The Characters

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

As in any satiric or dystopian fiction (Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, 1932), the ideas and action of the fiction are more important and the characters less important than they would be in a traditional novel. Satters, in particular, is too mindless to have a developed character and exists merely to give Pullman someone to lecture. Most of the characters are nothing more than representatives of satiric concepts: Mannock and Satters represent the small-minded average citizen; Hyperides, the Fascist leader; the Padishah, the weak, ineffective liberal statesman; Drs. Hachilah and Schlank, politically irresponsible intellectuals. Only Pullman, the Bailiff, and Sammael have characters that are of interest in themselves. Even the Bailiff and Sammael, however, are recognizable stock types, political manipulators common in Lewis’ fiction, and they are characterized from the outside with satiric disapproval rather than from the inside with sympathy. Pullman alone is a fully developed character, and fortunately he is portrayed with autobiographical intensity. In one scene of Malign Fiesta, Pullman observes Satters trying to write a story and asks him what he is learning about himself. It has never occurred to Satters that he might learn something about himself by writing fiction, and Pullman dryly comments that he sees what kind of author Satters is. The incident shows the reader that the moral agonies that Pullman experiences as he is drawn into evil plans reflect Lewis’ own thoughts, while in his seventies, on the meaning of his literary career.