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Till We Have Faces (1956) Uniqueness within Lewis’ fiction  Genre – MYTH  “Into an allegory a man can put only what he already knows; in a myth he.

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Presentation on theme: "Till We Have Faces (1956) Uniqueness within Lewis’ fiction  Genre – MYTH  “Into an allegory a man can put only what he already knows; in a myth he."— Presentation transcript:


2 Till We Have Faces (1956)

3 Uniqueness within Lewis’ fiction  Genre – MYTH  “Into an allegory a man can put only what he already knows; in a myth he puts what he does not yet know and could not come by in any other way.” – C. S. Lewis  Origin – Apuleius’ Metamorphoses  Psychology

4 Plot Summary

5 Orual’s suffering  Shame – over her physical ugliness  Loss of Psyche  “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.” – Lewis, Four Loves, p. 166  Mask / Veil

6 Orual, like Job Orual’s complaint against the gods: “I say, therefore that there is no creature (toad, scorpion, or serpent) so noxious to man as the gods. Let them answer my charge if they can. It may well be that, instead of answering, they’ll strike me mad or leprous or turn me into beast, bird, or tree. But will not all the world then know (and the gods will know it knows) that this is because they have no answer?” “…know then that God has put me in the wrong and closed his net about me…I call for help, but there is no justice. He has walled up my way, so that I cannot pass, and he has set darkness upon my paths. He has stripped from me my glory and taken the crown from my head.” (Job 19:6, 7b, 8-9)

7 Reflection brings change Writing as reflection that brings revelation: “What began the change was the very writing itself. Let no one lightly set about such a work. Memory, once waked, will play the tyrant…The past which I wrote down was not the past that I thought I had (all these years) been remembering…The change which the writing wrought in me…was only a beginning—only to prepare me for the gods’ surgery. They used my own pen to probe my wound.” (p. 253-4)

8 “… those divine Surgeons had me tied down and were at work.”  Writing  Awareness  Re: Redival, upon encounter with Tarin  Re: the Fox  Re: Bardia, upon his death, the rite of Ungit, and the vision in the subterranean Pillar Room

9 Realization: “I am Ungit” “With her realization of the truth of Ansit’s words—that she is Ungit (or the Shadowbrute), that she as Queen has drained the country as she believes the house of Ungit has—Orual tries to reform herself, to practice Platonic philosophy, to be calm and dispassionate and wise, but she finds herself unable.” – Joe R. Christopher

10 Orual’s Helplessness “Amiable agnostics will talk cheerfully about ‘man’s search for God.’ To me, as I then was, they might as well have talked about the mouse’s search for the cat.” – C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy When Orual tries take her own life, but is stopped by the voice of the god, “’Die before you die. There is no chance after.’” (p. 278) She then writes in cold dispassion: “There was no rebel in me now. I must not drown and doubtless should not be able to.” (p. 279)

11 Effort at Righteousness  “…if I practiced true philosophy, as Socrates meant it, I should change my ugly soul into a fair one. And this, the gods helping me, I would do. I would set about it at once…I would set out boldly each morning to be just and calm and wise in all my thoughts and acts; but before they had finished dressing me I would find that I was back (and knew not how long I had been back in some old rage, resentment, gnawing fantasy, or sullen bitterness. I could not hold out half an hour.” (p. 282)

12 Tainted Love  Even Orual’s love for Psyche is selfish. She cries out in her complaint to the gods: “Why did you lie to me? You said a brute would devour her. Well, why didn’t it? I’d have wept for her and buried what was left and built her a tomb and…and…But to steal her love from me!” (p. 290)  “Orual is [not a symbol] but an instance, a ‘case’ of human affection in its natural condition, true, tender, suffering, but in the long run tyrannically possessive and ready to turn to hatred when the beloved ceases to be its possession. What such love particularly cannot stand is to see the beloved passing into a sphere where it cannot follow.” -- Nathan Comfort Starr

13 Idolatry “We may give our human loves the unconditional allegiance which we owe only to God. Then they become gods: then they become demons.” – Lewis, Four Loves

14 Stripped of self- righteousness “The complaint was the answer…I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?” (p. 294) “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?’” (Job 38:1) Job responds: “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you, therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:6)

15 The Final Vision  Repentance  Reconciliation   Judgment  Forgiveness  Vicarious suffering & Death  Imputation  Resurrection  JOY “I ended my first book with the words no answer. I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?” (p. 308)

16 “You also are Psyche”

17 Beauty for Ashes  “…the Lord has anointed me…to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit…”  “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10)

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