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Literature / The Four Loves

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In Greek There Are Four Words For Love
"The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell."
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The Four Loves is a nonfiction work by C. S. Lewis analyzing four types of love.

  • Storge (Affection/Family) - This is fondness through familiarity, especially among family members or people who have otherwise found themselves together by chance.
  • Phileo (Friendship) - Friendship is a strong bond existing between people who share a common interest or activity. This includes what Lewis calls companionship; that is gregariousness of the kind which is found in a Good-Guy Bar or Local Hangout; as well as friendship proper which is between Heterosexual Life-Partners, Platonic Life-Partners and the like but often starts as companionship.
  • Eros (Romance) - This is love in the sense of 'being in love'. (This is distinct from sexual attraction.) This kind of love longs for the emotional connection with the other person. According to C.S. Lewis, sexuality is called "Venus." It can be part of "Eros," but on its own, it is not one of the loves, just desire (not to be confused with Lust which is this desire expressed in a sinful way ).
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  • Agape (Unconditional Love) - This is the love that brings forth caring regardless of circumstance. The essence of agape love is self-sacrifice. It is also a decision, not fueled by pure emotions (theoretically).

Trope Namer for The Four Loves, obviously.


Tropes included

  • A Friend in Need: Friendship will help, and not even care.
  • All Take and No Give: Both unhealthy Taking and Giving are dealt with repeatedly.
  • Commonality Connection: The book defines this as the beginning, and, indeed, the foundation of friendship. Phileo is a bond that is built over a common interest (hobbies) or commitment (field of study, career or vocation).
    “The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.’”
  • Dysfunction Junction: What could be more natural than children to feel no love for an unloveable parent?
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  • Et Tu, Brute?: Affection is so naturally jealous that any deviation from the ethos of home, whether falling below it or rising above it, often feels like a betrayal to the rest of the family.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: "Mrs. Fidget" (an example of self-serving generosity) always cooked for her family; even when they were happy with a cold meal.
  • Ho Yay: Deconstructed In-Universe; Lewis makes the point that those who perpetually see homosexuality in Heterosexual Life-Partners have made the mistake of thinking that every close emotional bond between adults is sexual. After all, the whole point of the book is that there are different kinds of affection that must not be confused.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Lewis defies this trope by asserting that the mere desire to be one's friend cannot sustain a long-lasting friendship. True Phileo can only be forged when there is a genuine Commonality Connection between the friends.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: This is the essence of agape and how it affects the other loves.
  • Jesus Was Crazy: Lewis makes the point that, from the world's perspective, Jesus was crazy.
    He was not at all like the psychologist’s picture of the integrated, balanced, adjusted, happily married, employed, popular citizen. You can’t really be very well 'adjusted' to your world if it says you 'have a devil' and ends by nailing you up naked to a stake of wood.
  • Like Brother and Sister: There are two archetypes of storge: mother and child and siblings. But you can have storge with people who are not your blood relatives, and then you're sort of Like Brother And Sister.
  • Love Hurts: All love. Even that that doesn't go evil. There's no escape except in Heaven — and Hell.
  • Love Makes You Evil: The earthly loves: storge, philia and eros may turn sour if not infused with agape: storge becomes smothering, jealous possessiveness, philia turns a group of True Companions into a pretentious, snotty clique, and eros becomes Destructive Romance or Masochism Tango.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Heterosexual Life-Partners may cause insinuations of Ho Yay, but according to Lewis that's the fallacy of mistaking other kinds of love for Eros. (They're heterosexual, and platonic, after all.)
  • Mistaken for Romance: What happens when the other kinds of love are confused with Eros.
  • New Friend Envy: When one of the siblings, who have storge, begins to grow up and have new interests and new philia-based relationships, the other sibling may turn into a Green-Eyed Monster who sabotages it all in order not to get abandoned.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Analyzed along with nature love as one of the most notable loves of the subhuman. Lewis describes five forms, in descending order from the very good to the very bad to a form sunk so low that it isn't even a love anymore.
  • Pet the Dog: Love for anthropomorphized beings such as pets and dolls is treated under affection rather then love of the subhuman.
  • Tragic Bromance: Discussed briefly, in that if someone in a group of close friends dies, that death not only removes that person, but everything brought out by that person's presence in others.
  • Trickster Girlfriend: Discussed at length in the chapter dedicated to Eros. The author metaphorically describes Venus as a Trickster Goddess who plays jokes on humans, and notes that "lovers are always laughing at each other".
  • True Companions: Most often Phileo, but if they are close enough friends it may become Storge.

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