Characters in The Screwtape Letters

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we'll learn about the characters who appear in 'The Screwtape Letters' by C.S. Lewis Whether they reside in Heaven, in the Underworld, or on Earth, each character has a role to play in the story.

Spiritual Warfare

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is filled with colorful characters from the Underworld (Hell), the Enemy's camp (Heaven), and some humans on Earth who are unaware of the spiritual warfare that is happening all around them. In this lesson, we'll overview the roles of each character in the story.

Heaven

God created all pleasure.
God

The Enemy is God. He loves people and wants to give them freedom to enjoy pleasures that He has provided them in healthy ways. He is, after all, the creator of every pleasure. As much as He would love for all people to follow Him, He gives them choices. God loves for people to come to Him in prayer and ask for help. He does not like being used for political advantage, or for people to come to Him with worries that will most likely never happen. Despair offends Him as it carries with it a lack of faith.

The Underworld

The Underworld preys on weakness.
Satan

Uncle Screwtape is the narrator. As a senior official in the Underworld, he has the experience and knowledge to mentor his nephew Wormwood to bring in his first soul. Screwtape is cruel, cunning, and manipulative in his ability to find a weak spot in a patient and twist it to Hell's advantage. He is impatient, sharp-tongued, and unforgiving of his young nephew Wormwood. Screwtape delights in his misery and digs deeply into wounds with sarcastic retorts. When Screwtape loses his temper, he shape-shifts into a centipede.

Wormwood is the incompetent, novice tempter who receives the letters from his Uncle Screwtape. Wormwood is lazy and easily distracted by things that are fun to watch like war. When he does do something to influence his patient, it is generally executed poorly and tends to have the opposite of the intended effect. Wormwood deflects blame when things don't work out as he expected and attacks with vengeance those who cross him. However, he's not above groveling for help from the very people he has wronged when it suits him.

The Father Below is Satan. Satan wants to enslave men and consume their souls. He works to drown out music and lightness with Noise. He believes that God does not really love people because there's no advantage in truly loving someone. Thinking that it must be the secret to His power, Satan studies this supposed love to try to figure out what the motive is. No one is allowed to think freely and he only cares about results, with severe punishments to those who are not able to complete their mission.

Slubgob is the head of the Training College that future tempters attend. Screwtape seems less than impressed with the curriculum under Slubgob's leadership, but Slubgob must have some prestige in the Underworld as it makes Screwtape very nervous to think that Slubgob took seriously the things he claims to have said in jest.

Glubose is the patient's mother's tempter. Screwtape suggests that Wormwood and Glubose collaborate to maximize the damage to the mother-son relationship.

Toadpipe is Screwtape's secretary. When Screwtape becomes angry with Wormwood and turns himself into a centipede, Toadpipe transcribes the remainder of the letter for him.

Slumtrimpet is the patient's girlfriend's tempter. He was able to share information about the girlfriend's weakness of a slight sense of superiority to non-Christians with Screwtape, but has been largely unsuccessful in making headway with her.

Oblivious Humans

People are unaware of the influences of the spirits around them.
Earth

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