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Authors

Kat Coffin

Abstract

Susan Pevensie is one of the most misunderstood characters in C.S. Lewis' classic series, The Chronicles of Narnia. Writers such as Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, and Philip Pullman have declared the character's face as a reflection of Lewis' sexism and misogyny, further claiming that Susan's exclusion from the final book of the series was due to her penchant for lipstick and nylons. Feminist criticism has found Susan's treatment pointedly gendered, displaying Lewis' supposedly negative attitude towards traditional forms of femininity.

While "the problem of Susan" has garnered critical response, little thought has been given to Susan in relation to Orual, from Lewis' masterpiece Till We Have Faces. Orual is undoubtedly the most well-developed of Lewis' female characters, an ugly queen whose selfish love consumes everyone around her. At first glance, Orual and Susan seem polar opposites, yet a closer look reveals striking parallels between both characters' denial of divinity and espousal of the worldly. I propose that thoroughly examining Orual provides not only further illumination towards the character of Susan, but of her redemption. This paper will examine these parallels, Lewis' conception of these characters, and ultimately suggest an alternate motivation for the character of Susan.

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