Solving the problem of evil in the twenty-first century



In C.S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the Duffers are a group of creatures who live isolated on island.  These Dufflepuds have only one leg, with a very large foot, an attribute which they were given as punishment by a magician.  These creatures, which are directly related to the monopod of medieval times, reflect Lewis’s education in medieval mythology.  But more importantly there place in the story reveals their connection to the other monstrous races, which were used during the Crusades as examples of creatures who needed to be converted.  In The Voyage the Dufflepuds make themselves invisible because they have been “uglified”, and they are only made visible again by Lucy.  Lucy and the others traveling on the Dawn Treader discover the island and its inhabitants while on a journey of discovery, and proceed to teach them useful skills and maneuvers for their single leg.  This discovery of an invisible mythological creature directly relates to the Crusades, and its mission to find the various races around the world and convert them to Christianity.  The ugliness of the Dufflepuds was given to them as punishment, just as during the Crusades the ugliness of the monstrous race was given to them for their sins; the Dufflepuds are invisible, just as were the monsters of medieval times; and both, most obviously, have only one foot.  The key difference, of course, is that here the monopods are actually found, and in so being are given help and guidance from the members of the Dawn Treader.  The pleasant and gentle aspect of the two groups’ interactions is in stark contrast to the brutality of the Crusades.  Here Lewis, by revealing the mystery of the monster, removes the fear of the unknown, and in so doing removes the justification for the brutality of Crusading conversion.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


One response

  1. Elizabeth Hinojos

    I find it interesting that these adorable creatures would be representative of the natives who were taken advantage of during the Crusades. I like how the illustration of the Dufflepuds evoke a sense of innocence, just as the individuals who the crusaders “conquered” were innocent as well; fascinating comparison.

    April 9, 2011 at 5:55 pm

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