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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."

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

  • Abilene Paradox: Discussed.
  • 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 start of friendship.
  • Crusty Caretaker: Children can love him even though he does nothing for them, but because he's familiar
  • Dysfunction Junction: What could be more natural than children to feel no love for an unloveable parent?
  • 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.
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  • 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.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Common with eros and storge.
  • 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 that there are different kinds of affection that must not be confused.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Phileo does not work that way - there has to be a Commonality Connection.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Needs agape even if the other loves are present.
  • In Love with Love / Loving a Shadow: Discussed somewhat in the Romance chapter—Lewis believes that a lot of love starts out that way, and the physical attraction comes later.
  • 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: An example of Storge.
  • Love Hurts: All love. Even that that doesn't go evil. There's no escape except in Heaven — and Hell.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Discussed for all the first three types, though the means differ.
  • 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.
  • Mister Muffykins: Very hard luck for the animal, but better that an animal suffer than a human.
  • My Beloved Smother: Parental affection can lead to this.
  • Nature Lover: Analyzed in the course of dealing with the subhuman before the human.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Strongly discouraged, though its lesser form "My Country Great or Humble" is admirable and should even be encouraged.
  • 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.
  • Safe, Sane, and Consensual: Mentioned in the chapter on eros, rather vaguely.
  • Textile Work Is Feminine: Mrs. Fidget made things for her family out of a need to be "sacrificial."
  • Think Nothing of It: A mark of friendship.
  • 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.
  • True Companions: Most often Phileo, but if they are close enough friends it may become Storge.


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