Perelandra – Chapter Seven

SUMMARY

Ransom finds that Weston has grown quite adept in Old Solar. Weston tries to speak to the Green Lady, but though his words are intelligible to her, his meaning is not. She hastens off the Fixed Land, a relief to Ransom, yet her reasons for doing so and his reasons for relief are quite different. Weston draws his revolver though who his aiming at – Ransom or the Green Lady – is unclear. I think he is forbidding Ransom from leaving the Fixed Land. Ransom tells him he ought not make his entrance by murdering an inhabitant. Weston counters by accusing Ransom of seducing her which Ransom accurately denies.

After helping Weston unload his wears, the sit down and talk. Weston explains that he has grown in his knowledge and understanding since they were last met on Malacandra. He is now very spiritual. He sees God or Heaven as the future for which he longs and the devil as that force that presses them toward it. Indeed he sees God and the devil as equal parts of this Force, even going so far as to call it the Holy Spirit and says that he too is part of the Spirit or Force, a “blind, inarticulate purposiveness.”

Ransom objects and Weston goes off the deep end, saying that he is the Universe, the God and Devil. “I call that Force into me completely…” (82). Then he has a sort of apoplectic fit that looks painful and ends lying in a catatonic state. Ransom, unsure what to do, tosses the revolver into the sea and then retreats deeper into the Fixed Land to search for food. But night finds him too quickly and he lays down to a comfortless night.

In short, Weston has become possessed by demonic evil.

METAPHYSICAL ASPECT

There isn’t a lot in this chapter that could be predominantly called science fiction that hasn’t already been established. The heart of the chapter is given to Weston’s argument for his next steps. Where he’d previously denied being a “metaphysician” (OOTSP chapter 20). But now he seems to have become little else.

First let us note that Weston’s conversation with the Green Lady of Perelandra gets nowhere. Ransom has his difficulties in communicating with her. Certain concepts that each of them have are foreign to the other. Certain words have different meanings to the two. But they can engage in meaningful and beneficial conversation. This is not the case between her and Weston: “It is no use… You and I are not old enough to speak together, it seems,” (74). The reader is not given their conversation, only the fact that it is fruitless. Possibly he was introducing himself in a grand Weston-ish way, or possibly he was trying to ask if Ransom had seduced her. Or maybe it was something else altogether. Maybe she was trying to introduce herself. Whichever thing happened, it went no where.

Also, Weston’s initial question (from the very end of the previous chapter) confused me: “May I ask you, Dr Ransom, what is the meaning of this?” (73). But I think he meant, what are you doing? Seducing a native? At any rate they put that question behind them (whether Weston accepts Ransom’s defense or not we do not know and Ransom does not care) and proceed to discuss Weston’s change.

Weston’s arrogance is on display from the beginning. Lewis goes so far as to point it out to us explicitly:

Ransom felt very much inclined to laugh. But it occurred to him that this was possibly the first occasion in his whole life in which Weston had ever acknowledged himself in the wrong, and that even the false dawn of humility, which is still ninety-nine per cent of arrogance, ought no to be rebuffed – or not by him. (76)

Further, he speaks of solving the problems of humanities utility, interplanetary and interstellar travel, only to have it “wrenched” from him by a “hostile intelligent species” (77). He goes on to refer to himself as the greatest scientist in the world. All this has been part of his journey, guided by some Force.

It seems Weston has developed this religious philosophy of a Life Force that has chosen him and has propelled him forward. It is a Spirit (he goes so far as to call it the Holy Spirit) that is using him to push forward toward its goals. Weston sees that this Spirit should be something Ransom, a religious man, could get on board with.

Yet Ransom rebuffs him, telling him a spirit may not be a good force. Just because it is a spirit doesn’t make it “good for you” (80). Weston believes Christians worship God because he is a spirit. Ransom tries to point out that isn’t it at all, it is because he is “wise and good,” that even the devil is a spirit.

This gets Ransom going again back onto his point of everything being a part of this Force, Meaning, Spirit:

Your heaven is a picture of the perfect spirituality ahead; you hell a picture of the urge or nisus which is driving us on to it from behind…. The next stage of emergent evolution… is God; the transcended stage behind, ejecting us, is the Devil. (80-81)

From the purely theoretical, Weston then divulges that some of the change that’s come in him has been experiential as well. Ransom challenges his argument that he has been pushed on by this Force toward its goals, saying that Weston has been pressed on only by his own thoughts and others books. But Weston maintains that he has had some type of contact with spiritual beings (who need not be good, as Ransom pointed out, and as we have previously seen in the fallen eldila) who have taught him Old Solar. Indeed he cites “Guidance… Things coming into my head. I’m being prepared all the time. Being made a fit receptacle for it.”

Weston says he is reaching forward not for God but for power or “dynamism” or what religious people very often call the Devil (82). He states that he would follow this Life-Force no matter what it demanded, “transcending moralism” into “diabolism.”

As Weston speaks, as he makes his argument, and Ransom comes against it (though Ransom is much less verbose, which is likely intended), Weston finally arrives at his sort-of carthartic moment, except that it is an evil catharsis, a point where he completely gives into this evil Life-Force: “I call that Force into me completely…” (82). At this point he seems to become possessed, literally, of this spirit, this Force. As if to hammer this home, for second the old Weston re-appears and pleads with Ransom “for Christ’s sake” to help him. But alas, he is too far gone, and Ransom too ill-equipped, to stop this horrible thing from happening.

Weston has become evil-incarnate and Ransom must struggle with him during his time there, though he doesn’t fully realize it yet.

Genesis 3 tells us that the serpent was more crafty than any other creature God had made. So Satan possesses and uses the serpent and does his bidding through it. On Perelandra the most crafty creature is the visiting man, Weston. And similarly Satan possesses and will use him in his temptation of the Green Lady.

PROPOSED CHAPTER TITLE

The Possession

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