Friday, September 30 | 11:10-12:15 pm
LOVE + GENDER | Room 201
Is There Such a Thing as ‘Too Much Love’?: C.S. Lewis on Love’s Need for Will and Order
In 1986 Melody Beattie, in her work Codependent No More, brought the term ‘codependency’ into general academic conversation. She defines codependency as a reliance by one individual on another, with one trying to control the life of the other. In 2001 Jean Holt gave a more comprehensive definition, saying, “codependency is living in the orbit of someone else’s life, problems, chaos, or pain.” C.S. Lewis never uses the word ‘codependency,’ but in The Four Loveshe uses synonymous phrases such as “the need to be needed.” Till We Have Faces, The Great Divorce, and The Four Loves show Lewis’s belief that codependency results from defective love, rather than having too much love. Moreover, he argues that love becomes and remains defective when it lacks will and order.
In the same way that Freudian theory enables critics to further analyze characters such as Hamlet, codependency gives us a better understanding of Robert’s wife and Pam in The Great Divorce, Mrs. Fidget in The Four Loves, and Orual in Till We Have Faces. The Four Loves provide a model for love which Psyche in Till We Have Faces and Sarah Smith in The Great Divorce fulfill. Lewis’s imaginative, yet realistic, examples of love provide a necessary complement to psychological discourse since they engage not only readers’ reason but also their intuition. Lewis stimulates our imaginations to guide us toward a woeful, but hopefully enduring, realization of what our intellect may only be able to momentarily acknowledge. As Peter Schakel says, “Intellect can know [the] principles of [love]; but until these become meaningful and internalized [through mediums such as story], they have no practical effect.”
Joshua Randhawa has a BA from TWU, which includes a major in English Literature and a minor in Business, and is currently an MAIH student. He has spent one semester studying at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois. His reading interests include nineteenth-century Russian novels, Ancient Greek comedies, and Inklings literature. His favourite Lewis essay is “Myth Became Fact.”
Charlotte Brontë in Narnia?: Intertextuality and Gender in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia
Sara L. Pearson
C.S. Lewis was an inveterate re-reader of literature. He writes to Arthur Greeves, ‘I don’t think you re-read enough—I know I do it too much’ (Hooper 34). Charlotte Brontë was one of the authors whose works Lewis enjoyed re-reading, and his letters over the years reveal his changing impressions of her novels, particularly of Jane Eyre and the lesser-known Shirley. With a retentive memory, an ear for language, and repeated readings of Brontë’s novels, Lewis not surprisingly echoes language from and alludes to scenes in Charlotte Brontë’s works. In this paper, I will be focusing on the art of Lewis’s Brontëan intertextuality in the Chronicles of Narnia, arguing that Brontë provided for Lewis a gallery of female relationships and female types which he incorporated into his own work. A particularly intriguing example occurs in the The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when Lucy and Susan cannot sleep, together follow Aslan, witness his death, and await the dawn—the setting, conversation, and relationship between the two girls bears a striking resemblance to a scene depicting Caroline Helstone and Shirley Keeldar witnessing a night-time attack on a mill-owner and his mill in Brontë’s Shirley. Given Brontë’s contribution to the nourishment of C.S. Lewis’s artistic creativity, an examination of this literary relationship is worthy of critical attention, which has been long overdue.
Sara L. Pearson is an Associate Professor of English at Trinity Western University, Langley, BC, Canada. A specialist in nineteenth-century British literature, her scholarly work focuses mainly on the novels, poetry, and lives of the Brontës. She also has an ongoing interest in literary intertextuality, recently publishing an article on Wordsworth’s use of the biblical Song of Songs in his poem “Tintern Abbey” (Studies in Romanticism 53.2 (2014): 195-216). Like C. S. Lewis, she is guilty of re-reading ‘too much’. The books she has most often re-read, dozens of times? Jane Eyre andThe Chronicles of Narnia.