November 22nd is the 50th anniversary of C.S. Lewis’ death. Leading up to the anniversary, I will be reviewing a number of his works. The first is The Great Divorce.
The premise of The Great Divorce is that those who are in Hell get to take a trip to Heaven. While they are in Heaven, their loved ones come to them and try to convince them to stay. Lewis is clear that he doesn’t necessarily think those in Hell actually get another choice after death. He is simply trying to illustrate the nature of Heaven and Hell, and of good and evil. Rather than try to summarize the whole book, I will simply highlight a couple of themes that stuck out to me during a recent re-read of “The Great Divorce”.
The first thing that stuck out to me is how utterly lonely the inhabitants of Hell are. This starts becoming clear in the beginning of the book when Lewis is describing Hell. The Narrator, who is never given a name, acknowledges that the parts of the town he saw were so empty. Another inhabitant of Hell tells him that this is so because everyone in Hell is so quarrelsome. When I arrive in Hell, I might find a house pretty quickly, at first. But it won’t be long until I’m quarreling with a neighbor. When that happens, I will move to a house a few streets away. This pattern keeps happening until eventually everyone lives millions of miles apart from everyone else. How lonely!
As the story moves forward, we realize more and more about the nature of their loneliness. We realize that the inhabitants of Hell are so lonely because they Continue reading