Motifs and Symbolism in “The Great Divorce”
Everyday there is a sun. The sun rises and the sun sets. When the sun rises there is a beautiful glow to it yet very few watch it rise because it is so early. But when it sets many people think of it as the end of the day and fantasize on its romanticism into the night, pondering on achievements throughout the twenty-four hour time period. The sun is a symbol of life. Much like the sun, the symbols in the Great Divorce are indeed larger than they appear. The Great Divorce by Clive Staples Lewis shows great theme within its motifs and shows illustrious and unfathomable meanings throughout its symbolism.
C.S. Lewis’s states, “I saw a great assembly of gigantic forms all motionless, all in the deepest silence, standing forever about a little silver table and looking upon it. And on the table there were little figures like chessmen who went to and fro doing this and that” (Lewis 143) and though some might think of this quote to be talking of such a dismal situation, it is quite’ the contrary. But indeed this quote is pertaining to the symbolism of Time and those who live through it. The table itself is official symbol of Time whereas the little chessmen are representations of how the men and women are presented on earth. The watchers (also known as the gigantic forms) are the perpetual souls of those men and women on the table. “These conversations between the Spirits and the Ghosts – were they only the mimicry of choices that had really been made long ago?” (Lewis 144). This is yet another form of the symbolism of Time though this more of the sense of the past tense of time itself. But in accordance to Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, “Everything has its own time, and there is a specific time for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pull out what was planted, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build up, a time to cry and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to hug and a time to stop hugging, a time to start looking and a time to stop looking, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear apart and a time to sew together, a time to keep quiet and a time to speak out, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. What do working people gain from their hard labor? I have seen mortals weighed down with a burden that God has placed on them. It is beautiful how God has done everything at the right time. He has put a sense of eternity in people’s minds. Yet mortals still can’t grasp what God is doing from the beginning to the end of time” God made time have a specific purpose. And even when we die, time is still existent. Especially in Heaven when Time seems like nothing at all.
However, Heaven to some might be a vast bright breach of nirvana, a playground for angels, or merely an empty white room to those of good deeds. To others heaven may not even be existent. However, in accordance to The Great Divorce, Heaven is indeed vastly subsistent, though a bit off detail of what one might portray Heaven to be. C.S. quotes, “It was the light, the grass, the trees that were different; made of some different substance, so much solider than things in our country that men were ghosts by comparison. Moved by a sudden thought, I bent down and tried to pluck a daisy which was growing at my feet. The stalk wouldn’t break” (Lewis 20). In the length of the narrator’s journey through Heaven, he finds that everything in Heaven is more real than even things of earthly matter. Let alone this portrays the symbolism of purity and realism. Purity is the sense that when one is pure it has no soft spots (as in the relationship of how everything is literally solid in this story’s portrayal of Heaven), which is why everything hurts only those arriving off of the omnibus. As for realism,...