Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I Am A Dragon

And Eustace Clarence Scrubb is my role model.

To explain: I recently re-watched The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I didn't really like it all that much when I saw it in theaters, and it didn't get any better with a re-viewing. While I think The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe still managed to strike the core of the story with changes and Prince Caspian was a good movie that wasn't in the least C.S.Lewis, Dawn Treader basically failed to be either.

To clear this vague green-misted sludge from my mind, I decided to listen to Radio Theatre's audio drama while working on coloring butterflies for my sister's birthday. Lots of things hit me square between the eyes with that direct comparison, but the biggest one was Eustace's "un-dragoning"--which has several distinct differences from the version in the movie. (Honestly, I'm not sure how they could have done the book version and really left it "PG"...but it seems like something better could have been concocted.)

The differences:
1) Eustace is visited by Aslan not because he has a sword in his side and it needs to be taken to Ramandu's island for cliche plot purposes, but instead after he decides to do an extremely selfless thing--fly away and hide, FORCING the ship's company to leave without him (because in the book, all of the dragoning and un-dragoning happens while on Dragon Island), since it's too much of a nuisance to bring him with them (even though they're trying their hardest to figure out how to bring him). He doesn't "earn" the right to come with them because he can pull their boat...he decides to stay because he knows he's a nuisance, and always has been.

2) Eustace really tries, HARD, to get out of his own skin. THREE TIMES. It's not a pathetic scratch. It's actual peeling of his snake-like skin off three times. It becomes obvious that he needs Aslan to do it for him. And he becomes so desperate that he lays down and lets him do it.

3) It hurts. It's not a burst of magic light, it's Aslan's claws digging into the dragon's skin and peeling it off. With Eustace letting him do it.

4) The whole reason he wants to get his skin off is to take a bath, because the arm-ring he shoved up his arm before he turned into the dragon is STILL on his arm (not pulled off by Lucy ages ago), and is extremely painful. Again, it's not for plot points or because he has a sword in him. It's because it hurts. His sin hurts.

When I read (well, listened to the audio drama, which follows it almost word-for-word) it this time, I realized that I am kind of like that entrapped dragon. I'm covered in sin, and know I'm covered in sin, and try to get that sin off me over and over and over again...and nothing helps. In the end, I'm still a dragon. So why's Eustace my role model? Because of this.

"Then the lion said--but I don't know if it spoke--You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back and let him do it.

"The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I'd ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know--if you've ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away."

"I know exactly what you mean," said Edmund.

"Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off--just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt--and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly looking than the others had been. And there was I smooth and soft as a peeled switch and softer than I had been. Then he caught hold of me--I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on--and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I'd turned into a boy again."

~"How the Adventure Ended," The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader" by C.S. Lewis.

So I'm a dragon. I can't pull my own skin off me, because that requires a complete biological--spiritual--change to the very structure of myself. Only my God can do it.

I just need to lay down and let Him.

Image is one of the original illustrations to accompany the book.


Taylor Lynn said...

Well-written, and I like the comparison. Isn't Eustace just a fantastic character?! ;D

Mercia Dragonslayer said...

Wow, Nai. That was really an interesting look at it. When I watched Voyage, I thought that they distinctly downplayed Eustace's change, but I never looked at it that deeply. Very good thoughts.


ZNZ said...

Yes yes yes! This is one of my favourite scenes in the book - in the whole series, actually - and you're exactly right about it.

Hannah said...

Wow, what a great analogy :)

Anyways! Thanks for the comment you left :) I'm looking forward to you tearing SoG apart...I miss the Platypi meetings SO much!

- Han

Sarah Sawyer said...

I totally agree with your assessment of the movie, and I think you nailed the reasons that Eustace's transformation lacked power in the film version. His "undragoning" was both intense and beautiful in the book, and it lost something significant in the film.

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