That Hideous Strength – Chapter Seven – The Pendragon

For the first time in all those years she tasted the word King itself with all linked associations of battle, marriage, priesthood, mercy, and power.

Jane’s transformation has begun.

thsSUMMARY

Arrival at St. Anne’s – Mr Bultitude – A Conversation with the Company – Jane meets the Director – A trip back to Edgestow – Jane and the Fairy – Calm after the storm

DISCUSSION

Marriage and Sex

On the marriage front, it really gets heavy in this chapter. Fisher-King really drills down into Jane’s marriage. And its quite good for her. She’s never actually thought about marriage from any place resembling a good starting point. Marriage to Jane was some extraneous institution she was (probably temporarily) involved in. She calls her own marriage a failure. And she certainly doesn’t think anything Mark says or does should affect her. Just because they’re married and all…

Fisher-King, for his part, says that its not really his views that are important, but his “Masters.” The authorities on high. They take these things very seriously. By that he means the eldila, the oyarsa and I guess Maleldil (Christ).

If Jane and Mark are married, and are one flesh, then Jane coming to St. Anne’s while Mark has joined their enemy at Belbury would be very complicated. There may be a point where Mark was wholly given to Belbury and wanted to make Jane their prisoner. At that point it would probably be appropriate for Jane to leave Mark. But up until things get very bad, she should submit to him as his wife.

Now this is not a popular way to speak in our feminist day and age. Am I saying that women are worth less than men or cannot think for themselves, make their own decisions? No. But within marriage, a wife is to submit to her husband. That much is clear, scripturally. Within the church their are duties for men and women that differ, in what they do, though not in how important. And outside of the church and home there are differences in leadership duties, though that gets more complex.

For the Company at St. Anne’s, there are parallels to the church. I’ll grant that this is only a modern fairy-tale for adults, but there are parallels. And since there are, the Company can only have Jane who is married, who is one flesh with Mark, assuming that Mark approves. And he would not approve of her joining a Company bent on the defeat, if not destruction, of his own company. Therein lies the rub.

Jane first wants to know if she can join the company and avoid the question of her husband altogether. This is when Fisher-King explains that it would depend on the circumstances of the danger, how much danger, how deep her husband was. He further explains that she needs to get Mark out of Belbury and she meets this with dismissal, saying it would be impossible. Fisher-King replies, “Do you not want to save him as well as yourself?” (143). Does Jane want to save him? She doesn’t love him. She doesn’t care much for him. He and the marriage have only been a problem. Best not to think too much about whether she wants to save him. So…

Jane ignores this question and instead begs to stay, due to her fear of the “dreams.”

Jane then begins to explain, inadvertently – though obviously – that she doesn’t love her husband. And she says its no one’s fault, that there marriage was just a mistake. Ah, but Fisher-King has an answer here:

“You do not fail in obedience through lack of love, but have lost love because you never attempted obedience.” (145)

(I like the way Fisher-King never hesitates just to move to the main point. It reminds me of Jesus’s conversations in John.) This hits Jane like a sack of bricks. And she likes it. She likes it to the point that she likes the man who uttered it:

Obedience – though certainly not obedience to Mark – came over her, in that room an din that presence, like a strange oriental perfume, perilous, seductive, and ambiguous…” (145)

Fisher-King rebuffs her immediately. Jane had previously said she didn’t want to become a part of the Fisher-Kings group of adoring women. Now she is contemplating that very thing in the worst possible way. But it goes nowhere. Fortunately. Jane, Jane, Jane.

Jane responds that she thought love and marriage were about equality and companionship. Equality seems to be a word Fisher-King would vomit from his mouth. At least where marriage is concerned. I guess there is a difference in equality and being equal. Neither is very important in marriage. Equality, he explains, is important on one level due to our sin, our fallen nature, but it isn’t a virtue at heart.

We were made to wear clothes for the same reason. But the naked body should be there underneath the clothes, ripening for the day when we shall need them no longer. (145)

Just as equality is a short-term benefit, so are clothes. A necessary evil. Good for protection for our fallen nature. But at its core, it is just waiting for a day when it can be shed. A day when no one will worry about who is equal because we will all be giving all of ourselves to everyone else all of the time. Was Christ worried about equality when he hung on the cross, a suffering servant, sinless, perfect, dying for the wicked sinful rebellious people. Equality had nothing to do with it. And it has nothing to do with any other love, certainly not marriage.

When two become one flesh, there is no longer room for equality. For they are one. They suffer together. They sing together. But they also suffer from each other. That is how you love. You sacrifice. You give of yourself for another’s good, another’s happiness. There is no time to think of equality.

(I love this book! Such a convicting passage. You should really read it.)

Courtship knows nothing of [equality.] Nor does fruition. What has [equality] to do with that? Those who are enjoying something, or suffering something together, are companions. Those who enjoy or suffer  one another, are not. Do you not know how bashful friendship is? Friends – comrades – do not look at each other. Friendship would be ashamed… (145)

Jane had never even considered love, marriage, in such a way. I fear many of us do not. Lewis is so good, sometimes, on marriage and love and sex. To this, Fisher-King crowns his argument, his explanation, of love and marriage:

Obedience – humility – is the erotic necessity. (146)

Wow!

And I don’t think Lewis means this as a description of a floor-mat wife. I don’t think he is even talking specifically of a wife’s obedience to her husband, but each of their obedience to Christ. Obeying their sex and demonstrating to the world – the visible and invisible – the  loving relationship between Christ and his Bride, Mother Kirk.

(Paul tells us that this is a great mystery. It is certainly profound. What a great book.)

Jane’s Journey

One thing I want to highlight are Jane’s and Mark’s spiritual journeys. I have written on this previously. Chapter seven really doesn’t say anything about Mark but it has a lot to say about Jane in her meeting Fisher-King.

I will go ahead and say that Fisher-King is Ransom from the previous books. It should be obvious. His travel, his communications with his “Masters,” his foot wound that will not heal. So Ransom is a representative, on Earth, basically of Maleldil, or Christ. (I’m tired of writing out Fisher-King. So now I will call him Ransom.)

(Now, I don’t want to go too far and say Maleldil is Christ. I just mean that in this world he represents who we know as the Second Person of the Trinity. I will probably say Maleldil mostly when talking about the events within the book and refer to Jesus specifically when talking about real life. But I may mix it up some. Please forgive. I’m trying not to be blasphemous here.)

When Jane meets Ransom, there is a flash of her understanding the transcendence of Christ the King. It is a flash that only lasts a moment. But its a fissure in her armor, her understanding of herself. She’s no longer the most important person in her life – just for a second. This article’s lead quote above refers to this moment. Ransom emanates kingliness, royalty, even divinity. For he has been with the divine.

This brings about a major change for Jane:

But her world was unmade; she knew that. Anything might happen now. (140)

And why not? Its a modern fairy-tale for grown-ups, isn’t it? The sentiment is echoed almost word for word on the following page and we see a change in Jane soon – as regards her concern for Mark. It takes time for the truth to sink in, but the important thing is that it is sinking. This unmaking of her world is a blend of joy and fear. Much as the ladies who had visited the tomb of Jesus. (But He was not there, of course.)

You see this change in Jane on her train-ride home. There were now four Janes, or, rather, four different mindsets. The third Jane, though, was really grappling with the directors words.

…a resolution to give Mark much more than she ever had before, and a feeling that in so doing she would be really giving it to the Director (148)

This shows Jane has had a fundamental change. She really wants to give to Mark.

The second part of the statement – that she is really giving to the Director (Ransom) – is in my opinion a swing and a miss from Lewis. I think the underlying idea is Jesus’s words that whatever you do for the least of these, you do for God. This is a good and fine teaching from our Lord. (I can’t say my affirmation of it adds to Jesus’s words, though.) But I will say that applying this to Ransom is overstepping. Lewis wants to achieve more here than he can, at least in this way. It may have worked if it weren’t for the quasi-romantic feelings Jane had for Ransom earlier (145). That just ruins it. Its a “home-run swing” but its a strike-out. The strike-out continues on page 146, but I won’t belabor it.

After returning to Edgestow and being detained and nearly abducted to Belbury – which would have been disastrous for Jane – she ends up back at St. Anne’s. Maybe the unpleasantness in Edgestow raises the danger level enough for the Director to admit her. Witness protection and all.

Ransom

A quick point here:

Ransom looks young, though he is actually quite a bit older than Jane. He has met face-to-face with heavenly beings and spiritual beings and even human beings who are not marked with original sin. I am reminded of two things: One is Moses. He would meet with God his face shone and he had to veil it in front of the people. The second is a reference to Moses’s veiled face in 2 Corinthians (pronounced “Two” Corinthians). When we see Christ we are transformed into glory. Well, Ransom has seen much, if not Maleldil Himself, and he is golden and young, yet old at the same time. I enjoy Lewis’s description here. It is of one who is close to Maleldil and not one who embodies or represents Maleldil (as he seems to in Jane’s mind). Though he does have that foot wound.

Mr. Bultitude is mentioned for the first time (136). I like it.

Jove is mentioned during Jane’s trainride back to Edgestow:

She was in the sphere of Jove, amid light and music and festal pomp, brimmed with life and radiant in health, jocund and clothed in shining garments. (149)

Lewis liked the planets, the medieval cosmology. The different planets had different characteristics. Much of this was based on the old Greek and Roman pagan imaginings of the gods that the planets represented. Lewis even wrote an interesting poem about the planets. Jove, or Jupiter, basically represents the happy king. The characteristics of all of the planets tell us, in Lewis’s imaginings, of the different aspects of God’s nature. So where the Greeks imagined different gods, Lewis sees incomplete reflections of the real God. Fairly interesting. A lot could be said of this understanding as its shown in the Ransom Trilogy, as well as Lewis’s other fiction. (In fact a lot has been said in the recent past.) I won’t belabor it here. I will only point out that it was Jove, who Ransom saw sailing through that strange western galaxy – in Out of the Silent Planet. It is Jove who is Lewis’s favorite of these pagan views of God and Jove will make an entrance later in the book. The description here of music, light, pomp, and good health are very characteristic of Jove. I will close with a portion of his poem:

                                 …Of wrath ended
And woes mended, of winter passed
And guilt forgiven, and good fortune
Jove is master; and of jocund revel…