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Chapter 3 - part 3

The final book in Lewis' theological science fiction Space Trilogy.

Chapter 3 - part 3

Postby Kanakaberaka » 06 Jan 2009, 21:54

Synopsis - Jane enters into a walled garden with the help of a young woman about her own age. After traversing a large garden they enter the main house at St. Anne's. Jane meets Miss Ironwood, who appears in real life just as she did in Jane's dream. But Jane is dissapointed when Miss Ironwood informs her that she can not be cured of her nightmares because there is nothing wrong with her. She tells Jane that her visions are a gift from God. To prove this she shows Jane a book written by an ancestor of Jane about a battle he viewed from hundreds of miles away through a vision. Jane is so despondent becaise she thought that Mr. Dimble wanted to help cure her of her nightmares. Not use them for some strange cause. Jane leaves St. Anne's in haste with no intention of returning.

I was surprised that Camilla Deniston was able to answer Jane's knock on the garden gate as quickly as she did, considering how far the entrance is from the main house. The two of them have to travel through a spacious, walled garden. Jane likens this garden to several literary ones she is familiar with. At first she remembers the garden from Peter Rabbit. Then she decicdes it's more like the garden in Romance of the Rose, an allegory of courtly love by Guillaume de Lorris. This poem opens with the popular medieval topic of dreams and their significance. Quite appropriate in Jane's case. Next the scene reminds her of Klingsor's garden. This was a garden of temptation from Wagner's Parsifal populated with flower fairies to hinder the Grail Knights on their quest, it was set up by an unworthy knight named Klingsor who severed his own genitals after being turned down by the Grail Knights because of his lust. Finally Jane is reminded of the garden from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. But she soon rejects this comparison. Jane thinks of all these different gardens. Any yet, her she makes only a passing reference to the Biblical Garden of Eden. Dismissing it as "... like the garden on the top of some Mesopotamian ziggurat which had probably given rise to the whole legend of Paradise... " rather than making a direct reference. Jane also remembers a quote - "The beauty of the female is the root of joy to the female as well as to the male, and it is no accident that the goddess of Love is older and stronger than the god." Yet she does not remember where she originaly heard it. The window clapping shut as Jane and the young woman approach the main house feels rather ominous. Surely they are being watched.

While Jane finds herself waiting in the back of this house it is quiet, except that "Occasionally the cawing of rooks could be heard." The mention of "rooks" had me thinking of Stanley's Chess Board analogy. But I am sure it was the call of crows rather than a reference to the castle playing piece that Lewis wants us to think of. Especialy when Jane takes time to read the one book inside this room. She opens it to the exact page where she read the quote she thought about in the garden! Real deja vu. Of course the young woman returns just as Jane is reading the whole page, adding to Jane's tenseness. The woman's name is Camilla Denniston, and she will have more to do with the story as it goes on. For now, she takes Jane to Miss Ironwood's room.
Of course Miss Ironwood is just as she appeared in Jane's vision. She is very businesslike in writing down Jane's answers to her questions. Untill Jane tells her about her disturbing dreams. at first Miss Ironwood tenses up. Untill finally she breaks in two the pencil she's holding. Lewis does a fine job conveying the point that Miss Ironwood is holding back whatever it is she knows about these visions of Jane. Something she dare not tell Jane directly.
And so Jane is understandably annoyed when Miss Ironwood informs her that she can not be cured because there is nothing wrong with her. The best she can do is show Jane a book written by one of Jane's ancesstors. This book is about the battle of Worcester, the final defeat of the Royalist cause on September 3, 1651. It appears to be a first person account. And yet the writer was far away in York at the time of the battle. Apparently these distant visions run in Jane's family.
Also, that family happens to be the Warwickshire branch of the Tudors - Six of whom were monarchs of England, including Henry the VIII. So Jane has the sort of pedigree which Bill the blizzard would have been impressed by.
At one point Lewis notes about Jane, "In some ways she was very young". This reminded me of what the Green Lady said about her own inexperience in Perelandra. This must explain why Jane rejects Miss Ironwood's invitation to join her "company" and use her visions for good. And yet I can hardly blame Jane since Miss Ironwood is much too vague about just who the higher powers are whom she serves. If I was in Jane's situation, I am sure I would avoid entaglements with people who would not tell the whole truth about what it is they are doing. Even if they belive they are on the side of goodness.
so it goes...
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Re: Chapter 3 - part 3

Postby Brian » 11 Jan 2009, 22:47

At one point Lewis notes about Jane, "In some ways she was very young". This reminded me of what the Green Lady said about her own inexperience in Perelandra. This must explain why Jane rejects Miss Ironwood's invitation to join her "company" and use her visions for good. And yet I can hardly blame Jane since Miss Ironwood is much too vague about just who the higher powers are whom she serves. If I was in Jane's situation, I am sure I would avoid entaglements with people who would not tell the whole truth about what it is they are doing. Even if they belive they are on the side of goodness.


Hi K,
I find it interesting that throughout Biblical Scripture, there is that sense that God desires us to take him at his word that his good is absolute and the only real good - even when we do not see immediate evidence of this. And - in many ways, God desires us to be "young" to be ope th the reality of absolute good and evil. I think Lewis may be reflecting on his own experience in becoming a Christian in some degree to the character of Jane at this point of the story. One must be presented with the Genuine, True Good which only comes from God in Christ, in order to reject real evil. The Great Commission comes to mind in this regard for both parties. This was probably the first time Jane was confronted with this real, absolute choice. It was as uncomfortable for her, as it was for Lewis, as it is the first time any of us are confronted with the reality of absolute good vs absolute evil. This is probably not a perfect analogy, but struck me as you shared your thoughts noted above.

In Christ,
Brian
In Christ alone,
Brian

Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die, even the undertaker will be sorry. Mark Twain
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Re: Chapter 3 - part 3

Postby Jofa » 27 Feb 2009, 23:16

I like what you wrote about the garden associations K. Especially that about the Romance of the Rose. Although this is an association which in my mind (my picture comes from some paintings on the topic... which I cannot find at the moment...or I would refer to exact examples) is rather dark and morbid. My first impression is that all these images of gardens were contributing to the image of an Eden, but now when I see each one of them it seems they are far from that...except for leading Jane's thoughts in the right direction... still they show the significance of gardens in our art and thoughts so they make their point.

Since I am studying Perelandra at the moment several things sprung out at me from the pages from this THS chapter as paralel topics. Some random thoughts on that. (I hope it'll all make sense, as it is quite late here)

The passage on female beauty, which Jane reads from the book:
"To desire the desiring of her own beauty is the vanity of Lilith, but to desire the enjoying if her own beauty is the obedience of Eve, and to both it is in their lover that the beloved tastes her own delightfulness."

The way Jane pushes the gift away:
"vision is not a disease."
"But I don't want it," said Jane passionately. "I must stop it. I hate this sort of thing."


"But what is this all about?" - said Jane - "I want to lead an ordinary life. I want to do my own work. It's unbearable! Why should I be selected for this horrible thing?"

It makes me think of the idea of waves from Perelandra.
Jane has a set plan of how her life is supposed to look like and a fence of her own will around her. All this is falling to pieces. Suddenly what is required of her is letting go of the desire to control the whole situation, and trust towards people and some "higher authorities" whom she knows nothing about. She is thrust into a storm. Only under less favourable conditions than Ransom - in a fallen world, ruled to a large extent by the dark side and with no warning of any mission which will be "entrusted" to her. She is not part of the camp for which she is to fight. She is enrolled against her will in time of war.

As to Miss Ironwood - I get the impression Lewis builds this character in a way so that the reader can actually feel a hint of the lack of sympathy and a kind of fear with which Jane perceives her. She is not a person whom one wants to trust right away, and is not trying to fix that.

I like what Brian writes. I get a similar impression that although it is reasonable not to trust Miss Ironwood and co. But then, what is "reasonable"? She is being forced into listening to her heart/inner voice - once again we're dealing with the same issue as in Perelandra but in a different environment.
"Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again."
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