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This is something that's been rolling around in my mind for a few days, since a conversation in my recent entry about "The Last Battle." And since everyone loves a poll, I thought I'd create one, and see what others think. I know what I thought about Tash on my first read-through of the series, and then discovered that someone else had a totally different idea. In considering this, it occurred to me that there are any number of ways Tash could be viewed . . . and I'd love to find out the impression others have about this character. So VOTE, will ya? :D

Poll #800509 Tash in the Chronicles of Narnia

In the Chronicles of Narnia, Tash . . .

represents the Devil
represents the God of the Old Testament
represents Allah
represents a deity from another pantheon (will explain in a comment)
does not represent a specific entity, but rather the idea of a vengeful god, in contrast with the loving god represented by Aslan
represents something else not mentioned (I'll explain in a comment)
doesn't represent anything in particular; I just took the story at face value as a work of fantasy
I never really thought much about what Tash might or might not represent
Tash? Is that the weird bird-headed . . . thing?
I never read the Chronicles of Narnia



( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 21st, 2006 03:28 am (UTC)
Hmm, now I want to read the series...
Aug. 21st, 2006 03:50 am (UTC)
You should! They really are good. :)
Aug. 21st, 2006 03:29 am (UTC)
Tash is an interesting one, eh? I've gone for the 'other pantheon' option, though that's not quite what I mean. Narnia unites elements out of all sorts of mythologies, and if it can have dryads, Father Time, Aslan-Jesus, witches and Father Christmas, I don't see why it can't have other gods as well. As a Christian allegory, I expect Tash would have to be 'of Satan' in some way (in that he is not 'of Aslan', and is in conflict with him, judging by Aslan's speech to the young Calormene soldier at the end), perhaps a demon of some sort.

Although the Calormenes are clearly based on the Arabs, I don't think this means Tash has to represent Allah. Technically, Allah is the same God as the Christian God. Perhaps the notion of him being more like the Old Testament vengeful God is worth musing on.
Aug. 21st, 2006 03:50 am (UTC)
Ah - you make a good point about the variety of mythos that are incorportated into Narnia. (In fact, I have a teeny tiny problem with Aslan=Jesus, because of the appearance in the story of Father Christmas, which means that Jesus (as the "Christ" in Christmas) *does* exist as himself in the Narniaverse, and therefore Aslan can't represent him allegorically; but it's not a big enough quibble for me to worry about it TOO much). :D

Certainly, I interepreted Aslan's speech to the Calormene soldier as you did - that Tash represented Satan - especially the part about it not mattering whom one believed one was serving, but that good works all "counted" towards Aslan; all bad works, toward Tash. But in thinking about it later, I wondered if perhaps Lewis didn't have in mind for us to equate Tash with Allah (because of the Calormene/Arab connection). I guess, more than anything, I'm hoping Lewis didn't intend this, because I think it's kind of ugly (quite the stab at Islam); I, also, like the idea of the Old Testament god . . . I'm curious to see what I'll think about all this after a subsequent reading of the series (when I'll be paying more attention to certain things). :)
Aug. 21st, 2006 07:37 am (UTC)
I still haven't finished the series... I'll answer when I do! :D
Aug. 21st, 2006 08:26 am (UTC)
I never really gave much thought to who Tash was supposed to represent. Aslan always screamed Jesus at me, and I guess I should have thought more on Tash. The line about all bad deeds going towards Tash made me think Devil right away, but other than that, nothing led me in that direction. And I never thought Allah, despite the Calormines.

I think I associated Tash more with a war god. Anyone from Ares to Odin to Morrigan.

On that note, have you ever noticed that in all the Greek myths about battles, Ares is never one of the main players? It's always Athena or Apollo or someone else...
Aug. 21st, 2006 08:27 am (UTC)
It's a very long time since I read this book, and I was fairly young at the time, so I've chosen the option that reflects the impression I had at the time of reading it. That said, if I were to reread it as an adult, I might have a very different answer.
Aug. 21st, 2006 09:43 am (UTC)
I ticked the devil, but I'd say that Tash is a manifestation of the devil, or a senior demon, something like that (gah, just seen the 'something else' option - must start getting to bed at a reasonable time!).

I think, back in the 50s, when Lewis was writing, Islam simply didn't have the profile it does today in the west, so Allah woudn't come to mind in the way he might today. The big enemies were theological liberalism, secular humanism, and apathy, as far as Christianity was concerned. Calormene religion is more like an ancient middle-eastern pagan religion (e.g. Baal), at least as perceived through Christian eyes.

The ideas associated with Tash are complex, though: he is clearly a real being, but at the same time, his power does not come directly from worshiping him as an entity, as the 'good Calormene' shows. The ape is the mirror of this - someone who patently doesn't believe in Tash, yet serves his purpose. So in that regard he is more symbolic, even within the Narnian universe.

I think Lewis deals in powerful images, rather than systematic allegories (cf Tolkien's famous distaste of 'allegory'). For example, aspects of the White Witch in LWW also fit the devil ('I have the right') but I doubt there's any way the Witch and Tash can be fit into a consistent whole, any more than Father Christmas and Aslan can.

Lewis would have seen the OT god and the Christian god as the same.
Aug. 21st, 2006 04:01 pm (UTC)
I wanted to tick more than one. I said Allah, because the equation of Calormenes with Turks or Arabs is unmistakeable, but I also think Tash is the devil and the idea of a vengeful god. Which, if it's what Lewis meant, is more of the irritating whitewashing of Christianity that he does indulge in. The Christian (not just the Jewish) god is very vengeful. In fact, Jesus is a bit vengeful. Not a cuddly guy, nor a patient one.
Aug. 21st, 2006 10:33 pm (UTC)
I think Tash represents the notion of pagan gods and polytheistic pagan religions in general.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
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