Digory goes and opens up a Pandora’s Box!
“What a queer place!” said Digory.
“I don’t like it,” said Polly with something like a shudder.
But of course Digory drags her along to satiate his curiosity.
They stood still and listened, but all they could hear was the thump-thump of their own hearts. This place was at least as quiet as the Wood between the Worlds. But it was a different kind of quietness. The silence of the Wood had been rich and warm (you could almost hear the trees growing) and full of life: this was a dead, cold, empty silence. You couldn’t imagine anything growing in it.
So this chapter combines the idea of Pandora’s Box with some thematic elements from the Genesis story – namely, the reason behind the Fall of Man. Pandora’s Box is all about how a silly woman got too curious for her own good and released all kinds of evil on mankind. The Genesis account is about ambition. Man wished to be like God, so he broke the one command God had given him, thus sundering Man from God.
But now a great wonder happened: for, as they looked, though the shape of the strange letters never altered, they found that they could understand them. If only Digory had remembered what he himself had said a few minutes ago, that this was an enchanted room, he might have guessed that the enchantment was beginning to work. But he was too wild with curiosity to think about that.
Make your choice, adventurous Stranger;
Strike the bell and bide the danger,
Or wonder, till it drives you mad,
What would have followed if you had.
Digory is “just curious,” like Pandora, but what drives him to sin is ambition – a desire for knowledge that only God knows, at any cost. And it’s no coincidence that he suddenly starts acting like Uncle Andrew (misogyny and all). He’s imitating the ambitious person who believes rules to be beneath him.
I can’t excuse what he did next except by saying that he was very sorry for it afterward (and so were a good many other people).
Then he opens the box.
Until next time…