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WMG / The Screwtape Letters

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This is propaganda by God

Considering it tries to switch the Order Versus Chaos status to make the Hell side into an archontic pastiche, when the exact opposite happens in the Bible.

  • That's exactly what the inhabitants of Hell would want you to think.

An Author Avatar was The Patient.
  • So this patient lives in war-time England, wrestles with what to believe, and falls in love with a devoutly Christian lady? Except for the "dying from a bomb" part at the end, that's pretty much C.S. Lewis' life story.

Mark Studdock was The Patient.
  • But...he's not dead.
  • Also, Jane did not start out as a devout Christian.

Wormword outranked some ways.
Which is why he was better informed about the Materialist Magician project than Screwtape.

In the Screwtape-verse, God did not create the devils
It is stated multiple times that they are incapable of feeling, or even understanding, love; and what kind of an all-loving God would create beings incapable of love? This leads me to think that Screwtape's story of His Father's fall from heaven may have something to it — perhaps Satan was actually a contemporary of God, not one of His creations?
  • From the preface: "Readers are advised to remember that the Devil is a liar. Not everything Screwtape says should be assumed to be true, even from his own angle." Screwtape says that he can't possibly understand love, but this is because he's reneging on repeated previous passages in which he's already quite explicitly acknowledged its existence. A fun little game is to spot every instance of Screwtape contradicting himself. Some of them may not be easy to catch on a first reading, but for example, pay close attention to all his uses of the term "life-force".
  • It's pretty obvious that Screwtape is worried about other devils reading his mail. At one point, he warns Wormwood rather urgently to keep them secret, and offers in return to cover for Wormwood in the event of any trouble related to their correspondence; this, of course, is immediately forgotten when Wormwood tries to use passages from the letters to get his uncle investigated for heresy. If so, Screwtape will not publicly admit to knowing anything that could get him in trouble. He may be explicitly denying that he understands love for this reason.
  • The devils have a motivation for refusing to admit their status as God's creations. If their Father Below were God's contemporary, or at least in some other way His equal, they might actually stand a chance of beating Him — so that is what they choose to believe.
  • There's enough subtext to see that the devils not only remember Heaven but long to go back there and escape the misery of Hell, but they've already committed so much to evil, and they have too much pride to admit they were wrong...

In the Screwtape-verse, devils can "reproduce" by shattering.
It's very clear that devils can absorb each other and damned human souls, so why not the reverse process? That would mean some devils are fragments of earlier, shattered devils. This would explain how Screwtape and Wormwood can be "uncle" and "nephew" — Wormwood is a fragment of some shattered "sibling" of Screwtape's, Screwtape and the sibling both being fragments of some earlier devil. So Screwtape devouring Wormwood is actually a partial re-assembly.
  • This would further make sense given what we know (or are told) of how devils operate. Sex is considered a good pleasure by The Enemy, and therefore something devils would not or could not engage in (assuming the angels they presumably were had some kind of equivalent form of reproduction). It makes sense that devils would prefer a particularly violent form of increasing their numbers. Dividing rather than multiplying.
  • C.S. Lewis said in a foreword that Devils, without bodies to impede them, their spiritual cannibalism is a complete form of consumption taking the whole of the poor soul within them. What Satan seeks is to consume all of creation.

Wormwood put the eponymous letters in C.S. Lewis' mailbox.
Lewis mentions in the foreword that he isn't sure how the letters ended up in his possession. A likely suspect is Wormwood himself, who, fleeing from Hell's authorities, decided to snatch up his uncle's correspondence and drop it off with a fairly devout Christian author above as a middle finger to Screwtape and the institutions he represented. Showing humans how Hell's sausage is made would be a good way to get his uncle in trouble when he's already on thin ice due to sharing previous correspondence with Hell's secret police.

  • Lewis stated that he's unwilling to share information how he got his hands on the letters, but did state in the foreword that it was easy to do so—so he did know how he got the letters. That said, somehow convincing Wormwood to give them up as an act of revenge may have been how he did it. It would stand to reason, given his refusal to divulge how he did it: any kind of Deal with the Devil, even if it was "Give me dirt on your enemies in hell, and I'll use it against them," would be extremely dangerous, so it would be a very good reason not to tell the public about it.

Screwtape intended to eat Wormwood from the start
He deliberately fed the poor guy subtly bad advice so that Wormwood might lose the patient and then be eaten.
  • How is this a wild guess? It's stated in the book that devils constantly seek to devour each other as well as human souls.
  • This might well be the process of hellish postgraduate education. A senior devil acts as an Unreliable Expositor, setting up his protégé to fail, and the junior devil, if he's skilled enough, sees through the bad advice, succeeds anyway and may even topple the senior devil in the process.

Devils need to eat Souls in this universe because they will cease to exist otherwise
Given that Screwtape makes it plain that Devils are not and likely have never been physical beings, or at least, physical humans (and complains, of course, that it's an advantage that the Enemy has over them). So, why are they eating damned souls at all? Why, because they have to.

Going along with the theme of, Hell can only pervert good things, not actually make any, and that Existence is generally used as one of the above "good things" in CS Lewis's works, Devils can only exist by consuming other existences. In essence, they have rejected God, who is the ultimate provider and creator of existence itself. In doing so, they are cut off from the source of existence and, unless they parasitically feed off another creation (aka Man) they will cease to exist themselves eventually. This is also why they probably eat each other too. Knowing Screwtape, if approached on the subject, he likely would whine and complain about "The Enemy" being so "selfish," and then switch gears into grousing that their Father Below was "wise and correct" to reject such a disgusting and stupid thing.

Screwtape does not devour Wormwood at the end.
In his final letter, he merely hopes that he will be the one allowed to eat him, writing something along the lines of “they’ve got to give you to me now.” But Screwtape, of course, is a middle manager who shifts blame for his failures to any scapegoat he can find, and as such has a much higher opinion of his competence than is warranted. Wormwood followed Screwtape’s advice to the letter, so his failure reflects just as badly on Screwtape as on Wormwood. The Lowerarchy likely considers both of them failures (particularly since Screwtape was already on thin ice with that heresy accusation) and will decide to devour them both. Screwtape might weasel his way out of this if “Screwtape Proposes a Toast” takes place after the main story, but he’d still probably be denied the pleasure of eating Wormwood since it was still his screwup, and someone else does so instead.

Wormwood was able to Take a Third Option.
Wormwood's encounter with God's good angels as the Patient left his grasp made him realize the truth about The Enemy. His last letter, asking if his uncle had truly loved him, was not a plea for help but a check to see if his suspicions were right about Screwtape; when it came back loaded with Evil Gloating, Wormwood was able to reject Hell, repent, and return to Heaven. Lewis came into possession of the Letters because Wormwood or another of God's agents caused them to stay on Earth, where someone could publish them and make Hell's schemes known. (And beyond doubt it didn't end well for Screwtape).

Shakespeare’s plays really happened in this world.
As Screwtape uses the examples of both Genghis Khan and Shylock to lament that there are no Evil Virtues and the greatest sinners still had some uncorrupted virtues. Since a devil would very likely have no interest in any human culture, the only way he could know of Shylock would be if he met him in Hell.

Screwtape was part of Hell’s Philological Arm at one point.
He praises their work repeatedly, being particularly fond of their corruption of the word “puritanical”. But demons weren’t responsible for this; the word became pejorative thanks to the actions of the Puritans themselves, who were scorned—arguably, rightly so—by everyone in England who was not himself a Puritan Separatist, due to their actions during the English Civil War as well as the Salem Witch Trials. Though some Puritans like John Milton still showed exemplary moral character, they were very much the minority considering that the rest were hypocritical, bigoted murderers. So Screwtape should be attributing the language drift to him tempting the Puritans into sin; that he doesn’t steal the credit suggests, by his own nature as an antisocial bureaucrat, that he was in the Philological Arm at the time.