Images of good and evil in C. S. Lewis' space trilogy

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1976

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Lewis' space trilogy contains images of good and evil that are generally consistent with the concepts of good and evil as presented in his apologetic writings. For Lewis, the goodness of a rational being consists in abdicating the will of self in favor of the will of the Christian God. This abdication makes possible an entrance into God's Hierarchy, a divine system of self-giving in which true selfhood is increasingly realized through a continuous self-abdication. Conversely, evil consists in the enthronement of the self, and the consequent rejection of God and God's Hierarchy. The images of good and evil in Lewis' space trilogy are presented in terms of the submission and the assertion of the self. Considered in this context, the theme of Out of the Silent Planet is the submission of the self to the claims of Maledil (the deity) and of Maledil's Hierarchy. The second and third volumes explore the related unities that result from this submission. The primary concerns of Perelandra are self-integration, and the integration of the whole self into the cosmic Hierarchy. That Hideous Strength continues the development of the themes of the second volume, but presents them through social, rather than cosmic, images, with particular emphasis upon modern man in a technological world. This thesis traces the ways posited by Lewis by which man may escape the evils of imprisonment within the self, and begin to participate in the manifold goodness of God.

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