a long pause, it was moved away by someone or something underneath, and there was a dark, round hole with a good deal of heat and steam coming out of it and in the middle of the hole the head of a dwarf very like Trumpkin himself."
This description focuses on the sensation of being in the Shuddering Wood far more than the sights or the sounds, although it is quite a noisy place given the sounds given off by the trembling of the ground. All of the sounds seem to take place at ground level or below, including Trumpkin's stamping of feet. The description also conveys the feeling of heat, and of being in an area like a mine, or a steel works, with heat and steam making visibility difficult. The overall feeling given by this description is of heat and claustrophobic holes in the ground that lead to somewhere as yet unknown.
The Home of the Centaurs
"As they came lower down, the mountains opened out into a great glen or wooded gorge with a swift river running at the bottom. The open places near the river's edge were a mass of foxgloves and wild roses and the air was buzzing with bees."
This description appeals to the senses of vision, hearing and smell all at the same time; the actual land is described very vividly and the speed of the river at the bottom of the gorge would produce a lot of noise. This coupled with the buzzing of the bees would be quite over powering. The vision of the foxgloves is also overwhelming because it is not just a few foxgloves, or even dozens, but the use of the word "mass" implies that the ground would not be visible underneath the flowers. Wild roses are mentioned again and the number of them alongside the foxgloves would create a beautiful perfume which appeals to the reader's sense of smell, even though the smell of the flowers is not mentioned, but implied by their sheer number.
Lucy and the Dancing Trees
"At first she thought they were merely dancing; they were certainly going round slowly in two circles, one from left to right, and the other from right to left. They she noticed that they kept throwing something down in the center of both circles. Someimes she thought they were cutting off long strands of their hair, at other times it looked as if they were breaking off bits of their fingers - but, if so, they had plenty of fingers to spare and it did not hurt them. But whatever they were throwing down, when it reached the ground it became brushwood or sticks."
This description deals with how the enchanted trees appear to Lucy rather than how they actually appear in of themselves. Earlier in the novel, Lucy had believed she had seen the trees coming to life and this description continues that image, portraying to the reader what Lucy is seeing, not what the author is narrating. The trees have taken on human qualities in appearance and also in what they are physically able to do, and to enjoy, such as dancing, and deciding for themselves to do things. The trees themselves always appear to be alive, and vaguely "humanesque' with limbs that look like long fingers, and branches that sweep the ground and look like Rapunzelesque hair. The dancing is also very mystical and as well as appealing to our sense of vision the author is also appealing to our imagination as readers to continue to create the image that Lucy is perceiving.
"All the trees of the world appeared to be rushing toward Aslan. But as they drew nearer they looked less like trees, and when the whole crowd, bowing and curtsying and waving thin long arms to Aslan were all around Lucy, she saw that it was a crowd of human shapes. Pale birch-girls were tossing their heads, willow-women pushed back their hair from their brooding faces to gaze on Aslan, the queenly beeches stood still and adored him, shaggy oak-men, lean and melancholy elms, shock-headed hollies (dark themselves but their wives all bright with berries) and gay rowans, all bowed and rose again, shouting, "Aslan! Aslan!" in their various husky or creaking or wave-like voices."
This is an incredible description that is actually entirely personification but nonetheless also paints a beautiful and somewhat frightening picture of the beginnings of the Bacchanal, the intense and wild party and celebration of life instigated by Bacchus, God of wine and food. The trees are not really trees but inhabited by spirits that represent their personalities; they appeal to the reader's sense of vision as the descriptions of them are so visually detailed, but they also appeal to our imagination as we relate the appearance of the actual trees to the characteristics and animated appearance the author has created for them. Our sense of hearing is also included in the image as the trees are given voices that also seem to represent the appearance of each kind of tree, and that gives them even more personality.
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