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+
In the language of Old Solar, “Maleldil” refers to God, or Christ. Maleldil does not appear personally in the story, but his presence is felt everywhere. Maleldil reigns over all planets, not just Earth, though he became a human being during Earth’s history. The eldila, or angelic beings, reign over the planets under Maleldil’s authority (with the exception of the rebellious eldils of Earth). Ransom, a Christian, has faith in Maleldil, though he struggles sometimes with doubt. On Perelandra, Ransom finds that when it’s resisted, Maleldil’s presence is felt as a heavy weight, but when one yields to it, it is nourishing and sustaining. The Green Lady and the King, being sinless, enjoy a close relationship with Maleldil, walking in perfect harmony with his will and being taught by him directly. After Ransom’s triumph over Weston (who, when inhabited by a diabolical force, becomes Maleldil’s sworn enemy) and the inauguration of the King’s and Queen’s reign over Perelandra, the book concludes with speeches proclaiming Maleldil’s goodness and his centrality to all of existence.

Maleldil Quotes in Perelandra

The Perelandra quotes below are all either spoken by Maleldil or refer to Maleldil. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of Perelandra published in 2003.
Chapter 5 Quotes

"And do you," said Ransom with some hesitation—"and do you know why He came thus to my world?"

All through this part of the conversation he found it difficult to look higher than her feet, so that her answer was merely a voice in the air above him. "Yes," said the voice. "I know the reason. But it is not the reason you know. There was more than one reason, and there is one I know and cannot tell to you, and another that you know and cannot tell to me."

Related Characters: Dr. Elwin Ransom (speaker), The Green Lady/The Queen/Tinidril (speaker), Lewis (speaker), Maleldil
Related Symbols: Waves
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

"I wonder," said the woman, "if you were sent here to teach us death."

"You don't understand," he said. "It is not like that. It is horrible. It has a foul smell. Maleldil Himself wept when He saw it." Both his voice and his facial expression were apparently something new to her. He saw the shock, not of horror, but of utter bewilderment, on her face for one instant and then, without effort, the ocean of her peace swallowed it up as if it had never been, and she asked him what he meant.

Related Characters: Dr. Elwin Ransom (speaker), The Green Lady/The Queen/Tinidril (speaker), Lewis (speaker), Maleldil
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:

“I thought,” she said, "that I was carried in the will of Him I love, but now I see that I walk with it. I thought that the good things He sent me drew me into them as the waves lift the islands; but now I see that it is I who plunge into them with my own legs and arms, as when we go swimming. […] It is a delight with terror in it! One's own self to be walking from one good to another, walking beside Him as Himself may walk, not even holding hands.”

Related Characters: The Green Lady/The Queen/Tinidril (speaker), Lewis (speaker), Dr. Elwin Ransom, Maleldil
Related Symbols: Waves
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

"I have said already that we are forbidden to dwell on the Fixed Land. Why do you not either talk of something else or stop talking?”

"Because this forbidding is such a strange one,” said [Weston’s] voice. "And so unlike the ways of Maleldil in my world. And He has not forbidden you to think about dwelling on the Fixed Land. […] [I]n our world we do it all the time. We put words together to mean things that have never happened and places that never were: beautiful words, well put together. And then tell them to one another. We call it stories or poetry. […] It is for mirth and wonder and wisdom.”

"What is the wisdom in it?"

"Because the world is made up not only of what is but of what might be. Maleldil knows both and wants us to know both.”

Related Symbols: The Fixed Land
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

"Your deepest will, at present, is to obey Him […] The way out of that is hard. It was made hard that only the very great, the very wise, the very courageous should dare to walk in it, to go on—on out of this smallness in which you now live—through the dark wave of His forbidding, into the real life, Deep Life, with all its joy and splendour and hardness."

"Listen, Lady," said Ransom. "There is something he is not telling you. […] Long ago, when our world began, there was only one man and one woman in it, as you and the King are in this. And there once before he stood, as he stands now, talking to the woman. […] And she listened, and did the thing Maleldil had forbidden her to do. But no joy and splendour came of it.”

Related Symbols: Waves
Page Number: 102
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

It snapped like a violin string. Not one rag of all this evasion was left. Relentlessly, unmistakably, the Darkness pressed down upon him the knowledge that this picture of the situation was utterly false. His journey to Perelandra was not a moral exercise, nor a sham fight. If the issue lay in Maleldil's hands, Ransom and the Lady were those hands. The fate of a world really depended on how they behaved in the next few hours. The thing was irreducibly, nakedly real. They could, if they chose, decline to save the innocence of this new race, and if they declined its innocence would not be saved. It rested with no other creature in all time or all space. This he saw clearly, though as yet he had no inkling of what he could do.

Page Number: 121
Explanation and Analysis:

Long since on Mars, and more strongly since he came to Perelandra, Ransom had been perceiving that the triple distinction of truth from myth and of both from fact was purely terrestrial—was part and parcel of that unhappy division between soul and body which resulted from the Fall. Even on earth the sacraments existed as a permanent reminder that the division was neither wholesome nor final. The Incarnation had been the beginning of its disappearance. In Perelandra it would have no meaning at all. Whatever happened here would be of such a nature that earth-men would call it mythological. All this he had thought before. Now he knew it. The Presence in the darkness, never before so formidable, was putting these truths into his hands, like terrible jewels.

Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Perelandra LitChart as a printable PDF.
Perelandra PDF

Maleldil Character Timeline in Perelandra

The timeline below shows where the character Maleldil appears in Perelandra. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
...world. Nevertheless, Lewis doesn’t “doubt the reality of that mysterious being whom the eldila call Maleldil and to whom they appear to give a total obedience […]. I knew what Ransom... (full context)
Chapter 5
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
...realizes that in Ransom’s world, one can look out directly toward space. She marvels at Maleldil’s creativity in inventing so many different things. (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
...an earthly woman, even though she is a different species entirely. The Lady says that Maleldil, right now, is telling her that it’s because Ransom’s world is older than hers. (Ransom... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Hesitating, Ransom asks if the Lady knows why Maleldil came to Earth. He feels ashamed to look at her. She says yes, but that... (full context)
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Ransom asks the Green Lady if she knows for what purpose Maleldil has sent him to her world. She doesn’t. He then asks if she can take... (full context)
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
...by this idea, and even by the thought that anyone would not desire something which Maleldil sends. (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
...Lady goes on that she had always thought of herself as being carried along by Maleldil’s will, but now she sees that she walks with it—“a delight with terror in it.”... (full context)
Chapter 6
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
...Earth, all the lands are fixed. She thinks for a while and then explains that Maleldil has bidden her and the King never to sleep on the Fixed Land, though they... (full context)
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
...feels overwhelmed by the knowledge that goodness is not the same in all worlds. And Maleldil has not told her why he forbids things on Perelandra that he does not forbid... (full context)
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
...Lady, fascinated by the concept of blood, wants to try scraping her own knee, but Maleldil tells her not to. (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...him foil Weston. He asks the Green Lady about them. The Green Lady listens to Maleldil’s gentle counsel and then explains: in Perelandra, the first world to awaken after “the great... (full context)
Chapter 8
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...him that it’s off-limits. But Weston points out that this is a strange prohibition, unlike Maleldil’s ways on Earth. And wouldn’t it still be okay to think about dwelling on the... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Weston suggests to the Green Lady that Maleldil is “letting go of [her] hand a little”—by introducing new ideas to her through Ransom... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...“always reach out their hands for the new and unexpected good,” running ahead of what Maleldil has revealed to them. In that way, they’re like “little Maleldils.” This makes their beauty... (full context)
Chapter 9
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
...about living on the Fixed Land cannot, at the same time, be a story about Maleldil. If it were, it would mean that Maleldil had altered his command concerning the Fixed... (full context)
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...that is past.” He further claims that Ransom wishes to return to the world before Maleldil became a man. Ransom, he concludes, is what’s called “Bad”—one who “rejects the fruit he... (full context)
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...asking Weston to continue making her older. Ransom cuts in, imploring the Lady to let Maleldil maker her older in the way and timing that He chooses. (full context)
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Ignoring Ransom, Weston assures the Lady that Maleldil wants her to learn not directly from His own voice, but from Weston’s—allowing her to... (full context)
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Building on this, Weston’s body asks whether perhaps Maleldil doesn’t always want to be obeyed. He suggests that the Lady’s growing older won’t be... (full context)
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...an exception. After all, the Lady cannot see any obvious goodness in the command. And Maleldil wouldn’t forbid something just for the sake of forbidding, would He? The command only exists... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
When Ransom interrupts again, the Lady agrees to hear him out. Ransom argues that Maleldil has established such a law out of love—because He desires obedience for its own sake,... (full context)
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Weston continues that, although the Lady’s deepest will is currently to obey Maleldil, only the great and courageous venture beyond this, into a deeper, harder life. Ransom warns... (full context)
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
First, however, Weston tells the Lady that if it weren’t for this original disobedience, Maleldil would never have come to earth and become man. Though momentarily shaken, Ransom agrees with... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Ransom turns to Weston and asks if he is happy that Maleldil became a human being. What happened when he “made Maleldil and death acquainted?” At this,... (full context)
Chapter 10
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 11
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Ransom is sure that the Lady’s resistance will be worn down eventually. He wonders why Maleldil doesn’t intervene to work a miracle. Yet even as he wonders this, he perceives that... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...over. He comforts himself with the belief that as long as he does his best, Maleldil will work out the final result—Perelandra’s fate, in other words, is in God’s hands. But... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
...purposes was the future salvation of Perelandra—and somehow, he was the person chosen through whom Maleldil would do the saving. Looked at from this perspective, Earth is not the center of... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
...For one thing, unlike Eve, the Lady has so far resisted temptation. Here, it seems, Maleldil envisions an altogether different story—one in which it’s up to Ransom to put an end... (full context)
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
...won a physical fight in his life—but he supposes it’s a winnable match. He wishes Maleldil would offer him some assurance, but he doesn’t. (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
The Voice of Maleldil tells him, “It is not for nothing that you are named Ransom.” Though this seems... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Ransom comes to understand that, if he fails in his task, Maleldil will redeem Perelandra in some other way. Yet it won’t happen exactly as it did... (full context)
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
Ransom feels no reassurance from Maleldil to relieve him of this thought. Yet, gradually—even as he feels “psychologically incapable” of facing... (full context)
Chapter 13
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...sheer strangeness and solitude of Ransom’s experience overwhelms him and makes him begin to doubt Maleldil. (full context)
Chapter 16
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
...in it. Yet today, everything he made is being taken from him, and he blesses Maleldil for this. (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
...“morning day,” the birth of this world. It’s the first time that two creatures in Maleldil’s image will “sit in the throne of what they were meant to be”—an unprecedented thing.... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
...much.) The creatures explain to Ransom, as far as he can understand it, that only Maleldil can see them as they really are. (full context)
Chapter 17
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
...in a certain sense, he is their Lord, because he has been the chief of Maleldil’s instruments, ensuring that they went up into perfection instead of down into corruption. He and... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...because she wished to “reject the wave”—to determine her own course instead of accepting what Maleldil sent. The King adds that now he and the Queen understand what evil is, but... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
...Tor, proclaims that the Fixed Land will become a place dedicated to the splendor of Maleldil. He and the Queen, Tinidril, will fill Perelandra with their children, ennoble the beasts by... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...the matter of Thulcandra will have to be dealt with. Its siege must be relieved. Maleldil himself will go down to the planet, along with many others like the King. All... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Ransom is baffled by all this. He had always understood that when Maleldil became man, that was the central happening of all the universe. And what does this... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
...speeches. They speak of the Great Dance which has always existed; the endless beauty of Maleldil’s creation and Maleldil’s plan for every creature; and the fact that wherever Maleldil is, that... (full context)