Term Paper: Open Letter to CS Lewis

Pages: 7 (2476 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Literature  ·  Buy This Paper

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] " He chooses, therefore, not to defile the crucifix for the simple fact that he has his own rudimentary conceptions of good and evil, which is a key component in his own moral development and proof that he has attained, at this point in the novel, what Meilander refers to as "primeval moral platitudes'" which inherently "constitute the human moral inheritance" (120).

The preceding quotation actually represents a critical distinction in the moral journey of both Jane and Mark within That Hideous Strength. With just two chapters left in the book, Mark has defined basic moral terms (which he was always aware of yet had previously suppressed), although he has still yet to fully commit himself to broadening his morality to actually caring about and tending to the needs of others. Jane's moral development was a lot faster. She meets representatives from the Logre fairly early on in the book and is dedicated to utilizing her abilities as a seer to assist them, and by thereby assisting others -- which is a critical selfless component of love that Mark has yet to realize near the end of the book. However, it is critical to denote the reason why there is such a difference in the respective moral journeys of the pair. Aside from the relatively brief period in which Jane was kidnapped and tortured by those at Belbury, she was around extremely selfless, virtual individuals including Merlin and Ransom (both of which were something more than human and closer to divine due to the length of time of their existence and their travels, respectively). Jane even had direct experiences with God and angels, all of which spurred her increase moral development. Mark, however, began the novel more corrupt than Jane and, due to his involvement at Belbury, was only around immoral individuals. Thus, even after the N.I.C.E is roundly defeated by Merlin, his moral journey is not complete as the following quotation, when he contemplates his reunion with Jane, reveals.

he was going to see Jane in…her proper world. But not his. For he now thought that with all his life-long eagerness to reach an inner circle he had chosen the wrong circle. Jane was where she belonged. He was going to be admitted only out of kindness, because Jane had been fool enough to marry him (Lewis Chapter 17 beg.).

This is an extremely important quotation because it emphasizes the fact that even though the N.I.C.E. has been vanquished, Mark's moral development is far from complete. He realizes that Jane's sense of morality and goodness has advanced far beyond his, and is aware of the fact that at St. Anne's, with all of the just and moral individuals, she belongs and he does not. He believes he will only be able to go there and because he is her husband; he does not feel he is truly deserving of such an honor. In this respect, it is quite clear that Mark actually needs Jane to complete his moral journey.

The degree of completion in which Lewis attended to the plot of this novel is that in assisting Mark with his moral development, Jane in fact fulfills her own. The story ends with the Angel of Venus leading Mark into a bridal chamber that Jane has prepared for him. His willingness to love his wife, and in turn to receive love from her (which denotes her willingness to love and tend to another) is symbolized by the fact that he is awaiting Jane in the chamber. Mark's moral development is completed by his reunion with his wife and the power of selfless, unconditional love that his interaction with Venus represents. Jane's moral development is finished and is symbolized by her meeting Mark in the bridal chamber, and by the fact that as she does so she "thought of Mark and all his sufferings" (Lewis last page of book). In doing so, she displays the fact that she has matured to the point where she puts the concerns for another before her own. Mark's interaction with Venus and the fact that he is waiting for his wife in the prepared bridal chamber demonstrates that he is willing to do the same. Yet he is not able to do so until Jane arrives, and replicate a selfless love out of that which she produced.

As you are more than likely aware of, Mr. Lewis, the moral journeys of Mark and Jane were quite different from one another. They both started out regarding love as a selfish thing, and only something that may be mutually beneficial to one another. They had yet to acknowledge the basic moral principle that caring for others is a higher sense of morality than caring for oneself. Yet, their encounter with an intergalactic, time-spanning conflict between primal forces of good and evil helped to restore their moral rectitude more expediently for Jane and significantly slower for Mark, who ultimately needs his wife love to complete his moral journey. Thus, the pair comes to realize that morally, "natural loves are God-given goods, yet are also prone to distortions…unless they are transformed by Charity" (Simon146) . The charity is the degree of selflessness required for true love, which is intrinsically morally correct and something that neither Mark nor Jane realized until the novel's completion. Thus, the good life is living a life in which one values and considers others more than oneself.

Sincerely,

References

Lewis, C.S. That Hideous Strength. New York: Scribner. 1996. Print.

Meilaender, Gilbert. "On Moral Knowledge." The Cambridge Companion to C.S. Lewis. 2013. Print.

Simon, Caroline J. "On Love." Cambridge University Press. 2010. Print. [END OF PREVIEW]

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