As his early interest in Greek mythology and his Aeneid translation testify, classical motifs resonated with Lewis. In The Silver Chair, his characters, like Orpheus and Herakles, travel to a Greco-Roman inspired Underworld on a mission to retrieve an inhabitant. Besides lending mythic dimension to the journey, these classical echoes and Lewis' original additions create an Underworld markedly different from a popular idea of Hell. Through doing so, he underscores that this fictional place, though frightening and dangerous, is not Hell and therefore makes a theological point about the fallen condition.
By emphasizing classical references and reforming Miltonic ones (fiery Bism becomes a wondrous part of creation), Lewis presents Hell as a deliberate mental construction, an idea also reflected by the sprawling suburb of The Great Divorce and the dwarfs of The Last Battle. By examining The Silver Chair's appropriation of classical motifs and heroics, I will argue that, through differentiating this place from the popularly imagined Christian Hell, Lewis paradoxically asserts his fundamental Christian position about the power of individual free will in the human being's disposition of his or her own soul.
Muth, Benita Huffman
"'Few Return to the Sunlit Lands': Lewis's Classical Underworld in The Silver Chair,"
Inklings Forever: Published Colloquium Proceedings 1997-2016: Vol. 8, Article 17.
Available at: https://pillars.taylor.edu/inklings_forever/vol8/iss1/17