The Screwtape Letters

by: C.S. Lewis

Screwtape

Screwtape is the author of the letters. He is the most complex character offered by the book. He is at once affectionate toward, and overly critical of, his nephew Wormwood. Sometimes, it seems Screwtape genuinely wants Wormwood to succeed in corrupting the Patient and bringing his soul to Hell, but, after Wormwood fails to do so, Screwtape delights in the prospect of eating Wormwood in the Patient. Though more powerful than Wormwood, Screwtape does not hesitate to grovel when he fears Wormwood has reported him to Hell’s authorities. Screwtape seems to acknowledge the grace of the Enemy (God)despite this acknowledgement, the Enemy and celebrate Hell. Screwtape is fundamentally amoral. He is inconsistent, even the shape that he takes is subject to sudden change. He transforms, at one point in the story, into a giant centipede. Even in this hideous form, Screwtape is self-assured, or self-deceived, enough to say that he likes his transformation. He claim that becoming a giant centipede is a good thing.

Screwtape is the vicious anti-hero of C.S. Lewis’s book. Though readers are often invited to identify with the book’s main human character, the Patient, . The insight about morality and sin that the book offers are, after all, couched in Screwtape’s words. Nonetheless, Screwtape is a representation of evil and the banality of evil. Evil, especially the evil surrounding the of World War II, is sometimes described as “banal”—everyday or mundane—because those who were responsible for it often ordered from behind desks, in offices far removed from battlefields and concentration camps Those who carry out evil, like Adolf Eichmann and the other Nazi leaders responsible for the atrocities of the , often argue they are merely carrying out orders. They claim to be merely cogs turning in a vast machine. Were Screwtape to stand trial, it is easy to imagine him making this same argument, but Screwtape is not a smoothly functioning cog. Often, motivated by his own self-interest or his personal impressions, Screwtape steps out of line. He even commits the “heresyof saying that God really loves people.