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'The Screwtape Letters' Novel

By

Screwtape Letters
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Genre:

Satire

Author:

C.S. Lewis

Publication Year:

1942

Publisher:

Originally published by Geoffrey Bles and republished later by HarperCollins

Famous Angel Scenes:

Throughout The Screwtape Letters, the two fallen angels exchange letters about what strategies could be most effective to pull a man known as "the patient" away from God and toward hell. Satan has assigned Wormwood to influence the man for evil purposes (in contrast to the holy guardian angels that God assigns to people to influence them for good purposes). So the entire book is full of famous angel scenes.

Characters:

Screwtape, a demon (fallen angel) in hell who serves Satan by mentoring younger demons, teaches his nephew Wormwood (a demon who has recently graduated from the Tempters' Training College for Young Devils) how best to exert evil influences on human beings.

Both Screwtape and Wormwood exchange letters throughout the book, aided in their correspondence by Screwtape's assistant, Toadpipe.

The Plot:

The novel presents spiritual warfare from the perspective of evil rather than good, so readers can imagine how demons may be at work in the spiritual realm trying to tempt them, and what strategies those demons may be trying to use against them. As a satire, The Screwtape Letters reverses morality so that what readers usually consider bad is presented as good.

The book follows Wormwood's progress trying to influence the man to whom he has been assigned to choose selfishness over love and sin over faith so that his soul will ultimately go to hell instead of heaven. Wormwood's uncle, Screwtape, regularly mentors Wormwood through the 31 letters they send back and forth, using language that comes across to readers as reverse psychology (referring to Satan as "our Father" and God as "the Enemy").

While the inexperienced Wormwood wants to use obviously evil tactics to influence the man (who is referred to as "the patient"), Screwtape advises him to use subtle tactics that are designed to gradually pull the man away from God. Screwtape emphasizes putting distracting thoughts in the man's mind that can interfere with his focus on seeking God and grow into unhealthy attitudes, such as pride, greed, lust, gluttony, and apathy.

Screwtape becomes upset when the man Wormwood is trying to tempt marries a Christian woman and starts to take his faith more seriously. Whenever the man prays, Screwtape becomes especially threatened by the spiritual power that surrounds the man then.

The man is killed during a World War 2 air raid and goes to heaven after he dies, near the novel's end. Screwtape becomes so upset at Wormwood's failure to attract the man's soul to hell that he decides to consume Wormwood as punishment -- illustrating the ultimate result of selfishness and sin: complete destruction.

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