Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Love and Marriage

'Child,' said the Director, 'it is not a question of how you or I look on marriage but how my Masters look on it.'

'Someone said they were very old-fashioned. But –'

'That was a joke. They are not old-fashioned; but they are very, very old.'

'They would never think of finding out first whether Mark and I believed in the ideas of marriage?'

'Well – no,' said the Director with a curious smile. 'No. Quite definitely they wouldn't think of doing that.'

'And it would make no difference to them what a marriage was actually like – whether it was a success? Whether the woman loved her husband?'

Jane had not exactly intended to say this: much less to say it in the cheaply pathetic tone which, it now seemed to her, she had used. Hating herself, and fearing the Director's silence, she added, 'But I suppose you will say I oughtn't to have told you that.'

'My dear child,' said the Directory, 'you have been telling me that ever since your husband was mentioned.'

'Does it make no difference?'

'I suppose,' said the Director, 'it would depend on how he lost your love.'

Jane was silent. Though she could not tell the Director the truth, and indeed did not know it herself, yet when she tried to explore her inarticulate grievance against Mark, a novel sense of her own injustice, and even of pity for her husband, arose in her mind. And her heart sank, for now it seemed to her that this conversation, to which she had vaguely looked for some sort of deliverance from all problems, was in fact involving her in new ones.

'It was not his fault,' she said at last. 'I suppose our marriage was just a mistake.'

The Director said nothing.

'What would you – what would the people you are talking of – say about a case like that?'

'I will tell you if you really want to know,' said the Director.

'Please,' said Jane reluctantly.

'They would say,' he answered, 'that you do not fail in obedience through lack of love, but have lost love because you never attempted obedience.'

from That Hideous Strength, by C. S. Lewis.


ManVent said...

Very helpful, thanks!

Mike said...

Glad you liked it. I'm always impressed by Lewis's ability to analyse and his knack of finding just the right turn of phrase to get you thinking. It's what makes a good author, I suppose.