The Purpose of Hatred

Listening to Perelandra this week.  My favorite part is when Ransom and the Un-man fight.  I especially love this scene, where Lewis describes the evil of the Un-man (the devil), and then Ransom finds new strength by discovering the purpose of hatred:

“Then an experience that perhaps no good man can ever have in our world came over (Ransom) – a torrent of perfectly unmixed and lawful hatred came over him.  The energy of hating, never before felt without some guilt, without some dim knowledge that he was failing to distinguish the sinner from the sin, rose into his arms and legs till he felt they were pillars of burning blood. What was before him appeared no longer a creature of corrupted will. It was corruption itself to which will was attached only as an instrument. Ages ago it had been a Person: but the ruins of personality now survived in it only at the disposal of a furious self-exiled negation. It is perhaps difficult to understand why this filled Ransom not with horror but with a kind of joy. The joy came from finding at last what hatred was made for.  As a boy with an axe rejoices on finding a tree, or a boy with a box of coloured chalks rejoices on finding a pile of perfectly white paper, so he rejoiced in the perfect congruity between his emotion and its object. Bleeding and trembling with weariness as he was, he felt that nothing was beyond his power, and when he flung himself upon the living Death, the eternal Surd in the universal mathematic, he was astonished, and yet (on a deeper level) not astonished at all, at his own strength. His arms seemed to move quicker than his thought. His hands taught him terrible things. He felt its ribs break, he heard its jaw-bone crack. The whole creature seemed to be cracking and splitting under his blows. His own pains, where it tore him, failed to matter.

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  1. I always thought that “wrath” would have been a better word choice here on Lewis’ part. “Wrath” already carries with it a sense of divine justice (and therefore divine sanction), whereas “hatred” is commonly (and unreflectively) associated with Christian opposition to immorality.