In the 1970s, the anthropological philosopher René Girard presented his theory of the scapegoat mechanism, a theory that explained how social groups control violence with an internal system of ritual and social behavior. At the time, he saw this model repeated throughout history, mythology, and literature, but the ability of Girard’s theories to explain recognizable patterns of human violence have led to their increasing popularity since the attacks of September 11, 2001. Intriguingly, the scapegoat mechanism that Girard recognized is not only at work in C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but it shapes the structure and outline of the story. While this book was first written shortly after World War II, over the years it has been adapted into film and radio plays, most of which have repeated the scapegoating model. In 2005, however, Disney released The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which appears, in places, to be less comfortable with this model than the earlier adaptations. An understanding of the implications of the most recent adaptation and its relationship to the scapegoating model must begin in an understanding of what the scapegoating model is and how it works in Lewis’s text.
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