The Great Divorce





The Great Divorce


The Great Divorce by C.S Lewis is a fiction novel narrating about heaven and hell. This novel began its publications in the Guardian (Christian Magazine) in 1944. It is divided into a series of 14 parts that were published from 10 Nov 1944- 14 Apr 1945 on a weekly basis. In April 1945, the Great Divorce was published in book form by Geoffrey Bles and was republished by Harper Collins. The tale, in this novel, takes place in the narrator’s dream, he finds himself in hell. He takes a bus on a journey to heaven with peeved and ghostly residents. Once in heaven they come across angels and souls, and realize that it is bigger and brighter than hell. They could not cross the threshold into heaven’s glorious reality since they were spiritually blind and were content with their diminished reality.


There are four main characters in this novel. The spirits or angels who are characters with optimistic attitudes with an aim to help the ghosts mould themselves into souls having optimistic thoughts so that they can be better beings (Lewis 16). For instance, one spirit explains to one ghost that, in his human form, he was a murderer but he eventually asked for forgiveness and that is how he was saved (Anderson 68). The Ghosts are transparent with pessimistic attitudes. For instance, the Episcopal ghost is a hopeless soul that stands for liberal theists, as well as atheists. This ghost is a non-believer of both heaven and hell. They are hell inhabitants. Solid people are individuals with optimistic attitudes and are residents in heaven.


The setting of this tale is a fantasy world that is symbolized by the gray town, which is hell, the bus stop where the ghost fight to board the bus, and the mountains, which embody Exaltation. The Foothills of Heaven is where the ghosts alight the bus where they may go to the mountains on foot so that they may turn into Bright individuals. A river, found by the narrator, also symbolizes this set up (Lewis 97). He walks on the river since his feet hurt. This setting also symbolized by a waterfall that gives guidance to the ghosts, the chess game, which symbolizes the souls of the gigantic individuals, and the silver table, which is the home for the chess people. The time of this tale is in the afterlife.

Author’s Purpose, Attitude and Tone

Lewis, the author, wrote this novel as a reply to Blake, the author of Marriage of Heaven and Hell. According to Blake’s philosophy, the path of life is like the radius of a circle. Therefore, if people follow whatsoever path, they end up in the middle. This concludes his argument that humans will eventually convert evil into good, which Lewis argued against in The Great Divorce. This brings about an exciting tone from the author in this allegorical piece. This tone is set from the beginning where the author boards a bus with ghosts from hell on a journey to heaven (Anderson 40). The author’s attitude is positive since he helps the reader see that hell and heaven cannot merge as Blake had depicted in his book. In this tale, the spirits help the ghost become better.




This tale enables one to look at evil and good in different ways such as why have the angels do not destroy hell to save those who are there, or why people do not repent while they are still in their human form to avoid going to hell. It is also from this tale that one realizes the decision is personal. One has to decide if their fall will be from things that always pull them down, such as hatred, or not to be enslaved.



Works cited:

Anderson, Doughlas A. Tales Before Narnia: the Roots of Mordern Fantasy and Science Fiction. New York: Drl Rey/Ballantine Books, 2008. Print.

Lewis, C. S. The Great Divorce. London: Collins, 2012. Print.

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