Senior Honors Theses

Publication Date

Spring 4-23-2015

School

College of Arts and Sciences

Major

English

Keywords

Till We Have Faces, Lewis, Mythology, Narnia, Christianity, Philosophy, Theodicy, God, Orual, Psyche, Reason, Romanticism, Romantic, Rational, Rationalism

Disciplines

Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles

Abstract

Although Till We Have Faces (1956) was written late in C.S. Lewis’s life (1898-1963), during the peak of his literary renown, the novel remains one of Lewis’s least known and least accessible works. Due to its relatively ancient and obscure source material, as well as its tendency towards the esoteric, a healthy interpretation of the novel necessitates a wider look at Lewis’s life-long body of work. By approaching Till We Have Faces through the framework of Lewis and the corpus of his work, the reader can see two principal conflicts that characterize the work as a whole, and, more specifically, the protagonist Orual’s attempts at reconciliation with the gods. The first is Orual’s tension between rationalism and romanticism, as seen through the framework of Lewis’s The Pilgrim’s Regress and Surprised by Joy; the second is Orual’s perverted sense of love, particularly her affection for her sister Psyche, as understood through Lewis’s The Four Loves and The Great Divorce. By analyzing Orual’s resolution of these two conflicts, illuminated through Lewis’s other books, the reader can see the deeper themes hiding within Lewis’s “myth retold,” namely, the finitude of man and the inexpressibility of the divine.

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