This chapter, Edmund tries to convince himself that he’s not really betraying his siblings, and thus he walks straight into the Witch’s hands.
You mustn’t think even now Edmund was quite so bad that he actually wanted his brother and sisters to be turned into stone. He did want Turkish Delight and to be a Prince (and later a King) and to pay Peter back for calling him a beast. As for what the Witch would do with the others, he didn’t want her to be particularly nice to them – certainly not to put them on the same level as himself; but he managed to believe, or to pretend he believed, that she wouldn’t do anything very bad to them. […] It wasn’t a very good excuse, however, for deep down inside him he really knew that the White Witch was bad and cruel.
When he finally approaches the House, even he thinks it’s scary, and then he finds the gate just standing wide open. Somehow, this is way creepier than any description of the architecture, because she’s supposed to be a queen, yet the door to her house is just sitting open with no hint of a guard – just that long, silent courtyard full of eerily life-like statues. It absolutely reeks of a trap, but as usual, Edmund is too stupid to realize it (yeah, yeah, I know, he’s enchanted – but he’s really stupid, too).
In addition to being a show of immense power (or at least immense confidence), the empty courtyard shows exactly what kind of ruler the White Witch is: One who freezes life, who prefers to frighten her subjects into submission than to enrich them. It feels like any moment, any wrong move in her house could incur the Witch’s wrath and a swift and lethal judgement. It’s the polar opposite (some pun intended) of the Jovial ruler, who brings love and life and laughter to his people and generally puts their wellbeing above his own.
Edmund finds the Witch’s brand of ultimate power attractive, but only in theory. He wants the power to “pay back” the people that have slighted him (mainly Peter), but he fails to recognize that anyone who has that kind of power would hardly be inclined toward offering to help with his petty ambitions.
Edmund stood and waited, his fingers aching with cold and his heart pounding in his chest, and presently the great wolf, Maugrim, the Chief of the Witch’s Secret Police, came bounding back and said, “Come in! Come in! Fortunate favorite of the Queen – or else not so fortunate.”
And Edmund went in, taking care not to tread on the Wolf’s paws.
That last phrase is an apt metaphor for Edmund’s situation – trying not to tread on the Wolf’s paws. You get the feeling that Edmund is not the first of the Queen’s “favorites.” Also, just a reminder that the White Witch has a Secret Police Force.
Poor Edmund. You have no idea the depth of the trouble you’re causing.
Next chapter: The time finally comes. Yup, we’re approaching that awful, infamous line and all its implications. Expect a bit of ranting, and a great deal of discussion about Lewis’s attitudes toward women.