The Screwtape Letters

Wormwood Character Analysis

The young, inexperienced “junior tempter” whose continued, failed attempts to corrupt the patient are the subject of The Screwtape Letters. Wormwood is never actually heard from in the novel, as we hear about his experiences entirely through Screwtape, his uncle. Despite having attending “college”—or rather, the Satanic counterpart to college—Wormwood is ignorant of many of the basic strategies that experienced devils like Screwtape use to pull humans away from God. In a sense, Wormwood isn’t really a character at all: he’s a convenient plot device that allows Screwtape to spout his theories of Good and Evil, thereby allowing C.S. Lewis to express his own beliefs. Yet Wormwood also proves himself to be a treacherous, backstabbing individual, trying to report his uncle for speculating on the nature of love. Furthermore, it is Wormwood’s failure to tempt the patient that brings the book to a close.

Wormwood Quotes in The Screwtape Letters

The The Screwtape Letters quotes below are all either spoken by Wormwood or refer to Wormwood. 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 I Quotes

Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn't think of doctrines as primarily "true" or "false", but as "academic" or "practical", "outworn" or "contemporary”, "conventional" or "ruthless". Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church.

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood, The patient
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

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If he must dabble in science, keep him on economics and sociology; don't let him get away from that invaluable "real life". But the best of all is to let him read no science but to give him a grand general idea that he knows it all and that everything he happens to have picked up in casual talk and reading is "the results of modem investigation". Do remember you are there to fuddle him. From the way some of you young fiends talk, anyone would suppose it was our job to teach!

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood, The patient
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

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Letter II Quotes

He has a curious fantasy of making all these disgusting little human vermin into what He calls His "free" lovers and servants—"sons" is the word He uses, with His inveterate love of degrading the whole spiritual world by unnatural liaisons with the two-legged animals. Desiring their freedom, He therefore refuses to carry them, by their mere affections and habits, to any of the goals which He sets before them: He leaves them to "do it on their own". And there lies our opportunity. But also, remember, there lies our danger. If once they get through this initial dryness successfully, they become much less dependent on emotion and therefore much harder to tempt.

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood, God
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

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Letter V Quotes

But that is where He is so unfair. He often makes prizes of humans who have given their lives for causes He thinks bad on the monstrously sophistical ground that the humans thought them good and were following the best they knew. Consider too what undesirable deaths occur in wartime. Men are killed in places where they knew they might be killed and to which they go, if they are at all of the Enemy's party, prepared. How much better for us if all humans died in costly nursing homes amid doctors who lie, nurses who lie, friends who lie, as we have trained them, promising life to the dying, encouraging the belief that sickness excuses every indulgence, and even, if our workers know their job, withholding all suggestion of a priest lest it should betray to the sick man his true condition!

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood, God
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:

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Letter VII Quotes

All extremes, except extreme devotion to the Enemy, are to be encouraged.

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood, The patient, God
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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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.

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood, God
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

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Letter IX Quotes

The mere word phase will very likely do the trick. I assume that the creature has been through several of them before—they all have—and that he always feels superior and patronising to the ones he has emerged from, not because he has really criticised them but simply because they are in the past. (You keep him well fed on hazy ideas of Progress and Development and the Historical Point of View, I trust, and give him lots of modern Biographies to read? The people in them are always emerging from Phases, aren't they?)

You see the idea? Keep his mind off the plain antithesis between True and False. Nice shadowy expressions—"It was a phase"—"I've been through all that"—and don't forget the blessed word "Adolescent"…

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood, The patient
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:

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Letter XII Quotes

Obviously you are making excellent progress. My only fear is lest in attempting to hurry the patient you awaken him to a sense of his real position. For you and I, who see that position as it really is, must never forget how totally different it ought to appear to him. We know that we have introduced a change of direction in his course which is already carrying him out of his orbit around the Enemy; but he must be made to imagine that all the choices which have effected this change of course are trivial and revocable. He must not be allowed to suspect that he is now, however slowly, heading right away from the sun on a line which will carry him into the cold and dark of utmost space.

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood, The patient
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

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Letter XIV Quotes

Fix in his mind the idea that humility consists in trying to believe those talents to be less valuable than he believes them to be. No doubt they are in fact less valuable than he believes, but that is not the point. The great thing is to make him value an opinion for some quality other than truth, thus introducing an element of dishonesty and make-believe into the heart of what otherwise threatens to become a virtue. By this method thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools. And since what they are trying to believe may, in some cases, be manifest nonsense, they cannot succeed in believing it.

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood, The patient
Page Number: 70-71
Explanation and Analysis:

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Letter XV Quotes

Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead. Do not think lust an exception. When the present pleasure arrives, the sin (which alone interests us) is already over. The pleasure is just the part of the process which we regret and would exclude if we could do so without losing the sin; it is the part contributed by the Enemy, and therefore experienced in a Present. The sin, which is our contribution, looked forward.

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood, God
Page Number: 76-77
Explanation and Analysis:

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Letter XVI Quotes

At the other church we have Fr. Spike. The humans are often puzzled to understand the range of his opinions—why he is one day almost a Communist and the next not far from some kind of theocratic Fascism—one day a scholastic, and the next prepared to deny human reason altogether—one day immersed in politics, and, the day after, declaring that all states of us world are equally "under judgment". We, of course, see the connecting link, which is Hatred.

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:

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Letter XVIII Quotes

The whole philosophy of Hell rests on recognition of the axiom that one thing is not another thing, and, specially, that one self is not another self. My good is my good and your good is yours. What one gains another loses.

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

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For humans must not be allowed to notice that all great moralists are sent by the Enemy not to inform men but to remind them, to restate the primeval moral platitudes against our continual concealment of them.

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:

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Letter XIX Quotes

I have been thinking very hard about the question in your last letter. If, as I have clearly shown, all selves are by their very nature in competition, and therefore the Enemy's idea of Love is a contradiction in terms, what becomes of my reiterated warning that He really loves the human vermin and really desires their freedom and continued existence? I hope, my dear boy, you have not shown my letters to anyone. Not that it matters of course. Anyone would see that the appearance of heresy into which I have fallen is purely accidental.

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood, God
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:

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You complain that my last letter does not make it clear whether I regard being in love as a desirable state for a human or not. But really, Wormwood, that is the sort of question one expects them to ask! Leave them to discuss whether "Love", or patriotism, or celibacy, or candles on altars, or teetotalism, or education, are "good" or "bad". Can't you see there's no answer? Nothing matters at all except the tendency of a given state of mind, in given circumstances, to move a particular patient at particular moment nearer to the Enemy or nearer to us. Thus it would be quite a good thing to make the patient decide that "love" is "good" or "bad".

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood, The patient
Page Number: 101
Explanation and Analysis:

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Letter XXI Quotes

He regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen. You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption "My time is my own". Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours. Let him feel as a grievous tax that portion of this property which he has to make over to his employers, and as a generous donation that further portion which he allows to religious duties. But what he must never be permitted to doubt is that the total from which these deductions have been made was, in some mysterious sense, his own personal birthright.

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood, The patient
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:

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Letter XXII Quotes

I have looked up this girl's dossier and am horrified at what I find. Not only a Christian but such a Christian—a vile, sneaking, simpering, demure, monosyllabic, mouse-like, watery, insignificant, virginal, bread-and-butter miss. The little brute. She makes me vomit.

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood, The patient
Page Number: 117
Explanation and Analysis:

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Letter XXV Quotes

It is here that the general Evolutionary or Historical character of modern European thought (partly our work) comes in so useful. The Enemy loves platitudes. Of a proposed course of action He wants men, so far as I can see, to ask very simple questions; is it righteous? is it prudent? is it possible? Now if we can keep men asking "Is it in accordance with the general movement of our time? Is it progressive or reactionary? Is this the way that History is going?" they will neglect the relevant questions.

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood, The patient, God
Page Number: 138-139
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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Letter XXVIII Quotes

The truth is that the Enemy, having oddly destined these mere animals to life in His own eternal world, has guarded them pretty effectively from the danger of feeling at home anywhere else. That is why we must often wish long life to our patients; seventy years is not a day too much for the difficult task of unravelling their souls from Heaven and building up a firm attachment to the earth. While they are young we find them always shooting off at a tangent.

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood, The patient
Page Number: 155-156
Explanation and Analysis:

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Letter XXIX Quotes

There is here a cruel dilemma before us. If we promoted justice and charity among men, we should be playing directly into the Enemy's hands; but if we guide them to the opposite behaviour, this sooner or later produces (for He permits it to produce) a war or a revolution, and the undisguisable issue of cowardice or courage awakes thousands of men from moral stupor.

This, indeed, is probably one of the Enemy's motives for creating a dangerous world—a world in which moral issues really come to the point.

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood, God
Page Number: 161
Explanation and Analysis:

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Letter XXXI Quotes

Rest assured, my love for you and your love for me are as like as two peas. I have always desired you, as you (pitiful fool) desired me. The difference is that I am the stronger. I think they will give you to me now; or a bit of you. Love you? Why, yes. As dainty a morsel as ever I grew fat on. You have let a soul slip through your fingers.

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood, The patient
Page Number: 171
Explanation and Analysis:

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If only we could find out what He is really up to! Alas, alas, that knowledge, in itself so hateful and mawkish a thing, should yet be necessary for Power! Sometimes I am almost in despair. All that sustains me is the conviction that our Realism, our rejection (in the face of all temptations) of all silly nonsense and claptrap, must win in the end.

Related Characters: Screwtape (speaker), Wormwood, God
Page Number: 175
Explanation and Analysis:

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Get the entire The Screwtape Letters LitChart as a printable PDF.
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Wormwood Character Timeline in The Screwtape Letters

The timeline below shows where the character Wormwood 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
The chapter is written as a letter, addressed to “my dear Wormwood.” A yet unnamed writer encourages Wormwood to influence “our patient” by controlling what he reads... (full context)
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Fashion, Progress, and Change Theme Icon
...thinks of beliefs as being useful or useless, not true or false. For this reason, Wormwood’s best strategy is to use jargon, not logic, to convince the patient to stay away... (full context)
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Fashion, Progress, and Change Theme Icon
The writer tells Wormwood that Wormwood must impress upon human beings the ordinariness of the world. Trying to influence... (full context)
Letter II
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Screwtape’s second letter begins with the news that Wormwood’s patient has become a Christian. Screwtape encourages Wormwood not to despair, since many humans have... (full context)
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Fashion, Progress, and Change Theme Icon
Wormwood should try to control where the patient sits when he goes to church, Screwtape advises.... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Fashion, Progress, and Change Theme Icon
One of Wormwood’s most important weapons is disappointment, Screwtape reminds him. All humans feel disappointment in the moment... (full context)
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
...like, or how they behave. Screwtape acknowledges that this is a very obvious thought. Nevertheless, Wormwood must keep the patient from thinking it. He should fill the patient with a smug... (full context)
Letter III
Love Theme Icon
Screwtape references information Wormwood has given him about the patient’s mother. He advises Wormwood to talk to Glubose, a... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Screwtape asks Wormwood if the patient’s mother is angry or jealous that the patient has adopted Christianity without... (full context)
Letter IV
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Screwtape notes that Wormwood is still too inexperienced to understand the concept of prayer. He mentions that Wormwood believes... (full context)
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
...of himself, rather than of God. Thus, when the patient prays for bravery from God, Wormwood should encourage the patient to try to be brave. (full context)
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Wormwood can tamper with the patient’s prayer by encouraging him to think of God in concrete,... (full context)
Letter V
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
In his previous letter, Wormwood has mentioned that the Europeans have begun a new war. Screwtape irritably tells Wormwood to... (full context)
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Screwtape observes that Wormwood has experienced the thrill of success: the patient is anxious about the war, and has... (full context)
Letter VI
Love Theme Icon
Screwtape is happy to hear from Wormwood that the patient is eligible for military service. The patient should be in a state... (full context)
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Screwtape alerts Wormwood to an important principle. Whenever a human thinks a Christian thought, Wormwood should focus his... (full context)
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
By the same logic, Screwtape goes on, Wormwood should convince the patient to feel malice for those nearby and love for those far... (full context)
Letter VII
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Screwtape discusses whether or not Wormwood should reveal the existence of devils to the patient. Devils should conceal their existence, Screwtape... (full context)
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Fashion, Progress, and Change Theme Icon
...a physical coward and an uneasy believer in God, as Screwtape guesses he is, then Wormwood should try to make him a pacifist. As a pacifist, he will be a member... (full context)
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Fashion, Progress, and Change Theme Icon
Whether Wormwood makes the patient an extreme pacifist or patriot, he should try to convince the patient... (full context)
Letter VIII
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Screwtape has previously received a letter from Wormwood in which Wormwood expresses his “Great hopes” that the patient is losing his religion. Screwtape... (full context)
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
...uses periods of sadness and pain. Instead of simply proving his existence to humanity, as Wormwood might expect him to do, God challenges humans to believe in him even when there... (full context)
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
...believe in God. Nevertheless, periods of suffering can be useful to devils—Screwtape promises to tell Wormwood how they can be so in his next letter. (full context)
Letter IX
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Screwtape fulfills his promise to Wormwood: he will now explain how the “trough periods” of human life—the times when humans are... (full context)
Letter X
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Fashion, Progress, and Change Theme Icon
Screwtape has heard from Triptweeze, an associate of Wormwood’s, that the patient has made new acquaintances who are tempting him away from God. There... (full context)
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Fashion, Progress, and Change Theme Icon
...chaste, and moderate. When the patient realizes that his Christianity conflicts with his friends’ secularism, Wormwood can then encourage the patient to enjoy the feeling of a “double life.” Thus, when... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Screwtape advises Wormwood to encourage the patient to spend more time with the married couple, thereby causing him... (full context)
Letter XI
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Screwtape has learned from Wormwood that the patient has befriended the married couple’s other friends. In his last letter, Wormwood... (full context)
Letter XII
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Fashion, Progress, and Change Theme Icon
Screwtape praises Wormwood for his excellent progress in corrupting the patient, but warns him that if he moves... (full context)
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Wormwood should try to inspire a feeling of vague dissatisfaction in the patient. This feeling shouldn’t... (full context)
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
...devils’ greatest weapon—Nothing will encourage the patient to avoid God and feel miserable. Screwtape encourages Wormwood to push the patient away from God, one small sin at a time—“the safest road... (full context)
Letter XIII
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Screwtape has just received a letter from Wormwood in which Wormwood describes having let the patient “slip through his fingers.” The end result... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Screwtape lists Wormwood’s errors. He allowed the patient to read a book for the patient’s own pleasure, and... (full context)
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Screwtape encourages Wormwood to continue working on the patient. Wormwood’s most important strategy should be to prevent the... (full context)
Letter XIV
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
The patient has regained his faith in Christianity, Screwtape has learned from Wormwood, but—very alarmingly for the devils—he has not made any big resolutions. Instead, he has just... (full context)
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Screwtape advises Wormwood to influence the patient to forget the true meaning of humility. True humility is the... (full context)
Letter XV
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Screwtape has learned from Wormwood that there is a lull in the war in Europe. Wormwood is unsure whether it... (full context)
Fashion, Progress, and Change Theme Icon
...result of his arguments about the future, Screwtape concludes that it is equally good for Wormwood’s patient to be afraid of the future or hopeful for the future. In either case,... (full context)
Letter XVI
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Fashion, Progress, and Change Theme Icon
Screwtape has learned from Wormwood that the patient only visits a single church. Screwtape is angry that Wormwood has not... (full context)
Letter XVII
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Screwtape has received a letter from Wormwood about the uselessness of gluttony in tempting humans. Screwtape sternly explains that Wormwood is clearly... (full context)
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Screwtape encourages Wormwood to use the patient’s gluttony against him. Because he is a man, he is more... (full context)
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
...Screwtape concludes, is that it weakens chastity. If the patient tries to repair his chastity, Wormwood should convince him to take up exercise rather than revising his diet. It is a... (full context)
Letter XVIII
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Screwtape scolds Wormwood for his “college” education. Even though Wormwood studied under Slubgob, Screwtape insists that he must... (full context)
Letter XIX
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Screwtape uses this letter to answer a question Wormwood has asked recently: if, as Screwtape has insisted, all beings are by nature in competition... (full context)
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Screwtape notes that Wormwood has complained that Screwtape has not explained whether love is a desirable state for a... (full context)
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
...would corrupt the patient and make him hate Christianity. Screwtape concludes his letter by reminding Wormwood that love is neither inherently good nor bad for devils—love is simply a state, like... (full context)
Letter XX
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Fashion, Progress, and Change Theme Icon
Screwtape notes that God has ended Wormwood’s attacks on the patient’s chastity. While this was inevitable, Screwtape argues, Wormwood should think about... (full context)
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
...beauty are invented by devils far “lower down in the lowerarchy” than either Screwtape or Wormwood. Devils influence artists, designers, and other creative humans to produce new standards of beauty that... (full context)
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Screwtape explains to Wormwood that he should make the patient hunger for women, of which there are two fundamental... (full context)
Letter XXI
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Screwtape is here writing to answer Wormwood’s question about manipulating the patient’s irritability through sexual temptation. Screwtape assents that sexual temptation “is... (full context)
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
...about this at all, he would realize that he shouldn’t jealously guard his own time. Wormwood’s task is therefore to prevent the patient from thinking about time at all. (full context)
Letter XXII
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Screwtape has learned from Wormwood that the patient is in love. Moreover, he is in “the worst kind of love”... (full context)
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Fashion, Progress, and Change Theme Icon
Screwtape knows from Wormwood’s letters that the patient has met his lover’s entire family, and visited their house many... (full context)
Letter XXIII
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
...new lover. This means that it will be very difficult to tempt the patient. Because Wormwood has tried and failed to tempt the patient using the World and the Flesh, he... (full context)
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Fashion, Progress, and Change Theme Icon
Screwtape explains the third strategy that Wormwood can use to manipulate the patient: he can appeal to arguments about the history of... (full context)
Letter XXIV
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Wormwood must convince the patient that his new friends and lover are “his people,” and that... (full context)
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Screwtape irritably tells Wormwood to stop mentioning the war in Europe in his letters. While he admits that the... (full context)
Letter XXVI
Love Theme Icon
Screwtape tells Wormwood that courtship is the time during which the “seeds” of resentment are sown. During courtship,... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
As the patient pursues a courtship of his lover, Screwtape advises that Wormwood should try to influence him to be unselfish, rather than selfish. Even though unselfishness seems... (full context)
Letter XXVII
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Screwtape criticizes Wormwood for doing very little to tempt the patient. Wormwood has tried to distract the patient... (full context)
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...Christians to pray for bread and health, rather than for abstract things. Another way that Wormwood can corrupt the patient is to fill him with doubts about the effectiveness of petitionary... (full context)
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Fashion, Progress, and Change Theme Icon
It is strange, Screwtape tells Wormwood, that people don’t have more trust and respect for prayer. While devils and angels stand... (full context)
Letter XXVIII
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Screwtape reprimands Wormwood for writing him a letter about the war in Europe, including lots of details about... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
...who don’t, many of them die very young. With this is mind, Screwtape hopes, on Wormwood’s behalf, that the patient survives and lives into old age, so that Wormwood will have... (full context)
Letter XXIX
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
...be in the most dangerous part of the city. With this in mind, he tells Wormwood that he must produce a sin in the patient’s mind. This sin could be cowardice,... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Of the sins that Wormwood could instill in the patient, Screwtape encourages Wormwood to avoid pride, because this would involve... (full context)
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Screwtape considers the possibility that Wormwood could fill the patient with cowardice. Cowardice is one of the only sins that Western... (full context)
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Because Wormwood cannot safely fill the patient with cowardice, he must adopt a subtler tactic. In a... (full context)
Letter XXX
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Screwtape begins his letter by telling Wormwood that he has heard from the Infernal Police that the patient’s actions in the first... (full context)
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Wormwood’s only success is in making the patient extremely tired, meaning that he is more susceptible... (full context)
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
In order to capitalize on the patient’s fatigue, Wormwood must fill him with false hope. The patient should believe that the air raid will... (full context)
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Another way that Wormwood can manipulate the patient involves his perception of reality. When the patient sees dead bodies... (full context)
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
With Wormwood’s encouragement, the patient will come to regard the nightmares of war as more “real” than... (full context)
Letter XXXI
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Screwtape begins his final letter with a different greeting: “My dear, my very dear, Wormwood, my poppet, my pigsnie.” He begins in this way to “assure” Wormwood that his professed... (full context)
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
...his death, the patient became fully conscious for the first time of the influence that Wormwood had on his mind. As he became conscious of this, he also came to realize... (full context)
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
In the final seconds before he died, the patient saw God. Wormwood, Screwtape guesses, saw God too, and cowered before him. Perhaps Wormwood was amazed that a... (full context)
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Screwtape reminds Wormwood that the patient is now in a place where Wormwood can no longer tempt him—indeed,... (full context)