The Four Loves Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 35 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Four Loves.
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The Four Loves Summary & Study Guide Description

The Four Loves Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis.

C.S. Lewis, the author of The Four Loves, says some people are glad the English language uses both the words "love" and "like." He says his own generation was told not to say "I love strawberries," but to use the work "like" in that instance. However, most people still use the word love in that context. In the book "The Four Loves," Lewis will take the reader on a quest to discover and explore the various types of love felt, given, and received by humans. Lewis talks about loves in terms of affection, friendship, Eros, and charity. He goes into depth on each subject, but his true message seems to be that the four are almost always intertwined and that they are at their most intense and satisfying level when they are connected to a love for God. Charity, according to Lewis, is the highest form of love. In that case, people love without any personal attraction. In the case of all other types of love, there is some attraction—some reason the person cares for another.

It is also true, however, that everyone has some undesirable traits. The husband may be lazy, the wife moody. Romantic love won't take over in that case, but charity—the highest of all loves—will. It's natural that a person wants to be loved for himself and it may be difficult to accept love when it's given in charity. Lewis equates that with man's quest to be loved by God. Though God loves unconditionally, it's human nature to seek ways to make oneself more attractive.

Lewis tackles the topic of friendship with a fresh look at what makes a friend, laying aside the thought that a person chooses those friends. Instead, people are drawn to one another because of common ground. That's what often draws men together as a group while women group themselves together. Looking back, the role of men was to hunt and protect. They met, planned, and evaluated the hunt after it was over. They formed friendships based on those activities. Similar interests draw men together as well, though some gender barriers have lessened.

Affection, Lewis says, is the most basic of the loves. He says that a child may feel affection for "the crusty gardener" even though that person has never tried to initiate friendship. The reason for the affection is simply familiarity. By contrast, that same child may avoid all attempts a stranger makes at friendship based solely on the fact that it's a new person and there are no bonds of familiarity.

Eros—romantic love—is arguably the one love most likely to spiral out of control. Lewis contends that it's not often that two people become so wrapped up in each other that Eros gets in the way of a relationship with God, but that the two become wrapped up in the fact of being in love. There is a need, according to Lewis, to laugh more, spend more time at play, and reserve a reasonable role for this romantic love.

Through the eyes of Lewis, the reader takes a look at the role of love in life. Lewis is careful to say that he's not the authority on the subject, and urges the reader to use what he feels is appropriate and to disregard the rest.

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