Out of the silent planet

Out of the silent planet

Out of the silent planet by C.S Lewis is a novel that denotes the difference between the social system on planet earth and the planet Malacandra. In Malacandra the groups live in harmony with each other and complement each other. On earth the social system is brute and evil. The novel is a science fiction that covers Dr. Ransoms (major character) adventures and encounters on a planet that is entirely different than earth. How Ransoms lands into this planet is merely by accident after being kidnapped by two evil men (Devine and Weston) and transported to the planet Malacandra (Mars) by spacecraft.  In Planet Malacandra, Ransoms encounters the three different creatures that inhabit the planet, hrossa, sorns, and pfifltriggi. He learns their common language and understands their relationship. Ransom learns the social system in planet Malacandra is stark contrast with the social system on planet earth. The following is an analysis, a comparison and contrast of the planet earth and planet Malacandra focusing mainly on the differences in lifestyle, social grouping, how the groups interact with each other, and how they survive and live.

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Out of the silent planet is an illustration of how human beings on planet Earth are evil (Lowman 15). To show the social contrast, the author creates a utopian planet called Malacandra where the inhabitant live together in peace and harmony without the sheer evil and brutalness that characterizes the earth (Gegenheimer 602). The lifestyle on Earth is characterized by selfishness and insatiable greed. On earth, human beings are out to dominate each other. The novel might have been informed by the action of Nazi Germany and the imperialism in Western Europe. When Ransom lands in Malacandra, he thought that the three groups will be characterized by dominance war common on earth but he is surprised. Contrary to his thinking that the three groups are primitives, brute, or beast, Ransom realizes that three groups lives in harmony and try to compliment each other (Edward 15). This is different to what happens on earth where groups are in constant dominance wars, often breaking into factions that regard each other as inherently inferior. The kidnappers, Devine and Weston represent this dominance character of Earthly beings.

On earth people, are self-centered. On Malacandra, the various species live and work together (Gibbons 88). There three intelligent species in Malacandra and their differences of knowledge is their strength.  The pfifltriggi excavates and makes things out of their excavation, the Seroni are the master of the knowledge, and the hrossa were poets (Lewis, 68). Even with these different of talents, there is no group that want to dominate the other. They know that they have differences but have accepted them since “they can talk to each other, they can cooperate, and they have the same ethics” (Lewis 156).

The leadership system on earth is also different from the other planets. Unlike the earth, all the other planets have a structured leadership; they have a ruler (Oyarsa). The earth is unruly because they have no Oyarsa and the making the people bent. Every one on earth wants to be a little Oyarsa himself (Lewis 102). The Oyarsa of Malacandra, in reference to the actions of Devine and Weston of kidnapping is surprised how ‘any creature could be so bent as to bring another of its own kind here by force’. By capturing ransom, Devine had intended to offer him as a sacrifice in exchange of wealth and riches. This kind of gluttony is inexistent in other planets. The unruly nature on earth is the cause of such evil actions as wars, slavery, and prostitution (Schwartz 532).

Out of the silent planet is against the earthly ethic of pursuing personal gain at the expense of others, and that the ‘supreme moral end is the perpetuation of our own species’ that is pursued even if humans are stripped of happiness, pity, and freedom (Lewis, 77). Unlike in Malacandra, Earth is characterized by evolutionism where the human species is in a struggle to control the other.  In the novel, the earth rule is depicted in the light of the Darwinian scientific rationale of the survival for the fittest. There is unabated “capitalism and political, social, and economic domination of “undeveloped” people around the world on the ground of race” (Buzard 6).

The relationship between earth people and their God is also different from how species from other planets interact with their God.  Out of a silent planet delves into the religious differences between earth and other planets. In Malacandra there is Oyarsa, the God of Malacandra and Eldila, the massagers of Oyarsa. The God of the Thulcandra (the earth) is called the ‘Bent Oyarsa’ because he rose against the throne of universal ruler, Maleldil (Downing 36). This rebellion (symbolic of the Satan rebellion in the Christianity life) forced Maleldil, the creator and ruler of the universe to cut earth from other planets. The ruler of the earth, bent Oyarsa is evil and does not communicate directly with his people, making it a silent planet. In contrary, the species of Malacandra have a direct communication with their rulers.

On earth creatures live in fear. They fear death and also fear their fellow ‘bent creatures”. The earth society is brutal and everyone on earth has to fear the misdeed of others, because human beings on earth are capable of doing anything (Gibbons 92). On earth you can not trust anybody because everybody is ‘bent’. The kidnapping of Ransom and Harry are clear evidence of the ‘bentness’ among Earth creatures. This is in contrast with the peaceful nature of the other planets. In addition, earth creatures are in constant fear of death. The people of the other planet have no worry for death because they understand death is a natural part of life (Lane 625).

On earth there is total destruction of the environment as people scramble to exploit resources. This can explain the environment degradation, the global warming and the endangered species. The people of Malacandra respect their planet and endeavor to preserve its beauty (Lewis, 260). No wonder Ransom is struck by its beauty that even takes away his fears once he hits the space. Even though the Hrossa hunt the hnakra ‘they believe that ‘the hnakra is our enemy, but he is also our beloved’. Without the environment conservation in Malacandra, the forest would not be so bright, ‘nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lakes” (Lewis 75).

The creature of Malacandra can speak in one language. Ransom wonders how all the creature can speak a language ‘let alone speak the same language’ (Lewis 113). Although there different three groups all of them have a way of speaking and understanding each other. On earth, people ignore other languages and exhort their own as superior. In addition, human beings on earth have a love of knowledge that is equal to madness-‘the love of knowledge is a kind of madness’ (Lewis 56). This shows the character of earth being of reaching out to exploration in space and discovery that has resulted to indescribable madness.

Overall, the entire novel is a sharp contrast between the evils on earth and the innocence of Malacandra. The three characters, Ransom, Weston, and Devine represent different stages of ‘bentness’ on earth.  Weston is a schemer who can do anything for the continuation of humanity. Devine on the other hand is unconscious of what he is doing but he does not mind so long as it will bring riches and wealth. The Utopian planet of Malacandra is expression of the author’s desire for the ideal society that he would wish the world to look like. The author tries to oppose the greed and imperialism that had engulfed the society. Malacandra is a good representation of his dream society.


Works cited

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Downing, David. Planets in peril: a critical study of C.S. Lewis’s ransom trilogy. Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press. 1995. Print.

Edward, Bruce. C.S Lewis: Fantasist, mythmaker, and poet. New York: Greenwood Publishing Company. 2007. Print.

Gegenheimer, Albert Frank. “Language in Two Recent Imaginary Voyages.” PMLA 61.2 (1946): 601-603. Modern Language Association. 6 Mar. 2009. Print.

Gibbons, Stella. “Imaginative Writing.” Light on C.S. Lewis. Ed. Jocelyn Gibb. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1965. Print.

Lane, John. “Novels of the Week.” Rev. of Out of the Silent Planet, by C. S. Lewis. New York Times 1 Oct. 1938: 625. Times Literary Supplement. 19 Mar. 2009. Print.

Lewis, Clive. Out of the Silent Planet. New York: the Macmillan Company, 1966. Print.


Lowman, Pete. Chronicles of heaven unshackled. Part 2 C.S  Lewis Out of the Silent Planet, 2011. Web. <http://www.bethinking.org/who-are-you-god/chronicles-of-heaven-unshackled-part-2-out-of-the-silent-planet.pd> Nov. 15, 2011.


Schwartz, Sanford. “Cosmic Anthropology: Race and Reason in Out of the Silent Planet.” Christianity and Literature 52.4. New York: Cengage Books.2003. Print.