Essay Great Divorce

Submitted By mgant1234
Words: 1210
Pages: 5

Looking at “The Great Divorce”

C.S. Lewis is a wonderful writer who manages to place the supernatural with the spiritual in a single book. In his book, The Great Divorce, Lewis again puts the divine in a setting that would be more appropriate to a fantasy or other work of extreme fiction. This paper shall provide a summary of this book, followed by a personal response to it. The reader will come away from this paper with the knowledge of both The Great Divorce as well as my personal feelings towards this book. The Great Divorce is at its most basic level the quest of a single person through both heaven and hell. The reader could easily make a comparison between this theme and the works of Dante, but in Lewis’ book the reader sees more humor and more realistic occurrences. For example, the narrator enters into the gate to heaven and hell when he steps aboard an ordinary city bus. The book begins with a sad person – the narrator – who is walking in a very evil city. The narrator looks around and sees that everyone in this city is suffering in some way. He then gets on the bus and finds that all the passengers are ghosts. However, as the bus comes close to heaven, these ghosts once more become people and the land becomes less evil. When the narrator steps from the bus he finds that the landscape is very real and because of this he is physically hurt. Yet the ghosts are allowed to pass through this land in order to reach a city that is apparently Heaven. When the bus reaches the city of Heaven, the passengers are allowed to choose whether they want to stay as ghosts or become spirits. The implication is that the ghosts are in hell and that the spirits are in heaven, and that the choice to go to heaven is something that the human being must decide. Here, the role of the ghost is that of a human who willingly remains in hell. Sounds foolish? Not really, because in order to become a spirit and enter into heaven the ghost needs to divorce himself from something. This is the meaning of the title, The Great Divorce. The spirits ask the ghosts to get rid of things that hold them back. Examples of these things are addictions like alcohol, or bad emotions, like hate. In order to enter into heaven, the ghost must willingly put these things behind them because they have no place in paradise. One example of something that holds down a ghost from entering heaven is the ghost of Michael’s mother. This is the ghost of a woman who wishes more than anything to go back and be with her son. The woman is not a bad person and she would easily become a spirit if it weren’t for Michael, but this woman refuses to enter heaven. When a bright spirit talks to her, this spirit tries to tell her that her love for Michael is selfish. The ghost does not understand how her love for her son could be selfish and she wants Michael with her to enter into heaven. She says that Michael belongs to her and that even God cannot take her son from her. This example helps show that even love can be considered a bad emotion, since it limits the woman and prevented her from entering into heaven. This means that a personal sacrifice is necessary in order for a ghost to enter heaven and become a spirit. The presence of those things that limit the ghost are not allowed in heaven, for heaven is not a place where limitations can enter. Lewis implies that the ghost must forget the bad things that have weighed them down in order to progress into the future. Here, heaven is the future and the ghost is able to reach it through throwing away the bad parts of their personality. My personal response to The Great Divorce is that C. S. Lewis seemed to press a personal opinion on the reader. In Lewis’ opinion, it seems as though anyone can enter heaven if they only get rid of some of the bad things that they have picked up during their lifetime. But the bad things that are presented are all similar, where it seems that small problems