The youngest Pevensie brother, Edmund, is the mischievous child among his siblings in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He is a representation of the possibility of what can go wrong when a child is not properly taught and does not follow set boundaries. Edmund’s subversion of set standards is the cause of a great deal of the troubles the Pevensies face in Narnia. For example, when he goes to the White Witch’s castle instead of listening to the others when they say Aslan is the true leader. In order to redeem himself, he must first be renewed and return to an earlier state. He is not allowed to stay indignant, but is reformed when he learns that Aslan is really the true ruler, and Jadis is not. He is allowed to do so because of his status as a child who is still developing. Edmund’s corruption and later redemption show that he is not really wicked, but has an innate goodness.
Edmund does not always remember all of the rules he is supposed to follow. When the White Witch gives him the enchanted Turkish Delight,“At first Edmund tried to remember that it is rude to speak with one’s mouth full, but soon he forgot about this and thought only of trying to shovel down as much Turkish Delight as he could” (38). The Turkish Delight has negatively affected him and is part of the reason he loses his manners. When he starts to speak with his mouth open, he has lost his manners and his awareness of his self. This is due, partially because he is possessed by the Turkish Delight. Edmund is also young and perhaps is not as imbued with etiquette as he would be if he were an adult. The idea that, “The child imagines that he suffers with the hero his trials and tribulations, and triumphs with him as virtue and is victorious” (Bettelheim, 9) seems to influence the way Lewis utilizes Edmund. If a child were to identify with Edmund and sympathize with his experiences, they too could believe that their behavior is not a product of themselves but of an outside source. Bettelheim’s statement, however, hinges on the child reading the novel identifying with the character and is not necessarily what will always happen. The child reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe would have to identify the causes of Edmund’s impropriety and realize himself as similar and that he too could be redeemed. Bettelheim has no evidence that every single child who reads a novel will read it the same way, just as two people who read the same poem receive different messages.
Edmund proves that he is not nearly as bad as his immediate impression may seem. As the witch is about to turn the party of creatures into stone, Edmund shouts, “‘Oh, don’t, don’t, please don’t’” (127). He realizes what she does is wrong and unjust.
G.K Chesterton…when commenting on the disjunctive good or evil, black or white, quality of ethical judgment in children’s literature, he observes that “children are innocent and love justice; while most of us are wicked and naturally prefer mercy.” (Morgenstern, 118)...