Out of the Silent Planet

by C. S. Lewis

Start Free Trial

What are three character traits of Ransom in Out of the Silent Planet?

Quick answer:

Elwin Ransom is a man of great empathy, bravery and trust. He is an ordinary man thrust into extraordinary circumstances that forces him to face up to his own species' prejudices and inhumanity.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Elwin Ransom, the main protagonist in C. S. Lewis's Space Trilogy, serves as a sort of stand-in for Lewis himself. A relatively ordinary man, Ransom is a linguistics professor who uses his teachings to understand the world around him. He is a sort of middleman between the two different planets (his own and Malacandra). Because of this, Ransom is frequently diplomatic. At one point, Ransom observes,

At last it dawned upon him that it was not they, but his own species, that were the puzzle. That the hrossa should have such instincts was mildly surprising.

Ransom's willingness to understand the alien creatures while questioning his own species makes him a man of great empathy. While Weston and Devine may hold more shockingly cruel opinions on the alien creatures, Ransom cares about them as fellow sentient beings.

The second important characteristic of Ransom is his bravery. While initially fearful of the new planet, he quickly overcomes his fear with courage and adventurism. Also, being motivated by a strong sense of morality, Ransom is able to face terrifying situations with bravery and confidence.

Lastly, Ransom is a trusting man. This can be seen perhaps most clearly in the opening of the novel in which Ransom meets Weston and Devine. When the two offer him a drink, he begins to feel suspicious and notices some sinister characteristics of the pair. Nonetheless, being a friendly and trusting man, he accepts the drink and is ultimately drugged and taken to another planet.

With physical characteristics that suspiciously match Lewis's own, it becomes clear that Ransom is not only a stand-in for Lewis's own beliefs, but a figure of who Lewis would have liked to be—a moral, brave, and generally loving man.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What are some of Ransom's major characteristics or personality traits in Out of the Silent Planet?

As Thanatassa has already said, Ransom is a scholar and philologist, and language tends to play a major theme in how Out of the Silent Planet unfolds. At the same time, I think he is representative of human beings in general, and that his adventures and the personal growth he experiences on Mars mirrors Lewis's theological ideas concerning the role of faith and spirituality in moral development and self fulfillment. In the beginning of the book, Ransom is characterized as out of his depth and fearful, not just of his captors, but also of the denizens of Mars. As he is thrown into the world, however, and proceeds to associate with and learn from the various hnau he encounters, he gains an appreciation and admiration for them, and ultimately starts to see the universe much in the same way they do (which of course means in a way that reflects Lewis's Christian outlook).

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What are some of Ransom's major characteristics or personality traits in Out of the Silent Planet?

Out of the Silent Planet was written by C. S. Lewis as a Christian allegory. Ransom, like Lewis himself, was a philologist who taught at Cambridge University. He functions as an "everyman" character, morally located between the pure evil of Weston and Devine and the pure good of the eldila. Ransom, like the Christian, is a fallen character who belongs to Thulcandra, but who can nonetheless percieve and understand Oyarsa.

In his profession as a philologist, Ransom is a translator. That enables him to make the words and ideas of Thulcandra comprehensible to those of Malacandra and vice versa. His nature is neither purely fallen nor unfallen, but like post-Adamic humanity, "simul iustus et peccator" (both righteous and sinner), both part of a world fallen into original sin and yet made in the image of God and redeemed by Jesus.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on