Perelandra

by

C. S. Lewis

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Professor Weston/Weston’s Body/The Un-man Character Analysis

Weston, an accomplished Cambridge physicist in his 50s, is the antagonist of the novel and Ransom’s nemesis. He is an arrogant man who is most at home while lecturing uninterrupted in a Cambridge classroom. His personality is otherwise somewhat whining and irritable; deep down, he is deeply fearful of death and what he suspects is the underlying meaninglessness of the universe. In the first volume of the Space Trilogy, he kidnapped Ransom and took him to Malacandra. According to Ransom, Weston exemplifies the view of conventional science fiction, which focuses on the desire to dominate other lands and species in the vain hope of cheating death—usually with deathly consequences for other species as well as humans. Weston brings this attitude with him to Perelandra, where he disregards the natural beauty surrounding him and instead sets to work trying to erode the Green Lady’s faith in Maleldil and tempting her to sin. Through this ordeal, it becomes obvious to Ransom that Weston has allowed a diabolical force to inhabit his body and that, with the exception of lingering fragments of his old personality, he has effectively become an “Un-man.” Weston and Ransom become locked in bitter, violent conflict as Ransom fights to prevent Weston from corrupting Perelandra forever; after a couple of attempts, Ransom finally succeeds in killing Weston and disposes of his body deep inside a cavern. He writes an epitaph for Weston on the cave wall.

Professor Weston/Weston’s Body/The Un-man Quotes in Perelandra

The Perelandra quotes below are all either spoken by Professor Weston/Weston’s Body/The Un-man or refer to Professor Weston/Weston’s Body/The Un-man. 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 6 Quotes

He was a man obsessed with the idea which is at this moment circulating all over our planet in obscure works of "scientifiction," in little Interplanetary Societies and Rocketry Clubs […] It is the idea that humanity, having now sufficiently corrupted the planet where it arose, must at all costs contrive to seed itself over a larger area: that the vast astronomical distances which are God's quarantine regulations, must somehow be overcome. This for a start. But beyond this lies the sweet poison of the false infinite—the wild dream that planet after planet, system after system, in the end galaxy after galaxy can be forced to sustain, everywhere and for ever, the sort of life which is contained in the loins of our own species—a dream begotten by the hatred of death[.]

Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

"My dear Ransom," said Weston, "I understand you perfectly. I have no doubt that my phraseology will seem strange to you, and perhaps even shocking. Early and revered associations may have put it out of your power to recognise in this new form the very same truths which religion has so long preserved and which science is now at last rediscovering. But whether you can see it or not, believe me, we are talking about exactly the same thing."

"I'm not at all sure that we are."

"That, if you will permit me to say so, is one of the real weaknesses of organised religion—that adherence to formula, that failure to recognise one's own friends. God is a spirit, Ransom. Get hold of that.”

Related Characters: Professor Weston/Weston’s Body/The Un-man (speaker), Dr. Elwin Ransom (speaker), Lewis (speaker)
Page Number: 79
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

[The smile] seemed to summon Ransom, with horrible naïveté of welcome, into the world of its own pleasures, as if all men were at one in those pleasures, as if they were the most natural thing in the world and no dispute could ever have occurred about them. It was not furtive, nor ashamed, it had nothing of the conspirator in it. It did not defy goodness, it ignored it to the point of annihilation. Ransom perceived that he had never before seen anything but half-hearted and uneasy attempts at evil. This creature was whole-hearted. The extremity of its evil had passed beyond all struggle into some state which bore a horrible similarity to innocence. It was beyond vice as the Lady was beyond virtue.

Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:

"And will you teach us Death?" said the Lady to Weston's shape, where it stood above her.

"Yes," it said, "it is for this that I came here, that you may have Death in abundance. But you must be very courageous."

"Courageous. What is that?"

"It is what makes you to swim on a day when the waves are so great and swift that something inside you bids you to stay on land."

"I know. And those are the best days of all for swimming."

"Yes. But to find Death, and with Death the real oldness and the strong beauty and the uttermost branching out, you must plunge into things greater than waves."

Related Symbols: Waves
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:

"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:

If the attack had been of some more violent kind it might have been easier to resist. What chilled and almost cowed him was the union of malice with something nearly childish. For temptation, for blasphemy, for a whole battery of horrors, he was in some sort prepared: but hardly for this petty, indefatigable nagging as of a nasty little boy at a preparatory school. […] On the surface, great designs and an antagonism to Heaven which involved the fate of worlds: but deep within, when every veil had been pierced, was there, after all, nothing but a black puerility, an aimless empty spitefulness content to sate itself with the tiniest cruelties, as love does not disdain the smallest kindness?

Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

She stood like one almost dazed with the richness of a day-dream. She did not look in the least like a woman who is thinking about a new dress. The expression of her face was noble. It was a great deal too noble. Greatness, tragedy, high sentiment—these were obviously what occupied her thoughts. Ransom perceived that the affair of the robes and the mirror had been only superficially concerned with what is commonly called female vanity. The image of her beautiful body had been offered to her only as a means to awake the far more perilous image of her great soul. The external and, as it were, dramatic conception of the self was the enemy's true aim. He was making her mind a theatre in which that phantom self should hold the stage. He had already written the play.

Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

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:
Chapter 13 Quotes

And the dark came. Horror of death such as he had never known, horror of the terrified creature at his side, descended upon Ransom: finally, horror with no definite object. In a few minutes he could see through the jet-black night the luminous cloud of foam. From the way in which it shot steeply upward he judged it was breaking on cliffs. Invisible birds, with a shriek and flurry, passed low overhead.

"Are you there, Weston?" he shouted. "What cheer? Pull yourself together. All that stuff you've been talking is lunacy. Say a child's prayer if you can't say a man's. Repent your sins. Take my hand. There are hundreds of mere boys on Earth facing death this moment. We'll do very well."

Related Characters: Lewis (speaker), Dr. Elwin Ransom (speaker), Professor Weston/Weston’s Body/The Un-man
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

"They want to frighten me," said something in Ransom's brain, and at the same moment he became convinced both that the Un-man had summoned this great crawler and also that the evil thoughts which had preceded the appearance of the enemy had been poured into his own mind by the enemy's will. The knowledge that his thoughts could be thus managed from without did not awake terror but rage. Ransom found that he had risen, that he was approaching the Un-man, that he was saying things, perhaps foolish things, in English. “Do you think I’m going to stand this?" he yelled. "Get out of my brain. It isn’t yours, I tell you! Get out of it." As he shouted he had picked up a big, jagged stone from beside the stream. […]

"In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, here goes—I mean Amen," said Ransom, and hurled the stone as hard as he could into the Un-man's face.

Related Characters: Lewis (speaker), Dr. Elwin Ransom (speaker), Professor Weston/Weston’s Body/The Un-man
Page Number: 155
Explanation and Analysis:
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Professor Weston/Weston’s Body/The Un-man Character Timeline in Perelandra

The timeline below shows where the character Professor Weston/Weston’s Body/The Un-man appears in Perelandra. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...demand a human sacrifice. Of course Mars’s Oyarsa wanted nothing of the kind, but Professor Weston, Ransom’s main captor, had a less benign nature. (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Weston is obsessed with modern ideas of “scientifiction,” chiefly that humanity needs to spread itself over... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Ransom realizes this is why he was sent to Perelandra. Weston failed to achieve his goals on Malacandra, so he’s trying again here. Ransom wonders if,... (full context)
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...must leave the island for the night. Ransom rushes past her, not wanting her and Weston to meet. But the Lady is fast and strong enough that she’s never more than... (full context)
Chapter 7
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Weston stands there scowling authoritatively, as if he belongs here, and Ransom can’t help admiring the... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
But when Ransom begins to follow the Lady off the island, Weston stops him by holding up a revolver. Ransom urges the Green Lady to go. Weston... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Ransom is inclined to laugh at Weston’s arrogance, but he figures that any show of humility, even one that’s mostly false, should... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Weston begins by explaining that he never took an interest in the field of biology until... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Realizing this, Weston concluded that his devotion to Man was a dead end. By himself, Man is nothing,... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
...himself, “blind, inarticulate purposiveness” is not at all what’s meant by “the Holy Spirit.” But Weston brushes this off, arguing that it’s difficult for Ransom to understand that science is rediscovering... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
The “spirit” Weston is talking about, he goes on, is something like “mind,” “freedom,” or “spontaneity,” which he... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Ransom cautions Weston that not all “spirits” are good. Christians worship God, he explains, because they believe God... (full context)
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Ransom says that if Weston really means all this, then it seems to him a terrible mistake. He hopes that... (full context)
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Ransom ponders how far this really goes. If this “Life-Force” told him to, would Weston murder him? Or sell England to the Germans, or publish lies in a reputable scientific... (full context)
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...common ground in the shared sense of “commitment” to something bigger than oneself. This enrages Weston. He tells Ransom he is an idiot who insists on making a distinction between self... (full context)
Chapter 8
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...sore and out of sorts, unlike every previous morning on Perelandra. He looks around for Weston, and it gradually dawns on Ransom that Weston, despite his condition the night before, has... (full context)
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...Ransom wakes up, still in darkness, he hears a man and woman speaking nearby. It’s Weston and the Green Lady. The Green Lady is perplexed that Weston keeps talking about 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... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
The women of Earth, Weston explains, “always reach out their hands for the new and unexpected good,” running ahead of... (full context)
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Listening all this time, Ransom notices that Weston’s tone has sounded oddly unlike himself—too patient and persistent. The figure speaking is somehow both... (full context)
Chapter 9
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...he realizes that more mutilated frogs are littering the ground—dozens of them. Then he sees Weston, matter-of-factly cutting open frogs with his sharp nails. When they look at each other, Ransom... (full context)
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Whatever it is, the figure that looks like Weston smiles at Ransom. Though Ransom has seen a “devilish” smile before, this is something different.... (full context)
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Weston, or the thing that looks like Weston, is gone, so Ransom goes in search of... (full context)
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
The Lady is telling Weston’s body that she doesn’t mind the idea of stories or poetry about things that don’t... (full context)
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Weston’s body says that the point is to make the Lady “older,” or wiser. He claims... (full context)
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...is struggling with how to explain the idea of “bad” or “evil” to the Lady, Weston’s voice jumps in, arguing that Ransom’s goal is to keep the Lady from getting any... (full context)
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
The Lady replies that, in that case, they must simply make Ransom older. She asks Weston’s body if he will teach her “Death,” and he replies that he’s come for the... (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,... (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... (full context)
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Weston’s body continues arguing that this particular command—not to live on the Fixed Island—is an exception.... (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
...to the creature, too. The Lady is delighted by this thought and is surprised that Weston is so “young” that he doesn’t know this. At this, Weston speaks up to say... (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... (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... (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... (full context)
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
After hours of sitting silently, the Un-man speaks: “Ransom,” it says. When Ransom asks what it wants, it replies, “Nothing.” It then... (full context)
Chapter 10
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
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... (full context)
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.... (full context)
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Weston even pulls out a pocket mirror so that the Lady can see her reflection. This... (full context)
Chapter 11
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Ransom wonders what else he can possibly do to stop the Un-man—his arguments have failed over and over. He comforts himself with the belief that as long... (full context)
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
It suddenly occurs to Ransom that he might be called upon to physically fight the Un-man, which perhaps terrifies him more than anything. Briefly, he tells himself that any such fight... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
...altogether different story—one in which it’s up to Ransom to put an end to the Un-man’s relentless assaults. Ransom keeps looking to Genesis for clues, but Maleldil seems to keep drawing... (full context)
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
...how a middle-aged scholar like himself could possibly defeat an immortal enemy. He figures that Weston’s body is the Enemy’s foothold in Perelandra, and if that body is destroyed, then the... (full context)
Chapter 12
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...appear to have been cast into a deep sleep, but when he finally encounters the Un-man, he finds Weston’s body strangling a bird. Without a thought, he punches the Un-man’s jaw. (full context)
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
The Un-man taunts Weston for daring to fight him. Many have believed that God would help them,... (full context)
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Ransom had expected the Un-man to be much stronger. He realizes that it’s just “one middle-aged scholar against another,” and... (full context)
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
The Un-man manages to slip out of his grasp, and soon Ransom is chasing it through the... (full context)
Chapter 13
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Absorbed in these thoughts, Ransom is startled when Weston’s body speaks to him; its fish is moving towards him. Weston’s body looks battered; he’s... (full context)
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
Weston tells Ransom it’s all very well for him not to fear death. But Weston knows... (full context)
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Ransom tries to argue with Weston, but Weston argues that even reasoning is only valid within the “rind.” Underneath the surface,... (full context)
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
As the waves begin to pick up, Weston panics. They’re approaching a rocky coast, and he’s terrified that they will crash into it... (full context)
Chapter 14
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...die. But he suddenly finds himself surfacing on a pebbly beach, cursing and fighting with Weston’s body once more. Soon he’s astride Weston’s body, desperately gripping its throat. He counts to... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
...can remember. But eventually, he discerns that it’s no good waiting for light—somehow, he and Weston surfaced within a massive cavern. Fighting despair, he inches his way along a cliff face... (full context)
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...to collect himself, he is once again struck with a feeling of despair, fearing that Weston’s view of the world is right. In fact, he’s hardly surprised when the broken, corpse-like... (full context)
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Ransom is angry, realizing that the Un-man is trying to frighten him, both with the despairing thoughts and with this crawling creature.... (full context)
Chapter 15
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...doesn’t feel inclined to worry about the future. One day, he carves an epitaph for Weston into the translucent wall of one of the cliffs. A few days later, he’s ready... (full context)