Puddleglum

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Puddleglum
Narnia character
Puddleglum.jpg
RaceMarsh-wiggle
NationNarnia
GenderMale
BirthplaceNarnia
Major character in
Portrayals in adaptations
1990 BBC miniseries: Tom Baker
1999 Radio Drama [1]: Ron Moody
 
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Puddleglum
Narnia character
Puddleglum.jpg
RaceMarsh-wiggle
NationNarnia
GenderMale
BirthplaceNarnia
Major character in
Portrayals in adaptations
1990 BBC miniseries: Tom Baker
1999 Radio Drama [1]: Ron Moody

Puddleglum is a fictional character in the children's fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. Puddleglum appears in The Silver Chair, in which he is a principal character. He also appears briefly at the end of The Last Battle. Puddleglum is an uncommonly cheerful marsh-wiggle; however, as marsh-wiggles are best known for their pessimism, he is still rather gloomy, described by other characters as a "wet blanket".

Lewis said that his gardener Fred Paxford served as a model for Puddleglum.[1]

Name[edit]

The name Puddleglum may be a typical Marsh-wiggle name (no other Marsh-wiggle is named in the series), but it can also be viewed as a concatenation of "Puddle" for the wetland area where Marsh-wiggles live and "glum" which describes their outlook on life.[2] It likely derives from the poet John Studley, whose comical choices of words Lewis criticized:

[Studley] uses more often than his fellows that diction which... cannot now be read without a smile – "frostyface", "topsy turvy", and (for Tacitae Stygis...) "Stygian puddle glum".[3]

The association is further strengthened by the fact that "Stygian" refers to the River Styx which was said to flow through the classical Underworld, and the three adventurers in The Silver Chair descend to the Narnian Underworld.

Biographical summary[edit]

Character development[edit]

Nothing is known of Puddleglum's life before he appears in chapter 5 of The Silver Chair, where he first introduces himself by saying, "Puddleglum's my name. But it doesn't matter if you forget it." From then on, he is a caricature of pessimism and a bastion of gloomy fortitude: "I see you're making the best of a bad job. That's right. You've been well brought up, you have. You've learned to put a good face on things."[4] But in the end Lewis gives readers a small sign that maybe spending time with Eustace and Jill has had an effect on him. After Jill surprises him with a farewell hug (and kiss), Puddleglum remarks, "Well, I wouldn't have dreamt of her doing that. Even though I am a good-looking chap."[5]

In The Silver Chair[edit]

Puddleglum is the companion of Eustace and Jill as they search for Prince Rilian, heir to the Narnian throne, who disappeared 10 years earlier.

He is a unique character in Lewis's works. He is neither dashing nor charming, neither a great fighter nor a clever strategist. Yet he is instrumental in breaking the Emerald Witch's spell and releasing the Prince by stomping out her magical fire (badly injuring his foot in the process, though not as much as a normal human would, since his feet are webbed).

While the children initially (and not entirely without merit) consider him a "wet blanket" who removes the good from any situation, he proves to be a strong and steadfast companion, especially in Underland where he is all they have to cling to. It is Puddleglum who often spots the best course of action, and ultimately Puddleglum who wins the debate with the Lady, using an argument that incidentally reveals that he has overcome his cynical and pessimistic ways. She reacts furiously and turns into a serpent, only to be killed by Rilian, who finally realizes that she was the serpent who had killed his mother 10 years earlier.

Christian elements[edit]

Lewis, himself an expert on allegory, did not consider The Chronicles of Narnia allegory. He saw them as "suppositional" answering the question, "What might Christ become like, if there really were a world like Narnia and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?' This is not allegory at all."[6] While not allegorical, Narnia does present significant parallels with elements from Christianity.

Lewis is perhaps using Puddleglum to give a somewhat existential statement of faith when he writes, "Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all of those things—trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones... We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow."[7] Lewis himself said of this passage:

I suppose your philosopher son... means the chapter in which Puddleglum puts out the fire with his foot. He must thank Anselm and Descartes for it, not me. I have simply put the 'Ontological Proof' in a form suitable for children. And even that is not so remarkable a feat as you might think. You can get into children's heads a good deal which is quite beyond the Bishop of Woolwich.[8]

Portrayals[edit]

Allusions/references from other works[edit]

The Christian rock band The Swift were formerly known as Puddleglum.[citation needed]

A character from the children's book Kendra Kandlestar and the Box of Whispers by Lee Edward Födi is named Pugglemud as a homage to Puddleglum.

References[edit]

  1. ^ (Sammons 1979, pp. 154)
  2. ^ Ford, Paul (2005). Companion to Narnia: Revised Edition. San Francisco: HarperCollins. p. 357. ISBN 978-0-06-079127-8. 
  3. ^ Lewis, C.S. (1954). English Literature in the Sixteenth Century. Oxford University Press. p. 256. 
  4. ^ (Lewis 1952, pp. ch5)
  5. ^ (Lewis 1952, pp. ch16)
  6. ^ (Martindale & Root 1990)
  7. ^ (Caughey 2005, pp. 47)
  8. ^ Letter to Nancy Warner, 26 October 1963, in Hooper, Walter (2007). The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III. HarperCollins. p. 1472. ISBN 978-0-06-081922-4. 

Additional reading[edit]