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Headscratchers / The Screwtape Letters

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  • Why does Screwtape refer to Wormwood's assigned mortal as "the patient?" This term implies that the demons somehow think that the temptation and subsequent damnation they inflict on Mortals is in their best interest, when the entire rest of the work shows that they never pretend for a second to be under any delusion of the sort. Wouldn't something like "The victim," "the quarry," or "the cattle" be more appropriate?
    • The philological arm of the Lowerarchy is likely responsible. They certainly worked to redefine the word "puritanical", and also were keen to substitute "unselfish" for "charitable". To what end, we can only speculate, although it may be a deliberate mockery of the helpful and healing aspects of Heaven.
    • Evil Is Sterile, so they can't even be original about their plans for mortals. The Enemy and His agents want to undertake the care of souls and produce persons fit for Heaven, so the devils can only see themselves as producing souls fit for Hell.
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    • This may be an older meaning of the word "patient," taken from medieval metaphysics (which was part of Lewis's scholarly field). In Aristotelian terminology, "patient" is the complement of "agent": the agent acts (has agency) and the patient is acted on. Naturally Screwtape thinks that devils are active and humans are objects that they work on.
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