Alas, that would be a lie.
I think I need to read it again to fully grasp all that he was saying. Whether that’s due to gaps in my knowledge of Lewis’ theology, or Greek mythology, I’m not quite sure.
However, here is what I do know:
This novel is a retelling of the story of Cupid and Psyche which was first found in Metamorphoses by Lucias Apuleius Platonicius (born 125 A.D.)
The setting is in Glome, a fictional pre-Christian city much like Greece. The people there worship Ungit; “she is a black stone without head or hands or face, and a very strong goddess.” (p.4)
Our heroine is Psyche’s ugly sister, Orual. They, along with their sister, Redival, are daughters of the King of Glome. Orual is as terribly ugly as Psyche is beautiful. She consequently wears a veil to hide her face from all who might look upon her.
Orual is so emotionally close to Psyche that she cannot bear it when lots are thrown, and it is determined that Psyche has been chosen as the sacrifice to Ungit. When she goes to find Psyche, even if its only her remains, Orual discovers that Psyche was rescued by a god and lives with him in a great palace enjoying utter comfort and peace. Because Orual can see neither the god nor the palace herself, she doesn’t believe in their existence. In fact, Orual believes that Psyche has gone partly mad and will suffer to her death without shelter or food.
She coerces Psyche to light a lamp and look upon this god, to determine if he is real and good, even though Psyche has been given strict instructions never to do so. Psyche, against her wishes, does what her sister asks and is made into an exile from the wonderful life she had been given.
Orual, realizing that her own unbelief has caused terrible consequences for her sister, lives a life of shame because she is to be blamed for Psyche’s demise. Not until the end of the novel does she see how Psyche has truly fared. The rest of Orual’s life is spent in great mourning; not only is she incredibly lonesome for her sister, and guilty that she’s become an outcast, but Orual is accused of jealousy toward Psyche when she intended only to help to her.
So, perhaps one of the morals of the story lies in “the best intentions of man…” Certainly there is a lesson for the Christian not to let unbelievers stand in the way of faith.
But, I’m sure there’s more than that, if only I could fully grasp what Lewis wanted to convey. Maybe I’ll ask him if I ever see him face to face.