I was pleasantly surprised to find that “The Magician’s Nephew” and The Silmarillion make a perfect comparative study of the works of Tolkien and Lewis. Both contain somewhat similar creation accounts, one being Iluvatar’s creation of Arda (location of Middle Earth) and the other being Aslan’s creation of Narnia.
Fascinatingly enough, both Tolkien and Lewis describe creation as the composition of music. Narnia and Arda are both exposed to evil early on, as in the Genesis account of the creation of earth.
Iluvatar sends the other Valar to Arda, first to bring about the actualization of the creation symphony, and secondly, to turn Melkor’s evil around for good.
Aslan sends young Digory on a quest for an apple (which seems to embody characteristics of both “the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” and “the fruit of the tree of life”. In his quest, Digory both makes right his wrong of bringing evil into young Narnia and succeeds in choosing good over evil for himself.
While C.S. Lewis’ book is technically easier to read, being a children’s story, Tolkien’s account is far more interesting.
Lewis preaches morals at you from start to finish. Every line, every character, every images shakes a scolding finger in your face. The magician’s Nephew may look like literary candy, but it tastes like cough syrup and smells like boiled spinach.
We must endure the author making condescending statements about the superiority of an older England, such as “Digory would not have taken an apple for himself in any case, Things like Do Not Steal were, I think hammered into boy’s heads a good deal harder in those days.”
What presumption! There were thieves then too. Human nature is just the same.
Whereas Lewis is constantly trying to shove something down your throat coated in narrative, Tolkien has these delightful jewels of truth hidden amongst kingly language and a world that breathes even more realistically than ours.
Lewis’ creation account is beleaguered by a tiresome tale of two children learning about right and wrong. Even Aslan’s song and the newly awakened Talking Animals are constantly crowded out by annoying characters. We hear mostly about the primp goody-two-shoes “Polly”, evil, greedy, and pathetic “Uncle Andrew’, and fidgety (somewhat slow) Digory. (Not to mention the ridiculously shallow and disproportionately evil queen/witch.)
That is a case in itself!
Just compare Jadis with Melkor.
Melkor has many sides and shadows. You see his beauty and his cunning, the rank and file he holds among the Valar at first. You fall in love with him… then you hate him.
Jadis on the other hand is one-dimensional. Her one default setting is evil.
Need I go on?