Friday, June 17, 2005

Orual's Case Against the Gods

Now, you who read, judge between the gods and me. They gave me nothing in the world to love but Psyche and then took her from me. But that was not enough. They then brought me to her at such a place and time that it hung on my word whether she should continue in bliss or be cast out into misery. They would not tell me whether she was the bride of a god, or mad, or a brute's or villain's spoil. They would give no clear sign, though I begged for it. I had to guess. And because I guessed wrong they punished me--what's worse, punished me through her. And even that was not enough; they have now sent out a lying story in which I was given no riddle to guess, but knew and saw that she was the god's bride, and of my own will destroyed her, and that for jealousy. As if I were another Redival. I say the gods deal very unrightly with us. For they will neither (which would be best of all) go away and leave us to live our own short days to ourselves, nor will they show themselves openly and tell us what they would have us do. For that too would be endurable. But to hint and hover, to draw near us in dreams and oracles, or in a waking vision that vanishes as soon as seen, to be dead silent when we question them and then glide back and whisper (words we cannot understand) in our ears when we most wish to be free of them, and to show to one what they hide from another; what is all this but cat-and-mouse play, blindman's buff, and mere jugglery? Why must holy places be dark places?
~C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces (1956)

3 Comment(s):

At Fri Jun 17, 06:19:00 PM EST, Blogger MrKimi said...

I love this passage. This is my favourite book ever and this is one of the best bits. It captures Orual's preconversion state of mind. She makes a very convincing argument here, but (as we find) she doesn't yet know that she doesn't understand anything at all. Many of the things she thinks are important are not, and other things are.

The complaint about the gods refusal to show themselves and 'tell us what to do' is clearly something she doesn't want. She is used to doing what she wants. As she says, she would prefer to be left alone. She has not yet considered that the dark places are only dark because she has not looked hard enough.

At Fri Jun 17, 07:00:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

Well, and isn't she being not completely truthful here? She *was* shown a vision of Psyche's palace, but she chose to believe the logical explanation of the fate of Psyche given by The Fox over the explanation based on faith that was offered by Bardia.

At Sat Jun 18, 01:08:00 AM EST, Blogger MrKimi said...

The Bardia explanation carries more weight for me. She can, with consistency, dismiss the vision as a 'whisper in the dark'. But she does have two strong mentors, and (as you say) she choses to accept the Fox's explanation. The trouble is the Fox is so *sensible* isn't he? And yet...


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