Group Title: last battle
Title: The Last battle:
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Title: The Last battle: violence and theology in the novels of C. S. Lewis
Physical Description: iv, 192 leaves. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: McKenzie, Patricia Alice
Publication Date: 1974
Copyright Date: 1974
Subject: English thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- English -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis -- University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 186-191.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00098340
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000582541
oclc - 14121150
notis - ADB0918


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In memory of

my cousins

Bernard Carrather

d. St. Lo 1944


Christopher Lyon

d. Southeast Asia 1968

Thou turnest man to
destruction; again
thou sayest,. Come again,
ye children of men.

Ps. 90:3


I wish to acknowledge the assistance of those who made

this study possible. To my committee chairman, Dr. J. Benedict

Pickard, I am grateful for constructive criticism. The encourage-

ment of Dr. Corbin Scott Carnell, in a class which dealt with

Lewis and later in the.course of this study, has been deeply

appreciated. I am also indebted to Dr. Gay-Crosier, the third

member of my committee, whose teaching of French literature has

provided an additional perspective for my work in English


Though not members of my committee, Dr. Lotte Graeffe and

Dr. Winifred Frazer have given me support and advice. Becky

Gordon and Nancy McDavid have come to my aid with the task of

typing the manuscript. My niece, Jennifer Winslow Hanson,

has shared with me her ideas about the Narnia stories.

I appreciate the influence of my late colleague at Emory,

Miss Evalene Parsons Jackson, who first aroused my interest in

C. S. Lewis' books for children. Finally, I wish to express

my gratitude to my mother, Alice Lyon McKenzie, whose financial

assistance and moral support have enabled me to complete this




The struggle between good and evil was a central concern of

C. S. Lewis, recurring in his theological writings, in his novels

for adults, and in the Narnia Chronicles which he wrote for children.

The extent to which Lewis' assumptions about the nature of good

and evil may have fostered violent solutions to the conflicts

posed in his novels deserves more detailed consideration than it

has previously received. In my survey of critical writings on

C. S. Lewis, I have discovered a number of references to his

concept of battle but this element has not been the focus of

extended treatment. Dainis Bisenieks, Kathryn Lindskoog and

Elizabeth Ann Parker have pointed out the importance of warfare

in the Narnia series. Margaret R. Grennan, Charles Moorman,

Robert Reilly, Nathan Comfort Starr, Gunnar Urand and, in

particular, William Luther White have drawn attention to the

concept of battle underlying Lewis' novels for adults. In

approaching this topic, a brief summary of Lewis' exposure to

violence in his own life is of interest.i

Perhaps one episode in Lewis' early life, antedating his

war experience, accounts for a certain sense of being faced by

hostile forces. Born in 1898 in Northern Ireland, Lewis suffered

the loss of his mother during his boyhood. This loss, followed

by an increasing estrangement from their father, drove Lewis and

his brother to form a kind of shield-wall against an unfriendly

world. William Luther White quotes the mature Lewis on his

personal outlook:

'To this day,' he said, 'the vision of the world
which comes most naturally to me is one in which
"we two" or "we few" (and in a sense "we happy
few") stand together against something stronger
and larger.'1

Perhaps his later identification with the "Inklings," a literary

group that met in the unsympathetic environment of Oxford where

Lewis taught for many years, represented a continuation of a

siege mentality developed early in life.2

Lewis had described much of his early schooling as unhappy.

In one respect, his service in World War I offered him something

his school years had lacked.

I am surprised that I did not dislike the army
more. It was, of course, detestable. But the
words "of course" drew the sting. That is where
it differed from Wyvern. One did not expect
to like it. Nobody said you ought to like it.
Nobody pretended to like it. Everyone you met
took it for granted that the whole thing was an
odious necessity, a ghastly interruption of
rational life. And that made all the difference.

The comradeship Lewis experienced in the army was not limited to

the men of his own side. In his early days of trench warfare,

when Lewis suggested poopingg" a rifle grenade into a German

post, a sergeant gently deterred him, introducing Lewis to "the

neighborly principles which, by the tacit agreement of the troops,

were held to govern trench warfare," (Surprised y Joy, p. 194).

Lewis reached the front on his 19th birthday, in November 1917,

and saw most of his service around villages before Arras. In April

of the following year he was wounded near Lilliers. His account

of these happenings is much more understated than, for example,

Robert Graves' Goodbye to All That. Indeed, John Wain has accused

Lewis of repressing the type of personal reactions that would have

been appropriate to an autobiographical writer. Lewis' autobio-

graphy, however, is more concerned with his intellectual life and

with his conversion to Anglicanism than with other matters; so

the reader must glean what he can from the brief comments about

Lewis' war experience in Surprised by Joy. Two things stand

out: Lewis' state of mind when he enlisted and the admiration

for ordinary men which he developed in the process of trench


As a native of Ireland, Lewis was exempt from the conscription

which applied to English boys of his age. He made the decision

to enter the army but does not describe his reasoning at length:

I did not much plume myself even then for
deciding to serve, but I did feel that the
decision absolved me from taking any further
notice of the war...Accordingly I put the war
on one side to a degree which some people will
think shameful and some incredible. Others
will call it a flight from reality. I main-
tain that it was rather a treaty with reality.
(Surprised by Joy, p. 158)


Lewis felt that by adopting this attitude he was "fixing a

frontier," indicating his willingness to die in his country's

wars if need be, but refusing to let them occupy his attention.

He was determined to live his own life and felt skeptical about

the reliability of information which reached England from the

front. For this reason he avoided reading about the war and

engaging in conversations about it, except those of the most

superficial sort. Those who consider his position escapist

could find material to ponder in a comment on Lewis by Lee

Rossi, who believes he

seems to have had a horror of revolutionary
Leftism as hopelessly philistine and, in
extremity, wicked...Lewis' concern with
politics and his flight from political
society into fantasy is a response to a situa-
tion in which all political and social reali-
ties assumed a threatening aspect. These
realities--his family, his schools, and Europe
of the First World War--presented a panorama
of such self-seeking that he despaired of the
public world.4

In one respect, at least, the war introduced Lewis to a type

of reality he had seldom encountered in his middle-class, academic

surroundings: the outlook of the average person. Along with the

hardships and horror of the war--the corpses, the experience of

falling asleep while marching and waking up still marching--

Lewis discovered a happier reality.

I came to know and pity and reverence the
ordinary man: particularly dear Sergeant
Ayres, who was (I suppose) killed by the
same shell that wounded me. I was a futile
officer (they gave commissions too easily
then), a puppet moved about by him, and he

turned this ridiculous and painful
relation into something beautiful, became
to me almost like a father. (Surprised by Joy, p. 195)

Out of all his war experiences, what Lewis seems to remember most

vividly is the moment he first heard the sound of a bullet, a

sound signaling, "This is War. This is what Homer wrote about."

In a lecture given years later Lewis refers to his youthful expecta-

tion that life in the trenches would be "all war," and to his

dawning realization that "the nearer you got to the front lines

the less everyone spoke and thought of the allied cause and the

progress of the campaign." Lewis adds that Tolstoi and Homer

have successfully captured this aspect of war.

Many of his own comments give an understated impression of

the war; at one point a more emotional note occurs when he mentions

"the unskilled butchery of the first German War," (Surprised by

Joy, p. 158), but on the whole his remarks are restrained. In a

letter, however, Lewis revealed that his experience in the war

haunted his dreams for years (Image of Man, p. 177). If Lewis'

autobiographical account gives little direct information about

this time, his fictional works have obviously absorbed many of

his impressions of what battle is like. Much in Lewis' earlier

fiction supports White's contention that his "imagery of war often

suggests more nearly the chivalry of medieval battle than it does

the horrors of modern warfare," (Image of Man, p. 176). Evidence

can also be found for White's judgment that

Lewis has no sympathy for the sort of semi-
pacifism which fills a soldier with shame
for fighting and robs him of the gaity (sic)

and wholeheartedness which are the natural
accompaniments of courage. (Image of Man, p. 157)

In The Problem of Pain, Lewis includes the authority of the soldier,

derived from civil society, among sanctions to hurt or even to

kill one's fellow, adding that, in addition to such authority,

there must also be an urgent necessity and an obvious good to be


White, who has given more attention to Lewis' views of war

than have other critics, asserts that "Lewis's reflections upon

warfare are certain to strike many readers as inadequate, if not

callous and uncompassionate." According to White, Lewis' view

of war "seemed to be dominated by an individualistic perspective,

in which the major issue involved either private salvation or

private damnation." White believes that Lewis failed to grasp

the fact that war is an event in the life of society as well as

in the lives of individuals. Further, he maintains that

Lewis never concluded that war itself is a fundamental
evil. He viewed battle as a rather neutral affair
through which certain souls are dispatched to their
ultimate destinies. (Image of Man, pp. 176-77)

To the extent that this charge is true, Lewis' outlook would seem

more reminiscent of the Bhagavad-Gita than of other writers of

modern fiction who "are more sensitive to the consequences of

war than was Lewis." In sum, notes White, Lewis "tended too

quickly to accept evil (even war) as spiritually useful," (Image

of Man, p. 180).

In attempting to assess the accuracy of this charge, the

reader will be struck by Lewis' efforts to maintain a clear

distinction between violence which he considers malignant and

violence which he presents as directed to constructive ends. In

at least two respects Lewis insists upon this distinction: he

condemns offensive warfare (The Horse & His Boy) and gratuitous

violence (Perelandra). Lewis' view of life obviously encompasses

violence within a context of both good and evil, but he.makes it

clear that surrounding circumstances must be taken into account.

His viewpoint is grounded in the theology of what he termed "mere

Christianity." Only a minority of sects within Christendom have

repudiated warfare as an evil in itself. According to Elbert


Pacifism has been confined to a weak acceptance
in the early church in the first 150 years of
Christian history, a few individual teachers,
such as the humanists, and a half-dozen tiny
movements, only two of which still exist, the
Quakers and Anabaptist derivatives. Propor-
tionately these groups never constituted more
than a tiny part of Christianity.7

Russell notes that the spirit of crusading warfare has been the

dominant attitude of Christendom during certain periods but that,

even when the crusading zeal was at its height, some opposition

to it existed. He concludes that "for most of its history Christianity

has generally accepted the just war doctrine," (Christianity &

Militarism, p. 11). This is the position that appears throughout

the novels of C. S. Lewis.

Despite White's comment above on Lewis' lack of sympathy for

"semi-pacifism," it would be a mistake to regard Lewis as doggedly

opposed to conscientious objectors. It is true that he does not

consider pacifism an essential feature of Christian witness.

Two of his characters--Eustace in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

and the Tousle-Headed Poet in The Great Divorce (an allegorical

work which falls outside the scope of this study)--identify them-

selves as pacifists; in the context of their other traits, which

are objectionable ones, it is plain that Lewis attached unpleasant

connotations to their pacifism. But a passage in The Screwtape

Letters makes plain his belief that, for some individuals and

in some circumstances, pacifism is a mark of moral strength rather

than weakness. He has his elderly tempter encourage a younger

devil to fix either "Patriotism" or "Pacifism" as a sort of fetish

in the human consciousness; either view can be motivated by high

purposes and either can be corrupted.

Let him begin my treating the Patriotism or
the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then
let him, under the influence of partisan spirit,
come ot regard it as the most important part.
Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the
stage at which the religion becomes merely part
of the 'Cause,' in which Christianity is valued
chiefly because of the excellent arguments it
can produce in favour of the British war effort
or of pacifism.

While these comments by Lewis' devil fail to reflect the fact that,

for the member of certain Christian sects, pacifism is a part of

his religion, it is free from the intolerance which White's con-

demnation of Lewis' war views might lead one to expect.

Russell's survey of attitude studies on war that have been

conducted over the past 30 years concludes: "it can be observed

that the more devout and more orthodox a person or group is, the

more militarist their attitudes are likely to be. Thus, orthodox

devoutness is related to militarist attitudes, and not to pacifist

ones," (Christianity & Militarism, p. 26). If Lewis is considered

an exponent of orthodox Christianity--and many persons, Catholic

and Protestant alike, regard him as such--it is clear that his per-

spectives on war do not conform to Russell's summary of findings.

Nor do his fictional characters appear to conform to this pattern.

Louise Gossett, writing on Flannery O'Connor, states that "the

most violent and unattractive characters in Miss O'Connor's work

are those obsessed by religious fervor." In one sense, perhaps,

some of Lewis' characters do conform to this pattern, but their

religious fervor is directed towards a sociological aim rather

than towards Christian dogma. The embittered Straik, the member

of a totalitarian group in That Hideous Strength, has transferred

his earlier religious zeal to the aims of the organization he

now serves.30 His eschatological view of society contains a fierce

embracing of violence. A superior in the organization, Frost,

points out "advantages" of modern warfare, which weeds out back-

ward members of society and increases the hold of the technocracy.

The aims these men serve are identified by Lewis as a kind of

Satanic religion whose exponents have no scruples about the use

of violence. In a way, then, his characters exhibit the link

between violence and religious fervor detected in the fictional

work of O'Connor and in the research findings summed up by Russell:

it is necessary to add, however, that the religion which elicits

a violent response from its adherents is presented by Lewis as a

false religion.

The reader of Lewis is thus faced with a complex pattern. In

his theological writings Lewis notes the sanctions for killing other

human beings--and also acknowledges the possibility that pacifist

views may be espoused for worthy motives. In his fiction he glori-

fies battle--and points out its meaninglessness. Particularly in

the later fiction, misgivings about battle are expressed. In his

finest novel, Till We Have Faces, Lewis has the seasoned soldier

Bardia say to the Queen,

Women and boys talk easily about killing a
man. Yet, believe me, it's a hard thing
to do; I mean, the first time. There's
something in a man that goes against it.11

Having waged a successful combat against an invading prince and

slain him, the Queen feels a sense of loss rather than gain. In

his description of that combat, Lewis departs sharply from earlier

writings which appear to glamorize battle. As the novel continues,

Lewis moves the struggle to a different plane: conquest of self

becomes the main issue. Similarly, the fragmentary work "After

Ten Years," a novel begun toward the end of Lewis' life, presents

a character, Menelaus, who turns away from earlier patterns of

heroism to examine his own emotions and convictions. The reconcilia-

tion toward which these two works point is initiated but not accom-

plished through violent means. Interestingly enough, a gap of

some ten years separates these later works from Lewis' earlier

fiction, and it is possible that, with increasing age, he reappraised

the role of outward strife and found it necessary to seek a

different level for the war between good and evil which suffused

his imagination. It is notable that, in bothof these later

works, Lewis turned to mythic material to present this conflict.

In this respect Lewis may be moving in a direction that differs

from much contemporary work. Bernard Bergonzi has pointed out the

transition from a myth-dominated to a demythologized world view

which took place in the literature of World War I:

Violent action could be regarded as meaningful,
even sacred, when it was sanctified by the canons
of heroic behaviour; when these canons came to
seem no longer acceptable, then killing or being12
killed in war appeared meaningless and horrible.

According to Leonard Lutwack, the progress of the soul became more

important than prowess in arms during this period.13 This "demyth-

ologization" does not necessarily mean that the instinct for battle

was no longer treated in fiction; Stanley Cooperman has pointed

out how Robert Jordan of For Whom the Bell Tolls

retreats to the front (not really a contradiction
either for Jordan or Hemingway) whenever complexity
threatens to create that nightmare of the American
imaginations stasis, a lack of justification for
a crusade.

In adopting a mythological world-picture, Lewis is going

counter to the trend described by Bergonzi but in his replacement

of prowess in arms with the progress of the soul as his fictional

theme, he is following the pattern observed by Lutwack. He also

seems to retrace in his fiction the pattern identified by Frederick

J. Hoffman:

The history of violence in the twentieth century
(and in its literature) follows somewhat along
these lines, in terms of the character of the
assailant: the assailant as human being, as
instrument, as machine, and as landscape. In
this last case, the assailant is neither human
nor mechanical but the entire environment, the
land itself, or the world or the solar system:
whatever extent of space the instrument of the
assailant has put at his disposal.15

The scientist Weston of Out of the Silent Planet is a human adver-

sary; in Perelandra he has become transformed into an instrument

of Satan. That Hideous Strength, the third volume of the trilogy,

features a collective adversary, a totalitarian force that relies

upon technological skill (plus occult powers) for its domination of

others. This power of the machine is overthrown by the power of

the landscape, as natural forces set in motion by the magician

Merlin overwhelm it. In a psychological rather than a literal sense,

the heroine of Till We Have Faces perceives the land as her enemy.

The entire "silent planet" metaphor might be seen in terms of this

pattern as earth's linguistic corruption echoes a planetary failure

in communication.

The concept of struggle, approached in various ways, is central

to Lewis' novels. White states that

A battle motif permeates many episodes in the Narnia
chronicles and in the science-fiction trilogy. One
does not become good or carry out God's will effort-
lessly. Righteousness is always accompanied by
struggle. It is impossible to remain neutral in the
great battle. (Image of Man, p. 152)

Certainly the Narnia Chronicles contain many instances of violent

conflict. Apparently the times of peace are less newsworthy in

these chronicles than are the times of war. Lewis attempts to account

for the warlike nature of the Narnian world when Jill and Eustace are

told in The Last Battle,

The Sons and Daughters of Adam and Eve were
brought out of their own strange world into
Narnia only at times when Narnia was stirred
and upset...In between their visits there were
hundreds and thousands of years when peaceful
King followed peaceful King till you could
hardly remember their names or count their
numbers, and there was really .hardly anything
to put into the History Books.16

Sometimes a battle may be raging on more than one front: in The

Horse and His Boy, Edmund goes to the aid of an ally while the

High King Peter is off fighting giants on the northern border.

Lewis makes it clear, however, that Narnia is not alone in its

experience of conflict situations: the children who enter Narnia

in The Silver Chair come directly from a threat of violence in

their English school, and return to that milieu prepared to mete

out physical punishment to the classmates who had bullied them.

Similarly, Ransom leaves a world at war to journey to Perelandra.

After his physical combat on that planet, he returns to earth

charged with a leadership mission that will cast him in the role

of dux bellorum against Satanic forces.

Adding to the complexity of Lewis' work is the fact that

violence functions both as an identifying characteristic of evil

and as an instrument for the chastisement of evil. Thus violence

erupts in a riot deliberately engineered by an unscrupulous organi-

zation (That Hideous Strength) and as a divine sanctioned response

to the challenge of evil (Perelandra).


Robert T. Reilly, who is critical of Lewis for not rendering

effectively the tedium of battle, notes that "the image of battle

has always suggested itself as the appropriate one to convey the

human religious situation."17 According to Margaret R. Grennan,

The application of this modern fairy tale is
no less clear for the world than for an England
always under the necessity of choosing between the
'sweet and the straight' and the 'sour and the
crooked,' and always in the serious danger o
imagining that there really struggle.8

Perhaps Lewis' inclination to cast his struggle between good and

evil in terms of mythological stories, or Christian traditions

featuring Satan, encourages some readers to regard his novels

(and the struggle they depict) as unreal. George Steiner has


Very few of us in fact hold a dogmatic,
explicitly religious view of man's personal
and social disasters. For most of us the
logic of original trespass and the image
of history as purgatorial are, at best, a

White points out that "devil concepts or Satan-images are more

associated in the minds of most persons with comedies, cartoons,

and Halloween costumes than they are with serious theological

insight." He suggests that Lewis--despite the inadequacies of

such associations to suggest the power of evil--still employed

them in an effort to convey a dimension of human experience that

might not be grasped at all if such traditional terminology is

abandoned (Image of Man, p. 50). The "Un-man," the Satanically-

possessed scientist of Perelandra, may seem like a stereotype

of evil but this figure does convey something of the tragedy of

dehumanization. Margaret Grennan believes that, in all three novels

of his trilogy, Lewis

considers the central conflict of our times...
between those forces that will realize the
potentialities of human nature and those
forces that will destroy that nature as we
know it, and will eventuate in "the abolition
of man." (The Lewis Trilogy, p. 339)

In Language and Silence and other works, George Steiner has pointed

out that literature and education have failed to act as humanizing

influences. "As George Steiner has so convincingly argued, the

dutiful Germans of the 1940's--and, one might add, their American

counterparts in the 1970's--may be taken as symptomatic of a new

development in our culture: the appearance of great masses of

people who have simply not been humanized by their education!90

His essays serve as a reminder that readers as well as writers

require moral alertness in order to detect the implications of

works they read.

As a writer, Lewis was moved by didactic as well as aesthetic

aims. His works thus demand a twofold response. The purpose of

this study is to explore the nature of the struggle between good

and evil in Lewis' fiction and to examine the role of violence in

resolving this struggle. When possible, the causes and results of

such violence will be identified.

The scope of the study will encompass not only warfare--often

a prominent feature of Lewis' novels-but other types of violence

as well: interpersonal violence, intergroup violence, and the

inner conflicts which are related to them. Gould and lorio raise

the question,

Does violence always involve physical force? Can
there be psychological violence? When a man screams
abusively at his wife, humiliates another person,
ridicules a child, is he doing violence even though
he does not physically harm another? Is it possible
then for institutions to degrade people and would
this constitute violence?21

In order to take this question into account, a wide rather

than a narrow definition of violence will be needed. Louise

Gossett has pointed out that

Violence may be either the inner drive toward
the use of force or the external action of
this force...Psychological violence is relayed
in states of mind and feelings. Physical vio-
lence is the consequence of force exerted by
a character against himself or against others,
resulting in extreme acts like arson, rape,
mutilation, suicide and murders. (Violence in Recent Southern
Fiction, ix, x)

One work which has given outstanding, though brief, consideration

to the psychological violence which accompanies physical violence

is Simone Weil's commentary on the Iliad, a work which will be

quoted a number of times in the following pages and to which a

special debt is owed. Because violent intentions as well as

violent actions are included in the compass of the present study,

both physical and psychological aspects of violence must be consi-

dered. This study will also attempt to trace the issues over

which Lewis' wars are fought; the victories won through violent

methods and the conquests that do not involve violence; and the

effects of combat. Depiction of foes .emphasis upon weaponry,

the use of martial imagery and the function of verbal violence will

be taken into account. More difficult to measure than the outward

strife of battles, the inner strains suffered by characters must

be considered; particularly in Till We Have Faces and "After Ten

Years." These novels, written in 1956 and 1959 respectively,

suggest that toward the end of his life Lewis shifted his attention

from the vigorous physical combat of earlier stories to a more

reflective appraisal of character motivation and attitude change.

These later books in particular illuminate Lewis' concept of the

struggle for salvation, a struggle that (he implies) is real;

requires courage; but cannot be won through violent means.

A limitation in the scope of works treated must be clarified.

This study will consider the seven volumes of the Narnia series for

children; the space trilogy for adults (Out of the Silent Planet,

Perelandia and That Hideous Strength); Till We Have Faces and an

incomplete novel entitled "After Ten Years." The few short stories

by Lewis are mentioned only when they clearly relate to the theme

of the study. Theological writings are referred to under the same

circumstances. The Screwtape Letters has been considered not as

a work of fantasy but as a means of illuminating, through the

theological views expressed, the conflicts which appear in the novels.

Similarly, The Pilgrim's Regress and The Great Divorce have been

excluded from this direct consideration in this study because of

their subordination of fictional characters and dialogue to

philosophical purposes. Though Perelandra includes a protracted

philosophical debate, Lewis does not permit this element to overwhelm

the novel as a whole. In Wayne Shurmaker's view, the space novels are

fantastic without becoming vision or allegory.22

The organization of this study will move from a consideration

of the Narnia series, with its relatively clearcut presentation of

battle situations, to the space trilogy, which adds ideological

considerations to its sphere of conflict and finally to Lewis'

later works with their internalizing of conflict. Certain cautions

are necessary in approaching a study of this nature. Because Lewis

included such an abundance of ideas in his novels as well as in his

other writings, these creative works may invite an excessively

literal appraisal by readers who find themselves enraged or delighted

with his train of thought. But it would be unfortunate to overlook,

for example, the acid humor in Lewis' portrait of the violent

Rabadash, or the gentler spoofing of the heroic Reepicheep, with

"the whole contingent of Talking Mice, armed to the teeth and follow-

ing a shrill trumpet."23 Lewis takes evil seriously, yet there is

a lack of total solemnity in his presentation of it. When he equates

violence with evil, as in the depiction of Rabadash, he gives full

rein to his view that evil cannot tolerate ridicule.

Lewis pursues his ideas vigorously in his fiction but many

readers have found his images more memorable than the rational

structure in which they are embedded. Like stained glass windows

in a massive church, these images shine with their own radiance

and with that of the light filtering through them. Hence a reader

who has reservations about some aspects of Lewis' thought can still

take satisfaction in the glowing colors and lofty aspirations of

his world. These things have a mysterious life of their own,

like the book of spells read by Lucy or the living tableaux that

Orual saw in the sunlit room where she waited for judgment. Like

them, Lewis' images are meant to be studied--but in the spirit

Eric Voegelin described in a lecture at the University of Florida:

a seeking of the positive and joyful through philosophical inquiry,

not merely an anxious sifting of ideas. An episode in Prince

Caspian may illustrate the dangers of a literal approach to Lewis'


Caspian's uncle, King Miraz, rebukes the boy for his interest

in the old days "when all the animals could talk." He tells Caspian

sternly that the stories are nonsense, fit only for babies; "At

your age'you ought to be thinking of battles and adventures, not

fairy tales," (Prince Caspian, p. 35). Caspian assures his uncle

that there are plenty of battles and adventures in the old stories,

referring specifically to the struggle with the White Witch. His

reply sends his uncle into a rage and results in the dismissal of

the nurse who had told Caspian the stories.

Miraz' attitude toward the unknown is similar to that of Eustace,

a character introduced in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. When a

picture of a ship suddenly acquires a life of its own, and a real

wave breaks over the children who are looking at it, his reaction

is: "I'll smash the rotten thing." (In view of his earlier

expressions of hostility towards his cousins' reminiscences of the

land of Narnia, this is hardly a surprising stance for Eustace to

adopt.)25 Eustace's rejection of the image before him shows

Lewis' realization that some temperaments view fantasy as a threat

to be stamped out--particularly when it seems uncomfortably close

to the,"real" world.

As fatal as this rejection is the embracing of fantasy for

some didactic purpose. Keith Mano's declaration that "The Chronicles

of Narnia are surely the most delightful and efficient teaching

tools a Christian parent could possess" continues with a warning

against too literal an approach to the stories.2 Any study which

approaches creative works primarily from the standpoint of the ideas

they embody must avoid praising or condemning them exclusively

because of these ideas. As Edward Rosenheim points out, "The

true universality of fiction does not lie in the breadth or

importance of its themes, but in its unfailing power to delight

thoughtful men in all places and at all times."27

Finally, it is hoped that this study will avoid the sin of

Brother Juniper in The Bridge of San Luis Rey. An ambition to

grasp any creative pattern in its entirety--whether to vindicate

or condemn the purposes of its creator--is bound to fail. This study

aims neither to "explain" the total fabric of violence and theology

in Lewis' novels nor to minimize its presence, but to examine those

parts of the pattern that seem most immediate "after ten years"

of Lewis' absence from our midst.


1. William Luther White, The Image of Man in C. S. Lewis
(Nashville: Abingdon, 1969), p. 29. Hereafter referred to in
the text as Image of Man.

2. John Wain, "C. S. Lewis," Encounter, XXII (May, 1964),
p. 51. Hereafter referredto in the text as "C. S. Lewis."

3. C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy; The Shape of My Early
Life (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1955), p. 188.
Hereafter referred to in the text as Surprised by Joy.

4. Lee Donald Rossi, "The Politics of Fantasy: C. S.
Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien," Abstract #5196-A, Cornell, in
Dissertation Abstracts International, March, 1973.

5. C. W. Lewis, "Learning in War-Time," The Weight of
Glory and Other Addresses (New York: Macmillan, 1949), p. 46.

6. C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: Macmillan,
1959), p. 111. Hereafter referredto in the text as Problem of

7. Elbert W. Russell, "Christianity and Militarism,"
Peace Research Reviews, IV (Oakville, Ont.: Canadian Peace
Research Institute, 1971). Hereafter referred to in the text
as Christianity and Militarism.

8. C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters and Screwtape
Proposes a Toast (New York: Macmillan, 1961), p. 35. Hereafter
referred to in the text as Screwtape.Letters.

9. Louise Gossett, Violence in Recent Southern Fiction
(Durham: Duke University Press, 1965), p. 88. Hereafter
referred to in the text as Violence in Recent Southern Fiction.

10. C. S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength; A Modern Fairy-Tale
for Grown-Ups (New York: Macmillan, 1946), pp. 258-259. Hereafter
referred to in the text as That Hideous Strength.

11. C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces; A Myth Retold (Grand
Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1966), p. 215. Hereafter
referred to in the text as Till We Have Faces.


12. Bernard Bergonzi, Heroes' Twilight: A Study of the
Literature of the Great War (New York: Coward, 1964), p. 198.

13. Leonard Lutwack, Heroic Fiction: The Epic Tradition
and American Novels of the Twentieth Century (Carbondale:
Southern Illinois University Press, 1971), p. 10. Hereafter
referred to in the text as Heroic Fiction.

14. Stanley Cooperman, "American War Novels: Yesterday,
Today and Tomorrow," Yale Review, LXI (Summer, 1972), 528.

15. Frederick J. Hoffman, The Mortal No: Death and the
Modern Imagination (Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1964), p. 14.

16. C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle (New York: Macmillan,
1956), p. 152. Herdafter referred to in the text as Last

17. Robert James Reilly, Romantic Religion: A Study of
Barfield, Lewis, Williams and Tolkien (Athens: University of
Georgia Press, 1971), p. 137. Hereafter referred to in the text
as Romantic Religion.

18. Margaret R. Grennan, "The Lewis Trilogy: A Scholar's
Holiday," Catholic World, CLXVII (July, 1948), 339. Hereafter
referred to in the text as The Lewis Trilogy.

19. George Steiner, In Bluebeard's Castle; Some Notes
Towards the Redefinition of Culture (New Haven: Yale University
Press, 1971), p. 80.

20. Giles B. Gunn, ed., Literature and Religion (New York:
Harper & Row, 1971), p. 2.

21. James A. Gould and John J. Iorio, Violence in Modern
Literature (San Francisco: Boyd and Fraser, 1972), p. 2,

22. Wayne Shumaker, "The Cosmic Triology of C. S. Lewis,"
Hudson Review, VII (Summer, 1955), 242. Hereafter referred
to in the text as The Cosmic Trilogy.

23. C. S. Lewis, Prince Caspian (New York: Macmillan,
1959), p. 70. Hereafter referred to in the text as Prince
Caspian. /

24. Eric Voegelin, Distinguished Scholar at Stanford's
Institute on War, Revolution and Peace, made this point in a
lecture delivered May 6, 1974, at the University of Florida.

25. C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (New York:
Macmillan, 1952), p. 7. Hereafter referred to in the text as
Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

26. D. Keith Mano, "Books: The Chronicles of Narnia,"
New York Times (Febv 21,1971), p. 20.

27. Edward Rosenheim, What Happens in Literature (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1960), p. 92.



Though the Narnia Chronicles offer a convenient starting point

for this study because of their clearcut approach to battle a

surprising variety of combat situations is included. The seven

volumes composing this series for children have gained wide

recognition as modern classics of fantasy. Set in the imaginary

realm of Narnia, a land ruled by a lion named Aslan, these books

interweave Christian values with an insistently stated battle

ethic. An effort to appraise the importance of this battle ethic

in the series as a whole must encompass the role of Aslan; the heroic

ethic with its possibilities and its pitfalls; the extent to which

female characters participate in this traditionally male ethic;

the emphasis on weaponry which forms a conspicuous part of this

ethic; the issues over which battle is joined and, finally, the

opposition between man and nature which constitutes one strand in

the struggle between good and evil. From these specific considera-

tions a general understanding of the clash of good and evil in

the Narnia Chronicles will be sought.

One must begin with Lewis's own trenchantly expressed attitudes

on the subject of writing for children:


Since it is so likely that they will meet
cruel enemies, let them at least have heard
of brave knights and heroic courage. Other-
wise you are making their destiny not
brighter but darker...I side impenitently
with the human race against the modern re-
former. Let there be wicked kings and
beheadings, battles and dungeons, giants
and dragons, and let villains be soundly
killed at the end of the book.2

Like Kornei Chukovsky, Lewis believed in the value of fairy tales

but his defense is somewhat one-sided: his comments are concerned

with the possibility that children will be frightened by violent

episodes in these tales rather than with the concern that violent

episodes may reinforce a tendency to regard violent action as the

most appropriate means of conflict resolution.

In the entire Narnia series, the episode of violence which

displays the most obvious theological overtones is the sacrifice

of Asian in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.3 Lewis presents

this sacrifice as an act of redemption, not of an entire society,

but of an individual whose actions have jeopardized the survival

of that society. Elizabeth Parker stresses the cause-and-effect

relationships in Lewis' plot:

A clear example of causality occurs when the
children in The Lion, the Witch and the Ward-
robe repudiate Edmund for lying about Narnia,
and he responds by muttering, 'I'll pay you
all out for this, you pack of stuck-up, self-
satisfied prigs.' The process whereby he
attempts to do so becomes also the process
through which the tensions of good and evil
are resolved.4

Basic to Asian's suffering is the Witch's insistence that the "debt"

of Edmund's treachery be paid: "You know that every traitor belongs


to me as my lawful prey and that for every treachery I have a right

to kill." Underlying the Witch's claim is a pre-existing condition,

"the magic which the Emperor put into Narnia at the very beginning."

When the witch declares that Edmund's life is forfeit, one of the

Narnian creatures, a bull with a human head, challenges her to

come and take it.

'Fool,' said the Witch with a savage smile,
'do you really think your master can rob me
of my rights by mere force?...He knows that
unless I have blood as the Law says all Narnia
will be overturned and perish in fire and
water.' (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, p. 139)

By her insistence on her claim for Edmund's life the Witch reveals

an affinity with the Calormene god Tash on whose altars human beings

are sacrificed (The Last Battle). Presumably, however, the Witch

did not invent this condition: it was placed into the scheme of

things by the Emperor, the power above Aslan himself. The violence

of the Narnian universe is not exclusively a feature of the evil

forces symbolized by the Witch. One is reminded of the insistence

of the priest in Till We Have Faces that the gods will have sacrifice.

In Narnia, no one questions the premise of the Witch's claims

except for one child who suggests that Aslan oppose the laws of

deep magic on which the Witch bases her claim. Aslan's incredulous

and angry response makes it plain that this premise is an unquestion-

able one. Either Edmund or a substitute must be sacrificed. By

electing to serve as victim, Aslan takes on the heroic role of

Narnia's savior (he has already acted as its creator in The Magician's

.. : .' '^ .' "

Nephew and will appear as a source of on-going inspiration in following

novels). Like Campbell's archetypal hero, Asian returns to his

society with the power to bestow boons on others. This power is

manifested in scenes following his resurrection, when he restores

to life those creatures who had been turned to stone by the Medusa-

like power of the witch.

In one respect Asian's victory seems atypical of the victories

defined by Campbell's formula: he overcomes his superhuman foe not

by slaying his foe in combat, as Ransom does on Perelandra, but

by voluntarily suffering death himself. His most decisive role is

thus a non-violent one. Following his resurrection, however, Asian

adopts a more militant course of action, leading his subjects into

battle, killing the witch and helping to defeat her followers.

Once the'battle is over he resumes a healing role as he exhorts

Lucy to make haste in her task of curing the wounded. In his own

leadership Asian embodies the qualities symbolized by the gifts

bestowed upon the children by Father Christmas, whom they meet soon

after their entry into Narnia. His gifts include weapons of war

and a flask of healing medicine; both war and peace pertain to

Asian's kingship.

Kathryn Lindskoog notes a number of scriptural passages asso-

ciating the lion with power, with divine wrath, and with Christ

(e.g., "the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has

conquered...", Rev. 5:5). She believes, however, that Lewis used

this symbol less because of Biblical influence than because "the


nature of Narnia demands it." In a world of assorted ordinary

animals and privileged Talking Beasts, Asian appears as a "super-

animal."6 She quotes a statement by Lewis in The Problem of Pain:

If there is a rudimentary Leonine self, to
that also God can give a 'body' as it pleases
him--a body no longer living by the destruc-
tion of the lamb, yet richly Leonine in the
sense that it also expresses whatever energy
and splendour and exulting power dwelled within
the visible lion on this earth...I think the
lion, when he has ceased to be dangerous, will
still be awful.

When Jill asks Asian, "Do you eat girls?"

'I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and
men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,'
said the Lion. It didn't say this as if it
were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as
if it were angry. It just said it.8

But the same lion shed tears over the illness of Digory's mother (The

Magician's Nephew).

In view of the dual aspect of Asian's sovereignty, it is not

strange that across Peter's shield "there ramped a red lion" (The

Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, p. 104) or that Asian's face

suddenly glowed from a plain shield after Prince Rilian slew the

witch (The Silver Chair). Like the Spenserian knight, the Narnian

hero bore on his shield "the dear remembrance of his dying Lord."

In the first days of Narnia Asian assumes a need for battle, as

evidenced by his challenge to the first king: "If enemies came

against the land (for enemies will arise) /and there was war, would

you be the first in the charge and the last in the retreat?" (The

Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, p.137). A later volume echoes

this view of kingship, as King Lune tells his long-lost son: "This

is what it means to be a king: to be first in every desperate

attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there's hunger

in the land (as must be now and then in bad years) to wear finer

clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your

lands. Aslan exemplifies this selfless concept of kingship.

The role of passive suffering, first expressed in his sacrifice,

is resumed in a later command that Eustace pierce his paw with a

thorn so that the shedding of blood may restore King Caspian to

life (Silver Chair, p.212). Along with these powerful examples of

non-violent action, however, Asian performs a number of military

functions, and many of his messages to the children reflect a

highly militant stance. He advises Peter on details of battle

strategy and scolds him for failing to clean his sword after

killing a wolf (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, pp. 143 and

129); he provides Jill with a riding crop and advises her and Eustace
on chastising their schoolmates. Thus Aslan leaves his followers

both a pattern of non-violent action and a tradition of violent

warfare. The former element accounts for much of the emotional

impact of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe but the latter

receives more emphasis in the series as a whole.

Perhaps it is not surprising to find, in children's books

written by a scholar of medieval literature, a stress upon chivalric

concepts of warfare. Lindskoog maintains that

The medieval ideal of chivalry and knighthood
is venerated throughout Lewis' writing. Lewis
believes that this old tradition is practical
and vital. It taught the great warrior humility
and forbearance, and it demanded valor of the
urbane and modest man. Lewis feels that if we
cannot produce brave and gentle Lancelots we
will produce men who are either brutal in peace
or cowardly in war. (Lion of Judah, pp. 87-88)

Two characters in the Narnia series, the "gay and martial Mouse"

Reepicheep and the Calormene Rabadash, exemplify the strengths

and weaknesses of a martial code. Both characters indulge in a

considerable amount of violent rhetoric but Reepicheep's perpetual

readiness for combat is tempered by his respect for reason (as when

he outwits a sea serpent and declines to fight an invisible foe)

and by his generosity of spirit (as when he consoles his old

opponent Eustace, temporarily transformed into a dragon, with

tales of'famous men who endured changes in the wheel of fortune).

An encounter with Eustace in his pre-dragon state illuminates

Reepicheep's outlook. Catching the dignified mouse and swinging

him by his tail, Eustace is startled to discover that he has been

jabbed in the hand by Reepicheep's sword.

'Why do you not draw your own sword, poltroon!'
cheeped the Mouse. 'Draw and fight or I'll beat
you black and blue with the flat.' 'I haven't
got one,' said Eustace. 'I'm a pacifist. I
don't believe in fighting.'

Reepicheep promptly proceeds to give him a drubbing with his sword.

"Eustace (of course) was at a school where they didn't have corporal

punishment, so the sensation was a complete novelty," (Voyage of the

Dawn Treader, pp. 27-28). At last, when he realizes that all his

companions take quite seriously the possibility of a duel, Eustace

apologizes to Reepicheep.

Personal honor is paramount in Reepicheep's thinking. When he

and Lucy play chess on board ship, he wins except when he is

thinking of a real battle and making his knight
do what he would certainly have done in its
place. For his mind was full of forlorn hopes,
death or glory charges, and last stands. (Voyage of the
Dawn Treader, pp. 55-56)

Reepicheep fails to comprehend why Caspian orders the ship turned

back from a dense fog of darkness in which nightmares assume palpable

form. When he is told that "there are some things no man can face,"

Reepicheep replies, "It is, then, my good fortune not to be a man,"

(Voyage of the Dawn Treader, p. 157). Flight from perils, real

or psychic, has no meaning for the mouse. The humans on board,

however, refuse battles that are beyond their limitations. Only

with the help of Aslan, who has assumed the form of an albatross,

do they manage to make their way out of the fog. Whether because

of bravery or because of lack of imagination, the mouse is not

subject to the reservations that plague the humans in the party.

When others speculate on the identity of certain mysterious objects

on an island, Reepicheep declares that the way to find out is to

go right in among them. True to this philosophy, he expresses his

trust in a beautiful lady they meet by drinking her health in

wine which his friends fear is enchanted. The wine is not enchanted;

the Narnian exiles whom Caspian is searching for have fallen into

an enchanted sleep for other reasons. On learning that their spell


will be broken only when a ship sails to the Utter East and leaves

one crew member behind, Reepicheep eagerly volunteers to be the

castaway. As they journey on, Lucy is pleasantly hynoptized by

glimpses of the sea people in the waters below the ship but Reepi-

cheep plunges into the water to respond to their challenge.

Without his readiness for action, Reepicheep's mentality would

be liable to charges of boastfulness and swagger. At times his

intense feeling for his own dignity does arouse the amusement of

others. When he asks to be allowed to serve as a Marshal of the

Lists in the single combat between Peter and Miraz, a giant finds

this humorous. Reepicheep's response is predictable: "If anyone

wishes to make me the subject of his wit, I am very much at his

service--with my sword--whenever he has leisure," (Prince Caspian,

p. 182).' If outsiders sometimes find Reepicheep ridiculous, his

own group does not. The loyalty of his followers appears when

Reepicheep loses his tail in a battle. The rest of the mice are

instantly ready to cut off their own tails if his cannot be restored:

"We will not bear the shame of wearing an honour which is denied

to the High Mouse," (Prince Caspian, p. 187). Touched by their

steadfastness, Asian restores the missing tail.

In striking contrast to Reepicheep is Rabadash, a Calormene

prince whose zest for battle is unchecked by considerations of honor.

Treachery and ruthlessness characterize his military adventure into

Archenland. The ruler of the country he has invaded condemns

Rabadash's behavior in these words:

By attacking our castle of Anvard in time
of peace without defiance sent, you have
proved yourself no knight, but a traitor,
and one rather to be whipped by the hangman.
than suffered to cross swords with any per-
son of honor. (Horse and His Boy, p. 187)

Whereas the mouse is permitted at last to journey to the Utter East,

Rabadash finds himself forced into a narrower orbit than before.

If he ventures more than ten miles from his capital city, he will

return permanently to the donkey shape which Asian has imposed on

him as a temporary punishment.

As he enters upon the last stage of his journey toward Asian's

country, Reepicheep voluntarily casts away his sword': "He took off

his sword ('I shall need it no more,' he said) and then flung it

far away across the lilied sea," (Voyage of the Dawn Treader, p. 213).

Rabadash, on the other hand, is coerced into relinquishing his

aggressive designs on other nations. Implied in this contrast is

the suggestion that adherence to a code of chivalric warfare--in

spirit, not merely in letter--may lead one to a state where weapons

are no longer required; violation of it will make one a menace to

others or else an object of contempt, committed to peace for the

sake of expedience rather than principle.

Bravery tempered by mercy is the code Lewis presents in the

Narnia stories. Digory despises in a dangerous quest for knowledge:

his verbal violence, "By gum, don't I just wish I was big enough

to punch your head!"1 is a response to the violence implicit in

Andrew's decision to send the children, willy-nilly, to explore a

world he is too cowardly to enter himself.

Throughout the series Lewis' child characters are called upon

to be heroes and heroines. Asian urges Peter to kill the wolf that

threatens the life of his sister. When Peter has performed this

feat, Aslan knights him. In Prince Caspian, Peter challenges the

usurper Miraz to single combat.

'I say,' said Edmund as they walked away,
'I suppose it is all right. I mean, I
suppose you can beat himl'
'That's what I'm fighting him to find out,'
said Peter. (Prince Caspian, p. 182)

This combat is not, however, merely a test of skill between two

contenders; it is undertaken with the aim of avoiding more general

bloodshed. This hope is doomed when one of Miraz' own followers

stabs him in the back and accuses Peter of the murder. Lewis

describes the following melee with gusto:

Peter swung to face Sopespian, slashed his
legs from under him and, with the back-cut
of the same stroke, walloped off his head. (Prince Caspian,
pp. 189-90)

A comparable zest for battle emerges in such descriptions of warfare

as the following: "King Edmund is dealing marvelous strokes. He's

just slashed Corradin's head off," (Horse and His Boy, p. 184).

"The Unicorn was tossing men as you'd toss hay with a fork."

The calling to be a hero or heroine sometimes acquires an aura

of bloodthirstiness. At other times it simply reflects the sense

of comradeship or of excitement which the presence of danger can

evoke. When the Dawn Treader crew prepares to face the dragon,

not realizing it is Eustace they will meet, they feel a heightened

love for one another: "Everyone felt fonder of everyone else than


at ordinary times," (Voyage of the Dawn Treader, p. 79). Though

the last battle in Narnia adds ideological confusion to the

physical challenge that must be met, it is not devoid of happier


Even Tirian's heart grew lighter as he
walked ahead humming an old Narnian
marching song which had the refrain

Ho, rumble, rumble, rumble, rumble,
Rumble drum belaboured. (Last.Battle, p. 87)

Despite the enjoyment that colors some of the battle scenes, Lewis

limits the glorification of war. Though the noise of Asian's army

is compared to the noise of an English fox-hunt ("only better because

every now and then with the music of the hounds was mixed the roar

of the other lion and sometimes and far deeper and more awful roar

of Asian himself"), a more sombre note is struck when the battlefield ;

is at hand. Lucy hears

another noise-a quite different one, which
gave her a queer feeling inside. It was a
noise of shouts and shrieks and of the clash-
ing of metal against metal. (Lion, the Witch and the Ward-
robe, p. 172)

In the battle described in The Horse and His Boy, Shasta is almost

overwhelmed by his fear:

All swords out now, all shields up to the
nose, all prayers said, all teeth clenched.
Shasta was dreadfully frightened. But it
suddenly came into his head, 'If you funk
this, you'll funk every battle all your
life. Now or never.' (Horse and His Boy, p. 179)

Even when the zest for battle shades into a more sober mood, certain

realities of war are kept in the background if they are mentioned

at all. Lucy must heal the wounded after the battle (Lion, the

Witch and the Wardrobe, p.197) and the bodies of the creatures that

assailed Caspian at Asian's How must be disposed of (Prince Caspian,

p./14), but Lewis does not dwell on these matters.

Once the battles are over, treatment of defeated enemies is

chivalric. "The Telmarine soldiers, firmly but without taunts or

blows, were taken across the ford and all put under lock and key

in the town of Beruna and given beef and beer," (Prince Caspian, p. 204).

Asian encourages King Lune to be merciful to Rabadash, little

though he deserves it. The king himself is disinclined toward

vengeance: "To have cut his throat in the battle would have

eased my heart mightily: but this is a different thing," (Horse and

His Boy, p. 206). Throughout the series, Lewis draws a sharp

distinction between violence meted out in battle and violence that

erupts outside the setting of formal warfare.

In some situations violence is presented as heroic; in others

it is not. This is a boundary Lewis tries to keep quite clear.

When Digory injures Polly's wrist in his determination to remain

in Charn and strike the mysterious bell, his violent action requires

forgiveness. Asian asks Polly specifically whether she forgives

the boy "for the violence he did you in the desolate palace of

accursed Charn," (Magician's Nephew, p. 13) but in some situations,

Lewis suggests, violence has beneficial consequences. In such a

light is presented the exploit of Corin Thurderfist against the

Lapsed Bear of Stormness,


which was really a Talking Bear but had gone
back to Wild Bear habits. Corin climbed up
to its lair on the Narnian side of Stornness
one winter day when the snow was on the hills
and boxed it without a timekeeper for 33
rounds. And at the end it couldn't see out
of its eyes and became a reformed character. (Horse and
His Boy, p. 216)

Other instances of violent punishment occur in The Horse and His Boy:

Shasta is scratched by a cat for having thrown rocks at a stray

cat and Aravis is scratched by a lion so'that she may realize what

a slave girl suffered when she was beaten as a result of Aravis'

actions. (In both these instances, the animal meting out the

punishment is later identified with Asian.) A threat of force

is levied by Caspian when Reepicheep catches Eustace trying to

obtain more than his fair share of water during the voyage:

I had to apologize or the dangerous little
brute would have been at me with his sword,
and the Caspian showed up in his true colours
as a brutal tyrant and said out loud for
everyone to hear that anyone found 'stealing'
water in future would 'get two dozen.' I
didn't know what this meant till Edmund ex-
plained it to me. It comes in the sort of
books those Pevensie kids read. (Voyage of the Dawn
Treader, p. 61)

In The Last Battle there is an exception to the invoking of

disciplinary violence. When Jill rescues the donkey Puzzle on her

own initiative, Eustace's praise for her success is countered by

Tirian's brusque comment that, if she were a boy, she would have

been whipped for disobedience. This episode, indicating that

female characters are not subject to the harsher penalties of the

Narnian social code, rasies the question of the extent to which

female characters participate in the traditionally male heroic

ethic so important to these books.


Implicit in their privileged status is the fact that the girls

do not participate as fully in violent action as do the male charac-

ters. As Joan Lloyd states, "The girls in Narnia are more sensitive
to violence and less competitive than their male counterparts. "

In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Aslan makes it clear,that

he does not intend for Susan and Lucy to take part in the battle:

"Battles are ugly when women fight," (Lion, the Witch and the Ward-

robe, p. 88). When Eustace and Rilian slay the witch-serpent in

The Silver Chair, Jill suffers from faintness. But the same Jill

tells Eustace that "I'd rather be killed fighting for Narnia than

grow old and stupid at home and perhaps go about in a bathchair

and then die in the end just the same," (Last Battle, p. 96).

There is some ambivalence about the extent to which female

characters identify with violent scenes. King Tirian includes

both Jill and Eustace in his exhortation to warrior-like conduct

during the last battle:

If you must weep sweet heart (this to Jill)
turn your face aside and see you wet not your
bowstring. And peace, Eustace. Do not scold,
like a kitchen-girl. No warrior scolds.
Courteous words or else hard knocks are his
only language. (Last Battle, p. 121)

Jill takes these words to heart and later in the story, as their

reverses continue and Eustace is overpowered by the Calormenes,

takes care to protect her bowstring.

Incidents in Prince Caspian suggest that the boys respond

to martial circumstances differently from the girls. A dwarf

rescued by Susan's archery is skeptical of the children's ability

to help Prince Caspian's cause in actual battle, so the children

undertake to prove themselves through a demonstration of their

skill in martial arts. Trounced by Edmund at swordsmanship, the

dwarf is given another chance in an archery contest with Susan, who

was not enjoying her match half so much as
Edmund had enjoyed his; not because she
had any doubt about hitting the apple but
because Susan was so tenderhearted that she
almost hated to beat someone who had been
beaten already. (Prince Caspian, p. 102)

In a later volume, The Horse and His Boy, Susan emerges as a non-

participant in warfare, in contrast with her sister Lucy. When the

army has mustered, Shasta inquires, "Where is the Queen Susan?"

'At Cair Paravel,' said Corin. 'She's not like
Lucy, you know, who's as good as a man, or at
any rate as good as a boy. Queen Susan is more
like an ordinary grown-up lady. She doesn't
ride to the wars, though she is an excellent archer.'
S(Horse and His Boy, p. 176)

This comment may suggest a simple contrast between the temperaments

of Susan and Lucy, but a second incident in Prince Caspian indicates

a possible sex-role typing on the question of interest in warfare.

When Edmund recognizes the site where the children had fought the

Battle of Beruna in a former adventure,

this cheered the boys more than anything. You
can't help feeling stronger when you look at a
place where you won a glorious victory, not to
mention a kingdom, hundreds of years ago. Peter
and Edmund were soon so busy talking about the
battle that they forgot their sore feet and the
heavy drag of their mail shirts/on their
shoulders. (Prince Caspian, p. 117)

There 'is no indication that this sight affects the girls as it

does the boys, or that they even take part in the conversation.

In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lucy undergoes a type of

testing unlike the combats experienced by male characters in the

stories, a testing that may throw light on the real link which

Lewis perceives between women and battle. She is singled out to

read a spell which will remove a curse of invisibility from in-

habitants of ap island. As Lucy reads the book of enchantments

she comes across a spell for achieving superhuman beauty, and has

a vision of herself as she might appear:

Shp saw herself throned on high at a great
tFprnament in Calormen and all the kings of
phe world fought because of her beauty. After
that it turned from tournaments to real wars,
and all Narnia and Archenland, Telmr and
Calorman, Galma and Temebinthia, were laid
waste with the fury of the kings and dukes
and great lords who fought for her favour. (Voyage of
the Dawn Treader, p. 130)

Then the vision moves closer to home as Lucy imagines the jealousy

of Susan, who has always been considered the beauty of the family.

One is reminded at this point that the destruction of Charn

resulted from rivalry between two sisters; that this destructive

impulse has the power of spanning worlds is indicated Inthe witch's

utterance, upon arriving in London:. "Tomorrow I will begin the

conquest of the world" (Magician's Nephew, p. 72).

Lucy, the child who often is keenest in understanding Aslan's

will, comes perilously close to the mentality of the White Witch

when tempted by desire for beauty and the power that derives from

it. She is indeed about to say the spell when a momentary glimpse

of Asian deters her, and she returns to her original task:

removing the spell of invisibility from others. An implication

of this testing is that others become truly visible only to the

extent that one is not preoccupied with one's own personal

appearance--a theme which Lewis explored sans overtones of violence

in a short story, "The Shoddy Lands."14

It is significant that Lucy's daydream casts her not as a

champion of battles but as an arbiter or object of battle. Lewis

stresses the moral pitfalls accompanying the equation of feminine

power with beauty,15 but he fails to point to other, more laudable

sources of power. By ruling out both the attraction of glamor and

the possibility of leadership in battle, Lewis appears to leave

no way open for a full realization of identity by his female

characters. This dilemma is highlighted by the situation of

Aravis, the most enterprising female character in the Narnia stories.

Having fled home to escape an arranged match, Aravis possesses an

independent, even arrogant personality; she is critical of her

friend's preoccupation with clothing and social occasions. As it

happens, Aravis overhears a conversation which reveals Rabadash's

plan to invade Archenland. Having obtained this knowledge, she is

not the one who acts upon it and gains recognition from society.

The boy Shasta must race onward to warn King Lune; Aravis lacks

the physical stamina to do so (she has just been punished by the

lion for her treatment of the slave girl, whereas Shasta's courage

in facing the lion has increased his incentive for continuing his

arduous task). After arriving in Archenland and participating

in the battle against the invaders, Shasta learns that he has

been fighting for a kingdom that will one day be his own. It

also becomes Aravis' kingdom, but her role is dependent upon the

bounty of Shasta's family, which takes her in after her flight

from Calormen, and upon Shasta himself, who eventually marries

her. Thus the career of Aravia demonstrates sharp limits to the

autonomous action of even the most enterprising female character-

limits determined only in part by the moral inadequacies of these


Within these limits, the female characters share in the dangers

and rewards of the Narnian world. Outside these limits lies the

realm of the White Witch, a character representing Lewis' view

of evil, in terms suited to children's stories. The origin of the,

Witch's evil qualities is not accounted for but she resembles the

villain of Perelandra in that she attempts to wield forbidden

power. Disregarding the injunctions of Asian, she steals magic

fruit and eats it. The sickening effect of the apple derives

not from the fruit itself but from her desperate and unscrupulous

striving for it. She goes after it in the same way she has

pursued other goals--without regard for purposes outside her own.

Her effect is deadly. She crumbles a huge door by magical

means and states, "This is what happens to things, and to people,

who stand in my way" (Magician's Nephew, p. 60). When she parleys

with Aslan, the three children who had not yet seen her "felt

shudders running down their backs at the sight of her face. .

Though it was bright summer everyone felt suddenly cold" (Lion,

The Witch or the Wardrobe, p. 137). But the witch's effect on

the dwarfs is especially baneful in that they are not wholly

repelled by her. In Prince Caspian the dwarf Nikabrik declares,

'I'll believe in anyone or anything ... that'll
batter these cursed Telmarine barbarians to pieces
or drive them out of Narnia. Aslan or the White
Witch, do you understand?'
'Silence, silence,' said Trufflehunter. 'You
do not know what you are saying. She was a worse
enemy than Miraz and all his race.'
'Not to dwarfs, she wasn't," said Nikabrik. (Prince
Caspian, p. 73)

His words foreshadow the treachery of the dwarfs in The Last

Battle. The immediate effects of Nikabrik's would-be alliance

with the witch's kind is his own death at the hands of Caspian

and his friends. (One of the marks of Caspian's leadership is

his insistence on selecting his own allies.) The long-term

implications of the mentality expressed by Nikabrik appear in

the behavior of the dwarfs who slaughter the adherents of both

sides in The Last Battle. Thus the words of the Wer-Wolf, one of

the witch's party in Prince Caspian, assume dreadful significance:

"I can drink a river of blood and not burst. Show me your

enemies" (Prince Caspian, p. 160)

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader contains a reference to the

deadly power of the witch. A mysterious lady reveals that three

Narnian lords fell into an enchanged sleep after a quarrel during

which one of them snatched up a stone knife, the knife used by

the Witch to slay Aslan centuries before. To reverse this spell

someone must be left at the world's very end. The enchantment

begins with the seizing of a weapon; it ends with the discarding

of a weapon as Reepicheep casts his sword into the sea. According

to Lindskoog, "This Arthurian symbolism ratifies him as the ideal

of Christian valor" (Lion of Judah, p. 106). In Reepicheep's

action, the power of the witch is overcome without the use of

weaponry; This fact reverses the expectations created by the

words of the Badger, who had pointed out the witch's giant-and

jinn-ancestry with the warning:

When you meet anything that is going to be human
and isn't yet, or used to be human once and isn't
now, or ought to be human and isn't, you keep
your eyes on it and feel for your hatchet. (Lion,
the Witch and the Wardrobe, p. 7 i)

Obviously Reepicheep has passed to a stage beyond the practical

realism expressed in the Beaver's counsel. Prince Rilian, how-

ever, adheres to the Beaver's philosophy when he slays the witch-

serpent, a successor of the White Witch. When Rilian is under

her enchantment, he believes her promise that he will be freed

"once she has made me king of a land in the Overworld and set

its crown upon my head." He anticipates the day when "with her

to guide me and a thousand my back I shall ride forth

in arms, fall suddenly on our enemies, slay their chief men, cast

down their strong places, and doubtless be crowned king within

four and twenty hours." It is Rabadash's dream all over again.

When Eustace remarks to Rilian that "It's a bit rough luck on

them, isn't it?" Rilian is briefly troubled, but insists on

finding humor in the situation. "I don't think it's funny at

all. I think you'll be a wicked tyrant," are Jill's words on

the subject (Silver Chain, pp. 137-38).

After Rilian overcomes his enchantment he faces the witch,

who assumes the forms of a snake and is killed by him and Eustace.

And now they all saw what it meant: how a wicked
Witch (doubtless the same kind as that White Witch
who.had brought the Great Winter on Narnia long
ago) had contrived the whole thing, first killing
Rilfan's mother and enchanting Rilian himself . .
and how he had never dreamed that the country of
which she would make him king (king in name but
really her slave) was his own country. (Silver Chair,
p. 2AO)

Like Shasta, Rilian finds through violence the key to his identity.

Lewis goes op to point a moral that his child readers can easily


'And the lesson of it all is, your highness,' said
th oldest Dwarf, 'that these Noethern Witohes always
mean the same thing, but in every age they have a
different plan for getting it.' (Silver Chair, p. 200)

In this precarious world, stability is found through courage and '

comradeship. The presentation of foes is not devoid of complexity.

Dwarfs who are expected to be friendly may reveal themselves as

foes; the Calormene Emeth, serving his people's ominous god with

integrity and courage, wins the acceptance of Asian. The witch

embodies absolute, but not invincible, evil. Her power is overcome--

at times through violent action, at times through redemptive, non-

violent suffering. As Lindskoog points out, Lewis rejects

dualism, which he defines as

the belief that there are two equal and independent
powers at the back of everything, one of them good
and the other bad, and that this universe is the 16
battlefield in which they fight out an endless war.

Throughout the Narnia stories Lewis insists on the possibility

of happy endings, on the idea that good can overcome evil; however,

an impression might still remain that Narnia is a battlefield of

endless war. The oblivion surrounding the names of the peaceful

kings and the frequency of violent encounters testify to the

continuing turbulence of the Narnia celebrated by Lewis. Warfare

and weaponry are often crucial to establishing a sense of identity

in these stories. As Lindskoog points out in connection with

Prince Caspian and The Silver Chair, "The idea of invasions and

battles is basic to these books!' (Lion of Judah, p. 40). Her

comment might be extended to include the other volumes of the

series. The very name of the children who take part In several

of the adventures, Pevensie, is similar to the modern name of

the site of the Battle of Hastings (Pevensey).

The gifts of Father Christmas indicate the warlike nature

of the society these children enter. As Parker points out:

it is the gifts he brings that foretell the
future conflict. These gifts--a sword, a
dagger, a flask of magical medicine, a bow and
a quiver of arrows--clearly predict a battle. (Teaching
the Reading of Fiction, p. 33)

The significance of his armor emerges when Prince Caspian questions
a Centaur about the idea of doing battle against the usurper:

'Do you mean a real war to drive Miraz out of
Narnia?' asked Caspian. /
'What else?' said the Centaur. 'Why else does
Your Majesty go clad in mail and girt with sword?'
(Prince Caspian, p. 74)

On various occasions, Lewis draws attention to the importance of

the use and care of weapons. Susan, who does not relish beating

Trumpkin at the archery match, is nevertheless sensitive to the

possibility that the others may think she missed Trumpkin's

enemies by mistake. "'I want shooting to kill, you know,' said

Susan, who would not have liked anyone to think she could miss

at such short range" (Prince Caspian, p. 31). Aslan rebukes

Peter for failing to clean his sword after killing the wolf

(Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe); Tirian, who scolds Eustace

for replacing his sword uncleaned after killing the Calormene

soldier, is careful to wipe his own sword on the only dry part of

his cloak after crossing a river (Last Battle); Caspian rebukes the

captain of the guard of an island garrison for the poor condition

of his' men's armor (Vage of the Dawn Treader). When the

travelers encounter invisible people, Reepicheep thinks at once

of a basic touchstone of reality: "I wonder . do they become

visible when you drive a sword into them?" (Voyage of the Dawn

Treader, p. 114). J

Two instances in Prince Caspian reveal the extent to which

weapons are crucial to a sense of identity. Finding the Cair

Paravel treasure house, the children look for armor and weapons.

Peter locates the sword with which Aslan had knighted him in The

Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:

'It is my sword Rhindon,' he said. 'With it I
killed the Wolf.' There was a new tone in his
voice, and the others all felt that he was really
Peter the High King again. (Prince Caspian, p. 24)

Similarly, in his swordplay with the dwarf, Edmund felt that "he

was King Edmund once more" (Prince Caspian, p. 100).

Despite the emphasis on weaponry that pervades these stories,

one weapon is forbidden: the weapon made use of in the destruc-

tion of Charn. The White Witch describes in this way the escala-

tion of this war with her sister:

'Even after the war had begun, there was a
solemn promise that neither side would use
Magic. But when she broke her promise, what
could I do?' (Magician's Newphew, p. 62)

She decides to invoke the secret of the Deplorable Word which,

if spoken with proper ceremonies, destroys all living things

except the one who speaks it. Hence, the statues the children

discover in the palace of Charn--a foreshadowing of the statues

that will appear in the courtyard of the witch's palace in Narnia.

Aslan warns the children concerning the fate of Charn:

Let the race of Adam and Eve take warning. ..
It is not certain that one of your race will not
find out a secret as evil as the Deplorable Word and
use it to destroy all living things.17 (Magician's
Nephew, pp. 175-76)

Reassurance, however, is drawn from the "different incantation" of

the Emperor's Magic, which caused death itself to work backwards

when a willing victim was sacrificed (Lion, the Witch and the

Wardrobe, p. 159). The cracking of the Table where this sacrifice

took place indicates that the violence of the Witch has been over-

come, her spell has been broken. This theme pervades the Narnia

Chronicles: the statues are restroed to life; Prince Caspian

returns from the dead; Tirian experiences a reunion in the

garden of the true Narnia.


It was his own father, the good King Erlian:
but not as Tirian had seen him last when
they brought him home pale and wounded from
his fight with the giant, nor even as Tirian
remembered him in his later years when he was
a grey-headed warrior. This was his father
young and merry as he could just remember him
from very early days. (Last Battle, p. 177)

Places as well as people are restored. The very house where the

children spent the war years is seen to be intact. When Edmund

comments that he thought the house had been destroyed, a faun

tells him that in the real England, as in the real Narnia, no

good thing is destroyed. The Last Battle ends with an idyllic

scene suggesting that nothing real is ever lost. This scene

will linger in the reader's mind, along with other pictures:

Eustace painfully shedding his dragon armor so that he can be

born into a more fully human state; Reepicheep casting away his

sword on the edge of Aslan's country; Aslan breathing on the stone

giant's feet with the promise, "Once the feet are put right, all

the rest of him will follow."

The violence of the Narnia stories pales into insignificance

alongside the power of these images. Despite the emphasis on

weaponry and battles, Lewis infuses his stories with a sense

of vitality and joy. It is also important to recall that the

violence of Narnia is defensive rather than aggressive in nature.

The kingdom undertakes no wars of conquest, nor does it try to

extend its dominion in Aslan's name. An island realm which becomes

attached to Narnia does so voluntarily, agreeing to offer tribute

in gratitude for being rid of a dragon. Years after this

tribute has lapsed, Caspian exerts force to restore the former

relationship in an episode which Lindskoog finds reminiscent of

Christ's driving of the money-changers from the temple.

War is waged by Narnians for a number of reasons: in defense

of its neighbor, Archenland (Horse and His Boy); to achieve

liberation from the rule of the White Witch (Lion, the Witch

and the Wardrobe); to overthrow a murderous usurper (Prince

Caspian); to stave off the enemies of Narnia for as long as

possible (Last Battle). Prince Rilian uses force to eliminate

the witch who has planned an invasion of Narnia (Silver Chair);

Prince Caspian literally unseats a governor who refuses to

outlaw the slave trade (Voyage of the Dawn Treader); and the volume

containing the least violence emphasizes the dangers implicit in

the destruction of Charn (Magician's Nephew). This summary makes

it clear that important issues in Narnia are often resolved

through violent means, but that the protagonists do not initiate

the chain of violent action.

Violence is used by the Pevensie children to consolidate

their rule in Narnia:

At first much of their time was spent in seeking
out the remnants of the White Witch's army and
destroying them . but in the end all of that
foul brood was stamped out. . And they drove back
the fierce giants . when these ventured across
the border. And they entered into friendship and
alliance with countries beyond the sea and paid
them visits of state and received visits of state
from them. (Lio., the Witch and the Wardrobe, p. 180)

The concluding section of the above quotation leaves the

impression that peaceful times are ahead, but The Horse and His

Boy, set during the reign of the Pevensie children, makes it

clear that state visits can cloak hostile intentions. Prince

Rabadash's suit for Queen Susan's hand is sincere, but he also

desires to swallow up both Narnia and Archenland. On his own

visit to Narnia he manages to dissemble his true purposes; but

a return visit paid by Susan and Edmund to Calormen reveals

Rabadash's tyrannical nature. This novel, perhaps the most

politically astute of Lewis' tales for children, reveals Rabadash

as the product of a land which exemplifies the violence of the

status quo in its daily life. This aspect of his country is

brought home to the boy Shasta not only in the slap he receives

from a soldier but even in his observation of traffic patterns

in the city of Tashbaan: "in Tashbaan there is only one traffic

regulation, which is that everyone who is less important has to

get out of the way for everyone who is more important; unless you

want a cut from a whip or a punch from the butt end of a spear"

(Horse and His Boy, p. 80).

Shasta is not alone in recognizing this aspect of Calormene

society. Susan, as a royal guest, is confronted by the probability

that Rabadash will make her his bride by force if she refuses his

suit. Susan's peril not only echoes the situation facing Aravis,

that of marriage arranged for reasons of policy rather than

because of personal inclination, but it also gives a further

insight into a culture where both individual life and social in-

Atitutions are dominated by considerations of power.

Some characters in the Narnia stories regard not only the

world of men but also the world of nature as an arena for their

ambitions. Uncle Andrew is depicted as a man who looks upon the

new world of Narnia with the eye of a less-than-scrupulous real

estate developer. He recoils from its teeming animal life:

"He had never liked animals at the best of times, being usually

rather afraid of them; and of course years of doing cruel experi-

ments on animals had made him hate and fear them far more" (Lion,

the Witch and the Wardrobe, p. 126). Andrew thinks that Aslan's

death is a necessary preliminary to the development of Narnia:

"The first thing is to get that brute shot." "You're just like

the witch," said Polly. "All you think of is killing things"

(Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, p. 109). The dwarf who

drives the Witch's sleigh is cruel to the reindeer who pull it

because he regards them merely as a source of power. In contrast

to the attitudes of the Witch and her followers is the charge

given by Aslan to Narnia's first rulers: "You shall rule and

name all these creatures, and do justice among them, and protect

them from their enemies" (Magician's Nephew, p. 123). Tirian, the

last ruler of Narnia, attempts to do just that when he finds a

Talking Horse of Narnia being abused by foreign merchants who

are engaged in felling the trees of the sacred wood. Tirian's

violent intervention, however, fails to rectify the situation.

The enmity between man and nature is described in violent

terms. We are told that in the days when Miraz held unlawful


sway in Narnia, the Telmarines--heirs of the conquerors who

"silenced the beasts and the trees and the fountains, and who

killed and drove away the dwarfs and fauns"--have a dread of

the woods (Prince Caspian, p. 47). Like Uncle Andrew, they fear

what they have wronged: "Because they have quarreled with the

trees they are afraid of the woods" (Prince Caspia~ p. 51).

Significantly the Witch cannot remember the peaceful Wood between

the Worlds where she and the children stop en route to earth from
Charn (Magician's Nephew, p. 73).

At length, the rebellion against the usurper encompasses

the world of nature as well as the world of men. Lewis outdoes

the natural upheavals described in That Hideous Strength; like

his friend Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings, he utilizes

the idea of trees which are not fixed to one spot: trees which

might dance, or fight.

Soon neither their cries nor the sound of
weapons could be heard any more, for both
were drowned in the ocean-like roar of the
Awakened Trees as they plunged through
the ranks of Peter's army, and then on,
in pursuit of the Telmarines.

As Peter's troops advance, a bridge is destroyed by a mysterious

outbreak of vegetation; a dull classroom is invaded by green,

growing things; when a man is seen beating a boy,

The stick burst into flower in the man's
hand. He tried to drop it, but it stuck to
his hand. His arm became a branch, his body
the trunk of a tree, his feet took root. The
boy, who had been crying a moment before,
burst out laughing and joined them. (Prince
Caspian, pp. 190-91)'.


(Like Maurice Druon's Tistou of the Green Thumbs, this novel

shows the triumph of vegetation over implements of destruction.)

Not only do humans join the victorious army; "at every farm

animals came out to join them" (Prince Caspian, p. 195). All

of nature responds to Aslan's challenge by transforming the

world of ordinary life. The miracle of Cana is re-enacted with

overtones of healing. When a dying woman is revived by Asian, the

god Bacchus dips a pitcher into her cottage well and draws it

back up filled with wine. As Miraz' army fling down their swords,

this old woman rushes to Caspian and they embrace. She is the

old nurse whose stories had foreshadowed the reality of the

Narnia he has helped bring back to life.

The description of natural forces contributing to Caspian's

victory recalls the episode in The Magician's Nephew when the White

Witch hurls an iron bar at Aslan; it takes root and grows into a

lamp-post whose light becomes a landmark in the country. Power-

ful through the Witch may be, the world of nature is stronger

than she. With Aslan's coming, in The Lion, the Witch and the

Wardrobe, her long winter is destroyed by spring.

But nature seems helpless in The Last Battle. Dryads are

slain as the Calormenes cut down their trees, Caspian had

succeeded against great odds in harmonizing the world of the

goal-oriented Telmarines with the world of natural forces repre-

sented by Old Narnia. His successor Tirian, however, is not

able to muster sufficient support to overcome his foes, Nature,

symbolized by the sacred trees, can no longer defend itself

against the depredations of the greedy. Tirian's effort to pro-

tect his subjects, the trees and animals of Narnia, meets with

defeat in part because his righteous indignation leads him to

adopt violent measures similar to those of his foe. His

declarations, "I will not leave one of them alive" (Last Battle,

p. 17), indicates his violent response to the danger facing his

kingdom. He and his companion, the delicate but war-like Unicorn,

are appalled by the violence being done to the natural environ-

ment of Narnia. As they gaze on the devastation these two

friends, who had saved each other's life in earlier wars, "both

looked more frightened than they had ever been in any battle"

(Last Battle, p. 20).

Tirian's desire to wipe out the foe meets an unexpected

check in the form of his own scruples, He views himself as

culpable: not for having killed two Telmarines but for the

manner in which he did it.

To leap on them unawares--without defying them--
while they were unarmed--faugh! We are two
murderers, Jewel. I am dishonoured forever. (Last
Battle, p. 24)

Unlike the treacherous Rabadash, Tirian realizes bitterly his

failure to live up to accepted codes of warfare. He decides

to give himself up to the Calormenes for judgment by Aslan, not

realizing that the "Aslan" they claim as their authority for

action is an imposter.

The abuses and deceit Tirian observes in the Calormene camps

focus his attention once more on the magnitude of the opposing

power; his own wrong-doing fades into the background of his

consciousness. Accusing the ape of lying to the Narnians, Tirian

is prevented from speaking further: "Two Calormenes struck him

in the mouth with all their force, and a third, from behind,

kicked his feet from under him" (Last Battle, p. 33). Tirian is

fighting a totalitarian rule like that of the White Witch and her

secret police, though it is less well organized. Some of his

animal subjects aid Tirian by bringing him food and drink, but

they are afraid to release him because they have been convinced

that Asian supports the Calormenes' purposes. Their comments to

Tirian on this point reveal an ideological confusion not en-

countered in the earlier struggles in Narnia.

The children from earth can free Tirian and help him slay

the foe once he is free, but they cannot dissipate the cloud of

confusion that prevents his subjects from uniting. In some

cases, it is not confusion but a narrow self-interest that forms

an obstacle to unity. The defection of the dwarfs provides a

striking example: though Tirian liberates them from probable

death in the salt mines they refuse to join forces with him;

later, when the tide of battle appears to be turning in his

favor, they shoot down the loyal Talkin Horses who are coming

to his aid.

Tirian's is the only losing battle for protagonists in the

Narnia series; not only because of the defection of the dwarfs,

who refuse to place their faith beyond their own group, but

because of the times themselves. Asian makes it clear that

the time has come for Narnia to draw to its end. This fact,

however, doesn't exempt Tirian and his companions from waging

war to the very limit of their resources. Some values are worth

defending, Lewis suggests, without counting the cost or con-

sidering the fruits of action.


1. The final volume of the series, The Last Battle, was
awarded the Carnegie Medal in 1965.

2. C. S. Lewis, "On Three Ways of Writing for Children,"
Of Other Worlds; Essays and Stories, ed. by Walter Hooper (New
York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1966), p. 31.

3. Kornei Chukovsky, "The Battle for the Fairy Tale:
Three Stages," Children's Literature: Views and Reviews, ed,
by Virginia Haviland (New York: Scott, Foresman, 1973).

4. Elizabeth Ann Parker, Teaching the Reading of Fiction:
A Manual for Elementary School Teachers (New York: Teachers
College Press, 1969), p. 31.

5. Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces (Prince-
ton: Princeton University Press, 1949), p. 30. Hereafter
referred to in the text as The Hero With a Thousand Faces.

6.e Kathryn Lindskoog, The Lion of Judah in Never-Never
Land (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1973), pp.

7. C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York:
Macmillan, 1948), pp. 130-31.

8. C. S. Lewis, The Silver Chair (New York: Macmillan,
1953), p. 17. Hereafter referred to in the text as Silver Chair.

9. C. S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy (New York: Macmillan,
1954), p. 215. Hereafter referred to in the text as Horse and
His Boy.

10. Aslan himself participates in this chastisement.

11. C. S. Lewis, The Magician's Nephew (London: Bodley
Head, 1955), p. 30. Hereafter referred to in text as Magician's

12. A distancing of the violence results from the
fact that it is reported at second-hand.

13. Joan Lloyd, "Transcendent Sexuality as C. S. Lewis
Saw It," Christianity Today, XVIII (Nov. 9, 1973), 10. Hereafter
referred to in the text as "Transcendent Sexuality."

14. C. S. Lewis, "The Shoddy Lands," Of Other Worlds;
Essays and Stories, ed. by Walter Hooper (New York: Harcourt,
Brace and World, 1966), pp. 99-106.

15. Susan is excluded from Narnia for having grown too
interested in lipstick, nylons, etc.

16. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, rev. ed, (New York:
Macmillan, 1958), p. 33.

17. Dainis Bisenieks, "Tales from the 'Perilous Realm':
Good News for the Modern Child," Christian Century, XCI (June 5,
1974), 618.

18. Lewis, Magician's Nephew, p. 73.



The ideological factor which appears in The Last Battle

receives fuller expansion in the interplanetary fiction of

Lewis. The matter-of-fact opening of Out of the Silent Planet1

gives little hint of the tense and violent drama to follow.

By gradual stages Lewis wins the confidence of his readers; then

he sends his hero off to fabulous realms. In the first volume

of the trilogy, Ransom is pitted against human foes on the planet

Mars (Malacandra). In the second volume, Perelandra,2 Ransom

meets one of his former foes on a different planet, Venus

(Perelandra), and discovers that his doe's humanity has all but

disappeared under the influence of a demonic force. The third

novel, That Hideous Strength,3 is set on earth, but an earth

where fabulous forces from the Arthurian past aid in Ransom's

continuing conflict. The third novel will be considered in a

separate chapter. In length and in scope of material, as well

as in its terrestrial setting, it differs from the first two

volumes of the trilogy. A brief summary of events traced in

the first two volumes may serve to clarify the role which violence

assumes in their plots.

I 61

Ransom's departure for Malacandra and his eventual return

to earth are both accompanied by expectations of battle. There

is a difference inthe degree of belligerence adopted by Ransom

at the beginning and end of Out of the Silent Planet, but his

final resolute frame of mind has grown out of his first reluctant

involvement. His initiation into the unknown world of Malacandra

is achieved through violent methods to which his own violent

countermeasures from an ineffective resistance. Though Ransom

does not set the chain of violent events in motion, he deliberately

chooses to become engaged rather than remaining detached. (In

this response, Ransom resembles the Pevensie children attempting

to rescue the imprisoned Faun.) This engagement occurs when he

trespasses on walled-off property to look for a retarded boy

whose mother has voiced to Ransom her anxieties about his safety,

and then when he interrupts two men who are trying to force the

boy on board a space craft. The vagueness of the threats he over-

hears cannot conceal from Ransom the fact that something ominous

is taking place. A Cambridge philologist who savors the solitude

of his walking tour, Ransom is hardly a likely candidate for

breaking-and-entering or disturbing-the-peace charges, but his

effort to honor his promise to the boy's mother causes him to act

in an uncharacteristically aggressive manner.

Perhaps this incident, which gets the plot moving, also

reveals the heavy moral weight of the C. S. Lewis universe,

where small acts can have momentous consequences. In Joseph


Campbell's terms, Ransom could have refused to heed the call to

adventure presented by the old woman's request. Because he accepts

it, he attempts to rescue the boy. He succeeds in this purpose

but is duped by offers of hospitality and then drugged,

Not surprisingly, Ransom's first reactions to his imprisonment

are violent in nature. As soon as he begins to shake off the

effects of the drug he makes a desperate and violent effort to

escape. Overcome once more by the greater violence of his

captors, Ransom is placed on board a space-ship with his two

sinister companions. Later he learns that these two men, one a

former schoolmate who has prospered by unscrupulous means and

the other a scientist whose ruthlessness is oddly mingled with

altrusitic motives, plan to offer him as a human sacrifice to

the inhabitants of Malacandra. Further developments in the

story make it clear that Weston, the scientist, also has in mind

the destruction of the Malacandrian natives with the aim of

providing lebensraum for the inhabitants of earth.

The unscrupulous nature of Ransom's opponents, Devine and

Weston, is indicated by the following exchange as Weston says,

I daresay . he would consent if he could be made to under-

stand." Devine's rejoinder to this is "Take his feet and I'll

take his head" (Out of the Silent Planet, p. 19). Terse though

it is, this bit of dialogue reflects something of the difference

in temperament of these two men. Weston would like to think

that even his victim could appreciate the nobility of the cause

which he (Weston) envisions; Devine, troubled by no such reflec-

tions, simply wants to get on with his task and make his profit

as quickly as possible. These two characters correspond to types

outlined by Lewis in an essay in which he condemns violence:

Our ambassador to new worlds will be
the needy and greedy adventurer or the
ruthless technical expert. They will do
as their kind has always done. What that will
be if they meet things weaker than themselves,
the black man and the red man can tell. If
they meet things stronger, they will be, very
properly, destroyed.4

While Devine is depicted as a greedy and ambitious social climber,

little inclined to introspection, a certain charm and enterprise

also enter into his personality. Weston, the man of principle,

is presented as the duller and more dangerous of the two: his

scientific brilliance and his obsession with the future of mankind

lead him to seek powers that a Devine, at this stage at least,

would not be able to imagine. Weston makes some effort to

justify his admitted infringement of Ransom's rights: "My only

defence is that small claims must give way to great" (Out of the

Silent Planet, pp. 26-27). By identifying these claims with him-

self, Weston sets the stage for his metamorphosis into the satanic

figure which will attack the stability of Perelandra in the second


Yet it is Devine, for all his relative appearance of ordinary

humanity, who has chosen Ransom as sacrificial sheep. Lewis

indicates that a childhood antagonism lies at the root of this

adult revenge:

He had been picked because Devine had
done the picking; he realized for the
first time--in all circumstances a late
and startling discovery--that Devine had
hated him all these years as heartily as he had
hated Devine. (Out of the Silent Planet, p. 35)

In this way, Lewis implies, Providence causes negative factors

to contribute to events ultimately yielding positive results.

It is not only Ransomb wish to rescue the boy that leads to the

scholar's involvement in action; his past failure in a human

relationship also becomes a factor.

Realizing the implacability of the persons with whom he is

dealing, Ransom steals a knife from the ship's galley, and

reflected that the knife could pierce other
S flesh as well as his own. The bellicose
mood was a very rare one with Ransom. Like
many men of his age, he rather underestimated
than overestimated his courage; the gap between
boyhood's dreams and his actual experience of the
War had been startling, and his subsequent view
of his own unheroic qualities had perhaps swung
too far in the opposite direction. (Out of the Silent
Planet, p. 37)

But Ransom is not called upon to use his knife. In Out of the

Silent Planet he is an observer and a potential target of vio-

lence, but he himself is not involved in violent pursuits--with

the exception of his participation inthe hnakra hunt after winning

acceptance by a group of native Malacandrians.

With the hnakra, a non-rational creature inhabiting the

lakes of Malacandra, Lewis introduces the concept of the beloved

enemy. It is interesting that this concept is presented in terms

of a "beastly" rather than a human foe. Occasionally the hnakra

will kill one of the hrossa, a sub-group of the rational beings

(hnau) inhabiting Malacandra. According to the hross Hyoi, who

befriends Ransom, "it is not a few deaths roving the world around

him that make a hnau miserable. It is a bent hnau that would

blacken the world" (Out of the Silent Planet, p. 75). Indeed, it

is a bent hnau, one of Ransom's former captors, who kills Hyoi

later in the story, though Ransom's delay to kill the hnakra

causes him to share a sense of responsibility for Hyoi's death.

The sense of respect, even affection, directed to this

animal predator is not extended to Ransom's human enemies, for

their motives are not explicable in terms of the zest for battle

surrounding the hnakra hunt, or the hnakra's corresponding desire

to kill the hrossa. In Malacandra, where (to Ransom's amazement,

the different species have not exterminated one another) war is

known only in the form of a sport that is heartfelt and lethal

but devoid of hatred,

A comparative absence of fear characterizes the hnakra-

hrossa contest in which Ransom takes part. His anxiety lest be

display cowardize is less intense than the chilling fears he

must overcome when he confronts human or superhuman foes. It is

notable that, once his fears have been overcome, Ransom is able

to meet his challenges successfully and that the experience of

fear itself can serve as a spur to his actions. Lewis interprets

fear in both positive and negative ways as he displays its effect

upon Ransom in varying situations.

Fear may be directed toward a real or an imaginary threat.

The vivid though inaccurate fear that the Malacandrians want him

as a human sacrifice is formidable enough in itself, but Ransom's

real terror is stimulated by his mental picture of the type of

creature that might be awaiting him:

He saw in imagination various incompatible
monstrosities--bulbous eyes, grinning jaws,
horns, stings, mandibles. Loathing of insects,
loathing of snakes, loathing of things that
squashed and squelched, all played their
horrible symphonies over his nerve-ends. (Out of
the Silent Planet, p. 35)

Ransom's fear of the hnakra, though undeniable, is a far cry from

this dread of imaginary foes. But even the latter fear serves

a purpose: far from immobilizing Ransom, it goads him to steal

the knife and to plan on making a break.for freedom once the

space ship reaches the strange planet. Having escaped, however,

Ransom is terrified by the unfamiliar landscape of Malacandra:

"His eyes darted hither and thither in search of an approaching

enemy and discovered only how quickly the darkness grew upon

him" (Out of the Silent Planet, p. 49).

His experiences on Malacandra reveal to Ransom that his fear

of the seroni, an intellectual class of beings, was as ill-

founded as his fear of the hrossa, the more poetic and intuitive

creatures. As a result of his stay on this planet Ransom extends

his knowledge of various rational though non-human forms of life.

In this process he becomes more courageous. (Perhaps it is no

accident that Lewis shows the growth in courage as accompanying

the growth in knowledge.) At the end of Ransom's adventures the

Oyarsa (Spiritual ruler) tells him, "You are guilty of no evil,

Ransom of Thulcandra, except a little fearfulness" (Out of the

Silent Planet, pp. 142-43). This statement suggests that Lewis

viewed excessive fear as a moral failing which could be overcome--

not merely as a psychological state of mind. The Oyarsa, at

any rate, underscores such a view when he urges Ransom, "Be

courageous." In the context, this exhortation has an echo of

the Scriptual "Be strong and of good courage,"

When the Oyarsa charged Ransom to "Be courageous. Fight

them," Ransom's future role was outlined. The foes who had been

ready to sacrifice him were only temporarily set back; the

Oyarsa tells Ransom that they may yet do much evil in, and

beyond, his (Ransom's) world. As in the Peter-Miraz combat,

there was no guarantee that the hero would be triumphant or that,

were he triumphant, his battle would not leave real scars. Ground

might be lost as well as gained. Perhaps, in the mind of Maleldil,

a higher spiritual authority than the Oyarsa, that also was part

of the battle.

Before departing for Perelandra for his second round of

adventures, Ransom acknowledges his fears openly to a friend;

but this trip, unlike the former one, is voluntary. Later on

Ransom's fear of grappling with Weston is also vanquished, though

with difficulty. In the interval before Weston attempts to

drown him, Ransom listens to a dread-inspiring recital designed

to evoke all his fears of death, When Ransom tries to silence

this monologue Weston suddenly warns him of the breakers ahead

of them:

Horror of death such as he had never
known, horror of the terrified creature
at his side, descended upon Ransom; finally,
horror with no definite object. (Perelandra, p. 171)

Even in the fact of this terror Ransom tries to brace himself and

Weston through prayer. And it is at this point that he is plunged

into the sea--not by the waves but by Weston.

Ransom's following ordeal in the undersea cave makes real

the claustrophobic fears suggested by Weston's monologue, but

fear of thimrt serves a positive purpose by forcing him to keep

moving in hopes of finding some exit. The physical strength

and mental stamina he has gained in various trials are taxed

to the uttermost.

In the caves Ransom's old fear of creeping things is revived.

The terrors he had imagined during the voyage to Malacandra

assume palpable form on Perelandra in the apparition of an insect-

like creature:

a huge, many-legged, quivering deformity,
standing just behind the Un-man so that
the horrible shadows of both danced in
enormous and united menace on the wall of
rock behind him. (Perelandra, p. 181)

Ransomb response to this challenge, his own fear, is

similar to his response to information overheard in the earlier

novel when his fear of the Malacandrians ran riot: he looks

around for the nearest weapon. Unlike the knife stolen from the

space-ship galley, the rock Ransom seizes from the floor of the

cave is put to immediate use. He hurls it-not at the insect

creature which embodies his morbid fears--but at the "Un-man"

Weston, who has obviously conjured up the creature. He attacks

the source rather than the symptom of his fears, but the symptom

has served a purpose by alerting him to danger and arousing his

rage. Ransom's anger at its appearance gives him the physical

energy and mental resolve to carry through his attack. Thus

Lewis portrays the therapeutic value of rage and its links with

fear. The formula he presents proceeds from fear through rage

t6 ciolent action, which results in triumph over fear. Clearly,

the effect of mRansm's attack (in addition to killing Weston)

is to exorcise the horror from the object he has seen:

The creature was there, a curiously shaped
creature no doubt, but all loathing had
vanished clean out of his mind. . All that
he had felt from childhood about insects and reptiles
died that moment: died utterly, as hideous music
does when you shut off the wireless. Apparently
it had all, even from the beginning, been a dark
enchantment of the enemy's. (Perelandra, p. 182)

Just as his perception of the seroni was radically altered

by removal of his fears, Ransom's sight of the insect apparition

is corrected. As in The Pilgrim's Regress whose hero must slay

a dragon, Lewis insists that vigorous, even violent, action

accompanies a transformation in vision. This linking of forceful

action with transformation of vision is especially apparent in

Perelandra because the terms of the conflict are more sharply


drawn in this novel than in Out of the Silent Planet. Lewis'

concentration of focus upon Ransom's dilemma also results in a

sense of depth, which the first volume fails to achieve. Pere-

landra presents a struggle that is essentially solitary in both

its mental and physical aspects. Ransom is companioned by his

memories of great religious and literary works of the past,

but he is not surrounded on Perelandra by friendly eldila

(angelic beings), seroni or hrossa who offer him advice. Rather

Ransom himself is cast in role of adviser--to a being whose

moral innocence and intellectual gifts make his task seem all

the more demanding. His influence upon the Lady is obviously

intended to counteract that of Weston, a now-Satanic figure of

evil whose temptation parallels the serpent's temptation of


Ransom is pitted against no human adversary, though Weston

has provided the vehicle for the temptation. In Perelandra,

Ransom is assigned the task of protecting an unfallen world,

whereas his mission to Malacandra had been more in the nature of

gaining knowledge and courage from a world unfallen and nearing

its end. The evil introduced into the older world of Malacandra

was rebuked directly by a superior being, the Oyarsa; the evil

which intrudes on Perelandra is forestalled by Ransom, acting

as an agent of the divine will as he perceives it.

A significant point is that neither novel represents evil

as being in any way changed by goodness. The first


novel shows the humiliation of evildoers; the second novel dis-

plays the destruction of the evil force itself--a final destruc-

tion so far as Perelandra is concerned.

By choosing to become involved in an unexpected and purely

individual protest, Ransom has precipitated a complicated series

of events whose outcome he could not have predicted. In this

process he enlists reader interest and sympathy. Lewis makes

it clear that Ransom is not merely a victim of hostile forces

or individuals; rather, he is a would-be protector of the defense-

less--the retarded boy on earth, the Lady on Perelandra--who

are threatened by an evil they cannot grasp. Ransom's indigna-

tion in the face of evil is one of his more attractive traits.

As Rollo May has stated:

However it may be confounded or covered up or
counterfeited, this elemental capacity to fight
against injustice remains the distinguishing
characteristic of human beings.6

Because of his responsiveness to a need for justice, the appar-

ently unheroic Ransom steps into a heroic universe. His adventures

here conform to the heroic pattern described by Joseph Campbell;

A hero ventures forth from the world of
common day into a region of supernatural
wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered
and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes
back from this mysterious adventure with the
power to bestow boons on his fellow men. (Hero with
a Thousand Faces, p. 30)

In his first adventure, chronicled in Out of the Silent

Planet, Ransom's victory is over his own fearfulness. This vic-

tory prepares him for his second adventure, related in Perelandra,

which brings him into conflict with a supernatural foe whose

identification with Satan places Ransom into the category of

the self-conscious Christian hero. When this occurs, the

reader isnot taken completely by surprise. Ransom's assumption

of responsibility for the humble and oppressed, represented

by his championship of the retarded boy, has prepared the way for

his more exalted task as guide and protector of an unfallen

world. In this context the name Ransom suggests a heroic role

of peculiarly Christian significance: "For there is one God,

and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus

Christ, who gave himself a ransom for al" (Timothy 2:5-6).

Clyde Kilby suggests that the wound received in defence of Pere-

landra is reminiscentof the wounds of Christ, still visible after

the Resurrection. A possible Scriptural association would relate

Ransom's wounded heel with God's curse upon the serpent in

Genesis 3:15: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman,

and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and

thou shalt bruise his heel." Familiar depictions of this event

show Mary treading the serpent underfoot. In Perelandra, a

representative of redeemed mankind--heir of both Eve and Mary--

fatally bruises the head of his foe, who in turn leaves upon

Ransom's heel a bound that will not be completely cured.

In That Hideous Strength the wound of Ransom is emphasized,

though in other respects he is shown as being in superb health,

appearing much younger than his actual age. Simone Well has


The man who does not wear the armor of the
lie cannot experience force without being
touched by it to the very soul. Grace can
prevent this touch from corrupting him, but
it cannot spare him the wound.8

More enigmatic than the passage in Genesis cited above are the

words of St. Paul in Romans 26:20: "And the God of peace shall

bruise Satan under your feet shortly." These words force the

reader to consider the paradox of a divinely ordained peace

to be inaugurated through violent means, a concept Lewis treats

in the Narnia series but appears to repudiate in Till We Have


Lewis not only requires a hero for the interplanetary novels:

he requires a specifically Christian hero. In what way does this

additional ingredient of Christianity alter the formula devised

by Campbell? Does it introduce a more spiritual dimension to

the hero's exploits? Does the struggle with a Satanic figure

automatically mean that a spiritual struggle is taking place?

The answer to these questions is not clear. For one thing, the

struggle with Satan is resolved through physical rather than

spiritual means. Nor is Ransom's struggle merely a struggle with

Satan: it also involves in its preliminary stages what Wallace

Fowlie has identified in "Les Chants de Maldoror" as "the epic

struggle, the oldest struggle of mankind, between man himself

and God.9 Just as Christ asked that the cup of suffering might

pass from him, if that were the Father's will, Ransom undergoes

inner turmoil at the prospect of combat with Weston-Satan.


In a sense, God Himself is the adversary, a theme Lewis touched

upon in the Narnia books ("he isn't a tame lion") and develops

more explicitly in Till We Have Faces, Ransom is not ready to

undertake his combat with Satan until he has surrendered his own

will to the will of God, This loss of self becomes gain for the

Christian hero, enabling him to triumph over the "ancient foe."

A mysterious struggle in a paradise that might be lost is

the terrain of Ransom's action. His triumph is so dearly bought

that its effect shatters him almost as much as defeat would have

done. Later he receives a vision of consolation and joy which he

could not have sustained immediately after the battle. The con-

flict and victory of Ransom illuminate a memorable change in

consciousness in some ways reminiscent of the revelation experienced

by George Fox after long and anguished searching: "Now was I

come up in spirit through the flaming sword into the Paradise of

God. All things were new, and all the creation gave another smell

to me than before, beyond what words can utter."10

In this account by the founder of the Society of Friends,

noted for its peace testimony, the image of the flaming sword

is a startling one to encounter. The words "in spirit," however,

may remind the reader that the flaming sword referred to exists

in a dimension beyond that of concrete physical reality. It

apparently also refers to an ordeal undergone or a threat sus-

pended rather than to a weapon brandished by Fox himself.


Unlike George Fox, the fictional Elwin Ransom chooses (and

believes himself to have been chosen for) a role of actual

combat which proves to be a preliminary stage for his ecstatic

experience of a new creation. No swordplay is involved; Ransom

has tried to eliminate modern weaponry by casting into the sea

his opponent's revolver (which, after all, he could have kept for

himself, as he had once stolen his captors' knife from the ship-

galley). This gesture of throwing a weapon into the sea repeats

the action of Reepicheep in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but

it occurs in a very different context. Ransom, unlike Reepicheep,

will carry on a physical combat.

When battle is joined on Perelandra, Ransom's weapon is

neither the flaming sword of ancient revelation nor any of the

gadgetry of modern warfare, but an object as primeval as a rock.

Ransom's hurling of the rock "in the name of the Father and of

the Son and of the Holy Ghost" may link this weapon, with its

suggestion of prehistoric mankind, to the image of a flaming

sword. Reinforcing the association of the rock (and the cave

where the struggle occurs) with atavistic violence is Ransom's

earlier effort to understand the nature of the combat before

him: "It stood to reason that a struggle with the Devil meant a

spiritual struggle . the notion of physical combat was only

fit for a savage" (Perelandra, p. 145). Lewis presents the

equation of physical combat with savagery as the first of three

temptations which Ransom, as a Christly figure, must overcome

before his ordeal. He must recognize, behind his facile wish

that the combat were that "simple," the depth of his fear of any

physical contact with this dreaded foe. Additional objections,

that physical combat would "degrade the spiritual warfare to the

condition of mere mythology" and that forcible removal of the foe

as insurance of the Lady's obedience would be "irrelevant to the

spiritual issue," fade in the light of Ransom's perception of his

role as a "new task" (Perelandra, p. 145). Along with Ransom's

perception of a new task comes a heightened conviction that "this

can't go on" (Perelandra, p. 145). His inclination to analyze

past situations for clues to the solution of present problems

is discovered to be fruitless.

In vain did his mind hark back, time after
time, to the Book of Genesis, asking, 'What
would have happened?' But to this the
Darkness gave him no answer. Patiently and
inexorably it brought him back to the here
and the now, and to the growing certainty
of what was here and now demanded.

Thus Ransom's crucial decision was grounded on a direct apprehen-

sion of the divine will and on his own observations of the scene

immediately before him. Traditional sources of insight, intellec-

tual speculation, the heritage of the past, and Scripture itself,

proved inadequate guides in a new situation.

Ransom's process of decision bears some resemblance to the

radical vision of George Fox, who found traditional authorities

unable to meet his spiritual need. Ransom's commitment to

violence, however, is directly opposed to the conclusions of

Fox, and reflects a long-standing assumption of the established

Christian churches that violence is not necessarily an evil.

Ransom's final action of violence (hurling the rock), coupled

with his religious utterance, poses in dramatic form the

question of the relationship between violence and theology

in Lewis' fiction.

The choice of a rock as Ransom's weapon in the context,

of an appeal tothe Trinity, may suggest that the rock on which

the Church is founded is indeed, in Lewis' view, a readiness for

physical warfare. The fact that the violent threat introduced

by Weston is resolved through the application of violence by

Ransom, acting as an agent of salvation, suggests that Lewis'

"Mere Christianity" does contain a strongly militant aspect;

further, that this militance is both figurative and literal.

According to Gunnar Urang, "The metaphor which illumines

(Lewis') 'silent planet' myth is that of a universe at war. We

are living in enemy-occupied territory."11 He goes on to quote a

statement by Lewis in "The Case for Christianity": "Christianity

is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say

landed in disguise, ad is calling us all to take part in a great

campaign of sabotage" (Mere Christianity, p. 215). This sentiment

is echoed in the litany of the eldila at the end of Perelandra:

"now the trumpet has sounded and the army is on ,he move.

Blessed be He!" (Perelandra, p. 215). And earlier, when Ransom

returns to earth at the conclusion of Out of the Silent Planet,

he does so with the command of the Oyarsa ringing in his ears:

"Watch those two bent ones. Be courageous. Fight them" (Out of

the Silent Planet, pp. 142-43). Warning that Ransods enemies may

yet do evil in and beyond his own world, the Oyarsa also predicts

an end to the siege of Thulcandra (earth). Similarly, the King

predicts before Ransom's journey from Perelandra that "the siege

of your world shall be raised. . In those days Maleldil will

go to war . all shall be cleansed, and even the memory of

your Black Oyarsa blotted out" (Perelandra, p. ). Elsewhere

in this tale, as Ransom recognizes the true essence of Malacandra

and Perelandra, the premise of besiegement is mentioned:

When and from whom had the children of Adam
learned that Ares was a man of war and that
Aphrodite rose from the sea foam? Earth
has been besieged, an enemy-occupied territory,
since before history began. (Perelandra, p. 201)

Weston's journey to Perelandra, in the terms of this novel,

thus represents an effort of forces of darkness to extend their

siege to another planet. It could be maintained that Ransomb

effort to reach the human being whose existence has been given

over to a Satanic power marks him as a Christian hero. This

effort indicates that Ransom is interested not only in combating

the Un-man-Weston and in protecting the Lady (and her animals)

from injury, but that he would also help save the "real" Weston

if that were possible. His attempt to persuade Weston to pray

before the sea overwhelms them is evidence of his concern, par-

ticularly striking in view of the exhausting struggle that had

already been waged.

But after Weston's effort to drown him and his own effort

to strangle his opponent, Ransom no longer distinguishes between

the human Weston and the Satanic "Un-man":

He did not know whether in the last few hours
the spirit which had spoken to him was really
Weston's or whether he had been the victim of
a ruse. Indeed, it made little difference. .
The question whether Satan, or one whom Satan
has digested, is acting on any given occasions,
has in the long run no clear significance. (Perelandra,
pp. 172-73)

With this obliteration qf difference between Satan and his victim
ip mind, is Ransom acting as a Christian hero? In the sense

that he is faced by a superhuman (and subhuman) foe, Ransom's

struggle may be defined as spiritual, but the fact that physical

violence proved the decisive means of resolving the conflict would

seem to remove the actions from the context of spiritual warfare.

Perhaps Lewis' space fiction is an exception to the pattern

discerned by Leonard Lutwack as characteristic of heroic fiction:

Since Paradise Lost, the epic in Western
literature has made the exploits of the
hero more spiritual than physical; instead
of the prowess of his arms the progress of
his soul came to matter. (Heroic Fiction, p. 20)

Ransom's explicit repudiation of the nation that "a struggle with

the Devil meant a spiritual struggle" (Perelandra, p. 143) could

be quoted as evidence that his actions do not qualify for the

category of spiritual warfare. In Perelandra, a struggle that

begins as an ideological struggle is resolved through physical

combat. In Till We Have Faces, Lewis explores a conflict initiated

by violence but resolved through a process of spiritual enlighten-

ment. Even if the category of spiritual struggle is denied to

i .

Ransom's ordeal, however, it is important to remember that his

ordeal took into account qualities of determination and imagina-

tion that made his combat possible,

Ransom's habit of contemplation entered into the decision

-that he finally reached. This trait is expressed not only in the

piety that leads him to exhort Weston to pray in the face of

approaching death, but also in his ability to rise above physical

discomforts and dangers to consider a larger vista. One .incident

of this type is described in Out of the Silent Planet as the

space ship prepares to land. Ransom, intent on making a break for

freedom at the first opportunity, is struck by the contrast

between "Deep Heaven" and the atmosphere of the world they are

approaching. He speculates about the existence of a brightness

in comparison with which the radiantheavens might seem as dim as

the atmosphere of the planets. Later, after his tiring conversa-

tion with the ever-inquisitive seroni, Ransom prepared to rest:

But when at last he lay down to sleep it was not
of human nakedness nor of his own ignorance that
he was thinking. He thought only of the old forests
of Malacandra and of what it might mean to grow up
seeing so few miles away a land of colour that could
never be reached, and had once been inhabited. (Out
of the Silent Planet, p. 103)

Thus both space and time become objects of Ransom's contemplation

in Out of the Silent Planet. In Perelandra this trait is also

exhibited: as he follows Weston across the sea,' Ransom becomes

absorbed (despite his many bruises) by the panorama these oceans


It came into his head that he knew nothing
at all about this world. Some day, no
doubt, it would be peopled by the descendants
of the King and Queen. But all its millions
of years in the unpeoples past, all its un-
counted miles of laughing water in the lonely
present--did they exist solely for that? (Perelandra,
p. 160)

This habit of speculation sets Ransom sharply apart from Weston,

whose mental powers as a scientist are bent on sacrificing nature

to man's purposes and whose intelligence serves only as a weapon

to crush the arguments of an opponent. Ransom's inclination for

reflection enables him to picture the stakes involved in his

struggle, and influences him to act for a purpose larger than

his own survival. Along with his grasp of ordinary reality

Ransom has a grasp of unfamiliar possibilities and dangers.

Those very capacities that, under stress, could conjure up non-

existent monsters like the imagined Malacandrians could help him

to recognize a true monster when a being full of malicious violence

crossed his path.

The modern world, now sensitized to the danger of using

violence to resolve conflict, is reminded by Lewis of the problems

faced when the intellectual and imaginative aspects of humanity

encounter evil. If these traits are unaided by physical force,

Lewis suggests, they will not succeed in containing evil. By

having Ransom engage in physical combat, Lewis made his own posi-

tion clear about the vacuum which can develop when intellectual

and moral qualities stand alone.

But this solution appears to depend on perception of the foe

as in some way demonically possessed like the Wer-Wolf in Prince

Caspian or Mr. Savage (a possible symbol for Hitler) who,

thirsts to drink from:enemy skulls in The Pilgrim's Regress.

While such a depiction was evidently Lewis' intention in Pere-

landra, certain inconsistencies appear. These inconsistencies

undercut Kilby's assertion that "It was Ransom against Weston--no,

Ransom against Satan himpelf--and with all the future generations

of this Lady and her husband at stake" (Christian World, p. 93).

In connection with Weston's satanic possession, the following

questions might be raised: why is Weston superhuman intellectually

but not physically? If he is not superhuman physically, why is

he described as tireless, in contrast to the mortal Ransom who

must sleep at intervals? Why would Ransom expect any more success

at physical combat than in debate? In trying to create a villain

incorporating both human and superhuman traits, Lewis ends up with

a monster who is credible on neither level, though this very lack

of credibility may be a characteristic of the evil he means to


Whatever inconsistencies may exist in the depiction of Weston-

Satan, highly effective moments remain. For example, Weston's

maddening repetition of Ransom's name conveys something of the

malice of childhood enmities and of adult feuds;' his dreadful

paraody of Christ's appeal fromthe cross introduces a dimension

of terror and suffering beyond human understanding.


According to Gunnar Urang, "this embodiment of evil is dealt

with in a manner well suited to mythic narrative; Ransom does not

outargue him, he literally and physically outfights him" (Shadows

of Heaven, p. 19). Urang identifies Weston as "an archetypal

figure, a being possessed by something which is both superhuman

and subhuman" (Shadows of Heaven, p. 18). Ransom, overcoming the

temptation of seeing spiritual warfare as degraded to the condition

of "mere mythology" by a choice to fight, opts for action within

a mythological framework. This framework may set some of Lewis'

writing apart from the current of modern thought. A readership

unaccustomed to thinking in mythic terms and suspicious of

stereotypes tending toward violent conflict will have trouble

with Ransom's readiness to perceive his role in the mythological

terms Lewis suggests. One aspect of myth is all too familiar

to the modern world: the eagerness to identify an enemy with

absolute evil. According to Joseph Campbell,

it is a basic idea of practically every way
mythology that the enemy is a monster and that
in killing him one is protecting the only
truly valuable order of human life on earth, which
is that, of course, of one's own people.13

The Christian hero who, like Ransom, is engaged in fighting

the devil, is not in a good position to follow the Christian pre-

cept of loving the enemy. It is true that Ransom made repeated

efforts to reach the human in his foe, but he concludes that

Weston has become identified with a satanic force.


In his battle with evil, Ransom follows a revered literary

tradition pitting a Christly figure in heroic combat against the

power of Satan. For example, a note to the Anglo-Saxon poem

"The Dream of the Rood" makes the following comment on the word

gewinn, 1. 65 (Christ having been described as weary after the

great gewinn: battle, struggle or agony):

The word gewinn here refers most directly
and obviously to Christ's agony on the
cross, but the military connotations of
the word are also appropriate. In his
divine nature Christ has waged war against
the devil and all the forces of evil.14

Thus the tradition depicting Christ as a warrior (Haelea) does

back long before Pound's "Ballad of the Goodly Fere." But a

crucial difference appears between the Christ of "The Dream of

the Rood" and the hero of Perelandra: in one case death was

voluntarily suffered by the hero, in the other case death was

inflicted by him.

Formerly at the end of the Catholic Mass a prayer was recited

to St. Michael the Archangel. This prayer concluded, "may thou

0 Prince of the Heavenly Host, thrust into hell Satan and the

other evil spirits who roam through the world seeking the ruin

of souls." This is the fate of Weston in Perelandra. After

Ransom strikes him with the rock, he hurls Weston's body into

a fiery pit below the scene of their combat. Weston's fiery
end presumably underscores his satanic identification. The

fact that Ransom later raised a monument to Weston makes it clear

that he did not rejoice over his fallen enemy, but no reconcili-

ation had been possible because of his demonic nature, As a

result of the absolute evil threatening Perelandra through

Weston, that planet's natural beauty seems like a stage setting

for a morality play. The seas are perilous as Ransom pursues

his foe across them; the lands will become forlorn if he is not

successful in his quest.

And he is successful, within the terms which Lewis allows--

the terms of physical warfare waged for spiritual stakes. The

gates of hell do not prevail against the rock which is the Church

Militant, represented by Elwin Ransom. But the hurling of a rock

into the face of the foe does not evoke the triumphant joy re-

sulting from a stone that is rolled away from a tomb, or from the

reconciliation of former enemies. It does not arouse the pity and

terror of the Oyarsa's quiet, repeated question to the murderers

of Hyoi: "Why have you killed my hnau?" (Out of the Silent

Planet, p. 127). Rather, it resembles the victory of David,

with his slingshot and stones, over the giant Goliath,

Lewis, a good storyteller, maintains suspense and suggests

both the pettiness and power of evil; but he leaves out of his

picture that possibility for transformation which is the heart

of the Christian message. This transformation will begin to

appear in That Hideous Strength and will reveal itself more

fully in Lewis' later works.


1. C. S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet (New York:
Macmillan, 1965). Hereafter referred to in the text as
Out of the Silent Planet.

2. C. S. Lewis, Perelandra (New York: Macmillan, 1952).
Hereafter referred to in the text as Perelandra.

3. Lewis, That Hideous Strength, (New York: lacmillan, 1946).

S4. C. S. Lewis, "Religion and Rocketry," The World's Last
Night and Other Essays (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World,
1960), p. 89.

5. In the last volume of the trilogy, That Hideous
Strength, Devine appears to have assumed some of Weston's

6. Rollo May, Power and Innocence: A Search for the Sources
of Violence (New York: Norton, 1972), p. 220. Hereafter
referred to in the text as Power and Innocence.

7. Clyde Kilby, The Christian World of C. S. Lewis (Grand
Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eeerdmans, 1964), p. 93. Hereafter
referred to in the text as The Christian World.

8. Simone Well, The Iliad or The Poem of Force, tr. by
Mary McCarthy (Wallingford, Pa.: Pendle Hill, 1956), p. 36.
Hereafter referred to in the text as "The Illiad."

9. Wallace Fowlie, Climate of Violence; The French Literary
STradition from Baudelaire to the Present (New York: Macmillan,
1967), p. 23.

10. George Fox, The Journal of George Fox, a rev. ed. by
John L. Nickalls (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952),
p. 27.

11.. Gunnar Urang, Shadows of Heaven: Religion and Fantasy
in the Writing of C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and J, R. R.
Tolkien (Philadelphia: Pilgrim Press, 1971), p. 78. Hereafter
referred to in the text as Shadows of Heaven.

12. An obliteration reminiscent of the end of The Screwtape

13. Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces.

14. John C. Pope, ed., Seven Old English Poems (Indianapolis:
Bobbs-Merrill, 1966), p. 67.


( ^





C. S. Lewis' trilogy is often spoken of as a space trilogy

or as interplanetary fiction, but its terrestrial arena should

not be overlooked. While the first two novels record stages of

a cosmic struggle that takes place on other planets, the third

volume, That Hideous Strength, is set on earth. Indeed, Perelan-

dra, the second book in the series, contains significant reminders

of the involvement of earth in the battle Ransom and Weston are

waging on the planet Venus. These reminders make it clear that

earth is visualized, even in the first two volumes, as something

more than a taking-off point for Ransom's adventures elsewhere.

As White maintains, Lewis' real interest was not in Mars and

Venus but in the problems of earth.

In effect, Ransom traveled to the heavens in order to work

out better his tasks on earth; in Campbell's terms, he returned

from his quest with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.

The conflicts Ransom observes on the planet Mars are conflicts

continued from an earthly setting; the menace exported to Mars,

in the persons of Weston and Devine, reflects the moral maladjust-

ment of society on earth. The barrage of invisible but terrify-

ing influences met by Ransomb friend early in Perelandra, as he



attempts to reach Ransom's blacked-out cottage, demonstrates

the power of the forces with which the scholar-hero must contend.

In the midst of strife on Perelandra Ransom recalls the war that

was raging on earth. References to this war serve to clarify

the issue which Ransom resolves on Venus--through violence.

The third volume of the trilogy carries forward Ransom's struggle

with a difference: the individual hero now leads a group of

likeminded people in the contest between good and evil. Violence

erupts over a wider arena in the course of this strife, This

chapter will explore various aspects of the corporate struggle

that ensues. Lewis' framework encompasses a number of conflicts:

present trends and past traditions, immanent and transcendent

aspects of deity, marriage and the individual, totalitarian

society and free society, and man and nature. By examining these

issues and their interrelationships, Lewis achieves unusual

richness and complexity in this novel.

It will be recalled that Out of the Silent Planet ends with

an exhortation to Ransom to be vigilant and courageous in re-

sisting the evil influence of Weston and Devine: not only on

earth but in other worlds as well. In this manner Lewis fore-

shadows the forthcoming struggle on Perelandra. Both Out of

the Silent Planet and Perelandra conclude with predictions of the

great conflict that will occur when the "siege of Thulcandra,"

earth, is lifted. The third volume of the trilogy, which is set

on earth, deals with one.of the battles that precede this final


As Reilly points out, "The over all 'conceit' of the trilogy

is of battle; the books present a crucial moment in the life of

humanity, part of a scene from the cosmic play that Aquinas

called a purposeful drama" (Romantic Religion, p. 129). The

third volume carries forward the battle conceit in terms that

encompass society as a whole and the opposing forces within it.

These opposing forces group themselves into collective units,

St. Anne's and Belbury. Charles Moorman believes that the image

of the city is "the basis of the Logres-Britain, St. Anne's-

Belbury opposition as it appears in That Hideous Strength.1

Moorman's emphasis on the city imagery reinforces the view that

this stage of the struggle is shared among individuals who have

joined to form a recognizable collective entity.

Here in the dichotomy of Logres and Britain or,
in its more modern terms, St. Anne's and Belbury,
one sees clearly that the opposition of Earth
and the rest of the cosmos which dominates Out
of the Silent Planet and, to a lesser degree,
Perelandra, shifts to an opposition of two sorts
of earthly society which in their attributes and
attitudes resemble very closely the Zion and
Gomorrah of Charles Williams and, by extension,
the two cities of St. Augustine. (Precincts of
Felicity, p. 70)

Lewis has chosen an ambitious theme: though his other struggles

took place on far-off planets which offered unexpected impressions

to the imagination of the reader, an individual viewpoint held

them in focus. The third volume has a more familiar setting,

but its multiplicity of viewpoints and the collective nature

of its clashing powers add to the complexity of Lewis' plotting.


The reader is forced to reconstruct in his imagination two

alternative visions of society from the evidence Lewis provides

in deliberately fragmented form.

The two earlier books present experiences from Ransom's

viewpoint. Though Ransom appears as an important character in

That Hideous Strength, we do not have direct access to his

consciousness. The viewpoint of the novel shifts frequently

from that of an omniscient narrator to that of Mark Studdock

and his wife Jane. At the risk of creating considerable confusion,

Lewis chose to include a variety of viewpoints in this work. For

this reason the reader who is disposed to agree with Starr's

praise of That Hideous Strength2 may still have problems grasping

the total picture. Perhaps in this work particularly, Lewis

attempted to cover too wide a canvas of human life. But as Dos-

twevsky wrote:

Man is broad, even too broad. I'd have him narrower
. God and the Devil are fighting there and the
battlefield is the hearts of men.

These words from The Brothers Karamazoff remind us that Lewis'

characters are not unique in their perception of superhuman powers

locked in combat over the destiny of man. But Lewis, who would

probably have been the first to admit he was no Dostoevsky,

brings considerable breadth of understanding to this work.

And he escapes the fatalism which could be fostered by a vision

of forces demonic and divine struggling to shape the human

future. Even in the corporate struggle described in That

Hideous Strength, it is the individual choices that matter.

For this reason the lack of a face-to-face conflict between

St. Anne's and Belbury does not strike the reader as a let-down

in the momentum of the plot. Rather, the reader will sense that

the almost impersonal dealing out of retribution at the story's

end could not have occurred without the smaller and more personal

involvement of various members of Ransom's community. The

smaller worlds of these characters are shown to be related to

larger issues which they perceive only dimly. The inner con-

flicts of Mark and Jane Studdock affect their marital situation;

this marital conflict has implications for the future of mankind.

Furthermore, Mark Studdock's career ambitions place him in

opposition to Lewis' concept of a good society--and in opposition

to nature itself. Thus Lewis works upward from smaller arenas

to larger, less visible ones. Individual turmoil, marital con-

flict, academic disputes, pressures of society upon the individual,

man versus nature--all these levels of strife are included in

the spiritual struggle of "Britain" and "Logres," a struggle

which has roots deep in the past.

The violence of the past serves to prefigure the violence

of the present; violence towards the artifacts of the past

becomes a symptom of modern demoralization. Both types of vio-

lence are associated with the well in Bragdon Wood, a site

which has aroused controversy because of the effects of the

Belbury group to purchase it from Mark's college. Centuries

before, Lewis notes, "the fabulously learned and saintly Richard

Crowe had been killed by a musket-ball on the very steps of

the well"; his last words were a reproof to the "rebels and

regicides" who murdered him (That Hideous Strength, p. 22).

In this vignette, Lewis is not merely inventing an historical

anecdote to enhance the quaintness of Bracton College; he is

invoking a tradition that throws light on Mark's later struggles

to develop sufficient strength of character to defy Belbury.

We see on the one hand the saintly scholar, who was both victim

and judge of the violent men of his time and, on the other

hand, modern academic fellow Mark Studdock, whose desire for

power makes it difficult for him to understand the nature of the

group which seeks his allegiance. Mark's eventual recognition

of a moral dimension in life, and his willingness to die rather

than to remain a tool of Belbury, reaffirm the values of his

saintly predecessor at the college,

In a different way, Mark's wife feels the significance of

the past. Richard Crowe's death can be regarded as a fore-

shadowing of the violent death of Mark's colleague Hingest at

the hands of Belbury's secret police, an event which Jane

Studdock "witnesses" in a dream:

It was rather horrible, but rather fine. There
were three of them at him and he was fighting them
all. I've read about that kind of thing in books
but I never realized how one would feel about
it. (That Hideous Strength, p. 77)

Ransom's physician, Grace Ironwood, informs Jane that her

psychic ability is a legacy of the past; an ancestor of Jane's

had left an accurate account of a battle "which he says he com-

pleted on the same day on which it was fought. But he was not

at it. He was in York at the time" (That Hideous Strength,

p. 65). Jane's dream (which, like that of her ancestor, deals

with violent action) represents a psychic endowment derived from

the past. Jane perceives this gift as a threat: "Sleep had

become her enemy" (That Hideous Strength, p. 112); "The bright,

narrow little life which she had proposed to live was being

irremediably broken into" (That Hideous Strength, p. 83).

Stresses and strains in her marriage are not the only problems

Jane must face; her mysterious gift creates inner conflict which

is intensified when events precipitate her flight to the St.

Anne's community.headed by Ransom: "During this journey she was

so divided against herself that one might say there were three,

if not four, Janes in the compartment" (That Hideous Strength,

p. 150).

Unlike his wife, who regards the past (her inherited psychic

gift, traditional views of matrimony) as a threat to her present

well-being, Mark Studdock begins to regard the present as a

threat to the past. At first his perspective on such matters

is neutral, as when he learns that the Belbury group "had appar-

ently won some sort of victory which gave it the right to pull

down the little Norman Church at the corner" (That Hideous

Strength, p. 80). But Mark cannot remain an onlooker; his first

assignment as a Belbury employee is to prepare public opinion

for the flooding of the historic village of Cure Hardy. He and

a co-worker named Cosser "walked about that village for two hours

and saw with their own eyes all the abuses and anachronisms they

came to destroy" (That Hideous Strength, p. 87). Traditional

attitudes and habits, not merely architectural monuments, are

obviously the target of Belbury but Mark has reservations.

It did not quite escape him that the face of the
backward labourer was rather more interesting
than Cosser's and his voice a great deal more
pleasing to the ear. (That Hideous Strength, p. 87)

When Mark attempts to express to his co-worker the regrets he

feels about the doomed village's way of life, he meets with total

incomprehension. Mark does not speak out strongly against Bel-

bury's purposes--partly because he does not yet realize the extent

of these purposes, and partly because he is attracted by Bel-

bury's promise of a notable career. He is blind, but not com-

pletely blind, to the destructiveness latent in this group.

And Mark is not present when this destructiveness is most openly

manifested in the early part of the novel when machine-gun fire

is heard outside the common room of his own college:

Glossop had a cut on the forehead, and on the floor
lay the fragments of that famous east window on
which Henrietta Maria had once cut her name with
a diamond. (That Hideous Strength, p. 93)

Once again Lewis concocts a bit of fictitious history to highlight

the conflicting forces in the story. The unruly workingmen im-

ported by Belbury to "develop" property purchased from the

college constitute a threat to the order of the community, An

echo of the destruction that had threatened the college in Crowe's

day shatters the academic calm. In a conversation near the end

of the book, however, Lewis emphasizes the fact that the doctrines

put into action by Belbury had all been expounded, in one form or

another, at the college. While presenting the academic community

as vulnerable to outbreaks of violence, he also insists on its

responsibility for shaping the climate of opinion in which

Belbury found acceptance.

As the story unfolds, Mark Studdock (rather surprisingly)

acquires the courage to defend the past traditions which are

threatened by Belbury. A symbolic act of violence which a

Belbury superior commands Mark to perform provides a turning-

point in this process. As with the incident of the shattered

window, Lewis selects a melodramatic instance, but one which is

pertinent in the context of the story. Mark's refusal to insult

a crucifix stems not from religious scruples--he is too secular-

minded a person--but from a disinclination to add further injury,

even symbolically, to one who had been victimized by the Belbury

of former times. The crucifix, a depiction of suffering revered

by past ages, becomesthe means of Mark's illumination concerning

the nature of Belbury. At last he finds the courage to condemn

evil as Richard Crowe had done. In this way, like Jane, he

aligns himself with a revitalized past. /

The foregoing summary might tempt one to conclude that

Lewis tended to exalt the past at the expense of the present;

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