Digory Kirke

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Digory Kirke
Narnia character
JimBroadbentDigoryKirke.jpg
Jim Broadbent as the adult Digory Kirke in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Race Human
Nation England
Gender Male
Birthplace England, Earth
Family
Parents Mr. Kirke and Mrs. Mabel Ketterley-Kirke
Family Andrew Ketterley (uncle), Letitia Ketterley (aunt)
Major character in
Portrayals in adaptations
1988 BBC miniseries: Michael Aldridge
2005 Walden/Disney film: Jim Broadbent

Digory Kirke is a fictional character from C. S. Lewis' fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia. He appears in three of the seven books: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Magician's Nephew, and The Last Battle, and is mentioned in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

In the 2005 film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, he is played as an adult by Jim Broadbent.

Biography[edit]

The Magician's Nephew[edit]

In The Magician's Nephew, the sixth book to be published but the first in the chronology of Narnia, Digory is a young boy. He lives in London with his Uncle Andrew and Andrew's sister Aunt Letty, because his father is away in India, and his mother is deathly ill. Andrew, an eccentric, alcoholic and manipulative old man, has made magic rings that allow whoever wears them to travel to other worlds by passing through the Wood between the Worlds, although he knows nothing of this place. Uncle Andrew first tricks Digory's friend Polly Plummer into trying one of the yellow rings. When she disappears, he then blackmails his nephew into following her with another ring in order to bring her back. Upon meeting Polly, the two agree to go back into the pool that will lead them home; Digory, however, persuades Polly to first try one of the many other pools. They find themselves in a completely abandoned world called Charn, over which a dying red sun hangs. In a great hall, they find a hall full of wax figures, and a golden bell with a little hammer and an inscription. Although Polly is vehemently opposed to it, Digory rings the bell, thus breaking the enchantment that holds Jadis, the future White Witch, in an enchanted sleep. After finding out that she is a powerful sorceress who destroyed her entire world with one word, they try to escape her but instead find she follows them into the Wood Between the Worlds by clutching onto both of them. Upon arriving there, they realize she is severely weakened by the Wood Between the Worlds and they try to return home without her. However, Jadis grabs Digory's ear at the last moment when they jump into the home pool and arrives in Uncle Andrew's study in all her exotic glory and superhuman dimensions and strength; although minus her sorcerous powers. Digory resolves to take her back to Charn after she causes havoc in London for an afternoon, but instead brings her (and accidentally Uncle Andrew, and a cabbie and his horse) into the newly created Narnia. There, they witness the dawning of the world of which Narnia is the heart. Jadis runs away after failing to hurt Aslan the world's creator, with an iron bar which she previously broke off a London gas lamp-post. In order for Digory to repair the wrong he did by striking the bell in Charn and bringing evil into Narnia,Aslan sends him and Polly on a mission across the mountains on a flying horse to retrieve an apple from a mysterious locked garden, which promises to grant anyone who eats an apple their heart's desire. Jadis has made it there first and has already eaten at least one of the apples. She tries to tempt Digory first into eating an apple himself, and then stealing one to take back to his mother who is close to death. Feeling great conflict and lost hope, but clinging onto the values of honesty and property, Digory turns down her urgings and makes his escape, returning the apple to Aslan, who instructs him to plant it by the river. Within hours, a seed of apple grows into a magical tree, which Aslan promises will keep the Witch at bay for many hundreds of Narnian years. With Aslan's permission and blessing, Digory is then freely able to take an apple from this tree back to the normal world, where his mother eats it and is miraculously cured of her illness, Digory's heart's desire. With Polly's help, Digory then buries all the magic rings and the apple core behind the Ketterly's house. In time to come, a seed from that apple grows into a new tree which bear's non-magical but excellent fruit. In the end of the book, it is reported that many years later, it blows down in a storm. Not having the heart to turn it into firewood, Digory has part of it crafted into a wardrobe. It is this wardrobe which later becomes the portal to Narnia in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe[edit]

40 years later, in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie stay with the now 52-year-old Professor Kirke at his house in the country during The Blitz of London. The four children discover Narnia via a wardrobe, revealed at the end of The Magician's Nephew to have been made from the wood of the tree which grew from the apple Digory had fed to his sick mother. After Lucy visits Narnia for the first time and her siblings do not believe her story, Kirke speaks to them wisely and shows them that she is logically likely to be telling the truth. The professor's first name of Digory is not used in the text.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader[edit]

In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, it is mentioned in passing that Professor Kirke has lost his fortune and has had to downsize to a cottage with only one spare bedroom. (This explains why Edmund and Lucy, at the beginning of the book, are forced to stay with their cousin Eustace Scrubb when their parents and Susan go abroad, with only Peter being able to stay with the professor so as to be tutored for his upcoming university examinations.)

The Last Battle[edit]

In The Last Battle, Digory dies in a train accident and is pulled into Narnia, with the other listed major characters. He and Polly (age 60 and 61), both become young again. They are thus allowed to take up lives in New Narnia. The Last Battle also notes that, prior to the events of the book, Digory, Polly, the Pevensie siblings (with the exception of Susan, who comes to believe that Narnia was a youthful fantasy), Eustace, and Jill Pole had been gathering on occasion as "friends of Narnia", to reminisce about their various adventures.

Portrayals[edit]

Michael Aldridge as Digory in the 1988 BBC miniseries adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Jim Broadbent as the adult Digory Kirke in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Michael Aldridge played Digory in the 1988 BBC miniseries adaptation.

Jim Broadbent played the character in the 2005 film.

References[edit]

  • Ford, Paul (2005), Digory Kirke (in The Companion to Narnia: A Complete Guide to the Magical World of C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia), HarperSanFrancisco, ISBN 0-06-079127-6