The Great Divorce


C. S. Lewis

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Themes and Colors
Dreams, Fantasy, and Education Theme Icon
Heaven, Hell, and the “Great Divorce” Theme Icon
Christianity and Common Sense Theme Icon
Free Will and Salvation Theme Icon
Love, Sacrifice, and Sin Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Great Divorce, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Dreams, Fantasy, and Education

The unnamed Narrator of The Great Divorce has a long, vivid dream, during which he witnesses surreal scenes from the afterlife and learns valuable lessons about Christianity, morality, and love. The fact that the novel is structured as a dream suggests two important, closely related questions: first, what are the strengths and weaknesses of dreams and fantasy as Christian teaching tools; second, to what extent can Christianity be taught at all?

Because it’s framed as…

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Heaven, Hell, and the “Great Divorce”

C. S. Lewis intended The Great Divorce in part to be a rebuttal to a famous poem by the English author William Blake: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Essentially, Blake used his poem to argue that Hell gets a “bad rap.” While Christian theology claims that Hell is wicked, and should be avoided at all costs, Blake proposed that Hell—and evil in general—was a vital component of creativity, enlightenment, and happiness. In all…

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Christianity and Common Sense

In The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis uses fiction and fantasy to make a strong argument for the truth and value of Christianity. Surprisingly, though, the novel never offers a specific definition of Christianity; indeed, it would seem that the only two beliefs that a Christian must have are a belief in the existence of God and a belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ. Using this simple, straightforward definition of Christianity, the novel…

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Free Will and Salvation

At the heart of The Great Divorce (and Christianity) is the concept of free will. The early Christian thinker Saint Augustine proposed a useful way of understanding free will: if a human being acts a certain way, and, under identical circumstances, could have acted differently, then that human has exercised their free will. Lewis never explicitly defines free will in his book, perhaps assuming that his readers already understand what it is. Nevertheless, The Great

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Love, Sacrifice, and Sin

According to the novel, the only way for a human being’s soul to be accepted into Heaven is for the human to love God above all other things. But why, then, must humans love God in order to be saved—and why is it often so difficult to love God?

The Great Divorce, following Christian theology, posits that true morality is only possible if it comes from God. While Lewis never explicitly states why it’s…

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