“In His Will [is our peace].”[1] Nella Sua Voluntade is the title of a chapter in C.S. Lewis’s The Pilgrim’s Regress. In Lewis’s writings, we find God’s peace and battling dragons are connected through imaginative apologetics in a beautiful and profound way, approaching the archetype of the dragon with nuance while consistently showing common themes of sin and redemption.

Lewis wrote about dragons over three decades, which is consistent with Lewis’s literary methods, as he would revisit a theme or archetype numerous times. He turns an idea over and over, till like a refined jewel, his idea may be held up to the light of understanding to refract various prisms. This allows the reader to gain a multi-faceted perception of the concept in question, and this aspect of Lewis’s writing is equally true for our study about dragons.

Perhaps his most famous dragon is the boy who almost deserved his name: Eustace Clarence Scrubb. Although he is deservedly popular, there are other villainous worms that help inform readers about Lewis’s perception of this mythical beast.[2] But even more than informing the reader about the author’s perceptions, Lewis’s dragons embody depravity and immorality as they sing, taunt, and crave sin. As they do so, the dragons act upon the reader and evoke a range of emotions, including self-recognition.

Lewis included dragons in at least three of his works of fiction: the Northern and Southern dragons in The Pilgrim’s Regress (1933), the lizard of lust in The Great Divorce (1945), and lastly Eustace’s transformations in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952). We will look at the depiction of each dragon, the ways archetypical traditions are purposefully broken, the literary traditions employed, and the apologetic implications. Our final consideration will be to ask who, in fact, killed the dragons.

The Pilgrim’s Regress

In The Pilgrim’s Regress there are two dragons: the Northern and the Southern. Towards the end of the book the protagonist, John, is sent on a path to conquer the Northern dragon. By the time he is sent on this penultimate quest, he has encountered and fought multiple false ideologies and temptations. After he defeats the Northern dragon, John’s final adventure is to cross the brook, passing into eternity. Before he can do this, however, John’s sure-sighted guide tells him why he must kill the dragon saying “that you may be hardened.”[3] The dragon John meets is not ablaze with fire and smoke, but rather is “[t]he cold dragon” and described as having “[e]yes full of cruelty – cold with cruelty without a spark of rage in it … it was not red within, but grey like lead – and the breath of the creature was freezing cold.”[4] [5] This is important for several reasons: first, the effect the freezing cold ice of this dragon has upon the protagonist; second, the broken and upheld archetypes; and third, its connection to the literary tradition of Dante.

First, we consider the effect of the cold upon John. Once John has plunged his sword into the serpent, “A corselet of ice seemed to be closed about him, seemed to shut in his heart, so that it could never again flutter with panic or with greed. His strength was multiplied. His arms seemed to him iron.”[6] In his annotations, Lewis describes the corselet as a “[p]iece of armor including a breastplate and a backplate.”[7] This armor completely encases John’s heart, protecting him from temptations and fortifying him for the future. It also refers back to the hardening forecasted as his limbs are like iron and his heart is protected.

The second reason the cold is important is the altered archetype alerts the reader to a nuanced interpretation. Lewis uses these specific alterations for its effect upon the hero’s greater quest against sin. By killing the ice dragon, the sin that has plagued John now lacks the heat, or power to control or act upon him. John’s courage to stand against and destroy the wickedness of the cold dragon means the dragon’s power no longer has sway over him.

The third reason the cold is important is in the nod to Dante’s The Divine Comedy. There are subtle references to The Divine Comedy throughout this book, including the chapter title – Nella Sua Voluntade.[8] Additionally, there is a similarity between the journey of John and the progression of Dante. John first descends into sin before he ascends in search for ultimate truth. Likewise, Dante descends through the Inferno before he ascends through Purgatorio and Paradiso. Both are also confronted by persons or ideals that reveal the falsity and lies of the world, including greed, lust, and avarice. Also, both are helped by guides: Dante through Virgil and Beatrice and John with a guide named Slilkisteinsauga, originating from “(Old Norse) ‘Sleekstone Eyes.’ A Sleekstone, or whetstone, is used for sharpening, so the name suggests that this character has very sharp vision himself and can sharpen the vision of others.’”[9] John’s guide is an angel, capable of helping uncorrupt his vision and see things clearly – indeed, this guide helps prepare John for his battle with the Northern dragon.

Also, in referencing Dante, there is the shared use of ice with a great serpent. These cold serpents are used at a point in the stories when the protagonists have not quite an apotheosis but certainly a decided turning away from evil. For Dante, this is when he descends to the last ring of the Inferno and meets Satan: “The emperor of the reign of misery//from his chest up emerges from the ice.’’[10] This last ring of hell is characterized by frigidness, with the Devil’s bat-like wings sweeping over the river in hell and “reduc[ing] it all to ice.”[11] In other words, Satan is encased in ice, and the river in Hades is frozen over by his wings. Likewise, in The Pilgrim’s Regress, there is another great serpent characterized by ice instead of fire: the Northern dragon that John must kill to freeze the passion of his sins. Lastly, just after Dante sees Satan, he finally leaves the Inferno:“He [Virgil] first and I behind, we climbed so high//that through a small round opening I saw//some of the turning beauties of the sky.//And we came out to see, once more, the stars.”[12] Once out of hell, Dante can once again look into the sky and see God’s creation, the heavens, and the stars. Similarly, just as Dante turns from hell and climbs out, so too after John sees his cold serpent, he ascends and leaves behind the characteristics of the North (savageness and sadism) and moves towards his Maker.

Beyond archetypes and literary nods, this Northern dragon has characteristics that connect to additional themes in Lewis’s oeuvre and help us understand Lewis’s concepts of dragons. For context, this specific dragon is physically located on land synonymous with pain, greed, and isolation:


…on the North by a land bridge called the Isthmus Sadisticus and right amid that Isthmus sits the cold dragon, the cold, costive crustacean dragon who wishes to enfold all that he can get within the curl of his body and then to draw this body tighter round it so as to have it all inside himself.[13]


This cold Northern dragon is filled with greed, selfishness, and as to be shortly seen, even self-righteousness.

The brutality of inflicting pain as life’s only possibility (Sadism) is epitomized in the dragon’s song, and two stanzas are telling: “Often I wish I hadn’t eaten my wife,//Though worm grows not to dragon till he eat worm.// She could have helped me, watch and watch about//Guarding the hoard. Gold would have been the safer.’”[14] Not only did the dragon devour his wife but this shameful beast justifies his actions when he says “[t]hough worm grows not to dragon till he eat worm.”[15] In other words he had to eat her to become a dragon, and being a dragon is his very nature. Thus, he is not really to blame. Also, his sorrow over his consumed wife is not shame or guilt, but self-pity because he is tired from watching his gold and wants restful sleep. In the last stanza the dragon sings,


They feel no pity for the old, lugubrious dragon.

Oh, Lord, that made the dragon, grant me Thy peace!

But ask not that I should give up the gold,

Nor move, nor die; others would get the gold

Kill, rather, Lord, the men and the other dragons

That I may sleep, go when I will to drink.[16]


He desires pity from those he would eat and destroy because his greed and selfishness are his gods. The dragon ends with a prayer – but to whom he prays is up for debate, and “he who created dragons” is in and of itself a tantalizing question. Yet his prayer is telling as he prays not to be released from the prison of his own making but for the destruction of those who would rob his treasure and his rest. It is reminiscent of Lewis’s statement in The Problem of Pain that “the doors of hell are locked on the inside.”[17] The dragon locked himself in constant weariness, savageness, and loneliness because he chose gold over freedom. Additionally, the dragon embodies lust, as he sings, “I wooed my speckled mate. We played at druery.”[18] That is, before he ate his mate, they played at love, played at the unification of love, and then once that appetite was satisfied, moved on to other dragonish impulses. As a result, this dragon’s song shows that he is filled with self-justification in eating his wife, greed, lust, and even self-pity.

Through John’s reaction to this beast and his song, Lewis gives us remarkable insight into the sickness of our own souls: “Disgust first, and then pity, chased fear from his [John’s] mind: and after them came a strange desire to speak with the dragon and to suggest some sort of terms.”[19] John quickly progresses from disgust to sympathy, and unexpectedly entertains the idea of splitting the dragon’s hoard instead of doing what Slikisteinsauga told him to do – kill the dragon. This progression offers insight into the human condition in which we all find ourselves. It might be easy to look at certain sins with disgust, but secretly offer terms to others. There lies the beauty and wisdom of this literature. We are rooting for and likely identifying with the hero, yet our ability to identify even in the slightest with the villain is startling and horrifying. The  apologetic meaning is clear: the sin must be killed, or it will kill. We must not hide from our sin or pretend it is anything less than a dragonish quality that will eventually devour us. Yet, by putting to the sword that which would grip our lives and turn us into beasts, we find nella sua voluntade. Scripture makes it clear that sin only leads to corruption, and the Lord does not coddle that which separates us from Him, but promises that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, Christian Standard Bible [CSB]). We must be willing to acknowledge our sin and humbly ask for forgiveness. In other words, we must be willing to put the dragon to the sword.

The next dragon to be slayed is the Southern dragon. Once again, in slaying this Southern dragon, Lewis upholds some archetypes and breaks others. Here, again, we see that the broken archetypes are used for the benefit of the character. Like the Northern dragon, the Southern counterpart is on its own isthmus, the “Isthmus Mazochisticus.”[20] Additionally, the Southern  dragon, like the Northern dragon, serves as a trial to purify a character: Vertue, who meets the foe. What unlocks this passage is knowing that Vertue, other than an obvious play on words, is John’s personified conscience, and in Lewis’s annotation is defined as “a personification of ‘traditional morality’ and ‘conscience.’”[21] Vertue and John have had their quarrels and been at odds with each other during their quests. Yet, just as slaying the Northern dragon set John aright, so too will Vertue be set aright and gain a spiritual boon in slaying his dragon.

Although Lewis does not describe the dragon in the South as fully as the dragon in the North, he does detail its effect on Vertue and once again plays with archetypes. The Southern dragon is a typical fiery dragon, but once Vertue slays his beast, his entire being catches on fire without being consumed.[22] Thus the archetype is broken. Most heroes escape by not being caught on fire by their dragon; instead, Vertue gains his spiritual boon by catching on fire. We have seen that Vertue is another word for conscience and morality, which thanks to dispatching the reptile, are in essence caught alight and burn properly. In a shocking scene, after Vertue has killed the dragon, he eats its heart. Vertue says of slaying his dragon, “When my teeth were in the heart//I felt a pulse within me start//as though my breast would break apart.”[23] In eating the dragon’s heart, Vertue’s heart is made flesh, a new pulse starts, and the blood flows until he thinks his breast might burst. John and his conscience have both slayed their dragons, frozen their ill passions, and set alight correct ones, which means the duo can continue their quest ultimately toward God and Heaven.

Moreover, Vertue sings a song of praise “Loud I sing for well I can//RESVRGAM and IO PAEN, Io, Io, IO, Paean!!”[24] Resvgram here means “I shall rise again,” which tells us John’s conscience has been resurrected.[25] With regard to Io Paen, Lewis’s annotations explain, “In Greek mythology, Paean was healer to the gods, sometimes associated with Apollo. In this context, the Greek word IO is a triumphal shout of praise and thanksgiving.”[26] The mention here of Apollo is a fascinating one that will be revisited at the end of our analysis.[27]

Here the apologetic meaning once again makes itself known. By Vertue gaining a new heart we are reminded both of David’s plea, “God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10-12, CSB), as well as God’s promise in Ezekiel, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 35:26, CSB). We need new hearts, and only God can grant one.  Once again, the dragon, the evil, and the sin were not allowed to survive; rather they are put to the sword so that through God’s will His peace enters the lives of John and Vertue – nella sua voluntade.

The Lizard of Lust in The Great Divorce

Like Lewis’s previous dragons, the dragon in The Great Divorce breaks some archetypes but maintains others. The archetype of size is broken, as it is a diminutive lizard. Yet other physical characteristics are much more archetypal as it is a red reptilian with a twitching tail.[28] Once more, however, archetypes are broken for the effect it has upon the character. Because of its diminutive size, this reptile can sit upon the shoulder of a ghost and whisper cravings of sin to its ghost. The book identifies this as a lizard of lust, which is made clear only after it has been killed.[29] The reader, however, can still surmise the lizard’s evil. When the monster is threatened with death, he pleads with the ghost, and vileness drips at its every word: “I admit I’ve sometimes gone too far in the past, but I promise I won’t do it again. I’ll give you nothing but really nice dreams – all sweet and fresh and almost innocent.”[30] Surely if this whispering, taunting reptile is promising innocence now, he has done nothing but indecency and debauchery in the past.

Before this lizard is killed, the ghost seems to be of the simpering sort as well.  He is utterly changed, however, once the lizard is killed. In fact, even the lizard of lust is changed after being destroyed by an angel of light. Before the narrator’s eye, the broken lizard transforms into “the greatest stallion I have ever seen, silvery white but with a mane and tail of gold.”[31] The explanation offered for this episode is that “lust is a poor, weak, whimpering, whispering thing compared with that richness and energy of desire which will arise when lust has been killed.”[32] The ghostly man dominated by lust is only a shadow of what he could have been and is inexorably altered once lust had submitted to divine justice. Again, the reader sees nella sua voluntade. Lust had nearly destroyed the ghost, and the ghost was quite sure the destruction of the lizard would kill him, yet it was quite the opposite. The ghost’s passions were disordered, with erotic love having become perverted and ruling him. Once it is properly submitted to the divine, it could be re-ordered and turned into something else. Here, Lewis illustrates the principle that: “Love ceases to be a demon only when he ceases to be a god.”[33] Erotic love had become a demon in this man’s life, but by being re-ordered, nella sua voluntade was gained. God’s created order and will could shape the ghost’s reality and experience of love, instead of the distempered love being the ghost’s god.


Lewis’s notion of what constitutes a dragon finds its most profound illustration in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”[34] Lewis gives Eustace an inauspicious beginning as the opening sentence in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. This character also upholds and breaks archetypes of a dragon. It is broken because he begins not as a dragon, but as a boy, and as we will see this boy’s characteristics are much more dragonish than boyish.

His character is semi-contextualized, as Lewis describes the family relationship in detached terms: “He didn’t call his Father and Mother ‘Father’ and ‘Mother’ but Harold and Alberta. They were very up-to-date and advanced people. They were vegetarians, non-smokers and teetotalers, and wore a special kind of underclothes.”[35] His parents abstained from certain activities not from moral conviction but because they considered it modern advancement. Sadly, they are willing to sacrifice even parental bonds to their paradigm. Moreover, we can glean from the text that they raised their son in the same vein and to shun anything with a tint of the romantic.[36] The reader is able to infer this in two ways: first, by Eustace’s interaction with the numinous nature of Narnia and second, by Eustace’s impoverished imagination.

When Eustace first meets Reepicheep (a talking, knightly mouse who embodies the numinous character of Narnia), Eustace cries, “ugh take it away,…. I hate mice. And I never could bear performing animals. They’re silly and vulgar and – and sentimental.’”[37] In calling Reepicheep “sentimental,” Eustace reveals he has a misunderstanding of this word.  Eustace uses “sentimental” to dismiss Reepicheep, implying that any object evoking a tender emotion must be eschewed. Lewis’s chapter “Men with Chests” in the Abolition of Man sheds light on Eustace’s reaction to Reepicheep. Here Lewis notes, “The right defense against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments,” and it becomes increasingly clear that Harold and Alberta never instilled just sentiments in Eustace.[38] In fact, quite the opposite is true; they divorced him from them. This is poignantly depicted in having Eustace call his parents by their first names and not by familiar nomenclature. Eustace has thus been taught that emotional attachments and tender, loving sentiments are wrong. He then extrapolates these unjust sentiments into how he views and interacts with the world. Thus, Eustace sees the knightly, numinous, talking Reepicheep and categorically denies any goodness therein. Narnia, however, will help set right his wrongly inverted notions of just and unjust sentiments.

Also, Eustace has an impoverished imagination, which is a rich concept Lewis discusses in his essay “Bluspels and Flalansferes.” Here Lewis argues that “imagination is the natural organ of meaning.”[39] Eustace cannot discern the right meaning of things. When the painting of a Narnian ship comes to life, Eustace cannot make sense of it even when his “despairing cry suddenly ended as the water got into his mouth.”[40] Likewise, his imagination continues to misinterpret information when he meets a dragon and contemplates its treasure.[41]

These shortcomings display dragon-like qualities of selfishness and detachment from loving bonds akin to the Northern dragon. Yet, Eustace undergoes multiple transformations that ultimately lead to his salvation. Once again, through these transformations, Lewis upholds certain archetypes while others are broken, and all will be done for Eustace’s spiritual boon and benefit. Eustace’s transformation begins when the only semblance of humanity he has left is taken away, and his outer flesh is made to match his dragonish heart. Lewis describes Eustace’s transformation with: “He had turned into a dragon while he was asleep. Sleeping on a dragon’s hoard with greedy, dragonish thoughts in his heart, he had become a dragon himself.”[42] Eustace becomes the most fantastic of creatures that he does not have the sense to imagine and is almost immediately changed for the better:


He realized that he was a monster cut off from the whole human race. An appalling loneliness came over him. He began to see that the others had not really been friends at all. He began to wonder if he himself had been such a nice person as he had always supposed.[43]


The dragon body may have completed his removal from humanity, but his dragonish interior accomplished much of the alienation. Eustace’s heart, however, desires restoration, as his promising realizations that he is sinful indicate. He acts accordingly as he participates in needed work, is humble and kind towards Reepicheep, and is noted as more humane.[44]

Eustace is inwardly regaining his humanity, and Aslan (a lion and the Christ-like figure throughout the Narniad) aids in his final transformation. Aslan takes Eustace to a garden on the island with a well where Eustace attempts to peel off his scales with his claws three times to no avail.[45] Each time, he steps down into the water yet finds himself unchanged. Aslan informs him he cannot “undress” himself, but Aslan must do it for him.[46] Later, Eustace tells Edmund:


The very first tear [Aslan] made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt…Then he caught hold of me … and he threw me into the water.[47]


Eustace has been saved, and his humanity has been restored from the depths of his heart by being un-dragoned not by his own works but by the divine intervention of Aslan.

Eustace’s story of humanity lost and regained has several theological implications and symbolism. As alluded to previously, salvation is not of one’s own work but ultimately by grace. Yet faith without works is dead, which is implicated when Eustace’s treatment of the other crew members dramatically improves.[48] In essence, Eustace must submit to Aslan tearing off his former self and be made new by the water in which Aslan throws him. It is a heuristic symbol for both the reader and Eustace. Eustace learns to embrace faith, courage, compassion, and selflessness, and we see Biblical parallels of old flesh being cast off and water symbolizing a life made new.[49] Thus, in some ways, Lewis upholds the archetype of the dragon as a selfish, greedy monster. Yet, it was really the boy who was the monster, who became the dragon, and because of  Aslan’s intervention and Eustace’s submission, the monster became a hero. He was granted his spiritual boon, and once again we see nella sua voluntade.

Who Killed the Dragons?

Throughout all of Lewis’s dragons there are several recurrent themes. First, Lewis is obviously aware of the dragon archetypes and is clearly willing to break them. However, this is not a haphazard defiance of tradition. It is always for the spiritual boon of the character, and to bring about the will of God in the character’s life so that they may have peace – even eternal peace – through nella sua voluntade.

Second, the reader also sees the consistent divine intervention in slaying the dragons. Yet there is an interesting interplay with the three narratives concerning the absolute necessity for Divine intervention for the dragon to be dispatched, and human responsibility in the Divine’s call for righteousness and justice. For example, in The Pilgrim’s Regress, John and Vertue had the sure-sighted angel who helped gird and guide them on their quest: “‘Courage,’ said Slikisteinsauga, ‘you are seeing the land as it really is.’”[50] That is, the guide helps convey right seeing and understanding to the duo, thus fortifying them for their quest. The angel even tells John and Vertue what they must do and why it must be done: “And you, John, when we pass the Isthmus must go up and contend with him that you may be hardened…. And to her, you, Vertue, must go down that you may steal her heat and be made malleable.”[51] John and Vertue must follow through, wield the sword, and do what their divine help guide has said to do. Likewise, the dragonish lizard in The Great Divorce is defeated with the help of divine intercession. Again, there is the same interesting interplay: the angel intercedes, kills the beast, but tells the ghost, “I cannot kill it against your will. It is impossible. Have I your permission?”[52] The ghost gives way despite its deep fear, and the angel dispatches the torturing demon. The angel offers to kill the creature a dozen times before the ghost relents, and when he finally does, it is a tortured reply: “‘Damn and blast you! Go, can’t you? Get it over. Do what you like,’ bellowed the Ghost: but ended, whimpering, ‘God help me. God help me.’”[53] The ghost gives his permission, relies upon the Lord, and submits to divine justice. Finally, no matter how many times Eustace attempted to rid himself of the scales, he simply could not do so on his own. Aslan had to save and transform Eustace. Once again, the main character submits to holy justice and is shown great mercy. All three characters undergo divine intercession for their hearts to change, and to look away from sin and towards righteousness. After their hearts change, the dragons are dispatched. Their humanity is altered from the inside out.

Although utilizing archetypes and the need for divine intervention are recurrent themes in Lewis’s work, we have also seen a key difference – the terms used to describe the dragons. For instance, in The Pilgrim’s Regress the dragon refers to itself as a worm, “[t]hough worm grows not to dragon till he eat worm.”[54] In The Great Divorce the dragon is a diminutive lizard. Although  “worm and lizard” could cause confusion even about their definitive dragon status, these terms do actually apply to dragons. Additionally, they work together with the ideas of broken archetypes and divine intervention, which edges us ever closer to answering who killed the dragon. In his book Planet Narnia, Michael Ward illuminates Lewis’s integration of these concepts. Although   this statement is made in reference to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, it can apply elsewhere in Lewis’s oeuvre.  Ward says, “[T]he Greek sun-god, Apollo, was famously a killer of dragons. He was known as ‘apollo Sauracotonus’, Apollo the Lizard-slayer. ‘Saura’ is the Greek word for Lizard or serpent or worm or dragon (a ‘dinosaur’ is a monstrous lizard).”[55] This is helpful for several reasons. First, it casts light on utilizing the words lizard and worm as these words came from one Greek root. Second, this explanation also shows the archetype of divine intervention since Apollo was the sun god. Moreover, the reference to Apollo also interacts with the use and breaking of archetypes. For instance, the use of the sun-god as the dragon slayer breaks the archetype of a fiery dragon destroying prey with blasts of flames and puts fire and light into the hands of he who slays dragons – Apollo.  Second, we see Apollo’s characteristic of light and fire in The Pilgrim’s Regress and The Great Divorce.  Even though the Northern dragon lacks fire, we should  note that there is a play with the concept as Lewis utilizes fire’s polar opposite, ice. Thus, Lewis does not altogether abandon the concept here, instead he  uses the converse to give the dragon a maleficent edge and consequently John his spiritual boon. The fire of the Southern dragon sets alight and resurrects life in John’s conscience. The ghost feels the angel of light, who is even called “The Burning One,” setting him ablaze as the angel kills the ghost’s dragon.[56] Finally, according to Ward, Aslan as the sun god figure with dragon-slaying capabilities runs deep in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.[57]

Moreover, in addition to Lewis’s subtle references to Apollo as the dragon slayer, those who slay the dragons in Lewis’s work are either Christ-like figures or his mediators (that is, angels). Thus, Lewis builds a link between Apollo and Christ. Certainly, Christ and Apollo are not synonymous, but they share two obvious characteristics that are relevant in this discussion.  First is Christ as He who crushes the serpent’s head at Golgotha, and second are His statements identifying Himself with light: “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12, CSB) and “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4, NIV). Therefore, Christ is the true light of the Word and the Son of God. This is where Lewis sets up and breaks his final archetype. Although Lewis draws on Apollo and his characteristics such as sun, light, fire and dragon slaying, ultimately throughout the books it is not Apollo who killed the dragon. Nor is it Apollo’s divine intervention that helps the heroes and grants them their soul’s boon. It is God.

In conclusion, Lewis shows us dragons through the prism of archetypes, literary traditions, their brutish characteristics, and even how we may identify with them in both disarming and alarming ways. We see over and over again that Lewis purposefully breaks the archetype not to cast off tradition, but rather to teach us profound truths about our souls and our soul’s need for salvation. We see that even though characters participate in the quest against dragons and may even wield the sword, it really is the Divine that kills the dragon. This slaying is always done for nella sua voluntade – for God’s will to reign so that His peace can enter our lives.  Simply put, our human will leads to our eternal death, but His will leads to the death of our sin, the destruction of our pride, and our eternal life.  In the end, it is Christ who killed the dragon.


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Citation Information

Elizabeth Martin, “Nella Sua Voluntade,” An Unexpected Journal: Dragons 5, no. 1. (Summer 2022), 139-157.


[1] “In his will is our peace.” C.S. Lewis, The Pilgrim’s Regress: Wade Annotated Edition, ed., David C. Downing (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2014), 176.

[2] In his annotations C.S. Lewis notes that a “worm” is: “an archaic word for dragon.” Ibid., 201.

[3] Ibid., 181

[4] Ibid., 197.

[5] Ibid., 200.

[6] Ibid., 201.

[7] Ibid., 200.

[8] In annotations. Ibid., 176.

[9] In annotations Ibid., 176.

[10] Dante Alighieri, Inferno, Canto 34, lines 28 and 29.  ed. and trans. Anthony Esolen, Modern Library (New York: The Modern Library, 2003).

[11] Ibid., line 52.

[12] Ibid., lines 136-139.

[13] Lewis, The Pilgrim’s Regress, 181.

[14] Ibid., 198.

[15] Ibid., 198

[16] Ibid., 200.

[17] C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: Harper One, 1996), 130.

[18] Lewis, The Pilgrim’s Regress, 181.

[19] Ibid., 200.

[20] Ibid., 181.

[21]In annotations Ibid., 29 .

[22] Ibid., 201.

[23] Ibid., 200.

[24] Ibid., 202.

[25] Ibid., 202.

[26] Ibid., 202.

[27] Michael Ward, Planet Narnia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 113.

[28] C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce (New York: Harper One, 2001), 106.

[29] Ibid.,  114.

[30] Ibid., 110.

[31] Ibid., 111.

[32]  Ibid, 114.

[33] C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (Harper One: New York, 2017), 8.

[34] C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (New York: Harper Collins, 1982), 425.

[35] Ibid., 425.

[36] Here I use romantic not as in eros but as in Lewis’s depiction of it in C.S. Lewis, “On Stories,” in Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories (New York: Harper One, 1994), 3-31.

[37] Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, 425

[38]C.S. Lewis, “Men without Chests,” in The Abolition of Man (New York: Harper One, 2001), 14.

[39]C.S. Lewis, “Bluspels and Flalansferes,” in Selected Literary Essays (ed. Walter Hooper; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), 265.

[40] Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, 428.

[41]Ibid., 464.

[42] Ibid., 466.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid., 471-472.

[45] Ibid., 474.

[46] Ibid., 472.

[47] Ibid., 475.

[48] James 2:14, CSB.

[49]  Ephesians 4:22, CSB.

[50]  Lewis, The Pilgrim’s Regress, 181.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Ibid., 109.

[53] Lewis, The Great Divorce, 110.

[54]  Lewis, The Pilgrim’s Regress, 198.

[55] Ward, Planet Narnia, 113.

[56] Ibid., 111.

[57] Ibid., 108-120.