The Screwtape Letters

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The leader of the devils, whom they refer to as “Our Father,” Satan is nonetheless rarely mentioned in The Screwtape Letters, and is a far less conspicuous a presence than God. Nevertheless, on the occasions when Screwtape mentions Satan, he’s portrayed as a jealous, angry tyrant, who, like Screwtape himself, cannot understand God’s love for humanity, and resorts to trickery and temptation to corrupt humans. Satan was God’s loyal servant until God revealed that he had created mankind, which made Satan jealous. Afterwards, Satan led some of God’s angels in a rebellion against Heaven. Inevitably, God defeated Satan and cast him out of Heaven, confining him to Hell.

Satan Quotes in The Screwtape Letters

The The Screwtape Letters quotes below are all either spoken by Satan or refer to Satan. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harper edition of The Screwtape Letters published in 2001.
Letter VIII Quotes

He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself—creatures, whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct.

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood, God, Satan
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Screwtape paints a picture of the universe as God wants it, and as the Devil wants it. Screwtape describes God's world as loathsome and insufferable (although in rather poetic language), though from the reader's perspective it's perfectly clear that God's world is the desirable one, and the Devil's world the loathsome one. As Screwtape says, God gives human beings free will so that they can be "separate" and yet "united" with God: a human who is born in a state of uncertainty and yet chooses to worship God has fulfilled God's plan for him.

In the passage, Lewis cleverly refutes some of the most common objections to the Christian worldview. It's been suggested that Christianity is unimaginative and tyrannical, since it demands that all humans join together in slavish worship of God. Yet Lewis argues that the oppositeis true: the Devil wants to pull all human beings to Hell (and, Lewis suggests, eat them), while God wants humans to worship him, but he doesn't want to dominate his own creations. Rather, he gives human beings the gift of free will, so that they'll always be separate and "free" from his control. In choosing God, they actually become more free and more personally fulfilled.


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Letter XXVII Quotes

To regard the ancient writer as a possible source of knowledge—to anticipate that what he said could possibly modify your thoughts or your behaviour—this would be rejected as unutterably simple-minded. And since we cannot deceive the whole human race all the time, it is most important thus to cut every generation off from all others; for where learning makes a free commerce between the ages there is always the danger that the characteristic errors of one may be corrected by the characteristic truths of another. But thanks be to our Father and the Historical Point of View, great scholars are now as little nourished by the past as the most ignorant mechanic who holds that "history is bunk"…

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood, Satan
Page Number: 150-151
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quotation, Screwtape satirizes the state of modern academia. There's a strange tendency among so-called intellectuals, Screwtape claims, to trust more recent scholars and distrust older ones. Such a tendency is odd, since there's no automatic reason why new thinkers should be any wiser or more perceptive than thinkers who lived 500 years ago. The end result is that even many accomplished scholars would never consider actually basing their behavior around the lessons from long-ago thinkers—they only want to study the historicity of such thinkers. (The quote about history being bunk is usually attributed to Henry Ford, the famous car manufacturer.)

Lewis is notsaying that intellectuals make no progress over time—in fact, he freely admits that often, a later thinker will look over the work of his predecessors and correct an error or a lapse in logic. And most importantly, he reiterates the point that we can gain wisdom of thousands of years simply by reading old writings and actually taking them to heart, instead of having to figure everything out for ourselves or only trusting the most modern, fashionable philosophy.

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Satan Character Timeline in The Screwtape Letters

The timeline below shows where the character Satan appears in The Screwtape Letters. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Letter I
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon, etc.—and soon he forgot his train of thought. The atheist is now “safe in Our Father ’s house.” (full context)
Letter XIX
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon was the ambiguity in God’s reasons for creating mankind that first led “Our Father,” Satan, to rebel against God. God gave a “cock and bull” explanation about “disinterested love.” Because... (full context)
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
...this question—the only thing that matters is whether or not a human is moving toward Satan or away from him. He adds that it would be “quite a good thing” to... (full context)
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
...for devils—love is simply a state, like health, peace, or illness, that both God and Satan try to exploit. (full context)
Letter XXII
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon their emotions. It is this magical ability to transform—a manifestation of the “Life Force”—that Satan would worship, assuming that he could worship anything other than himself. This letter is signed,... (full context)
Letter XXIV
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
...war in Europe in his letters. While he admits that the war is important to Satan, he also believes that it isn’t his concern—those who are lower in the lowerarchy should... (full context)