Essay on C.S. Lewis's "Till We Have Faces"

Essay on C.S. Lewis's "Till We Have Faces"

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C.S. Lewis's "Till We Have Faces"


     C.S. Lewis’s book Till We Have Faces is about the myth of Psyche and Cupid. However, in the original tale Psyche is a very naive girl who is greatly influenced by her two wicked older sisters. In this rendition of the tale, Psyche’s sisters are not evil and Psyche is not a mindless fool as she has been portrayed in earlier tales.

Setting

     The story takes place in the kingdom of Glome. Glome’s social perspective is not surprisingly, a male dominant society and values woman as only child bearers, keepers of the homestead, or as a marriage treaty with neighboring kingdoms to attract new power and influence to the kingdom. The people of Glome are deeply religious to the Goddess Ungit, and offer human sacrifices to her, including the sacrifice of Princess Psyche.

Character Description

     In the eyes of the king, and the people of Glome, Orual appears to accept her ascribed role. Her lack of physical beauty sets Orual apart from the other woman of her society, her appearance allows her to write her own modes of acceptable behavior. Orual operates on two levels, one to satisfy her needs and the other to appear conforming to her father’s wishes and expectations. For example, after Psyche had been offered to Ungit, Orual felt the need to bury her sister. Orual, to be somewhat pleasing in the eyes of her father, kept her visit to the Holy tree a secret so prevent the wrath of her father. C.S. Lewis hints that Orual is a different sort of woman while he discusses her love for Psyche. Orual said “I wanted to be a wife so that I could have been her real mother. I wanted to be a boy so she could be in love with me. I wanted her to be my full sister instead of my half sister. I wanted her to be a slave so that I could set her free and make her rich.” In the middle of all these desires is a statement that is easily overlooked. To secure the love of Psyche, Orual wants “... to be a boy so she could be in love with me.” The idea that she has a desire to be a boy suggests the possibility of assuming roles that are normally ascribed to men. With the king on his deathbed, Orual attends the affairs of state in his place. She has advisors but they do not do the thinking for her, Orual achieves a certain amount of independence. The postscript to Orual’s story, attached by Arnom, priest of Aphrodite, assets to her succes...


... middle of paper ...


...Orual realizes that the fundamental purpose of human beings is to reach a union with the divine or divine love. Orual has a vision, and in this vision she watches Psyche set about her tasks and the many temptations and images of herself, the fox, and others that tempt Psyche.

     By reading Till We Have Faces, it is my belief that C.S. Lewis wanted to inspire the reader to search ourselves and motives and find the ugliness and try to purge ourselves from it. Till We Have Faces is not so much about a classic myth but about the heartbreak that we suffer from our own corruption. Redival’s corruption caused Psyche to be sacrificed and Orual to be unhappy. But was Redival really corrupt or perhaps she felt rejected that her older sister preferred to spend time in the company of Psyche, ignoring Redival, and that is why Redival tried to dispose of Psyche. Orual’s corrupted love caused Psyche’s misery and separation from her husband. However, perhaps C.S. Lewis wanted to show the reader that when we sin, we suffer loss and separation. Psyche doubted her husband and disobeyed him by looking at his face, which is why she was cast away from him, to purge herself of her transgression.

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