Monday 13 December 2010
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C. S. Lewis
There is no doubt about it: there is no more insufferable brat than Eustace Scrubb ("His parents called him Eustace Clarence, and masters called him Scrubb. I can't tell you how his friends spoke to him, for he had none.") at least in the first half of the Dawn Treader. When he finds himself on a gorgeous ship in a magical land, he proceeds to make himself as disagreeable as possible by being selfish, lazy, greedy and a know-it-all. I can't help but think that Lewis was was making fun of modern sensibilities of the time in the character of Eustace, whose parents were "vegetarians, non-smokers and teetotallers and wore a special kind of underclothes," radical in some ways and standing for no nonsense. Of course, as far as Lewis was concerned, a bit of nonsense is essential to the human existance (and I have to say I quite agree with him.) Eustace is rather a caricature at first, but after a rather traumatic experience, he shapes into a decent and fairly three-dimensional character, who reappears as a protagonist in two later Narnia books.
One of my favourite characters in the Chronicles of Narnia plays a major part in this story. Reepicheep was introduced in Prince Caspian and his character expanded here: a fearless warrior, pure of heart, full of adventure and chivalry, he contains all of the best character traits of any of King Arthur's knights. And he is a mouse.