Journal Article

Of Men and Mice: C. S. Lewis on Male–Female Interactions*

Gretchen Bartels

in Literature and Theology

Volume 22, issue 3, pages 324-338
Published in print September 2008 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online July 2008 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/frn026
Of Men and Mice: C. S. Lewis on Male–Female Interactions*

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Questions of gender are frequently bracketed when discussing C. S. Lewis's life and works. Perhaps most evade the issue because the distinctions are so sharply drawn—either Lewis is a misogynist or he is a product of his time. The issue of women in Lewis's works, however, should not be ignored. In this article, I focus both on Lewis's portrayals of the emancipated woman in his nonfiction writing (particularly ‘Modern Man and His Categories of Thought’, The Four Loves, and ‘Priestesses in the Church?’) and in his fictional writing (particularly ‘The Shoddy Lands’, That Hideous Strength, and Till We Have Faces). I argue that Lewis's frequently problematic portrayals of women in his fiction grow not only out of his theoretical dislike of the emancipated woman but also out of his theological understanding of gender. Building on the biblical image of the relationship of God and humanity as one of a marriage, Lewis casts his fictional couples as representations of the relationship between the masculine divine and the feminine mortal. While focusing on communicating spiritual truths, however, Lewis loses sight of social realities. In his final novel, Till We Have Faces, Lewis is able to get at the theological level by moving away from social context into the realm of myth.

Journal Article.  6592 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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