The Great Divorce Themes

Updated September 10, 2022

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The Great Divorce Themes essay

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The central theme of the story is of afterlife and the final judgment. The characters of the story are sorted into people of hell, ghosts and people of heaven, spirits. Ghosts are mean, shallow and greed while spirits are magnanimous, kind and sympathetic. There is clear binary between the destinations and its inhabitants. Paradise reflects of divine mercy while hell is an abode of eternal punishment. Thus, there is a great divorce between the two destinations.

Ego and self

Every character on the bus seems to be self centered. They either complain about how fate has been harsh with them or that they are the makers of their own fate. Some are engrossed in self love while others wallow in self-pity. They are in stark contrast to heavenly spirits who want good for everyone else and want the people to enter eternal bliss of paradise.

Selfless Love

One of the key distinctions between the denizens of Heaven and those of Hell is their attitude with relation to the self. The Ghosts of Hell are incredibly selfish and egocentric, while the Spirits of Heaven are selfless and Christ-centric, and therefore others-centric. This selfless love for Christ manifests itself in a selfless love for others: the Spirits are giving up their own ultimate joy and satisfaction, regressing a little from God in order to attempt to save the souls of those who missed their opportunities in the first place. This sacrificial love is also (and extremely) evident in the character of Jesus, who sacrificed his own life to enable the salvation of humanity. Heaven is a realm saturated with selfless love, while Hell is the location of small, twisted, and warped perversions of this love.


There is constant inspiration from Christian theology and the doctrine of divine judgment. The story praises Christian values of mercy, love, kindness and community. It also places these values as the only natural and logical morals. It declares that people who believe in Christ’s divinity will find eternal bliss while people of reject his divinity will find hell as their permanent home. Obviously, all these claims are emotional and not rational arguments

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Is The Great Divorce Biblical?
C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce is a classic Christian allegorical tale about a bus ride from hell to heaven.
What does the lizard mean in The Great Divorce?
One of the ghosts in the Valley of the Shadow of Life carries a small lizard with him; the lizard whispers in his ear, preventing him from entering Heaven. As the book makes clear, the lizard is the embodiment of lust: a dangerous, seductive force that can distract human beings from God .
What is the conflict in The Great Divorce?
The Great Divorce alludes to the First and Second World Wars, which occurred from 1914 to 1918 and 1939 to 1945, respectively. In both conflicts, European (and some non-European) countries fought against one another and millions of people were killed, challenging many people's faith in a merciful, all-powerful God .
What is the meaning behind The Great Divorce?
The Great Divorce is a novel by the British author C. S. Lewis, published in 1945, and based on a theological dream vision of his in which he reflects on the Christian conceptions of Heaven and Hell .
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