Pride and Temptation in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader


I enjoyed the movie Voyage of the Dawn Treader for the story it told. Dawn Treader is my favorite of the Narnia books so, of course, I was disappointed when my favorite parts didn’t make the screen. I do understand that telling a story like this one on screen will look different than telling it as a written narrative. Making the story a quest for swords and a battle against a defined and visible evil made it an easier story to tell. However I do think the movie failed to give the audience enough credit.

Having to struggle with temptation, distinguish good from evil and admit our faults is something everyone faces. Some of the best movies I’ve seen deal with internal struggles like this. The characters’ internal struggles with pride were evident enough without using green smoke as a visual cue for temptation and evil. It would be nice if green smoke showed up so we could know that evil is in the process of tempting or deceiving us. But we don’t. We face struggles without visual cues. We take internal voyages toward internal change and personal resolution. This is really the heart of the book and the place where I think the movie missed its mark.

That said, I think the struggle with pride and the journey various characters take to overcome it was portrayed in the movie. Lucy, Edmund, and Reepicheep deal with the pride that drives insecurity. Edmund feels second to Peter who is High King of Narnia and to Caspian who is its’ current king. Edmund believes that he has the same capacity to rule and resents his position as second to the king.

Lucy feels that she is not as attractive or popular as her older sister Susan. She struggles with this insecurity and feeling of unimportance.  As a mouse, Reepicheep feels he must always be the bravest and baddest in order to prove himself and earn the respect he wants. Reepicheep faces his insecurity by overcompensating. For each of them, who they are doesn’t feel like enough.

Lucy, Edmund, and Reep’s insecurities stem from hurt pride. We try to define what makes a person important. Beauty, power, and position often figure into the equation. Our perceptions of how we are viewed by others can cause us to reject ourselves and our roles.

I wish that the filmmakers had figured out a way to shoot Chapter 10 of the book just as Lewis wrote it. It’s the part in which Lucy uses Coriakin’s spell book to try and deal with her insecurities by herself. It captures the essence of this sort of pride and the internal struggles that go with it.

Eustace’s brand of pride is a little different. He feels superior because he deals in facts rather than fantasy. Even after he is proved wrong and lands in Narnia he won’t let go of his reliance on politics and education to get out of trouble. Eustace limits the terms in which he is willing to address his problems and experiences to what he can understand. Eustace has to encounter an experience that defies his logic and reveals his flaws before he can process the reality of Narnia and Aslan, much less to be personally affected by it.

The scene in which Eustace tries to change but realizes he can’t change himself was a little bit rushed but I was happy that they included that part. Eustace’s voyage from reliance on himself and this world’s limited man-initiated resources to his supernatural,  life-changing meeting with Aslan is a voyage worth taking.

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