->''"There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor '''Thy'' will be done.']]"''

''The Great Divorce'' is an allegorical book by Creator/CSLewis.

This book comes from the POV of an AuthorAvatar who finds himself in "the grey town," a dismal place where it is always twilight (the lights are on but are not welcoming) and always raining, even inside. The place seems empty and vast (there are many houses). The only queue is at a bus station, and our narrator joins it. He then describes how half the people in that queue leave it never to return.

The bus is shining and brightly colored. Those who board clamor for space despite the bus being half-empty and say bad things about the driver for no good reason. Our narrator is seated, first next to a poet who manages to generate his own {{Wangst}}, and then a man with Great Plans and a broad-minded preacher.

They get to a bright, beautiful, vast, joyous countryside which is somehow more real than where they came from. They know it is supposed to be heaven. But it is so much more real that they appear to be ghosts, and are called such through the rest of the narrative. (This does include the narrator.) They are translucent. They are not intangible, though - they are just solid enough to be hurt. And everything hurts.

Each Ghost is met by someone who was close to them who is a native, a Bright One. The Bright Ones literally give off light. Some of them are naked, some clothed - it doesn't make much difference. The Bright Ones try to encourage those they are meeting to stay and come to the mountains. Most of them fail.

The title is a reference to Creator/WilliamBlake's ''The Marriage of Heaven and Hell''. Lewis said in his introduction that Blake wrote of the marriage of Heaven and Hell; [[TakeThat he was writing of their divorce.]]
!!This work contains examples of the following tropes:

* AHellOfATime: As one character points out, the Grey Town doesn't contain the expected sights associated with Hell: devils with pitchforks, sinners being tortured on flaming racks, etc. But at best, it's a depressing, rainy place where constant squabbling causes residents to spread out from everyone else and become TheAloner. Also, it's hinted that things are about to get much worse.
* AnAesop: The intended aesop is that Heaven and Hell are incompatible, though you can change sides.
* AllJustADream: Lewis was careful to hammer the MST3KMantra home in the preface and the last chapter.
* AllTakeAndNoGive: Two of the damned want to be Givers, and aren't allowed. They literally have nothing to offer the residents of Heaven, and until they accept this they cannot enjoy paradise themselves.
* AncientConspiracy: The Hard-Bitten Ghost, who has SeenItAll, believes that the controlling forces for both sides of all conflicts, including HeavenAndHell, are actually on the same side.
* AnythingThatMoves: One of the Ghosts appears to have grown so obsessed with sex that she is unable to conceive of any purpose for interaction other than seduction, and actually tries to seduce the Bright Ones who are trying to talk to her.
-->If a corpse already liquid with decay had risen from the grave, smeared lipstick on its gums, and attempted a flirtation, the result could not have been more appalling.
* ArbitrarySkepticism: Staggeringly so. One character continues to deny that "Heaven" and "God" are literal things that exist, and insists they're just metaphors. This is while he actually has died, is in the afterlife, and is talking to a resident of Heaven, who offers to take him to see God this very minute.
* AnswersToTheNameOfGod:
--> '''A Ghost:''' "I just want my deserts, see? I'm not asking for anyone's bleeding charity."
--> '''A Person:''' "Then do so at once. Ask for the Bleeding Charity. Everything is here for the asking and nothing can be bought."
** There's also an exchange where a Ghost exclaims "God!" to the confusion of one of the Bright Ones, who only uses the word "God" as [[{{God}} a noun]]. The Ghost has to embarrassedly explain that he meant something like "[[GoshDangItToHeck By gum]]."
* AuthorAvatar: The narrator.
* BeautyIsNeverTarnished: One of the two main points of the story: there is no room for evil or sin ''whatsoever'' in Heaven. Many of the Ghosts refuse to go to Heaven because it will mean giving up their quirks, such as saying mean things to their loved ones.
** The contrapostive of that statement also falls under that trope. ''Everything'' in us can find its fullest and most joyful expression in Heaven, if it will only submit first to God. Specifically seen in the case of the Lizard, which represented a certain Ghost's uncontrollable lust. After the Lizard is killed by an Angel (with the Ghost's permission), the Ghost turns into a Person, and the Lizard is reincarnated as a Stallion, an expression of joyful, holy, physicality.
* CardCarryingVillain: Easier to save than a KnightTemplar or WellIntentionedExtremist. If you know you're evil, you can be converted to good. If you think you're good, it's harder.
* CityNoir: "The grey town," a dismal place where it is always twilight and where it's always raining, even inside.
* ConspiracyTheorist: We meet one or two of them.
* DeadToBeginWith: Every human character other than the narrator
* DrivenToSuicide: The Tousle-Headed Poet. According to him, all the bad things that happened to him were [[NeverMyFault Never His Fault]].
* TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt: What sunrise in Heaven will do to Hell and to anyone who's still a ghost.
* EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep: The only people (other than Lewis and [=MacDonald=]) whose names are given are Frank and Sarah Smith.
* FlatEarthAtheist: Quite a few people persist in their atheism even in the afterlife.
* FriendToAllLivingThings: Sarah Smith has won over practically every person and every living creature she's ever met, which is why we learn her name. The only person she couldn't win over was her husband[[spoiler: and cannot even in the afterlife]].
* GrayRainOfDepression: In Hell
* HardLight: "The light, like solid blocks, intolerable of edge and weight, came thundering upon my head."
* HenpeckedHusband: Robert. He never appears, but we meet his ControlFreak wife.
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: Creator/GeorgeMacDonald, Lewis's favorite author, appears as his SpiritAdvisor in heaven. {{Napoleon|Bonaparte}} also makes a cameo, and several others are discussed.
* IdiotBall: Most of the Ghosts.
* IgnoredEpiphany: Very many.
* ItsThePrincipleOfTheThing: Most of the ghosts decided that accepting the help of the Bright People was a terrible violation of one important principle or another.
* KarmaHoudini: Some Bright Ones appear to be this by most measures. It's a severe stumbling block for some ghosts, most notably the Big Ghost, whose guide got to Heaven via deathbed conversion. The point Lewis is making is that ''everyone'' in Heaven is a KarmaHoudini. It's no good saying one person deserves Heaven more than another, because in the end, ''no one does.'' The ones who make it in are those who realize they'll never earn it on their own merits, and accept Jesus' gift.
* KarmicDeath: We see a couple of these.
* MadeOfIron: Heaven.
* MadeOfPlasticine: The ones from Hell.
* MadnessMantra / NeverMyFault: "It was Soult's fault. It was Ney's fault. It was Josephine's fault. It was the fault of the English. It was the fault of the Russians."
* TheMasochismTango: A husband and wife who leave the line for the bus quarreling. It is clear that they will go on trashing each other forever.
* MundaneAfterlife: Hell is just a rainy twilit town that gives new meaning to "urban sprawl". This is even [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] by some who remark that the one draw of Hell -- the chance to talk to the great sinners -- is more or less impossible because of the distance.
* MyBelovedSmother: One of the more heart-wrenching conversations is on this theme.
* OurGhostsAreDifferent: We only see the Ghosts who decide to visit Heaven, but there's some discussion about Ghosts who take similar visits back to Earth.
* PetTheDog: The Ghost with the Lizard lets the angel kill his sin and becomes a Bright One.
* PointOfNoReturn: Any sin, unremedied, leads to this. Interestingly, this is usually symbolized as someone [[PutOnABus returning to the bus.]]
* {{Pride}}: The number one factor keeping people from accepting grace.
* TheScottishTrope: The damned never speak of Hell as Hell.
* SelfInflictedHell: Arguably one of the two main points of the book: The only reason the Ghosts end up in Hell is because of their own petty issues, when the chance to go to Heaven is right in front of them.
* ShoutOut: To ''The Man Who Lived Backwards'' by Charles F. Hall (Lewis had forgotten the author and title, though), in which the immutability of the past while [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin living backwards in time]] results in IntangibleTimeTravel.
** Also, this being C. S. Lewis, to lots of literary and philosophical authors including Creator/WilliamBlake, Prudentius, Jeremy Taylor, [[Literature/DivineComedy Dante]], Creator/JohnMilton, and of course Creator/GeorgeMacDonald.
* SillyRabbitCynicismIsForLosers: The Hard-Bitten Ghost Deconstructs cynicism and the thought that the cynical view of the world is more reliable (the Narrator describes his appearance as being of the type that he(the Narrator) has always found reliable, and the Narrator trusts his words enough to go into a HeroicBSOD because of them). He's a conspiracy theorist who has lost all ability to enjoy anything because he's so cynical, and thinks that all of the Wonders of the World are just tourist traps run by a World Combine. He's in hell, and he can't accept that he can get into Heaven because he doesn't trust the Bright People's assurances that those who choose to go to Heaven can become more solid. Heck, he doesn't believe in Heaven at all, and thinks that Heaven and Hell are secretly on the same side, faking the war to extort from the Ghosts.
* SpiritAdvisor: Every visitor from Hell gets one; though the Heavenly Beings are all fully visible to one another, the Hellish ones can only perceive depending on certain circumstances.
* SpiritualAntithesis: To ''The Marriage of Heaven and Hell''.
* ThereAreTwoKindsOfPeopleInTheWorld: Those who say to God "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor "Thy will be done."]]
* TheTreacheryOfImages: The blessed former apostate finally gives up on trying to reason with his damned apostate friend not very long after the damned soul has gone so far off the deep end in his pseudo-intellectual diatribe that he ends up complaining about how the blessed man is talking "as if there some hard, fixed reality where things are, so to speak, 'there'."
** Painting as a way to depict particular subject matters or for its own sake is also discussed between a damned artist and his more heavenly-minded friend.
* TimeStandsStill: Lewis had the idea for the story from a half-remembered story about a time traveller. Nothing the spirits do can effect any real change [[note]]just as nothing the time traveller could do made any difference to the past -- right down to being able to bend a blade of grass or bite into a sandwich[[/note]] -- Hell is always damp and miserable and Heaven is so much 'realer' than the spirits that the grass cuts into their feet instead of bending to them.
* UnreliableNarrator: When not called on it, the ghosts will present very unreliable accounts -- the Tousle-Headed Poet and the grumbling woman in particular.
* WantingIsBetterThanHaving: One ghost argues this: It's better to travel hopefully than to arrive. The Bright One returns that if you knew that to be true, you could not travel in hope, because how can you hope to reach an inferior destination?
* WasOnceAMan: Many of the Hellish spirits are so bitter that there's very little left of them.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: [[invoked]] Used in-universe. The apostate bishop speculates about how Christianity could have turned out differently (and, in his opinion, better) if Jesus had not been crucified, and had continued teaching throughout his life. This is, of course, CompletelyMissingThePoint: according to Christian orthodoxy, it's Jesus' death and resurrection that makes it possible for sinners (that is, everyone) to enter heaven.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: The Tousle-Head Poet simply disappears after his scene on the bus, with no indication of whether he chooses to stay or go. The audience doesn't get to see the final decisions of the possessive mother, or the woman caught in the unicorn stampede, either, although there's slightly more closure in these cases, since [=MacDonald=] gives educated guesses on what their final decisions might be (he thinks the possessive mother ultimately won't stay, but that the other woman may have a chance, providing the stampede distracts her enough to stop obsessing over herself and listen to her Guide.)
* {{Yandere}}: The possessive mother; [=MacDonald=] explains that LoveMakesYouCrazy in Hell, whereas LoveRedeems in Heaven.