The Great Divorce Book Summary - The Great Divorce Book explained in key points

The Great Divorce summary

C.S. Lewis

Brief summary

'The Great Divorce' by C.S. Lewis is a thought-provoking allegorical tale exploring the concepts of heaven and hell. It challenges readers to question their beliefs and consider the consequences of their choices.

Give Feedback
Table of Contents

    The Great Divorce
    Summary of key ideas

    Envisioning the Afterlife

    In The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis, the story’s backdrop is an imaginative vision of the afterlife. The narrator embarks on a journey from a place suggested as hell or purgatory, a dreary, gray town where it eternally rains and no one can find satisfaction, to a vibrant and expansive heaven. Interestingly, the use of the term "divorce" in the title refers to the separation of heaven and hell, rather than a marital divorce.

    The narrator, along with a host of individuals longing for a new start, boards a bus from the gray town. Despite their shared journey, we learn that these souls are profoundly isolated, symbolizing their self-centeredness and the rift in their relationships.

    Exploring the Borders of Heaven

    Arriving at the outskirts of heaven, the narrator notices that the heavens are unimaginably solid compared to the ghostlike entities. The ghosts need to endure pain to walk on the grass or pick an apple, showing the struggle of embracing virtues to adapt to heaven. Each ghost encounters an individual from Heaven to persuade them to let go of their earthly ties and enter into the joys of heaven.

    The dialogues that take place between the ghost from hell and the blessed individuals offer a profound dive into human nature. From Lewis's perspective, many choose hell over heaven because of their clinging to certain earthly desires or their inability to let go of bitterness or pride.

    Revealing the Human Condition

    One of the most compelling dialogues occurs between the artist ghost and an angel, representing Lewis’s views on art. To paraphrase, genuine creativity comes from a love for the creation itself, not the desire for fame attached to it. When the artist ghost expresses a desire to document heaven’s landscapes, the angel replies that experiencing joy directly should rank above recreating it for others.

    Another notable dialogue portrays a ghost consumed by bitter resentment and the angel's encouragement for forgiveness. Through these philosophical narratives, Lewis underscores the importance of selfless love for God and others and illuminates the sins that can blind individuals to heaven's joys.

    The Final Encounter

    Subsequently, the narrator meets his spiritual mentor, George MacDonald, who guides him to understand that the gates of hell are locked from the inside, meaning that individuals hold the keys to their own redemption. Those in hell can reach heaven if they surrender their damning choices and embrace God's abundant love.

    Ultimately, the narrator awakens from his dreamlike adventures, sensing a call to make the right choices in his earthly life. In finishing, The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis offers an intriguing exploration of the afterlife and human choices, encapsulating the courageous journey of souls from hell to heaven and underscoring our potential to determine our own spiritual destiny.

    Give Feedback
    How do we create content on this page?
    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is The Great Divorce about?

    The Great Divorce is a thought-provoking allegorical tale by C.S. Lewis that explores the concepts of heaven, hell, and the choices we make in life. Through a fictional journey, the book delves into the nature of good and evil, the consequences of our actions, and the possibility of redemption. It challenges readers to reflect on their own beliefs and values, and ultimately offers a message of hope and transformation.

    The Great Divorce Review

    The Great Divorce (1945) explores the concepts of heaven and hell through a captivating narrative that challenges readers to question their beliefs about the afterlife. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With its imaginative storytelling and vivid descriptions, it brings to life a thought-provoking journey that lingers in the mind long after the last page.
    • Through a series of encounters with intriguing characters, the book delves deep into complex moral and philosophical questions, inviting readers to reflect on their own perspectives.
    • Its unique blend of fantasy and theology creates a compelling narrative that sparks curiosity and encourages readers to explore deeper meanings and interpretations.

    Who should read The Great Divorce?

    • Individuals seeking to explore and understand the concepts of heaven and hell in a thought-provoking manner.
    • Readers who enjoy philosophical and allegorical storytelling.
    • People interested in questioning their own beliefs and exploring the nature of truth and redemption.

    About the Author

    C.S. Lewis was a renowned British author and theologian. He is best known for his works of fiction and non-fiction exploring Christian themes, including "The Chronicles of Narnia" series and "Mere Christianity." "The Great Divorce" is one of his notable works, in which he presents a thought-provoking allegory about the concepts of heaven and hell. Lewis's writings continue to inspire and challenge readers around the world.

    Categories with The Great Divorce

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    30 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    The Great Divorce FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Great Divorce?

    The main message of The Great Divorce is a thought-provoking exploration of heaven, hell, and the human condition.

    How long does it take to read The Great Divorce?

    The reading time for The Great Divorce varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Great Divorce a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Great Divorce is worth reading for its imaginative storytelling and profound insights into human nature and the afterlife.

    Who is the author of The Great Divorce?

    The author of The Great Divorce is C.S. Lewis.

    What to read after The Great Divorce?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Great Divorce, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens
    • The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
    • The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama
    • On Being by Peter Atkins
    • The Biology of Belief by Bruce H. Lipton
    • Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson
    • Choose Yourself by James Altucher
    • Going Clear by Lawrence Wright
    • Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer
    • The Power of No by James Altucher and Claudia Azula Altucher