Faces of Love-Friendship

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The is the second installment of a four part series on Love based on an essay I completed in 2017.

Lewis clearly expresses the difficulty of defining love when he begins The Fours Loves with, “God is love,” says St. John. When I first tried to write this book, I thought that his maxim would provide me with a very plain highroad through the whole subject. “[1] He soon discovers the complexity of the topic and begins the internal conversations that ultimately lead him to the four terms for love: Affection, Friendship, Eros and Charity adapted from the Greek terms Storge, Philia, Eros, and Agape. Even so, Lewis does not stop with the four terms; he also includes the terms Need-love, Gift-Love, Appreciative Love as methods of expressing and receiving love. Lewis describes each term in detail, providing metaphorical and imaginative examples for each throughout the remainder of the book. Without reading Till We Have Faces, the reader of The Four Loves would have a basic understanding of each term, but the mythical tale provides added insight and understanding for each term.

Lewis’s discussion of Friendship evokes strong emotions both in The Four Loves and in Till We Have Faces. However, perhaps, Lewis draws the reader into Orual’s relationship with Bardia more quickly than the description presented in The Four Loves. Lewis describes Friendship in The Four Loves in vivid detail through descriptions of men gathering to smoke, laugh and talk about things only they understand. While, according to The Four Loves, the foundational principle of Friendship allows the addition of new members, the new member must share the ideas and views of the current members.  By Lewis’s definition, “Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they in common some insight or interest or even taste which others do not share and which, ‘till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden).”[2]  Lewis is quite direct in his propositional discussion of Friendship pointing out that friends see the same truth. He is equally candid when describing predominately male Friendships.

While in, The Four Loves Lewis has little positive to say about Friendship between opposite sexes, the relationship between Orual and Bardia in Till We Have Faces has positive elements, at least at the beginning.  Bardia trains Orual in the manly arts of battle, teaches her to ride a horse, and openly regards her as he would a male friend when he says, “The Queen wants to fight the Trunia herself, Fox…and she could do it, too…Oh, Lady, Lady, it a thousand pities they didn’t make you a man.”[3] While the two descriptions have a common theme, the reader may accept the imaginative approach more quickly because Lewis only casually points out that Bardia does not consider Orual as feminine rather than the overt declarations he makes in The Four Loves.  Also, a woman reading this section of Till We Have Faces may be less offended by this description than the more masculine representation in The Four Loves.

[1] C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, (Orlando: Harcourt, Inc., 1988), 32.

[2] Lewis, The Four Loves, 65.

[3] Lewis, Till We Have Faces, 197.