I thought this would be the last pass. After reading the book I was thinking "there is no serious argument here. His critics are just idiots. Let it go. Just give it a lick and a prayer, get on to the discussion of Jane Studdock, and get out." But the lick and also the prayer seem to be expanding, so I can't get out just yet. Just because people can write something, even with actual examples and on topic, does not mean they are making any sense.
Though I should be grateful, shouldn't I? So many people writing elsewhere are not on topic and provide no real examples that I should perhaps be more generous to those who can at least manage that.
Well I think you will need to find another Village Idiot in some other stage of training.
Lewis takes a risk few male writers ever do, of speaking from a woman's perspective in his fiction, and does so with remarkable variety and complexity. Females are heroes, villains, and mixed. I don't think there are stock characters, even among the intentionally mythological, such as Tinidril or the White Witch. The former is innocent, which in literature is usually expressed as childishness or foolishness, yet she shocks Ransom and Watson repeatedly with her sudden insights beyond what they had considered. She is both older and younger than they. The three sisters in Till We Have Faces are disturbingly complicated, but we want it simpler, asking if Orual is a good person or a bad one, and whether we "like" her and root for her or not.
He is unafraid to show his female characters doing weak, silly, or evil things, in about the same proportion as the male characters do. The great saint of The Great Divorce is Sarah Smith of Golders Green and it is her husband who is the weakest personality, to the point of eventually disappearing altogether. For every complaint about his portrayal of Susan there are examples of similar faults in males, or of other females doing such things in proper order without coming under criticism. Uncle Andrew is also vain. Lucy and Aravis go off to discuss clothes.
While some of the authors tried to weakly defend Lewis's sexism by suggesting that he eventually grew out of it (and there is certainly development and change over time), he portrays Reason as a young woman in his first fiction, The Pilgrim's Regress, and is clear throughout his writing that he takes the image of the Church as female quite seriously. It is we who insist that relationships must be viewed through the lens of power and dislike that he never quite says what he is supposed to. It is Lewis who insists from the start that if we are evaluating things in terms of power we are already wrong, for that is a mark of a fallen race to even see things that way. We describe male-female relationships trying to measure higher and lower, he repeatedly describes it as a Great Dance. It is we who don't get it and are children.
The problem is that we have a preconceived idea of what people are supposed to say about men, and especially women. I think this has gotten worse over my years, as under the rise of Grrl Power, no complexity is allowed. And Lewis does not say these things, he says something else entirely. On to Jane Studdock.