Symbols in "Perelandra" by C.S. Lewis

Topics: C. S. Lewis, Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden Pages: 5 (1932 words) Published: April 6, 2003
Analysis of Symbols and Themes in C.S. Lewis's


British author C.S. Lewis's "Perelandra" is one of the most religiously relevant fantasy novels ever written. Set on the exotic planet of Perelandra (Venus), it contains within its pages the Creation legend of Adam and Eve, set in our time but in a different world. "Perelandra" is a story of an unspoiled world, the Garden of Eden denied to the residents of earth but still open to the two inhabitants of Perelandra. C.S. Lewis uses this unspoiled planet to retell the biblical creation myth of Adam and Eve. In the book, Maleldil, the supernatural ruler of the Solar System sends the English philologist Ransom to Perelandra. Once there, he finds a world unspoiled by sin, inhabited by The Green Lady and her King. Ransom soon discovers his reason for being sent to Perelandra, when the English physicist Dr. Weston arrives. Weston is soon inhabited by the spirit of Satan, and is used as a vehicle to tempt the Green Lady into sin. Ransom meets the Prince of Darkness in a battle for the perfection of this world, and corruption or salvation of the Green Lady. Ransom frantically tries to outwit Weston's master by debate and persuasion, and eventually comes into physical combat with Satan in Weston's body. At the conclusion of the story, Weston's body is unusable to Satan, and so the Green Lady and King of this strange world remain obedient to Maleldil and free from sin, preserving the paradise planet that is Perelandra.

"Perelandra" is the tale of a great struggle between good and evil. It's central theme - temptation - is obviously well addressed in the course of the book. In fact, the entire book is rampant with obvious symbols and parallels between this story and that of the Adam and Eve creation story, and many are explained directly through the thoughts of Ransom, which are written in the omniscient form of narration. Symbol is obvious even in the early parts of the book. Ransom makes contact with an eldila in his cottage, and this is where he is given details of the voyage he is about to make. The eldila appear as patches of light, and come into the story as instructing Ransom in the task that has been assigned to him by Maleldil. The eldila are the servants of Maleldil, and represent the servants of god, the angels. Maleldil, obviously, represents Christ, as is proved during the course of the book. Later in the book other similarities can be seen between Maleldil and Christ, with Maleldil communicating with the Green Lady just as Christ instructed Eve. We can also clearly see Maleldil's godly supernatural powers, like the ability to transport Ransom across the vacuum of space in just a small coffin.

Once Ransom arrives on Perelandra, we can see perhaps the greatest and most obvious symbol of the book. From the moment he witnesses the great warm freshwater oceans of Perelandra and it's great floating islands of soft weed with trees bearing delicious fruit, we can see that Perelandra is clearly intended to symbolize the Garden of Eden. Perelandra is a new paradise, free from sin and unspoiled. It is on one of the great floating islands that Ransom also has his first brush with temptation. As he walks through the forests on the floating islands, he sees several trees bearing large gourds. He splits one open and drinks from it, and is instantly rewarded with the most pleasurable experience of his life. C.S. Lewis writes "And yet to repeat a pleasure so intense and almost so spiritual seemed the obvious thing to do...Perhaps the experience had been so complete that repetition would be a vulgarity." Ransom is faced here with his own temptation, his internal debate over whether to obey that feeling he has not to taste again the gourd, or to give into his lust for it's intense pleasure. This is a minor temptation, and Ransom successfully resists it.

The emergence of the temptation theme may have begun with the drinking of the gourd of the gourd, but it intensifies...
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