The Screwtape Letters


C. S. Lewis

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Themes and Colors
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
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Screwtape Letters, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil

Although The Screwtape Letters is a novel about Christian morality, it’s written from the perspective of evildoers—devils. It’s important to understand why Lewis chooses to tell his story in this way, and what the advantages and limitations of his form are.

Throughout the book, the devil Screwtape gives Wormwood, his nephew, advice about how to corrupt human beings. In giving this advice, Screwtape makes observations about human nature and humanity’s potential for virtue. In…

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Religion and Reason

In Screwtape’s first letter to Wormwood, he tells Wormwood that the goal of a devil should be to prevent a human being from thinking. Through this advice from one devil to another, C.S. Lewis makes the argument that if a person thinks critically and analytically about Christianity and religion in general, then that person will come to understand it and embrace it. While this idea may sound simplistic, it’s by no means the…

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Try as he might, Screwtape cannot understand love. As a result, Screwtape cannot understand why God created mankind, why he wants humans to be good, or why he wants to reward them in Heaven for their virtue. Screwtape’s reasoning is impeccable, but his total incomprehension of love means that he’ll never be a Christian. By exploring Screwtape’s misunderstanding of this basic human (and divine) idea, Lewis constructs his own theory of what humans’ love, both…

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Freedom, Will, and Sin

Early on in The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape explains the challenges that human beings face in their lives. God has created humans to be deeply flawed—they have imperfect knowledge of the world and of themselves, they are foolish and irrational, and they often disrespect God. Humanity’s imperfection, Screwtape maintains, is a consequence of its freedom.

In Christian theology, humans are unique insofar as they have free will. While free will is a notoriously difficult concept…

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Fashion, Progress, and Change

At many points in The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape expresses his satisfaction with the modern European emphasis on fashion, change, and “the new.” This is a signal, of course, that Lewis isn’t at all fond of this emphasis.

At the time when Lewis was writing The Screwtape Letters, Europe’s intellectual history was (and still is) in the shadow of such monumental 19th century thinkers as George Hegel, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Charles Darwin…

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