The excerpt by C.S. Lewis from the novel “Perelandra” at once captures the attention of the reader. The state of mind of the protagonist as he makes his way to a friend’s house at night time has been beautifully captured by the author, having also focused on the narrator’s situation and his surrounding.. The extract is full of suspense and anxiety which Lewis has tries to capture through his use of dark and perturbed imagery and characterization. The passage is extremely effective and boggles the reader’s mind, as the reader cannot interpret what is going to happen next. The author’s use of caps and flashback in the narration helps to convey the inevitable terror and fear the protagonist feels. The choice of words used by the author also plays a major hand in creating and maintaining the tension throughout the excerpt. The theme that stands out the most to the reader is the theme of self-questioning and self-doubt. The author’s perceptible style of narration assists the word choice in creating a apprehensive atmosphere in the excerpt. Vivid feelings of dubiousness, dementia and perplexity have been expressed by the protagonist, which has helped in successfully creating the mood and tone for the setting.
The binary thoughts and the way the narrators mind is play a major role in the perception of his character. He is rational, as well as at some level, irrational. The part of him that is valorous and composed seems to come to indifferently perceive that insanity is, in fact axiomatic to those that are affected by it. ‘Suppose that real insanity has chosen this place to begin?’ The flip side of him feels no pity for himself. The protagonist is so deep into his fear and the fact that he is hallucinating, his reason couldn’t maneuver its way like his fright does. According to his disenchanted sense, its only mad people who perceive the world the way it is because what he is being exposed to has to be fanciful. In those moments of madness and fear, what according to the narrator seems to be a justified reason ‘it was the expression of this bit of the road which I don’t like’ is a completely irrelevant and irrational point. The engagement between the dual thoughts of the narrator evokes empathy and insight into the narrators mind when as he says, ‘ we have all known times’ when the universe around us seemed so baleful.
The twofold nature of this excerpt is tangible from the first paragraph itself. The narrator, who is also the protagonist, is well aware of the read to his friend’s house but the setting, that is it being dark and dingy, makes it difficult for him to find his way around. He has lost track of time cause his watch deems to be broken and the precise beacons like the ‘little Wesleyan Chapel’ seem to have vanished due to the fog and darkness surrounding him. He has no sense of time, his position, which seem to be taking a toll on his mind resulting in lack of direction which is being juxtaposed with presentiment of ‘horrible expectancy’ and a diverging sense, where reality is taken to another level – trees glare down with ‘black enmity’ which is a demonstration of the fear and terror that is in the mind of the narrator where everything around him seems to haunt him. He felt that he was hallucinating, which seemed to petrify him so much, but, in reality, everything, even the things that existed, seemed to make his worst nightmare seem like a bowl full of sugar.
The author has also given the narration a split personality, just like the tone and characterization where in one, he is living life as it is and taking things as it comes and one where he, with discomposure, apprehended the situation after it occurred. This is being represented by the gaps in the narration which play a vital part in the structure of the excerpt. The three full stops in line 13 (paragraph 1) signify a skip in the time frame allowing the emotions of a ‘horrible surmise’ to be engulfed by the readers mind. This helps fabricate an impression that the narrator’s reminisce of the incident was shattered by the fear and horror he felt within. He wasn’t able to recollect any detail properly other images feelings that stood out to him – ones that created trepidation in his mind and soul. This results in coherent image of the narrator being formed by the reader, indicating the honest and downright experience of the narrator.
Further on in the text, a more astonishing but eccentric series of beliefs and moral sense is seen. The fear felt by the narrator now spirals out of control and derangement now controls his mind which is why his ability to reason situations, has a temporary lapse resulting in the ‘childish whining thought’. Delirious and far fetched notions now arise as a result, the narrator’s mind jumps from one hypothesize to another about why Ransom wasn’t there to welcome him into his house. The fear he feels induces the obsession of having to question everything around him. The repetition of the word perhaps indicates that perhaps the narrator hasn’t lost his logical approach to things entirely as when he says, ‘I should see a figure that looked like Ransom standing with its back to me and when I spoke to it, it would turn round and show a face that was not human at all…’, it bespeaks that may be consternation seems to have gotten the better of him, cumulating the fact that he uses the same practice and strategy to appear at wholly disparate conclusions. This makes us come back to a mundane condition where defending something commensurate with the concept of dread.
The tone of the narrator switches from being suspenseful and dramatic, to being peremptory and illustrative in the final paragraph of the extract. The narrator begins to once again reflect on himself; him feeling repugnant and self critical seems to be a daily routine for him. He would rather not dally further details but yet finds it requisite to giving us an chronicle of what happened ‘for a full understanding of what follows’ suggesting to the reader that there is more magnitude than what we perceive it to have. The narrator connotes to, at any cost, get over with his story, skipping details, only drawing the reader’s attention to the fear that is still within him. Almost loosing control of himself, his emotions and feelings obscure ‘ loathing and dismay’. There appears to be a physical barricade or ‘ wall of resistance’ that the narrator feels due to his fear and self doubt that is emphasized by the duskiness of the night. A sense of suffocation and an internal fight with oneself is being expressed by the use of words such as ‘fighting’, ‘shrieking’, ‘wringing’ and ‘shouting’, which imparts agitation and distraught. The narrator reacts violently to even the smallest exposure; his fear gets the better of him, as he ‘somehow or other’ makes his way to the doorstep of Ransom’s house. He imagines some sort of an escape behind the walls of the cottage, which further exemplifies his want and need to get away from the fearful situation he is caught in.
The excerpt’s structure is based on the motif of the narrator’s mind and the ay it culminates the fear and finally climaxes with the narrator loosing all control of himself and finally letting go. As the beginning part of the passage indicates and focuses mainly on the protagonist’s derangement, the later half focuses on its progressive decent.