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...
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