Perelandra – Chapter Eight

SUMMARY

Ransom awakes on the Fixed Land not feeling as good as expected and then worse when he discovers Weston has left. Later Ransom notices one of the (what I will call) saddle-fish. He gets on and it takes off, seemingly with a predetermined location in mind. Darkness falls and Ransom notices glowing life-forms underwater. He notes some underwater swimming creatures that look almost human in the face but without the intelligence – not idiotic or brutal but without human expression.

He lands on a floating island in the dark and falls asleep. He awakes before dawn to here Weston speaking with the Green Lady. He is challenging her to think about sleeping on the Fixed Land, if not to actually do it. She can see no purpose in thinking about it if it is forbidden, but he tells her it will be enriching. She doesn’t yield and Weston stops speaking and sleeps. Ransom feels that this has been a great victory and wonders if his purpose was simply to be witness to this moment.

SCI-FI ASPECT

Several sea creatures are visible to Ransom:

Strange bursting star shells with writhing streaks of a bluish-green luminosity appeared… A whole world of phosphorescent creatures seemed to be at play… coiling eels and darting things in complete armour and then heraldrically fantastic shapes to which the sea horse of our own waters would be commonplace. (87)

He also notes some very odd creatures, “nearly human in shape,” basically mermen or mermaids, but with a “total absence of human expression.” They seemed almost precursors to humans, but not human itself, more “elvish” than anything. Amoral creatures. Ransom stops to wonder whether these creatures could be some type of pre-form of the King and Queen.

METAPHYSICAL ASPECT

Herein lies Weston’s first attempts at tempting the Green Lady to sleep on the island. The reader isn’t privy to the beginning of the conversation. How did he introduce the idea of thinking about sleeping on the Fixed Land? Temptation itself is not wrong, but scripture never encourages one to meditate on sin, but upon whatever is true…

He compares thinking about breaking Maleldil’s law to creating poetry. But the Green Lady lives to love and worship him: “How beautiful is Maleldil and how wonderful are all his works” (91) she states echoing Psalm 92 (among others).

He also encourages her to try to be wiser than the king and to be like the women of Thulcandra who he says are “little Maleldils” and who already know what is good for themselves.

Lewis wrote extensively in the Screwtape Letters on imagining what it would be like to be a tempter. Parallels are present between Weston’s words and the serpent’s words in Genesis 3. He doesn’t just come out and say, go ahead and eat it. Don’t worry about those rules. He takes a round-about way of getting to that. He tells Eve that eating the fruit will make her like God, so it really is good for her. He is not quite so direct with the Green Lady, though sleeping on the island is not so explicitly going to give her knowledge that only God possesses. Still he tries to push her toward thinking like the women of Thulcandra, to desire to be wise, wiser than the King. And he wraps all of that around breaking the only rule she has, or at least thinking about it.

PROPOSED CHAPTER TITLE

And Weston Was the Most Crafty of All the Creatures

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