Follow TV Tropes


WMG / The Screwtape Letters

Go To

The Screwtape Letters

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 (being a Muslim I don't advocate drinking games but this is at least a good example of the trope to list for the purposes of the website) is to read the book and play "Spot the instances of Screwtape contradicting himself". Some of them may not be easy to catch on a first reading. I'll give you one hint to start you off: watch for all his uses of the term "life-force" and pay very careful attention.
  • Other points:
    • Screwtape may be worried about other devils reading his mail; if so, he 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.
      • It's pretty obvious that having his letters read is exactly what Screwtape is afraid of. At one point, he does warn 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.
    • 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.

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.

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.

<<|Wild Mass Guessing|>>

Example of: