Advertisement

La Belle Dame Sans Merci: Cultural Criticism and Mythopoeic Vision in Lilith

  • Kath Filmer

Abstract

Of all the archetypes which recur in myths and in fantastic literature, none is so common or so powerful as that of the image of the beautiful but deadly woman. She is the destructive aspect of the nature goddess and the earth-mother, and she symbolises the hostility between men and women, and among women themselves (Cavendish, 12). Because this archetype combines notions of seductive sexuality with fears of castration, domination and devouring, it can be used without explicit sexual reference. It appears thus in fairytales, in various guises — as wicked stepmothers, bad fairies and wicked witches. C. S. Lewis’s Narnia is under threat at different times from a White Witch (a close literary relative of Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen) and a Green Witch, both of whom are examples of the flawed female. Lewis Carroll’s Red Queen and his Queen of Hearts are examples from Victorian juvenile fiction.

Keywords

Black Spot Social Criticism Cultural Criticism Good Death Sexual Imagery 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Works Consulted

  1. William Blake, ‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell’, in The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake, ed. David V. Erdman (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1982).Google Scholar
  2. Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre: An Autobiography (Norton Critical Edition; New York: Norton, 1987; fp. 1847).Google Scholar
  3. Richard Cavendish, Mythology: An Illustrated Encyclopaedia (London: Orbis, 1980).Google Scholar
  4. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ in Wordsworth and Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads. The text of the 1798 edition with the additional 1800 poems and the Prefaces, edited with introduction, notes and appendices by R. L. Brett and A. R. Jones (London: Methuen, 1965, pp. 9–35).Google Scholar
  5. Charles Dickens, Hard Times: For these Times (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969; fp. 1854).Google Scholar
  6. Kath Filmer, ‘Neither Here nor There: The Spirit of Place in George MacDonald’s Lilith and C. S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces’ in Mythlore 59, 16: 1 (Autumn 1989).Google Scholar
  7. Northrop Frye, The Great Code: The Bible and Literature (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982).Google Scholar
  8. Carl Gustav Jung, Collected Works translated from the German by R. F. C. Hull, 20 vols (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1953–79).Google Scholar
  9. Ursula Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea in The Earthsea Trilogy (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979).Google Scholar
  10. C. S. Lewis, Preface to George MacDonald: An Anthology (London: Bles, 1946 [pp. xxi–xxxiv]).Google Scholar
  11. George MacDonald, Lilith: A Romance, with an introduction by C. S. Lewis (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981; fp. 1895).Google Scholar
  12. George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, reprinted as Creation in Christ, ed. Rolland Hein (Wheaton, Il: Harold Shaw, 1976).Google Scholar
  13. Greville MacDonald, George MacDonald and His Wife, with an introduction by G. K. Chesterton (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1924).Google Scholar
  14. Raphael Patai, The Hebrew Goddess (New York: Avon Discus, 1978).Google Scholar
  15. Walter Pater, The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry, 1893 text edited with Textual and Explanatory Notes by Donald L. Hill (Berkeley, Ca.: University of California Press, 1980).Google Scholar
  16. Mario Praz, The Romantic Agony, translated from the Italian by Angus Hollingdale (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1967).Google Scholar
  17. William Raeper, George MacDonald (Tring, UK: Lion, 1987).Google Scholar
  18. June Singer, The Boundaries of the Soul: the Practice of Jung’s Psychology (New York: Doubleday, 1972).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kath Filmer

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations