The pattern of decision : a structural analysis of the fiction of C. S. Lewis



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Each of C. S. Lewis' fictional works is based upon a moral or religious decision by the protagonist. Lewis presents this decision through a consistent structural pattern which may be summarized as follows: the hero embarks upon a Quest; he undergoes some kind of Suffering, which prepares him to make his decision; he receives a Revelation of the nature of his conflict; he makes the central Decision; he makes a Sacrifice of his pride, which could separate him from God; he receives an Enlightenment of the goodness of God; he receives an Empowering, which enables him to have victory over his enemies; he makes Subsequent Decisions to confirm the central Decision; and, finally, he enjoys the Conquest, which occurs upon a supernatural as well as natural level. In this paper, I analyse in detail three of Lewis' books, The Pilgrim's Regress (1933), Out of the Silent Planet (1943), and Till We Have Faces (1956), according to this "Pattern of Decision" and attempt to illustrate how this structural analysis is a valuable critical tool in the evaluation of Lewis' novels.