A Tale of Two Sisters
Time again for another edition of Character Connections! It was pointed out to me a little while ago that I haven’t yet focused an article on a female yet. Considering the number of interesting women we find in both the Chronicles and the Bible, I thought it was due time to fix that. However, I have decided to focus on not one, but TWO figures in this article. Yes, you read that right, you’re getting a special double edition! For the characters I have chosen to compare are two pairs of sisters: Lucy and Susan Pevensie, and Mary and Martha of Bethany. Mary and Martha appear in two scenes in the Gospels. Both of these scenes contain details that can be used to liken Lucy to Mary, and Susan to Martha. The first of these events can be found in the tenth chapter of Luke, towards the end. In this scene, Jesus visits Mary and Martha at their home. While Mary “sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said,” Martha “was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” (Luke 10:39-40) Martha even went so far as to ask Jesus whether he even cared that she was doing all the work, and told him to tell Mary to help her.
How can the Pevensie sisters connect to these two? Let’s look first at Lucy and Mary. Mary remained with Jesus as he talked, listening to what he had to say. In this sense, Mary, unlike her sister, placed Jesus before anything else. And because of this, Jesus himself tells Martha that Mary “has chosen what is better.” (Luke 10:42). In the same way, Lucy is more willing to listen to Aslan than Susan seems to be. Lucy is the one who sees Aslan the most, according to Edmund in Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and she always listens to what he has to say, even when she does not like it.
Susan, on the other hand, is a lot like Martha in the sense that she lets the world get in the way of her relationship with Aslan. Martha allowed her preparations and her duties to distract her from listening to what Jesus had to say. Not only that, she was so wrapped up in what she was doing, she tried to drag her sister in with her, instead of allowing her to listen to Jesus. Likewise, in The Last Battle, we note that Susan is not present in the New Narnia, because she has allowed the things of the world to detract from her memories and her relationship with Aslan. She passes them off as ‘funny games,’ and even seems surprised that the others still think of them. Like Martha, she allows something to come between her and Aslan.
A Brother Restored
The other scene that includes Mary and Martha also brings in another relative: their brother Lazarus. In this second scene, detailed in John 11, Lazarus has died. Jesus went to comfort Mary and Martha, and Martha, as soon as she heard he was coming, went out to meet him. She told him that if He had been there, Lazarus would not have died. Jesus then sent for Mary, who quickly went to him and said the same thing. And after some weeping, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.
As Jesus rescued Lazarus from the clutches of death, so too did Aslan rescue Lucy and Susan’s brother Edmund from death – granted, Edmund had not actually died, but his death, until Aslan intervened, was imminent. And like Martha, it is Susan who first goes to Aslan, asking him to do something, while Lucy remains behind. Loose as this connection may be, we can still see the difference in the two sister’s reactions to their brother’s looming death, which are similar to the differences in Mary and Martha’s reactions to their own brother’s death.
Well, there you have it: a look at the similarities between sisters. Once again I remind you all that the Chronicles are not allegories and not every detail will be exactly the same, but these comparisons intrigued me. I normally see Lucy compared to John the Beloved, and preferred to take a different approach. Perhaps you might look into that connection yourself, to see what you can find. And with that thought, I leave you all, until the next time!