In the novel Out of the Silent Planet, by C.S. Lewis there are many fascinating characters. If I were to choose anyone from the book to be my friend it would definitely be the Malacandra creature called Hyoi. He is from a race of creatures called the hross and is said to look like a seal. Throughout the story he becomes Dr. Elwin Ransom’s friend. He is the first intelligent creature Dr. Ransom meets on the alien planet. Hyoi is a caring creature who educates Dr. Ransom about the planet and its inhabitants. He also teaches him about their religion and how important it is to their culture. He appreciates the nature and the beauty of the planet Malacandra. This shows me that as my friend he could help me to appreciate the world around me better.
The character in the novel that I despise the most is the physicist Dr. Weston. He is a scientist who creates the spaceship that is able to travel to Malacandra. He wants to kill off all life on Malacandra so that humans can live there if anything happens to the Earth. He resorts to kidnapping and drugging Dr. Ransom to get what he wants. Weston feels that humans are superior to all other races and creatures. He has no concern for the other life forms that already inhabit this planet. He should devise some type of plan to try and co-exist with the current inhabitants otherwise he should just leave their home alone. Weston always puts his selfish desires before others. It is this attitude as well as other traits that makes him a very unlikeable character.
One of the themes of the novel is humanism. Humanism is a stance that emphasizes the importance of human beings and prefers scientific evidence over accepting authority from a religious being. Dr. Weston wants to wipe out a whole planet of aliens just for human advancement. He has no morals but only promotes ideas that will advance and benefit human society. The whole plan of his mission is to destroy everyone on Malacandra so that humans will be able to live there in the future. There is a focus on the gain of humans, and there is no thought to the effect their actions will have on others. It is foolish to think that the only thing that matters is progression and human gain. We have to take in consideration what effect our actions will have on others before we do anything. The theme of humanism in this novel is unquestionably unbiblical. Human beings should not want to gain only for themselves. They should always be mindful as to how their actions will affect others. As it says in Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather in humility value others above yourself, not looking to your on interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” God says to not to be selfish and to think of others before ourselves.
One moral conflict that is seen in Out of the Silent Planet is between the characters Weston, Devine, and Oyarsa. Weston and Devine want to destroy life on Malacandra in order for humans to take over the planet. Oyarsa, one of its inhabitants and leaders, believe that they have no right to do this and will do everything in his power to protect his planet. The conflict is resolved by Oyarsa capturing Weston and Devine and sending them back to earth, while making Dr. Ransom earth’s representative. I personally think that Oyarsa should have eliminated them. Weston and Devine came to kill everyone yet he decided to spare their lives when they were captured. If you are the first inhabitants of the land and nurtured and grew it, you should be able to live there until you choose to leave. No one should be able to take away the land from them if it was initially theirs. I learned that Oyarsa really cares about the land and the people, and Weston and Devine only care about humans and themselves. They only came there to destroy the Malacandrians and advance human existence. They have no right to take away their native home.
“The creature was talking. It had a language.” (Lewis 56) This is a important quote in the novel, because it foreshadows a possible relationship between Ransom and the inhabitants. The fact that some type of language was evident shows that the creatures on the planet were intelligent. Ransom goes on to say that he wants to try and learn the language of the creatures. Ransom also realized that he could possibly survive this terrible ordeal if he learned to live and talk to these creatures. This also reveals a theme of curiosity. Immediately Ransom wants to know more about this creature and what he knows. As was evident in the rest of the novel, the relationships that he formed with the inhabitants helped him to not only survive but to flourish.
Another quote that I found important is spoken by Dr. Ransom. “That is true, Oyarsa. Bent creatures are full of fears. But I am here now and ready to know your will with me.” (Lewis 121) Dr. Ransom’s struggle with his fear is a theme that is seen throughout the book. He showed extreme fear when he realized he was on a spaceship. As soon as he arrived on the alien planet, he was afraid of the inhabitants solely based on their appearance. He saw something that was odd and unfamiliar and was immediately afraid. However, he eventually began to overcome his fear with the help from creatures like Hyoi. This quote shows that Ransom is now not as fearful as he was at the beginning of the novel. By the end of the book, Ransom has overcome his fears and has begun to embrace the planet Malacandra and its inhabitants. Author C.S. Lewis is trying to tell us not to judge things based on outward appearances but rather on actions and deeds. If Ransom was unable to conquer his fears, he would have missed out on a life changing experience.
Lorries - a truck or motor vehicle designed to transport cargo “He noticed that this path was churned up into deep ruts — now full of water as if it were used to carrying a traffic of heavy lorries.”(Lewis 12) When I was going down the road, I noticed many lorries turning into the construction site.
Prosaic - having the style or diction of prose; lacking poetic beauty. commonplace; unromantic. “Ransom was by now thoroughly frightened - not with the prosaic fright that a man suffers in war, but with a heady, bounding kind of fear that was hardly distinguishable from his general excitement: he was poised on a sort of emotional watershed from which, he felt, he might at any moment pass into delirious terror or into an ecstasy of joy.”(Lewis 25) Sometimes we settle for a lifestyle that is prosaic instead of exciting.
Basso Profondissimo -the bass voice sub type with the lowest vocal range. “They saw him and stared at him with their big liquid eyes, snorting in basso profondissimo, but had apparently no hostile intentions.”(Lewis 53) Although all the male singers were members of the bass section, Mark was the only one that was a basso profondissimo.
Ineffaceable - unable to be erased or forgotten. “The ineffaceable image was hardly stamped on his brain before he was running as hard as he could into the thickest of the forest.”(Lewis 54) I once saw a squirrel that had been run over in the and it left an ineffaceable image in my mind.
Stoat - a small carnivorous mammal of the weasel family that has chestnut fur with white underparts and a black-tipped tail. “It was something like a penguin, something like an otter, something like a seal; the slenderness and flexibility of the body suggested a giant stoat.”(Lewis 55) While hunting in the woods, we found boars, foxes, and stoats.
Astir - awake and out of bed. “The whole village was astir next morning before the sunlight -- already visible on the harandra --- had penetrated the forest.”(Lewis 78) When I woke up and went into the kitchen, my parents were already astir.
Incessant - of something regarded as unpleasant, continuing without pause or interruption. “Ransom saw an incessant activity of hrossa.”(Lewis 78) When a skunk sprays, the smell is very incessant.
Promontory - a point of high land that juts out into a large body of water; a headland. “They were little on promontory free of forest, on which they had run aground in the confusion of the fight.”(Lewis 82) The promontory in Scotland called the Black Isle is very beautiful.
Bellowing - (of a person or animal) emit a deep loud roar, typically in pain or anger. “At this moment Weston’s continual bellowing in the face of the hross at last produced the effect he had striven for so long.”(Lewis 29) The lion began bellowing after fighting with another lion.
Conflagration - an extensive fire that destroys a great deal of land or property. “At last the cloud seemed to drop and burst far on the western horizon, where a glow, not unlike that of a conflagration, remained visible until a turn of the valley hid all that region from his view.”(Lewis 104) In California, there are many conflagrations spreading across the state.
The novel Out of the Silent Planet is very enjoyable read, and I would definitely recommend it to others. The book is exciting and dramatic. The characters are relatable, and this makes it easy to understand. The story keeps you wanting to know what happens next and hard to put down. The ending was satisfying, and I especially liked that the author ties up all the loose ends. It was also interesting to find out that the character of Dr. Ransom was actually a real professor, although with a different name. The author C.S. Lewis was a student of this professor. He once came across an obscure Latin word that he asks his professor about the meaning of. The word is Oyarses. I like how the narrator tries to make it seem that this fictional story was based on actual events. If I could change one thing in the story, I would have the character of Hyoi survive. He became so close with Dr. Ransom and was so influential in teaching him about the inhabitants of Malacandra that I would have loved to have read more of their adventures. The story is excellent, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to my friends and family.
- Lewis, C. S. (2003). Out of the Silent Planet. Scribner.
- Philippians 2:3-4. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved from https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians+2%3A3-4&version=NIV
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