Book Summary: Screwtape Letters

Title: Screwtape Letters
Author: C S Lewis
Genre: Faith, Psychology
Release Date: 1942


Why did you choose to read this particular book?

The idea of the devil, or iblees, constantly stirring the pot, is intriguing and enlightening.

Summary of book

This Screwtape Letters is a collection of 31 letters. In these letters, Screwtape, a seasoned devil, advises his young apprentice, Wormwood, on successful tactics for leading their assigned human towards damnation. However, their plans are thwarted by the individual’s commitment to attending church and the influence of a devout Christian woman. Ultimately, their subject’s soul finds peace even in death during a bombing raid. There is an interesting conversation of forces of good and evil in this ongoing battle.

The letters are as follows:

Letter 1

Screwtape communicates with his young nephew Wormwood, offering guidance on the most effective approach to steer his “patient” away from Christianity. He counsels Wormwood against depending on logic and instead suggests diverting and perplexing the patient. Engaging the patient in mundane affairs proves beneficial in preventing contemplation of profound truths.

Letter 2

The patient has converted to Christianity, which is a major setback for Wormwood. However, Screwtape assures that it’s quite simple to undermine the patient’s faith. One way is to make the patient feel let down by the average behavior of other Christians, while simultaneously inflating the patient’s ego by making them feel superior in their own righteousness.

Letter 3

Screwtape is advising Wormwood on how to stir up trouble between the patient and his mother by constantly reminding the patient of his mother’s irritating behavior. Additionally, Screwtape suggests that Wormwood should keep the patient so preoccupied with himself that he never realizes his own annoying habits. Furthermore, Screwtape wants to manipulate the patient’s newfound religion to their advantage and provides Wormwood with guidance on rendering the patient’s prayers ineffective.

Letter 4

Screwtape is giving Wormwood some tips on how to make the patient’s prayers ineffective and also how to make him lose faith in prayer.

Letter 5

Screwtape discusses the fresh European war and advises on manipulating the patient’s emotions towards it to lure him into sin. He further emphasizes that while war may offer some temporary satisfaction through human suffering, it ultimately poses a significant threat to the devils’ agenda. Screwtape reminds Wormwood to concentrate on corrupting the patient and to avoid going off-topic by discussing the war in their correspondence.

Letter 6

Screwtape talks about stirring up worry in the patient regarding the war, as there’s a chance he might be called up for military duty. Screwtape also advises on the timing of making the patient conscious of his own mental states, and when to make him completely absorbed by them. Lastly, he explores the strategy of dealing with virtue in the patient’s mind, emphasizing the need to keep it in the shadows and prevent it from becoming a regular practice.

Letter 7

Screwtape tells Wormwood that he needs to stay out of sight from the patient. He then goes back to discussing the war, suggesting that Wormwood should make the patient fully embrace either pacifism or patriotism, and let whichever choice he makes devour his faith and shield him from the Enemy.

Letter 8

Screwtape discusses the concept of change in human life, which he refers to as “the Law of Undulation.” The patient’s current phase of decreased faith is a result of the Enemy’s absence. Despite being a time of detachment from the Enemy, this low point has the potential to eventually bolster the patient’s faith. Screwtape advises Wormwood to hinder this outcome.

Letter 9

The patient is currently experiencing a rough patch, and Screwtape is advising Wormwood on how to take advantage of it. He suggests that the patient should firmly believe that his sadness is here to stay, and that his faith was just a temporary phase that is now over.

Letter 10

Screwtape gives Wormwood some tips on how to maximize the outcome of the patient’s newfound friendship with the wealthy, disillusioned atheists who are married. He recommends that the patient should make an effort to spend as much time as possible with them and even consider embracing their worldly perspectives. In case that doesn’t work, the patient should be encouraged to find enjoyment in leading a “double life” where he balances his faith and his friendship with them.

Letter 11

Screwtape is thrilled to discover that the patient has acquired a bunch of friends who are more focused on material possessions. He explains to Wormwood the four main reasons why humans laugh: happiness and amusement, which are derived from the Enemy and should be avoided, but if sin is cleverly disguised as a joke, and if everything is treated as a joke, it can yield favorable outcomes for the devils.

Letter 12

Screwtape suggests to Wormwood that they should maintain the patient’s current path: by ensuring that he remains vaguely conscious of his wrongdoings without ever truly realizing or feeling remorse for his sins, he will spend his life avoiding thoughts about the Enemy, ultimately surrendering his soul to them.

Letter 13

The patient deeply regrets his wrongdoings, and Screwtape is absolutely livid. Wormwood allowed the patient to enjoy wholesome and fulfilling activities, which ultimately led to his remorse and subsequent change of heart. They discuss the contrasting methods employed by the devils and the Enemy in their pursuit of human souls—the devils forcefully take souls, whereas the Enemy persuades humans to willingly offer theirs to Him. Screwtape insists that the only way to avert further catastrophe is to prevent the patient from translating his repentance into action.

Letter 14

Screwtape is annoyed that the patient has actually become humble, seeking assistance from the Enemy to resist his daily temptations. He believes that the only way to change this is if Wormwood can manipulate the patient into feeling proud of his own humility.

Letter 15

As the war in Europe takes a break, Screwtape mentions that it doesn’t really matter if Wormwood makes the patient scared or self-assured about his circumstances, as long as he keeps his eyes on the future. If he were to live in the moment or reminisce about the past, he would be displaying satisfaction and appreciation towards the Enemy.

Letter 16

Screwtape shares his thoughts with Wormwood on the patient’s dissatisfaction with his current church. He suggests that if they can manipulate him into exploring different churches in the city, his focus will remain on himself rather than on God. By getting him attached to one of the two “party churches” nearby, there is still a chance to steer him away from the Enemy’s influence.

Letter 17

Screwtape discusses the sin of gluttony, which is often overlooked by Christians. He highlights how the patient’s mother is deeply affected by this sin and advises Wormwood to exploit the patient’s vanity to lead him into indulging in it.

Letter 18

Screwtape guides Wormwood on using sex as a temptation. He explains how the devils manipulate societal views on love and marriage, promoting a philosophy that seeks to conquer others. He also reveals the Enemy’s intention for procreation and family to foster love, and it is the devils’ duty to distort human perspectives on love, sex, and family to hinder this purpose.

Letter 19

Screwtape takes back what he said earlier about the Enemy loving humanity, claiming that it’s impossible because it goes against Hell’s philosophy of living in competition. He reminds Wormwood that his main task is to distance the patient from the Enemy, and suggests that this can be achieved if the patient marries the right woman.

Letter 20

In his letter, Screwtape mentions that since the Enemy is protecting the patient’s chastity, their current objective is to ensure that the patient marries solely out of physical desire and nothing deeper. He also discusses how the devils manipulate the male sexual preferences to appreciate visual and unnatural beauty.

Letter 21

Screwtape provides guidance on how to make the patient more irritable by instilling in him a ridiculous sense of ownership over every aspect of his life, especially time, which will ultimately lead to disappointment. He emphasizes that the patient must never realize how foolish and nonsensical this mindset is.

Letter 22

Screwtape is absolutely livid that Wormwood allowed the patient to develop feelings for a virtuous Christian woman. He goes on to explain that no pleasure that occurs naturally is of any use to the devils. Screwtape’s anger is so intense that he transforms into a giant centipede, completely abandoning his pretense of being a caring uncle.

Letter 23

Screwtape is really annoyed that the patient has fallen for a Christian girl and her family of believers. He believes that the only way to corrupt the patient’s faith is to make him focus solely on the “historical Jesus” and disregard his divinity. Screwtape argues that if the patient sees his faith as a means to an end, he won’t achieve salvation.

Letter 24

Screwtape has discovered a flaw in the patient’s girlfriend: she tends to have a bit of spiritual pride regarding her faith and upbringing. Although she is too devoted to the Enemy to be corrupted herself, Screwtape sees an opportunity to exploit this flaw and influence the patient to imitate it. This could potentially lead the patient further away from the Enemy.

Letter 25

Screwtape expresses his disappointment with the fact that the patient’s girlfriend and her family are solely devoted to their Christian faith and do not seek anything else from it. He further elaborates on how the devils have successfully influenced society to prioritize less threatening issues while disregarding the more urgent ones. Additionally, he delves into the patterns of change and permanence in the Enemy’s creation and provides guidance on how to manipulate humans into constantly desiring novelty.

Letter 26

Screwtape advises Wormwood on how to sow discord in the patient’s relationship by encouraging him to adopt an attitude of “unselfishness” in his interactions with his girlfriend. This seemingly virtuous behavior, however, is rooted in dishonesty and pride, ultimately leading to bitterness and unhappiness for both parties involved.

Letter 27

In order to shake the patient’s faith in prayer, Screwtape suggests making him believe that unanswered prayers are evidence that prayer is ineffective, while attributing answered prayers to mere coincidences or natural occurrences. He explains that the patient’s perception of time as the only reality makes him susceptible to viewing the Enemy in this distorted manner. Furthermore, he mentions that any ancient texts exposing the truth about the Enemy’s perception of existence have been rendered insignificant due to the prevailing “historical point of view.”

Letter 28

Screwtape emphasizes to Wormwood the importance of keeping the patient alive despite the imminent bombing of his town by the Germans. If the patient were to die now, it would result in his salvation, so Wormwood must ensure his survival through the war. This way, there will be more opportunities for temptation when the patient reaches middle age.

Letter 29

Screwtape provides guidance to Wormwood on how to manipulate the patient into abandoning the Enemy during the impending air raid. He suggests using hatred, fear, and foolish self-reliance to achieve this.

Letter 30

During the air raid, the patient fulfills his duty but feels no sense of pride due to his fear. This outcome is highly undesirable for the devils. Screwtape instructs Wormwood to exploit the patient’s weariness and disillusionment with the Enemy. He wants the patient to perceive the physical suffering of the war as the ultimate reality, while dismissing spiritual matters as sentimental and imaginary.

Letter 31

The guy kicked the bucket during an air raid and made his way to Heaven, and Screwtape is itching to give Wormwood a good punishment for screwing up. He’s super mad that this pathetic human could actually see the Enemy himself. Screwtape ends by saying that even though they lost this round, the harsh reality of Hell will eventually prevail.

What stood out for you

Likeness of the devil from an Islamic perspective

Key Points

Defining Good by Exploring Evil as well as Religion and Reason, Love and Free Will

What you dislike



N/A, but maybe a movie should be made!

Has the book met its objective?


What would you change

Would love to read a 2023 version

What type of reader would enjoy this book

Any Muslim or Christian, or those who want to see how objectively society and individuals are ruined

Would you recommend this book


Final Verdict:

Read more reviews here: Book Review – The Wise Word

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