Perelandra

by

C. S. Lewis

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Perelandra can help.

Everything you need
for every book you read.

"Sooo much more helpful than SparkNotes. The way the content is organized
and presented is seamlessly smooth, innovative, and comprehensive."
Get LitCharts A+
  • Easy-to-use guides to literature, poetry, literary terms, and more
  • Super-helpful explanations and citation info for over 30,000 important quotes
  • Unrestricted access to all 50,000+ pages of our website and mobile app
Get LitCharts A+

Perelandra: Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
When Ransom wakes up, at first he thinks he’s dreaming. A small, reddish-gold dragon is curled around the trunk of a nearby tree. The scene reminds him of the garden of the Hesperides. On Malacandra, Ransom had met the original Cyclops. Now he wonders if so-called mythological creatures are actually scattered throughout other worlds.
In Greek mythology, the Garden of the Hesperides belonged to the goddess Hera. The Garden contained a tree of golden apples, which were guarded by a dragon. The Cyclops were one-eyed creatures in Greek mythology. On Perelandra, part of the wonder is the reality of certain aspects of earthly mythology.
Themes
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
The seas are calm. Ransom cautiously tries addressing the dragon in Old Solar, introducing himself and asking if he’s welcome. The dragon doesn’t respond. When Ransom stands up, the dragon slowly uncoils, shakes itself, and bleats. It noses at Ransom for a moment and then turns away to eat some grass. Ransom decides it isn’t a rational creature and begins heading off into the woods. Soon the dragon follows, sticking close to his side.
This charming scene shows that one really doesn’t know what to expect on Perelandra—a dragon could be a talking creature, or it could be just an animal. Still, its friendliness expresses something of this world’s enduring innocence.
Themes
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Ransom explores one of the many shimmering, spherical objects hanging from the nearby trees. When he gently touches one, the bubble bursts, giving him a cold shower and releasing a refreshing smell that sharpens all Ransom’s senses. The whole world seems “re-enchanted,” and with the dragon at his side, Ransom feels as if he’s “enacting a myth.”
Enchantment—an innocent delight in the world around a person, as opposed to a desire to use it in exploitative ways—seems to be a characteristic of life on Perelandra. Again, to someone from Earth, that innocence carries a sense of unreality about it, like participating in a fairy tale.
Themes
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Ransom resists the desire to go through an entire cluster of the refreshing bubbles—rather he feels as he did yesterday when he turned down a second drink from the gourd. He wonders whether the desire to “have things over again” is linked to the love of money and the desire to ensure that life unfolds in a certain way rather than receiving it as it comes. The dragon interrupts his lofty thoughts, resting its head on Ransom’s knees until Ransom obligingly scratches its belly.
Like yesterday, Ransom finds that his desires are curbed—not in the sense of needing to engage in self-denial, but in enjoying something so thoroughly that he simply doesn’t have the appetite for more. It’s implied that this is what earthly appetites were meant to be like. Excessive appetite, Ransom thinks, is a kind of grasping for security, as opposed to trusting receptiveness.
Themes
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Get the entire Perelandra LitChart as a printable PDF.
Perelandra PDF
After a satisfying meal of berries, Ransom wonders what he’s been sent here to do. Knowing he’s part of a bigger plan, he doesn’t feel lonely, as he did on Mars. For a while there’s nothing to do but admire the shifting landscapes of the islands. Then he sees the dragon flying to a neighboring island, and this draws his attention to a fleet of silver, dolphin-like, spouting fish in the distance. Suddenly, noticing something on the back of the foremost fish, Ransom begins shouting—it’s an unmistakable human form. He despairs when the form disappears, fearing that he’s hallucinating and feeling his solitude more painfully than before.
Ransom’s growing expectancy and eager desire to encounter another person suggests that, even in an innocent world, idleness and solitude aren’t the goal—people are meant to have purpose and to desire companionship.
Themes
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Gradually, Ransom figures out that the other human-like figure might see him while he’s on the crest of a wave, silhouetted against the sky. Eventually, this works—he waves while riding a crest, and he spots the other figure in a trough, waving back from its own island and beginning to run. As the figure gets nearer, Ransom sees that the person is green. Ransom is terrified that the two islands will get pushed apart by the heaving sea, but soon the islands draw close together. As the figure reaches the shore of the opposite island, Ransom sees that it’s a woman. She looks disappointed.
Ransom is about to make his first encounter with an apparently sentient alien creature. Their prolonged efforts to draw near to one another heighten suspense for the meeting, and the green woman’s evident disappointment adds to the mystery around her, raising the question of who she was expecting to find.
Themes
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Ransom sees that the green lady is accompanied by all sorts of beasts and birds, which are assembled expectantly around her. Ransom starts to address her in Old Solar, but to his surprise, the woman points at him and breaks into peals of laughter. The animals frolic along with her. Ransom is baffled but then realizes that, due to his partial exposure to the sun during his space voyage, his body is half white and half brownish-red, giving him a ridiculous appearance.
The lady’s accompaniment by animals suggests that she lives in total harmony with her natural environment, untouched by strife between different kinds of creatures, as one finds on Earth.
Themes
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
When Ransom next looks at the Green Lady’s face, she appears perfectly poised and calm. Noticing that evening is falling, Ransom tells her that he comes in peace, and he asks if he may swim to the Lady’s island. She looks at him curiously and asks, “What is ‘peace’?” Impatient at the growing distance between the islands, Ransom jumps into the water and swims desperately for the other island; after a brief, confusing struggle in the deepening dark, he finally grips a vine and pulls himself ashore.
The Green Lady appears to have perfect mastery over her emotions at all times. She also lacks a sense of urgency, in contrast to Ransom’s anxiety, and is curious about new ideas. The Green Lady, in other words, is an example of a creature who’s untouched by sin and fully exercises her emotional and mental faculties.
Themes
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon