The penultimate Narnian story is in many ways concerned with up and down: from the heights of Aslan's Mountains to the depths of Bism the tale is much more vertical, compared with the horizontal adventure of Dawn Treader. It is also in many ways much more sad or dark. The opening scene with the children at Experiment House on the dreariest of afternoons is only amplified by the gloom of aged, enfeebled, and heartbroked Caspian's final voyage. Gone are the peaceful days and adventures of the last book. For the rest of the book, when they are not traveling through night on the backs of owls, the marshes of Ettinsmoor, the wintery ruins beyond the River Shribble, or through the caves of Underland, the children are rained upon by the constant flow of Marshwiggle pessimism. The whole thrust of the narrative is urgent and serious.
I love Puddleglum. (BBC's Tom Baker, strangely hilarious, always comes to mind.) Perhaps he's a variation on the reedy water god from Prince Caspian, or Grimm's Frog Prince with whom something went horribly wrong in the transformation. The "sad clown" effect of his pessimism (amplified by the accusations from his peers that he is not down to earth enough) works not only as a comic factor, but reveals a character of unswerving and simple loyalty, a hope beyond optimism, beyond fear. An extremely lovable character.
I find some tastes of Euridice's tragic wedding day in the death of Ramandu's daughter. Also of Guinevere a-maying with Sir Pelleas and others before an adventure befell. The ugliness-by-proximity of Jonathan Swift's giants are also evident in Lewis's. Also I can't get enough of the human part of the centaur's breakfast. I asked Jessica if she would make it for me some time, maybe the day before I run a marathon, or in celebration of graduating from grad school.