Perelandra

by

C. S. Lewis

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Perelandra: Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Ransom can’t stay awake indefinitely. Eventually, he falls asleep and wakes to hear Weston speaking to the Lady again. But he’s no longer talking about Maleldil. Instead, he’s telling poignant stories—stories of women from history, all of them women who had been oppressed and rejected by society. Each story features a woman who undertakes a great risk and is misunderstood or persecuted for it. The stories all have happy endings, or at least endings in which the women are vindicated. Ransom perceives that through these stories, the Un-man is trying to convey some sense of “Death and Sorrow” to the Lady.
Weston is trying a different approach. Rather than attacking the Lady’s loyalty to Maleldil, he subtly weaves a narrative of rebellion. Instead of calling it that, he hints that the Lady should emulate these women, who were reviled for doing the supposedly noble thing. It’s an indirect way of acclimating her to the idea of death and suffering.
Themes
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
A rainstorm begins, and during a flash of lightning, Ransom gets a glimpse of the Lady’s face as she listens to Weston. She looks somehow more like an earthly woman. She is gazing off into space, with a look almost of grandeur, as if she’s imagining taking on a tragically heroic role. Compared to the peace, innocence, and lack of self-consciousness the Lady’s face had shown before, she now appears almost vulgar to Ransom.
Weston’s temptation is having some effect on the Green Lady. Before, the Lady wasn’t interested in thinking about herself; she was too fixed on Maleldil. Though she hasn’t fallen yet, her face reveals that she is beginning to imagine a scenario in which such an outcome is thinkable (the Un-man’s introduction of stories was apparently effective in this regard). Her ego is taking shape—something that earthly humans take for granted.
Themes
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
The next few days continue in much the same way. Though Ransom stays awake as much as he can, he often dozes and wakes to hear Weston’s voice tirelessly droning on to the Lady. Whenever the Lady departs from their presence, the Un-Man sets aside the veneer of intelligence and contents itself with trying to hurt animals or tear up plants. It also torments Ransom by making obscene gestures or just repeating his name. Every so often, Ransom sees Weston’s old expression and hears his voice pitifully asking for help. He’s never sure if this is a trick or if it’s really some surviving fragment of Weston’s personality.
The temptation grinds on—part of Weston’s strategy is apparently just to wear down the Lady’s will, putting the same ideas in her head over and over. With Ransom, though, Weston content to let his true character show.
Themes
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
The Green Lady refuses to end the conversations with Weston until she’s certain that she doesn’t have to undertake some great deed for the King’s and their future children’s sake. Weston has at least succeeded in presenting disobedience to her as a kind of duty—a duty of which the King would certainly not approve.
Weston also tempts the Lady by getting her to consider acting alone, not only without Maleldil’s direct approval, but without consulting her husband, the King. An aspect of evil, then, is elevating one’s own will to greatest prominence.
Themes
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
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Little by little, Ransom begins to understand the Un-man’s strategy. So far, the Lady’s sense of duty is still bound up with her love for the King and even for Maleldil. But as the Un-man keeps droning on with his stories, there’s a tiny element of self-admiration, self-conscious nobility, and “veiled egoism” in the Lady’s attitude. Ransom sees that there’s always a certain amount of truth in what Weston says. The Lady’s maturity and ever freer obedience must be part of Maleldil’s plan. That’s why Weston’s approach sounds so compelling and plausible. Ransom keeps arguing against Weston, trying to remind the Lady of concrete facts—like Maleldil’s clear command and the happiness of her life—instead of Weston’s vague ideas and images.
The Un-man gradually gets the Lady to think about herself instead of about Maleldil or the King—even by persuading her that her disobedience would please them and be in their best interest. Ransom notices that some degree of truth is often mixed in with falsehood, which is what makes it so difficult to combat. For example, Maleldil does desire his creatures to mature in obedience. In other words, Weston showcases how evil can be very subtle. The Lady isn’t used to thinking along these lines and lacks a natural defense against such subtlety, which is why Ransom keeps trying to recall her to what she does know by experience.
Themes
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
One morning, Ransom finds the Un-man and the Lady dressed in robes made of bright feathers, wearing crowns woven from leaves. Weston appears to be teaching the Lady about becoming more beautiful—about vanity. The Lady asks Ransom if she looks more beautiful now, but he doesn’t know what to say. She almost looks like a woman that an earthly man would find desirable, and Ransom can’t stand that.
To Ransom, the Lady’s adornment seems like a degradation of her natural beauty, because she’s conscious of her beauty and using it as a means to an end (trying to be attractive). Weston has also apparently used innocent creatures (the birds) to adorn the Lady, though she seems oblivious to this fact.
Themes
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Weston even pulls out a pocket mirror so that the Lady can see her reflection. This frightens her—admiration of oneself doesn’t make sense to her. Weston tells her that she must experience Fear on behalf of her entire race. It isn’t long, though, before the Lady’s startled expression gives way to a noble one. Then Ransom knows that Weston’s goal was not just to make the Lady admire her outward appearance but to admire the nobility of her own soul.
The Lady has never seen her own image before, and it’s a profoundly unsettling experience. The use of the mirror makes Weston’s intentions clearer. It’s not that physical beauty, or even its enjoyment, is a bad thing. However, it increases the Lady’s consciousness of herself—including the potential of self-admiration. This has been the key to Weston’s strategy all along.
Themes
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon