In The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis uses a number of different animals to bring us wisdom from the mouths of animal characters such as Aslan the lion, Reepicheep the mouse, Bree the horse and the Bulgy Bears. Not all the Narnian animals are endowed with voice as is explained in the first book in the series, The Magician’s Nephew:
‘Creatures, I give you yourselves,’ said the strong, happy voice of Aslan. ‘I give to you forever this land of Narnia. I give you the woods, the fruits, the rivers. I give you the stars and I give you myself. The dumb beasts whom I have not chosen are yours also. Treat them gently and cherish them but do not go back to their ways lest you cease to be Talking Beasts. For out of them you were taken and into them you can return. Do not so.’
And so it is that certain animals are given voice that can be understood by humans in the seven books that make up The Chronicles of Narnia. C.S. Lewis uses his understanding of animal behaviour and inherent animal characteristics to explore anthropomorphic allegories in order that we may learn something about ourselves. The use of this literary device is masterful in the hands of Lewis and I will give you some examples:
‘We’re free Narnians, Hwin and I, and I suppose, if you’re running away to Narnia, you want to be one too. In that case Hwin isn’t your horse any longer. One might just as well say you’re her human.’ (Bree the horse)
‘You need not always be grave. For jokes as well as justice come in with speech.’ (Aslan the lion)
‘This is a very great adventure, and no danger seems to me so great as that of knowing … I left a mystery behind me through fear.’ (Reepicheep the mouse)
‘I tell you it is an animal,’ said the Bulldog. ‘Smell it for yourself.’
‘Smelling isn’t everything,’ said the Elephant.
‘Why, ‘ said the Bulldog, ‘if a fellow can’t trust his nose what is he to trust?’
‘Well, his brains, perhaps,’ she replied mildly.
Treat yourself and read all seven of the Narnia series. My favourite is The Horse and His Boy, however the most famous book in the series is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I will leave you with a quote from Prince Caspian where Aslan has been interacting with the talking mice:
‘Ah!’ roared Aslan. ‘You have conquered me. You have great hearts. Not for the sake of your dignity, Reepicheep, but for the love that is between you and your people . . . you shall have your tail again.’