Out Of The Silent Planet By C.S. Lewis

1231 words - 5 pages

Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis

In the year 1625, Francis Bacon, a famous essayist and poet wrote about the influences of fear on everyday life. He stated, “Men fear death as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other” (Essays Dedication of Death). Clearly, external surroundings affect perceptions of fear as well as human nature in general. Although C.S. Lewis published the novel, Out of the Silent Planet, over three centuries after Bacon wrote his theory on fear, Lewis similarly portrayed external surrounding to manipulate perceptions of fear. From the first chapter of the novel, Lewis revealed fear to be a weakness that leads to ignorance. It was this ignorance that apparently fueled the cycle of corruption and immorality on “The Silent Planet.” Using the character Ransom to reveal the effect of memory and morality on fear, C.S. Lewis demonstrates that fear is a quality of the “bent” race (humans), and only by eliminating fear in our lives can the human race become hnau.

     Throughout Out of the Silent Planet, memory, in particular, appears to have a tremendous impact on Ransom’s perception of fear. The influence of memory on fear was noticeable since the early abduction of Ransom in this novel. After spending mere hours on the spaceship, Ransom reveals his ignorant notion that space was a “dark and cold abyss (29).” While Weston contemptuously corrects him, asking, “Forgotten the sun?” it is clear that Wellsian novels such as The Time Machine created this pessimistic view of space. This “Wellsian” ideology continues to influence the thoughts and actions of Ransom throughout his journey on the spaceship. When overhearing the conversation between Weston and Divine about the sorns, Ransom instinctively envisions these creatures as “the bogies” he read in the novels by Wells (37). Ransom later reiterates this idea when assuming that key words including “Giants, ogres, ghosts, and skeletons” represented the sorns or, “the horrors of [my] imagination” (47). When arriving at Malacandra (Mars), Ransom’s memories of Sci-fi novels causes him to instinctively categorize the living animals on the planet as savage beasts. Believing Weston and Divine’s ignorant notion that he would be tortured and consumed by the sorns, Ransom resists “donkey-fashion” when being handed over to them. Resulting to childish behavior, such as kicking and screaming, Ransom allowed fear to completely dictate his beliefs and actions. In fact, until Ransom spends a great deal of time with the hross, Ransom sees differences between the human race and hnau as risks and dangers. He only advances towards the hross because its appearance was comparable to that of the animals of Earth. While Ransom never fully eradicates his fear of Malacandra, he eventually comes to the realization that differences between Earth and Malacandra does not represent evil within the Malacandrian world. In fact, he...

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