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In Perelandra, the second book of CS Lewis's planets trilogy, the protagonist Ransom is wounded in the heel by the Un-Man/Weston. We learn in the third book, That Hideous Strength, that the wound never really heals.

What is the symbolism behind this wound? Since there's so much hidden religious significance in the series and Lewis's works in general, I'm sure there's more to this than meets the eye: either the simple fact of the wound itself, how he got it, or maybe its precise placing in his heel.

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The answer goes back to Genesis 3:15 -

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” - Genesis 3:15 (NIV)

In this case God is speaking to the serpent in the Garden of Eden; the "he" is speaking of Eve's descendants (any and all of them) and hence including, in the story, Ransom. Weston thus represents - well, is - the metaphorical serpent.

  • Very nice find and clearly relevant - especially given that Ransom ended up crushing the Un-Man's head as well as having his heel wounded - but could you elaborate on its exact significance to Perelandra? Who are the "I", "you", and "she" in this quote? Does Ransom represent Adam (?) and Weston the "offspring" of Satan? – Rand al'Thor Jan 29 '18 at 23:34
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The symbolism is not invented by CS Lewis, but borrowed from the old Celtic myth of the Fisher King, who in turn is part of the Grail sagas of the Middle Ages. In the late Arthurian literature, Arthur himself is awkwardly imported, and there is some evidence that its origin is from Ireland.

So by implication, the wounded heel is not really a symbol, but a legendary leftover of Celtic religion whose meaning was lost in translation, interpretation, and perhaps Christian pruning.

That being said, we know Lewis's Ransom was a Christ figure. Not the sinless Lamb of God, but both the Pendragon and a ransom for others. In this framework, the wound is clearly a mark of self-sacrifice.

The Pauline doctrine is clear: To reign with Christ is to suffer with Him. Romans 8:17, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him

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    Hey, welcome! That's some interesting background info, but I think you may have forgotten to state exactly what the symbolism is? – Mithrandir Jan 29 '18 at 10:17
  • This is a partial answer - as mentioned by kimchilover in a comment, one of the symbolic connections of Ransom's wound may be to the Fisher King. However, 1) your answer would be improved by some more links and supporting evidence, and 2) the Fisher King isn't the only representation here: there's also some more Christian symbolism. – Rand al'Thor Jan 29 '18 at 11:21
  • Fixed it up a bit. – Friejek Jan 30 '18 at 3:09
  • The problem with this interpretation is that the Fisher King was wounded in the groin ("parmi les quisses" according to the Queste del Saint Graal) and not in the heel. – Gareth Rees May 8 at 8:30

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