The Professor From The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Explained

Summary

  • The character Professor Digory Kirke from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has a backstory that is explained in another book in the series, The Magician’s Nephew.
  • Digory visited Narnia as a child and played a key role in its creation and the origin of the magical wardrobe.
  • Digory reappears in The Last Battle and joins the final battle of Narnia, ultimately being granted access to Aslan’s Country for eternity.


The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a 2005 fantasy film that is treasured by many people. Despite his small role in the movie, the professor who took in the Pevensie children, Digory Kirke, made an impression. Many people remember him as the kindly old man who convinced Peter and Susan to believe Lucy’s claims that the wardrobe in the spare room leads to a magical land called Narnia.

Viewers who have not read the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis may not realize that the reason Digory was so quick to believe Lucy. His belief stems from the fact he had also visited Narnia when he was a child. The book The Magician’s Nephew, which has not been adapted into a movie, serves as a prequel to the events of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It details Digory’s adventures in Narnia and the origin of the wardrobe.

Updated by Jordan Iacobucci on January 8, 2024: The Chronicles of Narnia is set for a new reboot with Barbie director Greta Gerwig at the helm. On the cusp of this new dawn for the beloved franchise, some supporting characters are finally set to get their due, including the ever-mysterious Professor Digory Kirke.


Digory Kirke Has a Story of His Own

Professor Digory Kirke in Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

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Books (in Chronological Order)

Year of Release

The Magician’s Nephew

1955

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

1950

The Horse and His Boy

1954

Prince Caspian

1951

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

1952

The Silver Chair

1953

The Last Battle

1956

In The Magician’s Nephew, Digory and his friend Polly get thrust into the barren world of Charn, where they find a hall containing statues of the previous rulers and a bell. Overcome by curiosity and temptation, Digory rings the bell and awakens the evil Queen Jadis who destroyed Charn and plans to conquer Earth. After briefly ending up in London where Jadis wreaks havoc, they are transported into a world where nothing exists until they hear Aslan the lion sing. As Aslan sings, the world, which would then be known as Narnia, springs to life around them, mirroring the Story of Creation in the Bible.

Since Digory introduced evil into the world of Narnia, Aslan sends him on a task to redeem himself. Similar to the story of Adam and Eve, Digory is tasked with entering a garden and retrieving an apple without eating it. Jadis tells Digory that eating the apple will grant him immortality, and she further suggests taking one home to his ailing mother. Having learned from his mistake of awakening Jadis by ringing the bell, Digory resists her temptation and returns to Aslan with the apple. After Digory plants the apple, it sprouts into a tree that will protect Narnia from Jadis for centuries. To reward Digory for learning his lesson about temptation, Aslan allows him to take an apple from the Tree of Protection back to his mother, and she soon overcomes her illness.

Not only did Digory see the creation of Narnia and learn a valuable lesson about temptation, but he was also the one who built the wardrobe. After his mother eats the apple from the Tree of Protection, Digory plants the apple core in his backyard, and it grows into a beautiful tree. Years later, a storm fells the tree, and Digory cannot stand the idea of letting it be turned into firewood considering that it grew from the core of the apple that came from the Tree of Protection and cured his mother. The tree itself may not be magical, but it serves as a reminder of Digory’s life-changing adventure in Narnia, so in order to keep the memories alive, Digory turns the tree into a beautiful wardrobe that would later serve as a portal to Narnia in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Digory Kirke Is the Wise Observer of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Lucy clings to Professor Digory Kirke in Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

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The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Reception

IMDB Rating

Rotten Tomatoes Score

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score

6.9/10

75%

61%

While The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe isn’t Digory’s story, he nevertheless kick-starts the adventure, and therefore, the entire fantasy franchise. When a sobbing Lucy runs into his arms, instead of reprimanding the children like the crotchety Mrs. Macready, Professor Kirke goes out of his way to have a heart-to-heart with them. When Peter and Susan explain to Digory that Lucy claims to have found a magical land in the wardrobe, rather than dismissing it as a figment of Lucy’s imagination, he encourages the two older siblings to believe her, especially since she’s never lied to them before, unlike Edmund.

Digory knows about the existence of Narnia considering that he saw its creation with his own eyes and learned some lessons that he carried with him into his adulthood. He wants the Pevensie children to experience Narnia themselves because they have some valuable lessons to learn, too. For example, Edmund needs to ditch his manipulative tendencies and learn to be a kinder person in general, and Susan must learn to open her mind to new things even if they defy her worldview. Digory knows that an experience in Narnia will be good for the children, so he gently encourages them to believe in the magical kingdom. When they burst out of the wardrobe at the end of the movie, Digory is delighted to see that they discovered Narnia, and he encourages them to tell him all about their journey. He’s pleased about the fact that he successfully spread the word about Narnia.

What Happens To Digory Kirke?

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Professor Digory Kirke makes another appearance in The Last Battle, the final installment of The Chronicles of Narnia. In the book, he and the Pevensies, excluding Susan (who had come to believe that Narnia was a figment of her imagination), have an encounter with a mysterious apparition which they believe to be Narnian. They attempt to find a way into the fantasy world through the original rings that Digory had used as a child. However, the four heroes are tragically killed in a railway accident. At the moment of their deaths, Digory and the Pevensies get transported to Narnia one last time.

The four heroes join in the final battle of Narnia, alongside several other returning heroes from previous books, including the Pevensies’ cousin Eustace Scrubb. Eventually, the evil stemming from the Shadowlands is eradicated and Narnia is restored through cleansing fire. For their heroism, Professor Kirke and the Pevensies are granted access to Aslan’s Country, where they live for eternity.

Though he may have been little more than a supporting character in the films, Professor Digory Kirke is a vital character in the Narnia books. When Greta Gerwig’s films reboot the series, however, audiences should expect to see a lot more of Digory and his story.

Poster of The Chronicles of Narnia The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Four kids travel through a wardrobe to the land of Narnia and learn of their destiny to free it with the guidance of a mystical lion.

Release Date
December 9, 2005

Director
Andrew Adamson

Cast
Anna Popplewell , William Moseley , Skandar Keynes , Georgie Henley , Tilda Swinton , Liam Neeson

Rating
PG

Runtime
2 hours 23 minutes

Genres
Adventure , Family

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