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e s . Lewis's Till We Have Faces

and the Transformation of Love


You are indeed teaching me about kinds of love I did not know. It is like looking into a deep pit. I am not sure whether I like your kind of love better than hatred. Oh, Orualto take my lovefor you . . . and then to make of it a tool, a weapon, a thing of policy and mastery, an instrument of torture/ begin to think I never knew you. Whatever comes after, something that was between us dies here.

of Magdalen College, where C. S. Lewis was a tutor in English literature for many years, there is a tree-lined path called Addison's Walk, alongside a small stream that runs eventually into the River Cherwell by Oxford's botanical gardens. This walkway is well known among those interested in Lewis and the other Inklingsthe group of Oxford-based Christian writers who met regularly to discuss their works and read them aloud to each otherfor Addison's Walk was the setting for an important conversation Lewis had with J. R. R. Tolkien and Hugo Dyson. At that time an agnostic, Lewis was deeply interested in Tolkien's argument that, while Christianity's central story bears a resemblance to various myths of a dying and rising god, it is unique



in being "tbe true mytb," the one instance wbere tbe story for wbicb bumanity bas a deep longing to be true actually entered into historical reality. It is natural,Tolkien argued, tbat otber mytbs reflect tbis story, for tbey spring out of tbe innate buman longing for it. After tbis conversation, Lewis, always a lover of mytb, wrote to a friend: "I bave just passed on from believing in God to definitely believing in Cbristin Cbristianity. My long nigbt talk with Dyson and Tolkien had a good deal to do with it."^ As a Christian, Lewis vsTOte works of theology, literary criticism, and fiction, the latter almost always connected witb mytb in one form or anotber, wbetber written for cbildren, sucb as tbe Narnia series, or for adults, sucb as bis space trilogy and Till We Have Faces. Tbis last work, written in the mid-i95^os, has been acknowledged by Lewis as "bis best" (tbougb at otber times be said Perelandra, tbe second book of tbe space trilogy was bis best), and be dedicated it to his wife, Joy Davidman (Gresbam).^ In Till We Have Faces, more tban in any otber work of fiction, Lewis delved into tbe world of classical mytb, retelling tbe very well-known story of Cupid and Psycbe. Revealing wbat be recognized as tbe story's intrinsic Cbristian message, Lewis tells tbe story from tbe point of view of neitber of tbe two main cbaracters but from tbat of one of tbe original mytb's villains, Orual, tbe sister of Psyche. This cbange allows Lewis to explore not only romantic love (eros) existing between Psycbe and ber god-lover Cupid, but also affection (storge) and friendship (philia). Lewis's telling of the mytb botb celebrates and critiques all human loves, particularly the love of Orual for Psyche (a love combining botb storge and philia), sbowing tbat any love, like all tbat is buman, must be redeemed and transformed in order to be saved. In fact, Lewis's version of tbe myth of Cupid and Psycbe is an embodiment of tbe lessons conveyed in bis famous tbeological work. The Four Loves* showing in tbe love of tbe two sisters, even more so tban tbat between tbe two lovers, both the beauty and dangers of buman love and, despite tbe dangers, the enormous power of God's love to transform it.



According to hoth Lewis and Tolkien, myth is a most appropriate vehicle for conveying such a message, for it reflects the human desire for truth and for the divine. In his poem "Mythopoeia"Tolkien describes how myth is a vehicle for divine truth: "The heart of man is not compound of lies, / but draws some wisdom from the only Wise, / and still recalls him."' For Tolkien, and later for Lewis, myth was not afictionhut a way for fallen humanity to convey some of the heauty and splendor lost with the Fall. Though we are no longer untainted images of God, we retain many aspects reflective of his nature, one of which involves the ability to "sub-create," as Tolkien calls it. Tolkien further explores this idea of subcreation in his essay "On Fairy Stories" where he argues that fairy and folk tales, as well as myths (which he defines as generally a "higher" form of story), are all reflections of the human abihty to subcreate, a gift to us as a part of our inheritance of the divine image. As Tolkien, says, "Something really 'higher' is occasionally glimpsed in mythology: Divinity, the right to power (as distinct from its possession), the due worship; in fact 'religion.'"^ In light of this understanding of myth making, no "pagan" myth needs to be considered a rival to the truth about God, if only it can be seen for what it really isan imperfect reflection of what has been perfectly revealed in the Gospel, which (in this context) can include all of revelation, going hack to the book of Genesis. Lewis speaks of the ability of classical mythology and other aspects of various religions to convey Christian truth in his Mere Christianity, where he defines the term "Natural Law" as being the law of God innately grafted onto every human being and reflected in one way or another in every culture and behef system.' Myth is, of course, only one of many expressions of the affinity between the human heart and the God from whom we are estranged. In a chapter titled "The Rival Conceptions of God," Lewis argues that a Christian, unlike an atheist, does "not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. . . . If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all these religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least


some hint of the truth."^ A similar view is expressed in the groundbreaking document from the Second Vatican Council, Nostra aetate, in which the council argued for a deep respect for all those aspects of truth found in the varying religions of the world. The sense of respect advocated in this document extends not only outward to other religions in contemporary times, but also backward in time to the ultimate religious sources from which many myths derive: "From ancient times down to the present, there is found among various peoples a certain perception of that hidden power which hovers over the course of things and over the events of human history."' Any truth found in the myths making a part of nearly every religion would be, therefore, validated by this logic along the same lines that Lewis and Tolkien argue. However, how do we get past the idea that Christianity is simply one myth among many? This difficulty was the hurdle that Lewis crossed, in part as a result of the conversation with Tolkien and Dyson, in his conversion from atheism to Christianity. Sometime before this talk, Lewis had read G. K. Chesterton's The Everlasting Man about the life of Christ, ' and he found "the whole Christian outline of history set out in a form that seemed to me to make sense," as he relates in his account of his conversion. Surprised by Joy.^' However, he was still unable to connect what seemed a viable historical record with the beauties and profundity of myth that he so valued. Finally, the two things came together for Lewisthe historical reality of the life of Jesus Christ and its identification as the one True Myth. Again in Surprised hyfoy, Lewis says, "If ever a myth had become fact, had been incarnated, it would be just like this."'^ As Ralph Wood explains, "Lewis belongs, in fact, to the venerable Christian humanist tradition that can be traced back to Justin Martyr and the secondcentury Apologists. Their doctrine of the logos spermatikositself a notion borrowed from the Stoicsholds that God has planted the seed of his word in every time and place, culture and person."'^ This view of myth allows Lewis to uncover within the story of Cupid and Psyche a profound expression of the Gospel. At the end



of this novel, Lewis gives a summary of the myth as told by Apuleius in his Metamorphoses (written in the second century) and also a brief listing of the changes he made to the basic storyline. In the classic version of the myth, the youngest of a king's three daughters. Psyche, is so beautiful that she is worshipped as a goddess, incurring the jealousy of the goddess Venus. Though her sisters marry royally. Psyche has no suitors, and her father is told by Apollo's oracle that she must be exposed on a mountain to be devoured by a dragon. Meanwhile, Venus pursues an alternative means to hurt her rival, sending her son, Cupid, to shoot an arrow into Psyche that will make her fall in love with "the basest of men." However, seeing her great beauty, Cupid himself falls in love with her and rescues her from the mountain. As Cupid's bride. Psyche lives in a beautiful palace where he visits her at night, but she is commanded by her lover not to look at his face. When, at Psyche's request, her sisters visit the palace, they are consumed with envy, though they express only delight. However, hearing that Psyche is not permitted to see her husband's face, they display great concern over her welfare and convince Psyche that "her husband must really be a monstrous serpent," telling her to take a lamp and a knife into his bedroom and "see the horror that is lying in your bedand stab it to death."'* Psyche agrees, takes the lamp and knife, and looks on the face of her sleeping god-husband. Cupid awakens and vanishes, and Psyche is left to be abused by Venus, who beats her and sets her a series of difficult and unpleasant tasks. Meanwhile, the two sisters are killed as a punishment for their malice. However, the story ends happily for Psyche, as Cupid finally comes to her rescue and begs Jupiter to transform her into a goddess. Even Venus is reconciled to her now divine daughterin-law, and (though Lewis does not mention this in his summary) Psyche gives birth to a daughter, named Pleasure. The main changes Lewis made to the story, as he lists them here, are making Psyche's palace invisible and having as the protagonist not Psyche, but her sister, Orual, the narrator of the tale.



These two changes are crucial in enabling Lewis to convey the Gospel message through this story in a way that reflects the complexity of human love. First, as Lewis points out, the palace's invisihility renders the motivation of the sister (there is only one sister visiting the mountain in his version) more mixed and much less malicious than that of the sisters in the original tale. Orual is literally unable to see the beauties of the palace Psyche claims to be living in, so it is difficult (though the story makes it clear it would not have been impossible) for her to believe Psyche's account of things. It is certainly not simple envy that prompts Orual's actions, though jealousy is part of her character. Orual truly believes, or at least thinks she helieves, that her sister's husband is, in fact, either a monstrous "Shadow-Brute," divine hut hideous, or a hase and worthless human. She feels, at least on a conscious level, that hy trying to persuade Psyche to disobey her husband's command not to look at his face and by her disobedience destroy her marriage, she is actually helping to liberate her sister from a horrible and degrading situation. However, Orual's actual motives are not as pure as she herself helieves, and it is largely through the redemption of Orual that Lewis explores the depth and complexity of the three natural human loves (storge, philia, and eros) and the salvation possible even for those who, like Orual, "know not what they do."

Storge (Affection)
In The Four Loves Lewis refers to storge, or affection, as "the humblest and most widely diffused of loves" and "the least discriminating of loves."'^ Rooted in familial love and particularly connected with the bond between parents and their children, especially mother and child, storge is a love that embraces in a comfortable familiarity those with whom we are linked, whether these ties arise through family, work, neighhorhood, or something else. Animals, says Lewis, can enjoy storge with their offspring and even hetween breeds. He gives the example of the pet cat and dog snuggling together (FL, G). Lewis



makes a distinction between tbe two key parts o storge: Gift-love and Need-love. In relationsbips between a motber and cbild, the bestowers of Gift-love and Need-love are very clearly seen in tbe earliest stages of childbood, witb tbe motber giving birtb and tben care and milk, and tbe cbild desperately needing all tbree to live. But, as Lewis points out, tbe motber also needs to give birtb or suffer deatb just as sbe needs to nurse or suffer pain, and tbis paradox of Gift-love also being a kind of Need-love adds complexity to storge, wbicb canon tbe surface at leastseem very simple (FL, 4.). Lewis points out tbe danger of looking at storge tbrough the lenses of the greeting cards and "saccharine poems" of popular culture (FL, 6 2). Though notbing can be more natural tban storge, it can also be manipulated and falsely demanded in a selfisb and mean-spirited way. One of tbe dangers of tbis kind of love if left unredeemed is tbat it can become voracious in its need to give. Lewis gives an example of a motber wbo creates all sorts of false "needs" for ber family tbat only sbe can fill, only to assure berself tbat sbe "lives for ber family" (FL, 7476). Anotber danger is an abuse of tbe familiarity allowed in a true relationship of storge in wbicb plain rudeness is excused in tbe name of affection. Wbile storge lets us relax many of tbe formalities we use witb strangers, it never sbould allow for a lack of simple courtesy and respect (FL, 66). Perbaps tbe worst danger in unredeemed storge is jealousy. Tbis occurs wben an object of storge breaks out of wbatever is "old and familiar" and takes on a new interest, wbetber literary, academic, religious, and so on. Lewis gives tbe example of a member of tbe family or one of two siblings wbo takes on an interest tbat brings tbe individual into a different set of values. Tbe reaction of tbe family members or sibling left bebind can be fierce. Says Lewis, "Affection is tbe most instinctive, in tbat sense tbe most animal, of tbe loves; its jealousy is proportionately fierce" (FL, 71). Tbe jealousy is pointed against tbe new interest, wbatever it migbt be, but it can also, paradoxically, extend to tbe cbild or sibling herself who has moved abead. Altbougb tbose left bebind often mock tbis interest



as "silly nonsense," a part of them worries, "Supposing it can't he, it mustn't be, but just supposing there were something in it?" (FL, ji). This thought leads the jealous person to feel angry that the one he knew so well has somehow found something important, meaningful, and valuable, and he has not. What the "deserter" has found may he heautiful, liberating, true, but the aggrieved does not understand any of this and simply wants "their own" back among the clan the way they once were. However, despite these pitfalls, affection is at the heart of much that is comfortable and enjoyable in life. Storge is the love with which we begin life, and it keeps us going through many difficult and painful periods. It is only when storge becomes "the absolute sovereign of a human life" that the potential fallen nature of this love becomes apparent. As Lewis says, "Love, having hecome a god, becomes a demon" (FL, 83). Even the humble storge is subject to this possibility. In Till We Have Faces, Orual and Psyche enjoy a relationship based in storge, intensified by the great age difference between them. Orual serves as a mother figure to the motherless Psyche, and she and their Greek tutor, "the Fox," make a kind of odd family. Redi val, the middle sister, is completely left out of this scenario. To Psyche, Orual gives the loving and gentle care of a mother. She also offers her protection, unselfishly defending her when their father agrees to expose Psyche on the mountain for "the Shadow-Brute" to wed or to devour, the outcome at that point not clear to anyone. Orual is beaten by her father for this defense of her sister, and Bardia, the soldier whom Orual secretly loves (with eros), remarks on how brave she is as she tries to defend Psyche from being taken. Psyche also enjoys the comfort of this deep and motherly affection from her half-sister, her "Maia,".as she calls her. Though much younger and thus not able to give back equally to Orual, Psyche is devoted and loving in her obedience while in their home. Together, both fill the void in each other's life left by a dead mother (though they had different mothers) and by an emotionally cold and sometimes cruel father. The storge between Orual and Psyche is beautiful and fulfilling, though


imperfectas shall be seenand it is supplemented by the development of philia, friendship or sisterly love, in their relationship. Philia (Friendship Love) It might be argued that philia was the natural love that Lewis valued most, though he was an affectionate man (as he showed in his relationship with his brother and even with household workers, students, and other people in his Hfe) and though he enjoyed a deep experience of ero5 late in Hfe in his marriage to Joy Davidman. Describing his friendship with the other Inklings, Lewis said, "We meet on Friday evenings in my rooms; theoretically to talk about literature, but in fact nearly always to talk about something better. What I owe to them all is incalculable. Dyson and Tolkien were the immediate human causes of my conversion. Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a goodfire?"'*For Lewis, friendship involves the sharing of "some insight or interest or even taste which most others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden)" (EL, 96). Lewis describes philia as the natural love that is closest to that of the angels. Unlike storge or eros, which are visceral, physical, linked with common experiences shared by animals, philia is less "natural" (EL, 8889). Lewis laments the lessening importance of philia in modern culture. Classified by Aristotle as one of the virtues, and written about by Cicero in a book on amicitia, friendship love is less valued by modern people than family or erotic love (EL, 88). Lewis believed this loss to be a great one. Philia allows those who share it a joy of companionship, coupled with what he calls "appreciative love" that causes one to feel humbled to be among such a wonderful group (EL, 104). Describing an ideal day among friends, he says: Those are the golden sessions: when four or five of us after a hard day's walking have come to our inn; when our slippers


are on, our feet spread out towards the blaze and our drinks at our elbows; when the whole world, and something beyond the world, opens itself to our minds as we talk; and no one has any claim on or any responsibility for another, but all are freemen and equals as if we had first met an hour ago, while at the same time an Affection mellowed by the years enfolds us. Life natural life has no better gift to give. Who could have deserved it? (f, ioj)

Key words in this passage include "freemen,""equals," no "claim . . . or responsibility." Clearly part of the value o philia for Lewis is the openness, the lack of demand put upon friends. Very different from its abuses, true friendship makes no manipulative demands. It is, at its best, a free and beautiful meeting of souls. However, like storge, philia also has its dangers, the greatest of which might be its tendency toward exclusivity. By its very nature, philia involves choosing one person over others because of a common bond, a shared vision. This quality of friendship can be very painful to those excluded by it, though the pain caused is often completely unintentional. In The Four Loves, Lewis describes the process in some detail: "We seek men after our own heart for their own sake and are then alarmingly or delightfully surprised by the feeling that we have become an aristocracy. Not that we'd call it that. Every reader who has known Friendship will probably feel inclined to deny with some heat that his own circle was ever guilty of such an absurdity" {FL, 118). Lewis's essay "The Inner Ring," which originated as the Memorial Lecture at King's College, London, in 1944, argues much the same point, also warning that the intoxicating nature of being on the inside of "the Inner Ring" can lead many of us to wrongdoing that we would not have considered on our own.'' St. Augustine's famous episode of steahng the pears with his friends would be a pertinent example.'^ Augustine also observes how the negative pressure of friendship can lead to false claims as well as immoral actions:



"Afraid of being reviled I grew viler and when I had no indecent acts to admit that could put me on a level with these abandoned youths, I pretended to obscenities I had not committed, lest I might be thought less courageous for being more innocent, and be accoimted cheaper for being more chaste."'' However, the best kind of friendship, redeemed and healthy, never exerts pressure of any kind from one friend to another. To do so would be to sin against friendship and, indirectly, against the God who brings friends together. Lewis argues that what seems like chance meeting in the start of a friendship, for a believer, is providential: "Christ, who said to the disciples 'Ye have not chosen me, hut I have chosen you,' can truly say to every group of Christian friends 'you have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.' The friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others" (FL, 126). Lewis very likely had his fellow Inklings in mind as he wrote those words.

In Till We Have Faces, Orual, Psyche, and the Fox, their tutor, enjoy philia, a friendship that develops out of their affection (storge), but goes beyond it through common interests. It is rooted in the intellectual sharing that the Fox instills in the two girls, both of them intelligent and interested in learning. The scenes where the Fox instructs Orual and Psyche in the lessons he learned in his Greek homeland are remembered by Orual as idyllic: "The years, doubtless, went round then as now, but in my memory it seems to have been all springs and summers. I think the almonds and the cherries blossomed earlier in those years and the blossoms lasted longer."^" Philia is a love of equals, and as Psyche grows up, she and her sister should be able to share a love that is increasingly shared between peers, rather than of mother and child. However, Orual's visit to the mountain tests the depth of the philia she has for her sister when she finds she is unable to accept Psyche's marriage for what she says it is, and, in seeking to destroy her sister's marriage, she destroysat least for a timethe unredeemed philia that ex-



ists between them.The three friends (Orual, Psyche, and the Fox) are also guilty of excluding Redi val, who felt particularly hurt by Orual's lessening interest in her when the Fox and later Psyche came along. ^' Eros (Romantic Love) Lewis differentiates between the romantic love, eros, and what he calls venus, or sexuality. Lewis makes it clear that he does not think that sex apart from eros is necessarily immoral. He notes that for much of history, and even today for much of the world, most marriages were and are not based on romantic love, but arranged by families and entered into by young couples with a sense of duty and perhaps only "animal desire" encouraging them to procreate (FL, I 32). While eros is beautiful and inspiring, it can also, if followed blindly, lead lovers to a sense that anything done in the name of love is goodeven adultery, deserting one's children, or betraying a close friend (FL, 13233). Unredeemed eros can be dangerous. However, says Lewis, eros is miraculous in its ability to translate "what is par excellence a Need-pleasure into the most Appreciative of all pleasures. It is the nature of a Need-pleasure to show us the object solely in relation to our need, even our momentary need. But in Eros, a Need, at its most intense, sees the object most intensely as a thing admirable in herself, important far beyond her relation to the lover's need" (FL, 13^36). Charles Williams wrote much about this phenomenon in his two books on Dante, The Figure of Beatrice and Religion and Love in Dante,^^ advancing what he referred to as the "Theology of Romantic Love ."According to Williams, the lover sees in the beloved something utterly beautiful and meaningful, an experience that can, if pursued rightly, also lead the lover to God, if the beloved is properly seen as a sign, not an end. Wrongly pursued, however, it can lead to the kind of love we see in Canto V of Dante's Inferno, where the lost lovers Paulo and Francesca forever share a damned love, now become a torment." Lewis expresses a



view similar to Dante's when he explains the "god-like" quahty of eros while also offering a warning: We must not give unconditional obedience to the voice of Eros when he speaks most like a god. Neither must we ignore or attempt to deny the god-like quality. This love is really and truly like Love Himself. In it there is real nearness to God (by Resemblance); but not, therefore and necessarily, a nearness of Approach. Eros, honoured so far as love of God and charity to our fellows will allow, may become for us a means of Approach. . . . It is as if Christ said to us through Eros, "Thusjust like thiswith this prodigalitynot counting the costyou are to love me and the least of my brethren." (FL, I3-4) By learning the self-surrender, the reverence for "the Glory," as Charles Williams calls it, revealed through eros and through the Beloved, we can learn, like Dante, the saving power of romantic love. When Dante's beloved Beatrice leads him through much of Paradise to an ultimate vision of God (to which St. Bernard actually brings him), this experience perfectly exemplifies eros serving what Dante, Williams, and Lewis would agree it was meant to do. All lovers should comhine agape with eros in order for this love to be what it is intended to he. The first encyclical of Benedict XVI, Deus caritas est, explains the process: "Even if eros is at first mainly covetous and ascending, a fascination for the great promise of happiness, in drawing near to the other, it is less and less concerned with itself, increasingly seeks the happiness of the other, is concerned more and more with the beloved, bestows itself and wants to 'be there for' the other. The element o agape thus enters into this love, for otherwise eros is impoverished and even loses its own nature ."^''^ Though Eros is the Greek name for Cupid, Lewis focuses less on eros in his version of the Cupid and Psyche myth than on the other three loves, since it is Orual's storge and philia that have the greatest need of redemption through agape. However, Psyche's ex-


perience of romantic love is crucial to the climax of the story and is also shown to be in need of redemption. Because her marriage unites her with a god. Psyche experiences eros in a way that closely resembles the soul's relationship with God. As we have seen, Lewis argues that all lovers in one sense experience love that is analogous to the soul's encounter with the Divine. It offers a likeness to God's love that is "nearness of resemblance" but not necessarily "nearness of approach," for the latter involves repentance, turning to God in faith, trusting in Christ as Lord and Savior, believing in His death and resurrection on our behalf." Psyche's obedient love for and trust in Cupid symbolize the kind of faith a believer must have for Christ. Sally Bartlett argues that Psyche's marriage offers a view of the relations between the sexes that is, because of Psyche's submissiveness, untenable for feminists. She argues that Lewis is offering this marriage as a model of male-female relationships.^* Such a view, however, ignores the nature of Psyche's relationship with Cupid as representative not of an ideal human marriage, but as a symbolic representation of the soul's relationship with God, despite the actual sexuality implied in it, a key component of the original myth. Thomas Ramey Watson likens Psyche to the traditional depiction of the soul as the "Bride of Christ,"" thus rendering her submission to her god-husband something beyond anything a human woman would or should offer to a mortal lover, but also rendering it a potent symbol like the marriage depicted in the Song of Solomon. However, Psyche's experience with her god-lover Cupid not only offers a resemblance to our relationship with God but, for Psyche, is also an actual approach to God, since Cupid as the god of love embodies both the Divine nature and, mythically rendered, the God who is Love. Love in Dante's La Vita Nuova plays a similar role, recalling the classical figure of Eros and treating him as embodying the source of all love, the Christian God, who is revealed by the end of The Divine Comedy.^^ Psyche's faith in her lover, her surrender to him, and her trust in his apparently unreasonable command not



to look at his face represent the human beloved's ideal response to Divine Love and are for Psyche spiritual acts of faith in the Divine Nature, still only tentatively defined, but present in the god or gods who function in the city of Glome and on the mountain. Orual does not understand her sister's experience of eros, and this conflict is at the heart and climax of the novel. Since Psyche's marriage is rooted in her spiritual life, Orual's rejection of it and her unwillingness even to consider Psyche's perspective on her own relationship with her husband reveal the weakness of all three loves _ {storge, philia, and eros) when unredeemed. Psyche's unusual marriage is the test case, the crucible that shows the storge and philia existing between the two sisters, particularly those of Orual for Psyche, to be found wanting and in need of redemption. However, even Psyche, with her noble and self-sacrificing nature, is shown deficient in eros, the love with which she is most connected in the story. Watson says, "Though Psyche, hke the soul, exhibits Gift-love (or agape), becoming the bride of Eros, echoing the Bride of Christ in Christian tradition, she too must experience the enlargements of loveeven if not through her own design. That is the mortal conditionfor as the spirit of the Fox tells Orual at the end of the novel, 'All, even Psyche, are born into the house of Ungit [a primitive form of the goddess Venus]. And all must get free from her'" {FL, 301).^' Such love cannotat least on postlapsarian earthexist only in the soul."'" Had her love for her husband been perfect, she would not have let her sister persuade her to disobey his injunction. Her imperfect eros, like the much more imperfect storge and philia exhibited by her sister, illustrates how agape is needed to transform all human love into something more deeply and completely expressive of the Love of God, a transformation leading to the fullness of salvation.



Agape (Charity) and the Redemption of the Three Loves Agape, according to Lewis's The Four Loves, is the love that God has for each of us and the love that we can, if we are open to God's love, share with others. It is Gift-Love, which seeks the good of the beloved and helps the other kinds of love avoid the pitfalls that can turn any of them into a kind of hatred. Since Orual is the main character in this novel, her loves are the ones most carefully analyzed through her own self-reflective and (at least in intention) honest book. Though her hook is in the end revealed to be self-deceptive, Orual's writing of it is a vehicle for her to imderstand the fallen nature of her love for her sister. As described earlier, Orual's storge and philia for Psyche exhibit several of the weaknesses Lewis outlines regarding these loves in their unredeemed state in The Four Loves. Her affection for Psyche, while self-sacrificing and tender, betrays a degree of possessiveness. Her love for her sister is passionate: "I wanted to be a wife so that I could have been her real mother. I wanted to be a hoy so that she could be in love with me. I wanted her to be my full sister instead of my half sister. I wanted her to be a slave so that I could set her free and make her rich" (FL ,23). The key words here are "I wanted," with no focus on what the beloved Psyche wants. Orual's Gift-love is so deeply entrenched in her Need-love, impelling her to be the giver to Psyche, that it is corrupted by the intensity of her desire. When Psyche is demanded by the Priest and townspeople as a sacrifice to Ungit, her resignation angers Orual, who feels betrayed by her sister's willingness to leave her. She says, "I would have died for her (this, at least, I know is true) and yet the night before her death, I could feel anger. She spoke so steadily and thoughtfully, as if we had been disputing with the Fox, up hehind the pear trees, with hours and days still before us. The parting between her and me seemed to cost her so little" (FL, 71). In reality. Psyche also feels some pain, but her spiritual life is strong enough to enable her to bear her sacrifice calmly.



At the end of the novel, when Orual stands before the gods with her accusations against them written in her book, the reality of her words reveal the jealousy within her love for Psyche: "You know well that I never really began to hate you until Psyche began talking of her palace and her lover and her husband. . . . Those we love bestwhoever's most worth lovingthose are the very ones you'll pick out. . . .We'd rather they were ours and dead than yours and made immortal" (FL, 29091). Unlike the simple jealousy of the two sisters in the original myth, Orual's jealousy is far more complex; she wishes to be the one to reveal the truth to her sister, having a kind of ownership over her, as she admits in her final words from the book she wrote: "We want to be our own. I was my own and Psyche was mine and no one else had any right to her"(fL, 29192). However, she prefers most of all for the truth to be sorhething with which she is at home and comfortable, nothing new, divine, or strange. Distorted storge also causes excessive pride in Orual about her sister's lineage and beauty. When she believes the Fox, who assumes that Psyche is the mistress of a man in the mountains, a vagabond, and perhaps a criminal, Orual rages at the idea: "Curse him, curse him! Psyche to carry a beggar's brat? We'11 have him impaled if ever we catch him. He shall die for days. Oh, I could tear his body with my bare teeth" (FL, 146).The Fox, always the voice of reason in this novel, replies, "You darken our counsels and your own soulwith these passions." Orual's pride in her sister is one of ownership, not appreciation, a deeply important difference. This sense of ownership shows itself most in Orual's encounters with Psyche on the mountain when she tries to assert her former authority over her now grown-up sister by commanding her to leave her husband. Psyche gently but firmly affirms her new duties: "I am a wife now" (FL, 12^). In The Four Loves, Lewis warns against the kind of storge that seeks to keep the role of giver by infantilizing the recipient of the love: the mother who never wants her child to grow up, the professor who cannot bear to have his pupils become his equals; such



love can he deadly to hoth the giver and recipient of it (FL, 7378). But there is more to Orual's perversion o storge than that. Again, as Lewis descrihes in The Four Loves, religion is often resented by the parent or sibling left behind by a loved one's interest in it. It is when Psyche expresses faith in the divine aspects of her marriage that Orual becomes most furious, cringing at the mere thought of it. She describes her reaction to Psyche's telling of her invisible palace in words suggesting confusion about her own feelings: "For some strange reason, furymy father's own furyfell upon me when she said that. I found myself screaming . . . 'There's no such thing. You're pretending. You're trying to make yourself believe it.' But I was lying. How did I know whether she really saw invisible things or spoke in madness? Either way, something hateful and strange had begun" (FL, 118). Orual speaks to Psyche as if she is sure that what her sister believes is madness, that she is in a degraded and base relationship with a common man of the mountains, hut Orual's heart is torn with misgivings: "For the world had broken in pieces and Psyche and I were not in the same piece" (FL, 120). As she is leaving the mountain, Orual gets a glimpse of the supernatural palace, a chance given by the gods (God) to return, in repentance, to her sister. Orual neither affirms nor denies the vision, hut simply returns to the soldier Bardia, who accompanied her to the mountain, and tells him nothing of the vision. When Bardia confirms Orual's tentative helief that her sister's lover is most likely a divine monster, "the Shadow-Brute," she is no less horrified by this notion than the former one that the lover is a common man, perhaps a criminal. However, once she returns, the Fox (from whom Orual also keeps the vague hut important vision) argues again for the natural interpretation of Psyche's situation, mocking any suggestion of the divine nature of the marriage. He encourages Orual to find a way to persuade her sister to leave her husband, so she can get "care," an ancient version of psychological help. As she makes plans with the Fox, her passion rises to such a degree that she tells him she will kill her



sister rather than leave her in this degrading marriage.The Fox, as always speaking with reason's accuracy, again rebukes her: "Daughter, daughter. You are transported beyond all reason and nature. Do you know what it is? There's one part love in your heart, and five parts anger, and seven parts pride" (EL, 148). Once Orual decides that it really does not matter who is right Bardia or the Foxbecause either interpretation involves her sister in a marriage to someone, something horrible and terrifying, she goes back to the motuitain to persuade Psyche a second time. This second encounter deepens the void between the two sisters and exhibits the reality of Orual's deficiency in love, this time her philia, for her sister. On her second visit, Orual tries to convince Psyche that her husband is "either a monstera shadow and monster in one, maybe, a ghostly, undead thingor a salt villain whose lips, even on your feet or the hem of your robe, would be a stain to our blood" (EL, 160). Twisting the truth, she tells Psyche that Bardia and the Fox "agree" that her husband is "either Shadow-brute or felon," leaving out the important difference in their interpretation and saying that all of Glome "would say the same" (EL, 161). Psyche calmly replies, "But what is all this to me? How should they know? I am his wife. I know" (EL, 161). The argument that ensues is bitter, ending with Orual's threat of suicide, to which she adds power by thrusting her sword through her own arm (EL, 164). This act of psychological manipulation goes against the deepest nature of philia, which, as we have seen in The Eour Loves, is a free meeting of souls. Orual does not respect Psyche's freedom and seeks to force her to do her will, using her sister's love for her as the weapon (as Psyche herself points out). And it works. Psyche agrees to look upon her husband's face, acknowledging "I know what I do. I know that I am betraying the best of lovers and that perhaps, before sunrise, all my happiness may be destroyed forever. This is the price you have put upon your life. Well, I must pay it" (EL, 166). If Orual had entertained any doubt that her use of the threat of


11 1

suicide was morally acceptable as a means of persuading her sister, the Fox clarifies this for her in the negative when she returns. She never tells him of the suicide threat and self-inflicted sword thrust, but the Fox knows she is keeping a secret from him. In words that must be painful for Orual to hear, the Fox assures her that he will not try to force her to tell him what occurred: "Friends must be free. My tormenting you to find it would build a worse barrier between us than your hiding it. Some day^^but you must obey the god within you, not the god within me" {FL, 180). It is exactly this freedom to obey "the god within," in other words, her sister's own leading from God, that Orual has denied Psyche by her threat of suicide. Philia has been unmade between them. As Psyche says on the mountain, "You grow more and more a stranger to me at each word. And I had loved you so. . . . And nowbut I can't have your blood on my threshold. You chose your threat well" {FL, 166). The result is Psyche's exile from her lover and Orual's facing years of agony of remembrance. Just as Orual will eventually come to repentance and forgiveness of her sins, both against her sister and against the gods. Psyche must also undergo a transformation. Even as a young girl, she already was well along the road to redemption, a truly "self-sacrificing Christlike"person, as George Sayer calls her." Watson considers Psyche to be "like the suffering servant in Isaiah ^3, recognized by Christians as prophetic of Christ[she] must take the illnesses of the people upon herself, suffering for their transgressions that they might be healed, a suffering carried out not only in healing the people of their plague, but also in bealing her sisterand all dichotomies who pattern themselves after herof their unbelief."'^ Of all the characters in Lewis's fiction, only Asian the Lion in the Narnia series is more clearly rendered as an image of Christ. Psyche is even tied to a tree, as Jesus was hanged on one, willingly offering herself in redemption for her people {TWHF, 107, 109). However, unlike Asian, she is not perfect, nor is she the dominant image of Christ in the novel. Her god-husband Cupid takes that role. Psyche shows a deficiency



of love, of both eros and agape, in allowing her sister to convince her to disobey her husband's command not to look at his face. True, in Lewis's version of the myth, she is far less blameworthy than she is in the original, where her sisters actually convince her to doubt her divine lover and willingly disobey him. Lewis's Psyche has no such doubts, although she is manipulated by her sister's threat of suicide, tinable to bear the thought of heing responsible for Orual's death. Psyche hopes that Cupid will understand her actions: "He will know how I was tortured into my disobedience. He will forgive me," and while he eventually does forgive her, she first undergoes a period of exile and trial (TWHF, i66). Most of these trials involve performing tasks devised hy the malicious Venus, mother of Cupid, but Lewis depicts these tasks as heing ameliorated by the help Psyche receives, a type of grace. As St. Paul says, we must "work out our salvation with fear and trembhng," butat the same time, "knowing that it is God who is at work in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure."'^ Psyche works, but grace makes "the yoke . . . easy," as Jesus says of service to himself.^""^ Orual, who has heen told by the god that she also "shall be Psyche," must perform in a vision the same tasks, hut they are harder for her. The implication is that Psyche understands how to submit herself to grace but Orual has yet to learn this. However, what Psyche must learn is how to move beyond the manipulative power of her sister. Though giving in to Orual's demands in order to keep her from committing suicide may have seemed a noble thing to do, Lewis suggests in one of Orual's final visions that Psyche must learn to keep her eyes focused on what she must do and not be distracted or dissuaded from it even though pity or misguided human love urges her to turn aside. As in the original myth. Psyche has a final task of going to the world of the dead and bringing back to Venus "the heauty of Persephone, the Queen of the dead." She is told that on her way she would be asked for help by many people who "seemed to deserve her pity, hut she must refuse



them air (TWHF, 3 12).This odd but divine command makes more sense in Lewis's version of the myth in that his Psyche actually has already committed a sin of disobedience out of pity and fear for her sister. In a vision, Orual sees Psyche traveling through the world of the dead and tempted by many voices calling for her help, along v\rith the Fox telling her that her beliefs are "all lies of priests and poets," andfinallyOrual herself, though at first she does not recognize who the woman is, begging Psyche to return. As the woman reaches out to Psyche, Orual sees her left arm dripping with blood, and a stab of self-recognition must surely shake her, as she hears her own voice calling out to her sister (TWHF, 30204). But this time, unlike the encounter on the mountain. Psyche is not persuaded, but with great pain and strong will ignores the pleas of her sister and obtains the box filled with the beauty of Persephone. Like Peter, asked by Jesus to affirm his love three times, even as he had denied Jesus three times,^^ Psyche must reenact the incident in which she failed in love (i.e., by giving in to her sister's pleas and thus disobeying her god-husband). She returns triumphant, bearing the cask. Her success leads not only to her own fullness of redemption, but also to Orual's, who is brought through these visions to a place of full repentance. Seeing the real Psyche, now like a goddess and no longer a mere vision, Orual bows before her, confessing, "Never again will I call you mine; but all there is of me shall be yours. Alas, you know now what it's worth. I never wished you well, never had one selfless thought of you. I was a craver" (TWHF, 30^). The redemption of Orual is complete when Psyche gives her the casket filled with beauty. She says to her sister, "Did I not tell you, Maia . . . that a day was coming when you and I would meet in my house and no cloud between us?" (TWHF, 306). Orual sees herself and her sister reflected in the water, both now beautiful, both transformed, the god's voice confirming the transformation, "You also are Psyche" (TWHF, 308). All Orual's fears of the gods, her doubts



about herself and ahout her sister's encounter with the god of the mountain, are resolved. She says to him: "I know now. Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer" (TWHF, 308). Agape has swallowed up storge, philia, and eros, transforming all into a love beyond human understanding or capacity. In The Four Loves, Lewis describes the fullness of salvation such as that experienced by Orual and Psyche: "When we see the face of God we shall know that we have always known it. He has been a party to, has made, sustained and moved moment hy moment within, all our earthly experiences of innocent love. All that was true love in them was, even on earth, far more His than ours, and ours only hecause His" (FL, 19091). Though Psyche says to Orual on the mountain in their terrible struggle over her marriage to Cupid that "something between us dies here," in the Gospel, reflected in the myth as Lewis recounts it, death is only the pathway to resurrection. Notes
1. C. S. Lewis, TiW We Hare faces (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988), 16^. 2. Humphrey Carpenter, The Inklings: C. S. Lewis,J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and their Friends (Boston: Houghton MifFlin, 1979) 4 i . 3. George Sayer,yaci.C. S. Lewis and His Times (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988), 236. 4. . C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves (NewYork: Harcourt, Brace, and Co., 1960). J. R. R.Tolkien, "Mythopoeia,"in 7ree aniJica/^(London: HarperCollins, 2001), 83.

6. J. R. R.Tolkien, "On Fairy Stories," TheToIkien Reader (London: Unwin, 197^), 83. 7. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (NewYork: MacMillan, 1977), i 1 2 i. 8. Ibid., 43. 9. Paul VI, Nostra aetate, i . 10. 11. G. K. C h e s t e r t o n , The Everlasting Man (San Francisco: Ignatius P r e s s , | I 9 2 J 1 9 9 3 ) . C. S. Lewis, Surprised by ]oy:The Shape of My Early Life (New York and London: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 19J:), 223. 12. 13. Ibid., 136. Ralph Wood, "The Baptized Imagination: C.S. Lewis's Fictional Apologetics," Christian Century I, no. 2: 8 i 2. 14. L e w i s , Till We Have Faces, 3 1 2 .

T H E T R A N S F O R M A T I O N OF LOVE . Lewis, The Four Loves, 34. All subsequent references to The Four Loves will be cited parenthetically in the text as FL. 16. C. S. Lewis, Letter to Dom Bede Griffiths, OSB, Dec. 21, 1941, The Letters of C. S. Lewis, edited with a memoir by W H. Lewis (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1966), 197. 17. C. S. Lewis, "The Inner Ring," in TheWeight of Glory and Other Addresses (San Francisco: Harper, 1976; rev. 1980), 141^7. 18. 19. 20. 21. Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions, trans. Maria Boulding, OSB (Villanova, PA: Augustinian Heritage Institute, 1997), Bk. II, ch. 4, sec. 9, 30. Ibid.,Bk. Il,ch. 7, 29. L e w i s , Till We Have Faces, 2 2 . I b i d . , 2. Octagon Books,

2 2. Charles Wilhams, The Figure of Beatrice: A Study in Dante (New\ork:

1980); Charles Williams, Religion and Love in Dante (Westminster: Dacre, 1941). 23. Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Inferno, trans. Allen Mandelbaum (New York: Bantam, 1982), CantoV, lines 79142, 4^47. 24. 2^. 26. Benedict XVI, Deuscar/tfls est, 3. Lewis, Till We Have Faces, ii-j. Sally Bartlett, "Humanistic Psychology in C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces: a Feminist Critique," Studies in the Literary Imagination 22, no. 2: 199. 27. Thomas Ramey Watson, "Enlarging Augustinian Systems: C. S. Lewis'The Great Divorce andTill We Have Faces." Renascence 46, no. 3: 175^. 28. Dante Aligheri, La Vita Nuova, trans. Barbara Reynolds (Baltimore, MA: Penguin Books, 1971). 29. Lewis, Till We Have Faces, 301. All subsequent parenthetical citations in the text refer to Till We Have Faces as TWHF 3 o. Watson, "Enlarging," i 2. 3 1. Sayer,Jack, 234. 32. 33. 34. 3. Watson, "Enlarging," 14. Philippians 2: 1213. ^^^ American Standard Bible (Lockman Foundation). Matthew i i: 30. John 2 1: i j - 1 7 .

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