Saturday, September 26, 2009
Turkish Delight or, His Delight
Caution, long post ahead, don’t say you weren’t warned~ha!
The following is some back ground insight to what I am going to tie in with later, the story is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Because of the length of this, this is going to be part 1.
With some prodding, the Queen discovers that Edmund is a human child. Though she had looked stern and threatening to Edmund at first, when she hears that he is a human she suddenly becomes very attentive, and invites Edmund to sit in her sledge under her fur mantle and talk with her. Edmund does not dare disobey her orders. The Queen conjures up food and drink for him, which consists of a hot drink and a box of Turkish Delight (a type of chocolate). As he eats and drinks, the Queen asks him many questions. Edmund might have been wary of trusting this strange, imposing woman, but he is completely fixated on the sweet food. The narrator explains that the Turkish Delight is enchanted, causing whoever eats it to feel an insatiable greed for more. This chocolate compels the unfortunate eater to keep on eating it until he is prevented from doing so or until it kills him. Since Edmund is distracted by his desire, he does not notice the ominous signs when the Queen interrogates him sharply about his family, particularly his brothers and sisters. She seems intrigued to hear that there are four children in his family, two boys and two girls. Edmund also tells her that Lucy has been to Narnia and met a faun.
When Edmund finishes the Turkish Delight, he desperately hopes that the Queen will offer him more, but she does not. Instead, she asks him to bring his brother and sisters to Narnia to meet her. The Queen does not give Edmund an adequate explanation for why she wants to meet them, but she tells Edmund that she will give him all the Turkish Delight he wants if he brings them to her. This is reason enough for Edmund. The Queen sends him back to the lamppost. There he meets Lucy, who tells him she has been with Tumnus, who is well and has not been punished by the White Witch for his treachery. Edmund asks her for details about the White Witch, and he realizes that the Queen of Narnia is the same person. Edmund, however, is still obsessed with Turkish Delight and rationalizes that the Witch and the Queen are not the same entity. Edmund and Lucy go back into the wardrobe to the Professor's house. Although Lucy is ecstatic that now Edmund can support her story, Edmund is not eager to look like a fool because of his original skepticism.
The Witch's manner when she meets Edmund is initially unfriendly, and for a moment she seems close to killing him. Once she has given him the magic Turkish Delight, however, Edmund cannot see the Witch's cruelty and viciousness. The Witch's kindness and generosity is artificial, but Edmund does not seem to notice or care. Significantly, the narrator says that the magic Turkish Delight causes greed, not that it blinds Edmund to the Witch's true character or alters his perceptions of the Witch. If the narrator had said that Edmund's mistake was directly caused by the Turkish Delight, then Edmund would not have been truly responsible for his actions. Instead, Edmund falls victim to his own gluttony. He does not have to allow the Turkish Delight to control him and cloud his judgment. If Edmund's concern for his siblings had been deeper or his sense of morality stronger, he might have understood the Queen's character despite the enchantment of the Turkish Delight.
The Turkish Delight is a symbol for the sins of the flesh—for example, greed, gluttony, and lechery. These sins of the flesh are not devastating by themselves. Rather, they become destructive when the sinner indulges in them and then is unable to distinguish between right and wrong as a result. The act of eating the Turkish Delight is not Edmund's real sin. Edmund is unable to choose to eat the chocolates, so he has no free will. Edmund's true sin is in allowing the Turkish Delight to distract him and obscure his thinking and his notion of morality. When Edmund allows his greed to get the better of him, he shuts his mind to the belief that the Queen is really the White Witch. As we will see more clearly in the next chapter, the power of sin to corrupt and influence a person's behavior extends far beyond that person's first sinful act. Edmund's first sin in this case is his greed for the Turkish Delight. While he was not under the direct influence of the Turkish Delight, Edmund had the choice to regain his equilibrium and moral awareness. Instead, Edmund dwells on the memory of the chocolate, allowing it to taint all his subsequent actions and decisions. This scene shows the power of sins of the flesh to cloud the sinner's judgement in other, more important, matters of morality. The resulting sins are far more damaging than that of the original sinful action.