Out of the Silent Planet Characters
The main characters in Out of the Silent Planet are Elwin Ransom, Professor Weston, Devine, Hyoi, the Sorns, the Pfifltriggi, and Oyarsa.
- Elwin Ransom is a professor who is kidnapped and taken to Malacandra by Weston.
- Professor Weston kidnaps Ransom and offers him to the Sorns.
- Devine is Professor Weston's accomplice, who helps Weston kidnap Ransom.
- Hyoi is a member of the Hrossa race, who befriends Ransom.
- The Sorns are a race of aliens who order Weston and Devine to bring them another human.
- The Pfifltriggi are a race of aliens known for crafting goods out of gold.
- Oyarsa is a spirit creature who rules over Malacandra.
At first Elwin Ransom, the protagonist, is a stock English character: a university don on a walking vacation. But early on, this unwilling hero's ethos becomes convincing as he keeps a pledge to a worried mother despite his reasonable unwillingness to look like a fool. In all of his responses, Ransom achieves psychological verisimilitude: terror at the discovery that he was in space; fear of sorns; near madness when alone on Malacandra; an ecstatic and unbearable curiosity in his first meeting with a hross; grief and guilt at the death of Hyoi; mortification at Weston's foolishness when he meets Oyarsa; sheer animal gladness at being back on earth. In all, he is a noble everyman, believable in his thoughts and actions, admirable in his growth.
The other two significant earthmen, Weston and Devine, are Ransom's antagonists whose depictions differ in degree in this novel. Devine is of secondary importance here, described as an old schoolmate of Ransom's whose involvement in the plans of Weston are motivated sheerly for profit. Oyarsa says of him that he is broken; he contains nothing but greed. On the other hand, Weston is far more complex, and, in Oyarsa's words, far more dangerous. His brilliance and ruthlessness are apparent in his first appearance in the novel when he helps Devine to kidnap Ransom. His characteristic rudeness marks every conversation he has in the novel.
The most telling self-revelation occurs in the scene in which Weston attempts to use his anthropological theories to communicate with the assembled Malacandrians at Meldilorn: with no awareness of how excruciatingly funny he is being, Weston speaks a kind of pidgin-Malacandrian, addresses an elderly and sleeping hross, dangles beads, alternates threats with cajolery, and endures fourteen cold douches because of Oyarsa's belief that anyone behaving as he is must have something wrong in his head that cold water can cure. His subsequent explanation to the Oyarsa of his purpose in coming to Malacandra is summed up by the Oyarsa as based on no love for Weston's fellow men but on idolatry for man's seed. Weston dismisses the analysis as being mere chopped logic. Both Weston's and Devine's carelessness with their fellow men is made even more explicit when they leave Ransom asleep in the landed space ship, an abandonment which was gratuitously dangerous to him.
The other characters of any significance are Malacandrians: the poetic hrossa Hyoi; the absent-minded, intellectual sorn Augray; the froglike, insect-like, sensitive artist pfifltrigg Kanakaberaka; the elusive, light-filled ruler of the planet, Oyarsa. In these different kinds of hnau, rational creatures, Lewis creates memorable figures who embody the general characteristics of their kinds, achieving a kind of verisimilitude through the appropriateness of their language, skills, and interests to what the narrator tells are their natures.