For Orual, love doesn’t come without jealousy. Her jealousy stems in large part from her ugliness, which makes her very insecure about the affection that anyone shows her, because characters such as the King, Redival, and Batta have always shown their disgust at her appearance and made it clear that she will never be able to marry. Essentially, she has been taught that she is unlovable, so she more easily recognizes the ways in which people don’t love her than the ways in which they do. Due to her appearance, Orual does not receive the sort of automatic love that the beautiful Psyche does. She has to work to gain the love and respect of those around her, and when she does, she doesn’t want to share it with anyone else. Both of her two great loves, Psyche and Bardia, have commitments to love their partners, which to Orual means only that they can’t love her.
Orual often remains blind to the love of those around her, instead telling herself that the people she loves will never love her as she loves them. Orual spends much of her adult life secretly loving Bardia and feeling jealous of his wife. No matter how much time Bardia spends serving Orual, he always goes home to his wife and children at night, and Orual sees this as proof that his family has more of his devotion than she does, that she is simply his job. However, when Bardia dies and Orual goes to visit his wife, Ansit, she discovers that Ansit has been jealous of her the whole time. Ansit believes that Orual and Bardia had a special bond due to their long hours spent in companionship on the battlefield and in the council room. For both women, their love of Bardia was marred by their jealousy of the other, each believing that the other had Bardia’s true devotion, when in fact he was devoted to each of them in different ways.
Furthermore, Orual finds out that her sister Redival, who she believed hated her and Psyche, has long craved Orual’s love, which she lost when Psyche was born and Orual turned her attention away from Redival. Redival’s cruelty to Psyche, which led in part to her being chosen as the sacrifice to the Shadowbrute, came from her jealousy of Psyche as Orual’s most beloved sister.
By the end of the book, it becomes evident that Orual’s complaint against the gods comes from her jealousy of them more than anything. The god of the Mountain has taken Psyche from Orual and given her a perfect life in a divine palace. The beauty and power of the gods means they can acquire the love and devotion of any humans they want, and Orual believes she can never hope to compete with them for the love of her sister. In fact, in Orual’s final vision, the Fox prophesies that as the gods become more beautiful, humans will become more and more jealous of them and do all they can to keep their loved ones from giving themselves up to the divine as they should.
Although many characters are consumed by jealousy, their jealousy only ever leads them into self-torment. Rather than recognizing others’ love for them, they instead convince themselves that their beloveds save their purest love for someone else. It is only ever too late that the characters come to a more accurate understanding of the fact that they were, in fact, loved. Finally, Lewis seems to argue that jealousy keeps people like Orual from loving God and becoming united with the divine.
Jealousy Quotes in Till We Have Faces
The Fox clapped his hands and sang, “Prettier than Andromeda, prettier than Helen, prettier than Aphrodite herself.”
“Speak words of better omen, Grandfather,” I said, though I knew he would scold and mock me for saying it. For at his words, though on that summer day the rocks were too hot to touch, it was as if a soft, cold hand had been laid on my left side, and I shivered.... I knew it is not good to talk that way about Ungit.
Her beauty, which most of them had never seen, worked on them as a terror might work. Then a low murmur, almost a sob, began; swelled, broke into the gasping cry, “A goddess, a goddess.” One woman’s voice rang out clear. “It is Ungit herself in mortal shape.”
Since I write this book against the gods, it is just that I should put into it whatever can be said against myself. So let me set this down: as she spoke I felt, amid all my love, a bitterness. Though the things she was saying gave her (that was plain enough) courage and comfort, I grudged her that courage and comfort. It was as if someone or something else had come in between us. If this grudging is the sin for which the gods hate me, it is one I have committed.
While I was in there, one of the other soldiers... came into the passage and said something to Bardia. Bardia replied, I couldn’t hear what. Then he spoke louder: “Why, yes, it’s a pity about her face. But she’s a brave girl and honest. If a man was blind and she weren’t the King’s daughter, she’d make him a good wife.” And that is the nearest thing to a love-speech that was ever made me.
For the world had broken in pieces and Psyche and I were not in the same piece. Seas, mountains, madness, death itself, could not have removed her from me to such a hopeless distance as this. Gods, and again gods, always gods... they had stolen her. They would leave us nothing. A thought pierced up through the crust of my mind like a crocus coming up in the early year. Was she not worthy of the gods? Ought they not to have her? But instantly great, choking, blinding waves of sorrow swept it away....
“Get up, girl,” I said. “Do you hear me? Do as you’re told. Psyche, you’ve never disobeyed me before.”
She looked up (wetter every moment) and said, very tender in voice but hard as stone in her determination, “Dear Maia, I am a wife now. It’s no longer you that I must obey.”
I learned then how one can hate those one loves. My fingers were round her wrist in an instant, my other hand on her upper arm. We were struggling.
He made it to be as if, from the beginning, I had known that Psyche’s lover was a god, and as if all my doubtings, fears, guessings, debatings, questionings of Bardia, questionings of the Fox, all the rummage and business of it, had been trumped-up foolery, dust blown in my own eyes by myself. You, who read my book, judge. Was it so?
For if the true story had been like their story, no riddle would have been set me; there would have been no guessing and no guessing wrong. More than that, it’s a story belonging to a different world, a world in which the gods show themselves clearly and don’t torment men with glimpses, nor unveil to one what they hide from another, nor ask you to believe what contradicts your eyes and ears and nose and tongue and fingers.
But to steal her love from me! ...Do you think that we mortals will find you gods easier to bear if you’re beautiful? I tell you that if that’s true we’ll find you a thousand times worse. For then (I know what beauty does) you’ll lure and entice. You’ll leave us nothing; nothing that’s worth our keeping or your taking. Those we love best—whoever’s most worth loving—those are the very ones you’ll pick out.... It would be far better for us if you were foul and ravening. We’d rather you drank their blood than stole their hearts. We’d rather they were ours and dead than yours and made immortal.