The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Summary and Analysis of Chapter 13: Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time

By this time, Edmund is very tired. The White Witch pauses her sledge in a dark valley shadowed with fir trees and yew trees, and Edmund lays on the ground face-down, beyond hunger and thirst, and too tired to care what will happen to him. The Dwarf and the Witch discuss what they should do next, and the Witch ultimately decides to kill Edmund, though the proper place for such a killing seems to be on the Stone Table.

At that moment, the wolf arrives with the news that Fenris Ulf, his captain, has been killed, and the Witch orders the wolf to summon all of her people to her. She quickly prepares to slaughter one of the four humans needed to fulfill the prophecy. Edmund is tied to a tree, and the Witch begins to whet a knife. Suddenly, they hear a commotion. The Witch screams, and then disappears, and Edmund faints.

Edmund is carried back to the Stone Table by the light of the moon. The search party that Aslan had sent, however, can't figure out what happened to the Witch. Back in the valley, a stump and a boulder change back into the Witch and her Dwarf: she had used magic to transform them just as the knife was knocked from her hand.

In the morning, when the children awaken, they see Aslan and Edmund walking together, deep in conversation. Although readers never learn what, exactly, is said, "it was a conversation Edmund never forgot." Aslan brings Edmund to the children and states, "there is no need to talk to him about what is past." Edmund tells each of the others that he is sorry, and Peter, Susan and Lucy answer that it is all right, though they all want to say something more to express how they feel.

The Witch's Dwarf then arrives with the message that the Queen of Narnia seeks an audience with Aslan. He agrees to meet with her, and sends two leopards along with the Dwarf to ensure that the Witch leaves her wand behind. Lucy whispers to Peter worriedly that the Witch may change the leopards into stone; but Peter assures her that Aslan wouldn't have sent them if it wasn't all right.

When the Witch arrives, everyone around her suddenly feels cold. She points at Edmund and declares that he is "a traitor" and, hence, his blood is her property. She states that according to the Deep Magic written on the Stone Table, the World Ash Tree, and the scepter of the Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea: "every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey and that for every treachery I have the right to kill." Mr. Beaver angrily reveals that the Witch had been the Emperor's hangman. When a bull threatens the Witch with force, she snarls: "do you really think your master can rob me of my rights with mere force?" Lucy implores Aslan to figure out a way to work against the Deep Magic, but Aslan tells her that the idea is unthinkable. The Magic, it seems, is what governs them all.

Aslan then takes the Witch aside, and they confer together. The children wait, wondering what they could be talking about, and Lucy begins crying. Aslan finally returns, and the matter appears to have been settled. The Witch, he states, has renounced her claim on Edmund. The Witch goes on her way, a look of "fierce joy" branded across her face. She turns to Aslan to ask him one last time how she will know that his promise will be kept, and Aslan growls angrily in response, frightening her away.


The valley that the exhausted Edmund collapses in recalls the "valley of death", and has deeply Biblical undertones. Not only is it the place where the Witch prepares to kill Edmund, but it also represents the valley of despair and suffering into which Edmund has sunk. He collapses on the ground, and his survival becomes a matter of pure faith.

Of course, the matter of faith is readily answered in Lewis' narrative by the fortuitous arrival of the rescue party that has followed the wolf back to the Witch. The plot restores Edmund to his brother and sisters, and Aslan, after a private conversation with Edmund, teaches a lesson in forgiveness. Aslan advises the others to put the past to rest - to forgive and to forget - and Edmund offers each of his siblings a personal apology. Lewis suggests that forgiveness heals wounds and allows relationships to build upon past wrongs. When Edmund receives the forgiveness of his siblings, he is welcomed back into his family and the community built around Aslan, and can join the fight against the White Witch.

The example of forgiveness that Aslan sets in this chapter is notable: he does not require Edmund to suffer any humiliation, chastisement, or punishment. All that he asks is that Edmund understand where he has gone wrong. Edmund is offered an entirely clean slate: the question now is what he will make of it.

When Aslan agrees to give the White Witch an audience, the contrast between the two is striking: they are described as "the golden face and the dead-white face." Aslan is aligned with the sun and the warm, life-giving seasons of spring and summer, while the White Witch is linked with the moon and the deathly cold winter. While Aslan is the true King, the White Witch has illegitimately assumed control over Narnia. The narrative underscores the White Witch's "falsity": when Aslan's search party rescues Edmund in the valley, the Witch uses her power to transform herself and her Dwarf into a tree stump and a boulder. The very nature of the Witch is false: in this case, what we see is not what is true. This contrasts with Lucy's keen sense of sight and Edmund's newly-discovered ability to see and appreciate what is around him. According to the narrative, vision leads to belief and is a manifestation of the truth; at the same time, one must cautiously exercise good judgment whenever possible.

More trouble emerges with the reappearance of the White Witch. Even though her reign over Narnia is illegitimate, she still has power over "traitors": according to the Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time, she has the right to kill Edmund. Although Edmund has been forgiven by his siblings, he still wears the label of "traitor" because not only did he betray his family, but he has now reneged on his promise to deliver his siblings to the White Witch. The Deep Magic refers to the laws of Narnia and all of the countries created by Aslan's father, the Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. It tells the residents of these countries how to conduct themselves, and how to resolve disagreements. It sets down laws to govern morality, but can be quite harsh, since the Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea had a hangman (the White Witch herself). Even Aslan is subject to the Emperor's Magic.

However, Aslan is able to negotiate with the White Witch, although neither the children nor the readers know yet how the problem will be resolved. The chapter ends on a note of skepticism, reinforcing the repeated theme of questioning the truth. Throughout the beginning of the narrative, Edmund expresses skepticism; Peter and Susan are skeptical of Lucy's story about Narnia; now Lucy, troubled by the ramifications of the "Emperor's Magic", asks Aslan whether there is anything that they can do against it. Aslan responds to Lucy's query in a tone that suggests that such an idea is unimaginable. The White Witch, in a similarly skeptical manner, questions whether or not Aslan will keep his promise, but he responds with an angry roar. The skepticism that Aslan faces from opposite ends of the spectrum (Lucy and the White Witch), in addition to Edmund, Peter, and Susan's past skepticism, seems to imply that the impulse is a very powerful, very common one.