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In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardobe, the White Witch is intent on getting all four of the children to her house.

"Oh, but if I took you there now," said she, "I shouldn't see your brother and your sisters. I very much want to know your charming relations.

and

"How dare you come alone?" said the Witch in a terrible voice. "Did I not tell you to bring the others with you?"

Why does she need all four? Why not just kill Edmund? Without Edmund, the prophecy couldn't be fulfilled.

  • 1
    If you get all four, you win the war. Er...hm. Maybe that was a different movie. ;) – Paul Sep 17 '17 at 11:05
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    Come to think of it, the witch is being a lot more dumb than it would first appear. Go smash Cair Paravel and melt down the thrones. She had a hundred years to do it. – Joshua Feb 4 at 17:19
62

We're only seeing part of the story. There's a lot going on under the surface of the story that we know which never gets directly discussed - things like exactly who Aslan is, or the Emperor from Beyond the Sea. Then, of course, there's the Deep Magic which requires Aslan's sacrifice.

So, while it's never spelled out in exact detail, it's likely there is some magical benefit to killing all of them.

Prophecies can be misread. While it is generally believed that all four thrones must be filled by brothers and sisters to fulfill the prophecy, that's not actually spelled out in the wording of the prophecy that we know.

"When Adam's flesh and Adam's bone/Sits at Cair Paravel in throne/The evil time will be over and done."

That Cair Paravel has four thrones suggests that four are needed, but it's not explicit. Safer, then, to eliminate ALL the possible candidates for any of those thrones in one go.

She does. In the end, when it is clear that they cannot catch the the other three, the White Witch does attempt to kill just Edmund:

Chapter Thirteen

...

"Yet it might be better," said the dwarf, "to keep this one for bargaining with."

"Yes! And have him rescued," said the Witch scornfully.

"Then," said the dwarf, "we had better do what we have to do at once."

"I would like to have done it on the Stone Table itself," said the Witch. "That is the proper place. That is where it has always been done before."

...

Edmund found himself being roughly forced to his feet. Then the dwarf set him with his back against a tree and bound him fast. He saw the Witch take off her outer mantle [...]

"Prepare the victim," said the Witch. And the dwarf undid Edmund's collar and folded back his shirt at the neck. Then he took Edmund's hair and pulled his head back so that he had to raise his chin. After that Edmund heard a strange noise - whizz-whizz-whizz. For a moment he couldn't think what it was. Then he realised. It was the sound of a knife being sharpened.

So it's important to read what's going on here - Edmund isn't just going to be casually killed, but ritually sacrificed. Even at this point, when she's given up on catching the others, she doesn't just turn him to stone the way she did with other complications, or have the dwarf throttle him on the spot. She has him bound, removes her mantle, sharpens her stone knife...

It's still about more than just getting rid of a complication. She is preparing for a ritual sacrifice, presumably to draw some kind of advantage. One can only imagine what sort of advantage she might have received from killing all four of the Pevensies on the Stone Table itself.

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    The last line of that quote suggests that she has sacrificed other contenders before on the Stone Table which isn't something I'd considered before. – Erik Mar 14 '17 at 21:20
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    And the fact that she doesn't just destroy Cair Paravel to subvert the prophecy indicates that she can't. – Stephen Collings Mar 14 '17 at 23:21
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    @Erik: I think it could just be referring to sacrificing other "traitors" before, which was one of her privileges under the law, not necessarily sacrificing earlier human contenders for the throne. – sumelic Mar 15 '17 at 17:26
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    @sumelic I think he has a point, tho. In The Magician's Nephew, we see the first king and queen of Narnia were humans from London. So it stands to reason that their descendants would have been killed by the White Witch (we're never told exactly how she comes to power) – Machavity Mar 15 '17 at 19:04
  • It's not a murder, it's an execution with the method specified. – Joshua Feb 4 at 17:16
47

If you're going to do a job, might as well do it properly. Yes, killing Edmund would prevent all four from becoming kings and queens as prophesied. But the remaining three would still be able to be crowned, thus fulfilling the prophecy as nearly as possible at that point. Perhaps they would even have found a fourth person, not their brother, to fulfill the prophecy completely.

Trying to stop a prophecy from being fulfilled never really works. The White Witch was trying to do something which is sort of impossible, so don't be too surprised if her methods don't completely make sense. But if you want to prevent the outcome of a prophecy, it's probably best to do so as completely as possible, by killing all the people involved rather than just one.

Plus, killing someone's brother tends to make them your enemy. The White Witch didn't need three people roaming around with reason to hate her who were potentially prophesied to replace her as Queen. Much safer to get rid of them all.

Put yourself in her shoes. You're an evil megalomaniac who's been told that four specific people may cause you to be removed from power. Would you settle for killing a single one, or would you try to get rid of them all?

What the Witch was thinking

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    Also, if she got to them prior to their introduction to their roles, she might have been able to deceive them like their brother. If none of them know what's what, they'd be easier to manage. I always figured corrupting them was one of her plans. – The Nate Mar 14 '17 at 16:00
  • “Put yourself in her shoes. You're an evil ...” Well, if I were in the Witch's shoes, I would most certainly not consider myself evil, now would I? – Arturo Torres Sánchez Mar 14 '17 at 23:53
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    @Arturo Who knows. Does she even have a concept of evil? Anyway, I'm trying to describe 'you' in an objective way rather than from 'your' own point of view. (Also, am I the only one who immediately thinks of this when witches' shoes are mentioned?) – Rand al'Thor Mar 15 '17 at 0:01
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    Re: your third point - it's interesting to note that The Magician's Nephew mentions the White Witch fights against (and kills) her sister.... – Clockwork-Muse Mar 15 '17 at 0:58
16

The Witch likely thought she could subvert them all, and thus beat the prophecy. I mean, Edmund sells out for a box of sweets. She likely thought the other three could probably be just as easily bought off. Here's your heart's desire, now do my bidding (fits into the Witch = Satan part of the allegory).

Another angle is she really wants Aslan. I'll spoiler this part, since it's partially from The Magician's Nephew

The Witch has been in Narnia since its creation (she's literally there watching when Aslan makes it). This is why she knows Aslan and the power he holds. With the children in her grasp, she can get rid of her true nemesis and be done with the person who made the prophecy in the first place.

  • This is it, but to clarify further: if she just has Edmund, and trades Edmund for Aslan, the 4 children get together and overthrow her per the prophecy. Not a good result. But if she can get at least one more, she might believe she could then kill one and still trade the other for Aslan, thus accomplishing both goals. She eventually trades Edmund for Aslan anyway, but only when all 4 are already out of her grasp. – Joel Coehoorn Mar 17 '17 at 1:37
7

Even if all four thrones must be filled, the prophecy says nothing of Pevences, just Adam's bone. Any human would suffice.

The Witch makes first contact with Edmund. She needed to know where a human could have come from. Edmund tells her that there are two humans that know of the passage to Narnia. Him and Lucy.

If she kills Edmund that leaves one remaining human with knowledge of Narnia, who probably will be more insistent on returning to search for her brother. She needs to create two more witnesses to eliminate all witnesses.

The witch doesn't know they will themselves fulfil the prophecy and is probably more concerned about other humans coming and completing the prophecy than just four young children.

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    @Hugh This is probably the nearest answer to the reason why she didn't kill Edmund when she had the chance: whatever the reason she wanted the others in her grasp, she used one (Edmund) in an attempt to bring them to her — bait, a lure, the contagious channel. – can-ned_food Mar 15 '17 at 18:02
4

One possibility is that Aslan is....Aslan. The Chronicles of Narnia is a Christian allegory with Aslan fulfilling the role of the triune God of Christianity (in The Lion, Witch, and The Wardrobe he is primarily representing God, The Son).

Does Aslan want Edmund to die? No, therefore Aslan's will is carried out and Edmund is not killed by the White Witch. In Christian theology, God's will, purpose, and plan is always fulfilled. Even when it looks like evil is getting their way (the story of Job or Joseph), God is restricting their actions and/or using them for His purposes.

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    This doesn't fit with C.S. Lewis' theology; he was rather big on free will. – Brilliand Mar 14 '17 at 19:13
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    C.S. Lewis had strong reformed tendencies. Also note that the Sovereign Will of God and the Creaturely Will of Man aren't antitheses in Christian (esp Calvinistic) theology. For reference, see this video of Doug Wilson describing C.S. Lewis: youtube.com/watch?time_continue=106&v=fOe4-IpwJX4 – Lan Mar 15 '17 at 0:58
  • This answer fits perfectly with Calvinism. C.S. Lewis's theology does not. He's much closer to Arminian. – Brilliand Mar 15 '17 at 16:55
  • I disagree Brillland. The Sovereign Will of God is something that both Armenians and Calvinists agree on. The primary issue that they differ on is Synergism versus Monergism (i.e. what God's will actually is). C.S. Lewis's stance on the question of salvation is irrelevant on this topic; salvation is not a direct issue on the topic of why Jadis didn't kill Edmund. – Lan Mar 15 '17 at 17:02
1

The prophecy only requires Adam's flesh and Adam's bone to sit at Cair Paravel. The White Witch had to get rid of all of that, so that there would be none of Adam's flesh and bone to sit at the throne.

"When Adam's flesh and Adam's bone/Sits at Cair Paravel in throne/The evil time will be over and done."

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