Essay about Arthurian Features in That Hideous Strength

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Arthurian Features in That Hideous Strength

Tales change with every teller. Features may be added or subtracted, stories may be broken apart or combined. Often the story-teller will adapt the tale for his own purposes to emphasize some theme of his own. C. S. Lewis uses and modifies older sources in many ways in his novel That Hideous Strength, incorporating themes and portions of Arthurian literature to add color and emphasize the subjects of his plot.

Lewis includes many direct references to older Arthurian literature in his novel. The leader of his group of heroes is the former philogist Ransom, at first known as "Mr. Fisher-King," who has a wounded foot. The name and the wound are obvious reminders of
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As Cecil Dimble searches for Merlin in the woods, he recalls the ancient "houses whose mortar had been ritually mixed with babies' blood" (Lewis, p. 233), reminding readers about the early stories of Vortigern's vanishing tower and the druids' plot to destroy the young Merlin by having his blood spread on the foundation. When Ransom's friendly bear, Mr. Bultitude, destroys the awful severed head through which the leaders of the N.I.C.E. (National Institute of Controlled Experiments) receive instructions from the evil "eldils," or spirits, Lewis seems to be referring to Arthur's dream in Geoffrey's Historia where a bear and a dragon fight together. There the bear is slain, but here he is victorious against the supernatural beast he fights against.

Dreams have been important in much of Arthurian literature, from the Historia of Geoffrey of Monmouth to Wace's Brut and the alliterative and stanzaic Morte Arthures. In those works, a vivid dream came to Arthur at some crucial point or points, whether on the way to Gaul, in his camp at Rome, or in England before his battle with Mordred. In That Hideous Strength, dreams appear not just at important moments, but regularly. Jane Studdock discovers herself to be a seer, able to dream of real events either happening or about to happen, and thus supplies important information to the Pendragon and his companions. Her dreams are more realistic and informative than
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