Degree Granting Department
Christianity and Literature, Communication and the Arts, Constructivism, Ecclesiology, Food Studies, Language and Linguistics
For years, critics and fans of C. S. Lewis have noted his curious attentiveness to descriptions of food and scenes of eating. Some attempts have been made to interpret Lewis's use of food, but never in a manner comprehensively unifying Lewis's culinary expressions with his own thought and beliefs. My study seeks to fill this void. The introduction demonstrates how Lewis's culinary language aggregates through elements of his life, his literary background, and his Judeo-Christian worldview. Using the grammar of his own culinary language, I examine Lewis's fiction for patterns found within his meals and analyze these patterns for theological allusions, grouping them according to major categories of systematic theology. Chapter two argues that ecclesiastical themes appear whenever Lewis's protagonists eat together. The ritualized meal progression, evangelistic discourse, and biographical menus create a unity that points to parallels between Lewis's body of protagonists and the church. Chapter three focuses on the sacrament of the Lord's Supper and charges that Lewis's meals which are eaten in the presence of the novel's Christ figure or which include bread and wine in the menu reliably align with the Anglo-Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist. Chapter four studies how sinful eating affects the spiritual states of Lewis's characters. The chapter first shows how Lewis's culinary language draws from Edenic sources, resonating with a very gastronomic Fall of Humanity, then examines how the progressively sinful eating of certain characters signifies a gradual alienation from the Divine. The fifth, and concluding, chapter argues that Lewis's portrayal of culinary desire and pleasure ultimately points to an eschatological theme. This theme culminates near the end of Lewis's novels either through individual characters expressing superlative delight in their food or through a unified congregation of protagonists eating a celebratory feast during the novel's denouement. I close the study by emphasizing how this approach to Lewis's meals offers a complete spiritual analysis of Lewis's main characters that also consistently supports Lewis's own theology.
Scholar Commons Citation
Hartley, Gregory Philip, "Lower Sacraments: Theological Eating in the Fiction of C. S. Lewis" (2012). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.