Award Date

5-1-2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Committee Member

Philip Rusche

Second Committee Member

John Hay

Third Committee Member

Kelly Mays

Fourth Committee Member

Elspeth Whitney

Number of Pages

96

Abstract

This study examines how C.S. Lewis’ final novel, Till We Have Faces, demonstrates a significant diversion from the author's typical writing habits, especially regarding his depictions of women. Progressing through the novel chronologically, this thesis studies sixteen notable scenes that demonstrate this diversion. It tracks the development and depiction of women characters who exemplify a more realistic, complex, egalitarian writing style—one that allows women to wield legitimate power, excel in military combat, operate as conduits to the Divine, and enjoy their sexuality in affirming ways.

This thesis begins with an introduction to Lewis' position as a lay theologian and popular influence on conservative Christian communities and discusses Lewis’ long-held support of gender hierarchy. This leads to a briefing on Lewis’ tendency toward problematic depictions of women, especially in his more popular works (e.g. The Space Trilogy and The Chronicles of Narnia).

Then the thesis continues on to the chronological study of the novel itself, Till We Have Faces. While tracking the novel’s unusually egalitarian and nuanced depictions of women, I demonstrate Lewis’ diversion from the writing habits he is often remembered for. I compare characters—including Orual, Psyche, Ungit, and Redival—to other women featured in Lewis’ fictional works. Among these characters are Jane Studdock and Tinidril from The Space Trilogy; and Lucy and Susan Pevensie, Jill Pole, the White Witch, and the Lady of the Green Kirtle from The Chronicles of Narnia. There is also mention of Lewis’ nonfiction essay against the ordination of women—“Priestesses in the Church?”—to illustrate his resistance to the idea of women in leadership, prior to his subversion of such sentiments in Till We Have Faces.

This thesis concludes with a discussion on the academic and popular merits of the novel and encourages further study on the possible influences that led Lewis to depict Till We Have Faces’ characters in a more complex, egalitarian way.

Keywords

Feminist criticism; Gender hierarchy; Lewis; C.S.; The Chronicles of Narnia; The Space Trilogy; Till We Have Faces (novel)

Disciplines

Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature | Modern Literature | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures

File Format

pdf

File Size

.755 MB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Language

English

Rights

IN COPYRIGHT. For more information about this rights statement, please visit http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/

Available for download on Monday, May 15, 2023


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