->''These creatures are always accusing one another of wanting "to eat the cake and have it"; but thanks to our labours they are more often in the predicament of paying for the cake and not eating it.''
-->-- '''Screwtape'''

A EpistolaryNovel by Creator/CSLewis in which a more experienced devil named Screwtape writes a series of letters to a younger devil named Wormwood on how to successfully tempt a man, referred to only as "The Patient." Intending the book as a fairly humorous work, Lewis's goals included both reflections on the nature of evil and an effort to create a different portrayal of the Devil than the sort normally seen in pop culture. Screwtape has practically NoSenseOfHumor himself, and comes across as a sort of cranky cosmic [[GrumpyOldMan killjoy]]. At one point, this devil even goes so far as to complain that the music in Heaven is getting on his nerves -- even though he can't hear it, the very ''thought'' that they're making music at all hours bothers him (he'd prefer some nice ugly '''noise''' instead). Heaven is a nonstop hootenanny "where all that is not silence is music". Screwy's not the sort of devil who would be very much fun at a party, which is pretty much the point of the book.

In the introduction, Professor Lewis comments that while looking through the modern world to find an appropriate symbol of evil, he felt that Hell should have a [[VastBureaucracy bureaucracy]], one combining the worst elements of a {{police state}} and a [[CorruptCorporateExecutive crooked, greedy, money-hemorrhaging business,]] to make it better resemble some of the most damaging institutions of his time. Screwtape is a member of Hell's vast middle management, at one time listing a long, pretentious title at the end of one of his letters.

C.S. Lewis also wrote a sequel short story, "Screwtape Proposes a Toast" (which is included in many reprints of ''The Screwtape Letters''), presented as a post-banquet speech Screwtape offers to a graduating class of the Tempter's College.
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!!This book provides examples of:
* AcademyOfEvil: It's mentioned that Hell has a Training College for young devils, run by a devil named Slubgob. They study such courses as sexual temptation ("a subject of considerable tedium," complains Screwtape, who is no HornyDevil) and [[AWolfInSheepsClothing disguising oneself as an Angel of Light]].
* AdaptationDistillation: The stage adaptation by Max [=Mclean=], understandably, had to leave out the part where Screwtape accidentally transforms himself into a large centipede, and his secretary Toadpipe is forced to finish the letter. On the other hand...
* AdaptationExpansion: Toadpipe [[IncrediblyLamePun plays a far larger role]] in the abovementioned Max [=Mclean=] stage adaptation, portrayed here as Screwtape's scale/rag bodysuit clad pseudo-gymnast/dancer of a SexySecretary.
* AllTakeAndNoGive: Screwtape's final view of Wormwood.
* AndIMustScream: In "Screwtape Proposes a Toast," we learn that evil religious zealots are punished by being made into blended wine -- those who hated each other the most make the best vintages when combined.
* AntiAdvice: On a meta level. The reader is expected to read Screwtape's advice and recognise when their own [[GoodAngelBadAngel inner devil]] is following it.
* AffablyEvil: {{Averted}}. Significant in that most authors would have gone this route, but Lewis is careful to make sure that Screwtape just seems like a pill.
* AnachronicOrder: The letters are stated in the prologue to be written in this fashion, and Screwtape alludes to the Patient having been in his fiancee's house for "only five years."
* AscendedExtra: Wormwood in the ''Focus On The Family'' radio adaptation. Because he interacts with his uncle in person rather than by letters, we actually hear his side of the conversation (because of this, the adaptation was originally just called ''Screwtape'').
* AuthorTract: [[TropesAreTools But a damn fun read nonetheless]].
* BadBoss: Screwtape. Tends to act as unforgiving as Hell (literally) when Wormwood makes mistakes.
* BadIsGoodAndGoodIsBad: The whole premise of devils looking at God the way humans would view Satan, as well as the use of words like Lowerarchy.
** On the other hand, devils find that persons without much moral fiber, while easier to drag to Hell, make tasteless and disappointing meals. Potential saints make the best sinners, but (as Screwtape complains), virtues like courage and patience aren't naturally on Hell's side and must be perverted before they can be useful.
* BeingEvilSucks: Good demonic style means luring a soul into corruption without actually giving anything in return. None of the demons seem particularly happy either. Screwtape in particular seems to be a completely miserable old grump who's totally committed to his crappy job.
* BoringButPractical: In "Screwtape Proposes a Toast," Screwtape comments that while tempting souls away with the belief that life is just fine without God may not produce the kinds of tasty cuisine he used to get with truly evil people, it does mean nobody has to worry about starving.
* CardCarryingVillain: The devils' whole job is to [[TheCorrupter corrupt humans into sinning]], mostly out of spite for {{God}}.
* CelestialBureaucracy: Hell has one (the Lowerarchy), but it's not clear if Heaven does or not.
** Presumably, bureaucracy itself is a hellish parody of freely-given love, respect, and obedience in Heaven.
* TheChessmaster: Screwtape is a very good one, but there's even more talented Chessmasters in the lower levels of Hell (including [[{{Satan}} the Man himself]]). And quite a few Chessmasters on the other side, too, so that Earth is pretty much one big GambitPileup.
* {{Comically Missing the Point}}: Screwtape commits any number of examples, most notably with love, which he seems to think is defined as "one person's good being another person's good", and which he is convinced (though he contradicts himself on the matter) does not really exist and instead is only a cover beings have for selfish motives. At one point he alludes to the other side admitting that if the demons ever came to understand what love is then the war would be over and the demons would re-enter heaven, and says that this confirms that God's throne rests upon the secret.
* TheComicallySerious: Many of the most amusing passages stem from the fact that Screwtape has absolutely no sense of humor. He's particularly enraged that the Patient's girlfriend is the kind of person who would find him funny.
* TheCorrupter: Obviously.
* CrapsackWorld: What else could Hell be?
** Earth leans toward this too thanks to the work of the demons, especially since the Earthly setting is England during World War II.
* DeadpanSnarker: Screwtape.
* {{Deal with the Devil}}: [[DefiedTrope Defied]]. The Low Command have actually put a stop to Faustian bargains, as the whole thing was starting to undermine their atheism campaign. The devils appear to make similar sorts of bargains with each other, however.
* DeliberateValuesDissonance: The entire book runs on this-the devils' good is our bad, and vice-versa.
* DemonLordsAndArchdevils
* DevilButNoGod: Meta version-C. S. Lewis admitted that there should have been a counterpart volume with the Patient's guardian angel receiving counter-advice from an archangel, but he didn't think he was talented enough to write it nor his audiences capable enough of believing it.
--> ''Mere advice would be no good; every sentence would have to smell of Heaven. And nowadays even if you could write prose like Traherne's, you wouldn't be allowed to... At bottom, every ideal of style dictates not only how we may say things, but what sort of things we may say.''
** The letters do often make mention of "The enemy" and Screwtape even gives pointers to Wormwood on how to undermine them.
* {{The Devil is a Loser}}: Screwtape is a grouchy, self-important prig with NoSenseOfHumor, working a desk job as under-secretary in the middle management of an infernal (literally) VastBureaucracy. Deliver us!
* DownerEnding: [[spoiler: If, by the end of the book, you have come to sympathize with stupid little Wormwood, the last half of the last chapter is not a pleasant read.]]
** Also, [[spoiler: the Patient is killed in a bomb blast, leaving behind his mother and fiancee]], although we don't see it as much of a downer since [[spoiler: he goes to heaven]]. Due to the PerspectiveFlip, of course, it is a huge disappointment for [[spoiler: Screwtape and Wormwood]].
* EarnYourHappyEnding: The "Patient" takes every temptation Screwtape and Wormwood throw at him, almost turns away from the good side, but makes his way back [[spoiler:only to be killed in a bomb blast and wind up in Heaven after all]]. Due to the PerspectiveFlip, this is seen as a ''bad'' thing.
* EnemyCivilWar: Devils are too evil to really be on friendly terms with each other.
* EpistolaryNovel: The book is a series of letters from Screwtape to his nephew and protégé Wormwood.
* EvilCannotComprehendGood: Hell actually has a division of their research department trying to do this. They haven't made any progress in millennia.
** [[{{God}} The Enemy]] has apparently made it clear to them that if the populace of Hell could begin to understand the concept of "love", then the war against Heaven would be ended. Screwtape misinterprets this as the key to outmaneuvering The Enemy-and thus retaking Heaven ''by force''.
* EvilFeelsGood: {{Inverted}}. It appears that the deeper one goes into sin, the less fun it becomes.
* EvilIsOneBigHappyFamily: {{Averted}}. Hell runs on fear and hatred, after all. Screwtape's last letter is full of EvilGloating about how he and Wormwood truly loved each other-the way a hungry man loves a meal.
* EvilIsPetty: Screwtape's preferred method of damning souls is to encourage consistent patterns of petty vice rather than great sins that are easily repented. It doesn't make for exceptionally fine meals, but it leads to a steady flow of souls Hellward.
* EvilPlan: Screwtape tries to teach Wormwood how to pull this off, but Wormwood is something of a slow learner.
* EvilTastesGood: Every devil appears to be something of a gourmet when it comes to eating the souls of humans and their fellow devils; the eviler souls taste better than a mediocre sinner.
* {{Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor}}[=/=]NoSenseOfHumor: Devils in general just don't get humor. To them it's just another way to suppress virtue and promote vice, and very much a two-edged sword that can be used by good as well.
* EvilVirtues: In "Screwtape Proposes a Toast", the greatly evil souls Screwtape discusses had these; the souls ''without'' outstanding good qualities were only mediocre.
* FallenAngel: The demons' backstory, apparently, though Screwtape offers only {{Suspiciously Specific Denial}}s about it.
* FollowTheLeader: Several Christian writers have copied Lewis's conceit of an EpistolaryNovel by TheDevil to deliver their own {{Author Tract}}s, with examples including ''Screwtape Writes Again'' by Walter Martin, ''To My Dear Slimeball'' by Rich Miller, and ''Lord Foulgrin's Letters'' and its sequel ''The Ishbane Conspiracy'' by Randy Alcorn. Let's just say that none of them has come anywhere close to the success of the original.
* GambitPileup: Basically, Earth.
* {{God}}: The narrator, of course, thinks God is the {{Big Bad}} and calls him The Enemy.
** He also throws out the possibility that God may not even love us, and has other, probably less holy reasons why He created us in the first place. Of course, Screwtape's problem is that he's a devil-[[EvilCannotComprehendGood he can only understand things that are done for less-than-holy reasons]]. Sheer altruism like The Enemy's is not only absurd but ''impossible'', as far as he can tell-God ''must'' have some ultimately selfish reason for creating human beings.
* GoodAngelBadAngel: A very in-depth example, as Lewis gives us a view about what actually motivates the little devil to whisper suggestions in The Patient's ear. {{Subverted}} as well, as the standard cartoon image of devils (with pronged tails and cloven hooves, etc.) is explicitly {{Jossed}} by Screwtape; he calls it one way devils keep humans from thinking of them as dangerous.
* GoodFeelsGood: One of Screwtape's complaints is that Earthly pleasures come from the Enemy, and they have to be twisted before they are of any use to Hell.
* HolierThanThou: Described by Screwtape as "the strongest and most beautiful of the vices". He also says that those who embrace it "[make] better sport in Hell than" [[TheHedonist hedonists]] or even {{Evil Overlord}}s.
* HornyDevils: {{Inverted}}. Screwtape describes sexual temptation as a subject "of considerable tedium" and wastes no paper discussing it, as both he and Wormwood already know all there is to know about the methods in question.
* ImAHumanitarian: Damned souls and failed Tempters are devoured by the devils. It's strongly implied that [[spoiler: Screwtape eats Wormwood at the end, as punishment for his failure.]]
* InsaneTrollLogic: Screwtape and the rest of the devils run on this. Screwtape reasons that, since there's no such thing as selfless love, when {{God}} claims to love people unselfishly, He must really be getting something from them, although nobody's ever been able to figure out what.
** Screwtape also discusses InsaneTrollLogic as a good method of tempting people, or rather of keeping undesirable ideas out of their heads. After all, it's the devils' job to fuddle them, not to teach them how to think. Get them too used to reasoning, and what happens if they come across a reasonable argument for God?
* {{In With the In Crowd}}: Wormwood gets the patient caught in this for a while, but botches it and the trope plays out fully, complete with AnAesop.
* InvoluntaryShapeshifting: As described in that page's quote, at one point Screwtape gets so emotional that he accidentally transforms into a centipede.
* JustJokingJustification: Screwtape mentions that a good way to tempt a person to be a {{jerkass}} is the realization that people often think cruel behavior is funny [[RefugeInAudacity if you present it cleverly enough.]]
* KnightInSourArmor: Screwtape warns Wormwood of the dangers of this type of person. "Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger, than when a human, no longer desiring, but intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."
** This is also a reference to Jesus' words and actions on the cross.
* LargeHam: Screwtape, as awesomely voiced by Creator/AndySerkis in the Focus on the Family radio adaptation.
** Also John Cleese's audiobook portrayal.
* LaughablyEvil: Screwtape. Sort of. It's funny just what a grump he is. One of his complaints about the Patient's new love is that she's "the sort who would find ME funny!"
** He also discusses how making the devil LaughablyEvil actually ''helps'' the demons' cause; at one point Screwtape advises Wormwood to direct the client to the stereotypical 20th-century devil image with the red tights, pointy tail, and pitchfork, so that he can't possibly take the idea of devils and Hell seriously.
* LawyerFriendlyCameo: "Screwtape Proposes a Toast" is a harsh criticism of the American educational system's TallPoppySyndrome at the time of writing-except in the narrative Screwtape says it's the ''British'' educational system. Lewis admits in the introduction that he did this because he didn't think Americans would take kindly to a Brit criticizing their schools.
* LoadedWords: Screwtape recommends loaded language over argument to win souls for Hell.
* LooseLips: Eventually, Screwtape is punished by his superiors for trying to help Wormwood by telling him a secret that they did ''not'' want getting out: that God has genuine love for humanity. Unfortunately, despite the painful punishment, it fails to work. After weeks of trying to help Wormwold find a licentious woman for the Patient, the Patient instead finds true love with a Christian woman, resulting in Screwtape flying into rage and accidentally turning himself into a giant centipede.
* MagnificentBastard: {{Invoked}}. Screwtape is actually disappointed that {{Hell}} cannot produce virtues; because some virtues are required to be ''really'' evil.
* MilesGloriosus: {{Averted}}. Even Screwtape has a low opinion of the uses of this particular vice.
--> ''At one time or another we have been able to turn every other sin into a source of pride for humans. We have never yet found a way to make them proud of cowardice.''
* [[invoked]]MoralEventHorizon: {{Subverted}}; Screwtape often argues that the task of making the patient an unrepentant sinner is usually best accomplished ''without'' any kind of spectacularly evil act on the patient's part. Spectacular evils tend to bring repentance or at least an awareness of consequences. What one wants is a gradual accumulation of sins as tiny as snowflakes, slowly accumulating, until their ''total'' weight is immovable.
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: Demonic names include Screwtape, Wormwood, Scabtree, Triptweeze, Toadpipe, and Slubgob. Most of them follow the pattern of two unpleasant nouns (or other single sounds) pushed together.
** Lewis [[LampshadeHanging lampshades]] this in the introduction, saying he designed the names specifically to sound horrible.
** And of course there's the other unpleasant compound whose second syllable is tape: "red tape." Considering Screwtape's position in the Lowerarchy, this was probably an intentional joke on Lewis's part. He even says in the introduction that red tape and tapeworm probably subconsciously influenced the choice of name.
** Wormwood, specifically, comes from the Bible, and is the name of an extremely bitter herb. In Revelation, Wormwood is a star that falls to Earth and poisons one third of the Earth's waters.
* NoNameGiven: Several human characters-most notably The Patient-are referred to by titles, rather than by their names.
** Which implies that devils don't bother seeing humanity as individuals and instead see them as ''what'' they are (as opposed to ''who'').
* NostalgiaFilter: One of the devils' tools in deceiving humans. Screwtape uses the Patient's mother as an example. She's always complaining about how, "Good help is so hard to find these days," when what she's really lamenting for is the time in her youth when she was less critical.
* {{Our Better is Different}}: All demons strive for ''lower'' social position, in hopes of ingratiating themselves with their Father Below.
** The most obvious pun in the book is hierarchy/Lowerarchy, but there's a more complex bit of wordplay in the sequel essay, "Screwtape Proposes A Toast": "Your Imminence, Your Disgraces, My Thorns, shadies and gentledevils..."
* {{Our Demons are Different}}: The whole book is a deliberate attempt to create a new set of symbolism for demons. We don't actually know what they look like, though it's implied they can take any shape they want, anyway. The emphasis is more on their organization. This is even {{lampshaded}} once when Screwtape encourages Wormwood to make the Patient think of the stereotypical red devil with horns and a tail to keep the Patient from taking him seriously.
** It's also implied they ''[[InvoluntaryShapeshifting must]]'' take different forms from time to time, and that emotion instigates the process, resulting in a CrowningMomentOfFunny when Screwtape has to dictate the end of one letter, his anger having transformed him into a giant centipede.
*** There's another way to read that transformation. Note how Screwtape, after admitting he has been transformed, says God (ie The Enemy) is most certainly NOT responsible for doing this to him - this could be a SuspiciouslySpecificDenial.
* PoliceState: Hell.
* PerspectiveFlip: Very much the point. According to WordOfGod, Creator/CSLewis was thinking of objections to [[UsefulNotes/{{Christianity}} the Christian life]] and decided to write them from TheDevil's point of view. To the devils, of course, {{God}} is "The Enemy."
* {{Pride}}: One of the vices to which Wormwood is advised to tempt the Patient. Screwtape's strategy is devious: Wormwood can simply draw the Patient's attention to his recent spiritual improvement, making him ''[[{{Irony}} proud of his own humility.]]'' And should the Patient realize this mistake, Wormwood can make him proud of catching himself before it was too late, and so on and so on -- but not too long, lest the Patient simply laugh the whole thing off as absurd.
* RageAgainstTheHeavens: At one point, the Patient falls in love with a devout Christian. Screwtape moves from tearing Wormwood a new 'un to outright ranting and raving about the unfairness of Heaven's advantages over Hell -- all earthly pleasures are The Enemy's inventions (because He's a vulgar hedonist at heart, according to Screwtape) and have to be perverted in order for them to be useful to the devils. He gets so upset, in fact, that [[InvoluntaryShapeshifting he accidentally turns himself into an enormous centipede]].
* {{Satan}}: Called "Our Father Below" by his overlings.
* SatanIsGood: Well, Screwtape thinks so, but he's a very UnreliableNarrator.
* ScienceIsBad: A pointed subversion in the first letter. Humans are best kept away from science entirely, especially the natural sciences, because those instill wonder and perspective. The best sort of human never goes beyond the immediate sense experience. Reason as a whole is an awful way of causing humans to sin, because rational arguments are open to rational counterarguments. InsaneTrollLogic works much better.
** That said, using rationalism to promote atheism is encouraged, since souls that simple convince themselves there is no God by way of rational deduction ''do'' end up in Hell. They're not especially tasty, but it ensures the devils will never starve.
* SecretPolice: At one point, Wormwood [[TheDogBitesBack attempts to get back at Screwtape]] for perpetually berating him, by trying to convince Hell's Secret Police to investigate Screwtape for heresy. It doesn't work: Screwtape manages to cover his tracks by insisting that he didn't mean it when he said the Enemy actually ''loves'' human beings.
** Screwtape warns Wormwood that further insubordination will not be tolerated by sending him one of the secret police's exquisitely illustrated pamphlets on their House of Correction for Incompetent Tempters. (Of course, at the end of the book it's implied that Wormwood has failed so utterly as to merit ''immediate'' execution and cannibalisation.)
* SevenDeadlySins: All of them are {{discussed}} at some point, but the concept itself is a bit {{subverted}}. Screwtape reminds Wormwood that petty sins are just as effective as deadly ones as long as they keep the Patient's attention off {{God}} and his spiritual condition. In fact, getting the Patient to commit a spectacular sin would be counterproductive, as that could make him more likely to say MyGodWhatHaveIDone and repent.
* SexIsEvil: {{Subverted}}. It is only evil when done the devils' way. The fact that the Patient's fiancee is [[GoodPeopleHaveGoodSex looking forward to it]] rather pleases The Enemy.
* ShoutOut: Several, including one to Creator/GeorgeBernardShaw, where Screwtape remembers a comment from Shaw but can't remember how to spell the man's name: "[[TakeThat something like Pshaw]]".
** Meanwhile, Bill Watterson explains that he named the teacher in ''CalvinAndHobbes'' Miss Wormwood as a {{shout out}} to Lewis.
* TheStarscream: Not explicit, but it seems that junior tempters are ''expected'' to scheme against their elders and that a devil who succeeds in overthrowing his supervisor is showing exactly the kind of ambition that Hell rewards.
* SuspiciouslySpecificDenial: According to Screwtape, [[{{Satan}} the Father Below]] was so disgusted with God's idea of "Love" that he decided to remove himself very suddenly to an infinite distance from heaven-he certainly wasn't [[FallenAngel forcibly cast out]] or anything like that.
* TakeThat:
** Surprisingly few for a story set in Hell, but there's one not so subtle example directed at Henry Ford. Although if you know much about Ford's personal life (he supported the Nazis' racial ideology, for one thing), it's hard not to agree with Lewis.
** Thoreau's description of how he prays (silently, unbowed, with vague feelings as opposed to concrete requests to God) is declared to be "exactly the sort of prayer we want". So in other words, it's exactly the ''wrong'' type.
** Evil [[TheFundamentalist religious]] [[KnightTemplar zealots]] are made into wine for demons in hell by being blended in with ''other'' evil religious zealots they hated and opposed in life.
*** Conversely, atheists are mentioned as bland but filling fare in "Screwtape Proposes a Toast", and devils work hard to promote atheism as a general state of being before concentrating on "refining" tastes with other sinful encouragement.
** In the play, Screwtape points out how famous people are a "good" influence, since they're always changing their minds... then tilts the book he's reading to reveal that it's a biography of {{Madonna}}. Cue "Material Girl" playing during the next set change.
** Also in "Screwtape Proposes a Toast," Screwtape mentions a few exemplary sinners such as [[TheCasanova Casanova]] and HenryVIII whom the devils found [[ToServeMan especially tasty.]] Only one contemporary figure makes the list-naturally enough, it's AdolfHitler, and even then he gets regarded as inferior to most ''real'' sinners.
** In the introduction, Lewis writes that he portrayed {{Hell}} as a VastBureaucracy rather than the more obvious FireAndBrimstoneHell as an intentional jab against {{Corrupt Corporate Executive}}s (see below).
* TallPoppySyndrome: In "Screwtape Proposes a Toast", Screwtape expounds upon this phenomenon in education, drawing attention to the fact that, in the original story that gave the phenomenon its name, it was a ''dictator'' cutting off heads to insure that his ''subjects'' were all equal. Of course, [[VillainProtagonist Screwtape being a demon]], he thinks this tyranny of the masses is one of the best things to happen in decades. His chilling proposal is that in a democracy, there is no need for a dictator to do it. His tyranny of the masses is as follows-an equivocation of the virtue of equality will confound the belief that all people are equal in rights and dignity with the belief that all people are equal in ability and merit. Those who could excel must then be held back, especially in education, lest the value of equality is broken. Likewise, schoolwork must be made to seem equal, whether learning calculus or finger-painting, so there is "parity of esteem." In the end, those who could excel will purposefully obscure or not develop their talents in order to avoid ostracism.
* {{Terms of Endangerment}}: In Screwtape's last few letters, as the Patient slips out of reach, the terms of affection become increasingly effusive. Culminates in this: "My dear, my [[OhCrap very dear]] Wormwood; my poppet, my pigsnie..."
* TooFunnyToBeEvil: One trope that Screwtape advises; Wormwood can get his patient to commit many sins without realizing it by passing them off as jokes.
* ToServeMan: The main reason the devils take an interest in humanity.
* UnitConfusion: Screwtape uses lightyears as a unit of time in Letter XXII-though maybe devils and angels reckon such things differently.
** If read as taking place within the universe of the Space Trilogy, this is entirely possible.
* UnreliableNarrator: Screwtape himself, as Lewis himself cautions in the preface ("Readers are advised to remember that the Devil is a liar...There is wishful thinking in Hell as well as on earth.") But what else would you expect from someone whose boss is the Father of Lies? [[FridgeBrilliance Besides]], since Hell is a PoliceState, there are things devils don't say aloud, if they don't want to be sent to correction facilities or to be eaten.
* [[invoked]]ValuesDissonance: Addressed and explained with the concept of "Vogues". According to Screwtape, people from differing time periods have had such different values due to the efforts of the demons in manipulating humans to sin. Specifically, the demons get humans to gravitate towards one type of sin in one era, then get the humans to become repulsed by that sin but edged towards a sin on roughly the opposite end of the spectrum in another era. The ideal is to have the society constantly swinging back and forth between dangerous extremes and avoiding a happy medium at all costs.
* VastBureaucracy: {{Hell}} is portrayed like this. WordOfGod says that this was partly to {{avert|ed Trope}} a Dante-esque FireAndBrimstoneHell, but it also serves as an intentional TakeThat against [[CorruptCorporateExecutive corrupt bureaucrats]]:
--> "The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid 'dens of iniquity' that [[Creator/CharlesDickens Dickens]] loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps...But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice."
** This line, by the way, was quoted by RonaldReagan in [[http://youtu.be/do0x-Egc6oA?t=2m30s his "evil empire" speech]].
* VillainProtagonist: Both Screwtape and Wormwood.
* VillainousGlutton:
** Screwtape advises Wormwood on how to tempt the patient to the sin of gluttony. In a bit of an {{aversion}}, Screwtape says that not all gluttony is overeating; what counts is getting the person enslaved to their appetites (even if they only want toast and tea) in such a way that [[{{Jerkass}} they don't care if they inconvenience others]]. Or just as good, they might become {{pride}}ful over their refined tastes.
** Also, the devils themselves are interested in tempting humans mostly because they get to [[ToServeMan feed on corrupted souls]]. Despair apparently works something like alcohol, and Screwtape is disgruntled to realize that, after WorldWarII starts, his nephew is writing back drunk.
* WarIsHell: Alluded to, but not {{played straight}}. Screwtape admits that war has many "useful" qualities, since the vices are easier to spread when people are frightened and desperate. But on the whole he feels that war is too dangerous a tool: it brings out charity, self-denial and courage in people who would never ordinarily have shown such virtues.
* WeAreStrugglingTogether: Screwtape gloats over how well they succeeded in causing this in the Church despite the fact that God commanded that every faction show Christian charity to the others.
* AWolfInSheepsClothing: The devils are trained to disguise themselves as angels of light, both as "a parade-ground exercise" and to more effectively tempt their patients to be HolierThanThou.
* YouHaveFailedMe: "Either bring back food, or be food yourself." Rather than a one-time happening, this is standard procedure in Hell. The very last chapter is one long declaration of this.
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