Important Quotes from 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.

The thought-provoking and inspiring words that C.S. Lewis chooses in his writing led to some memorable quotes. In this lesson, we will review some important quotes from 'The Screwtape Letters'.

Screwtape's Insight

In The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, Screwtape, an experienced tempter in Hell guides a less experienced tempter (Wormwood) in his effort to draw his assigned patient away from the Enemy (God) and into the Underworld (Hell). Screwtape's experiences have given him great insight on the foolishness of men, the nature of the spiritual world, and the time-worn ways to throw men off track. In this lesson, we will review some of the most poignant quotes from this novel, which all come from Screwtape.

Silly Humans

To be able to fully understand the reasons behind some of Hell's strategies, Screwtape needs to give Wormwood some background information about the way men think. Since Wormwood has only existed as a spiritual being, he may have some confusion about how these 'amphibians' who live in both the physical and spiritual world operate.

One of their inconsistencies is that while they are more than willing to say that they have given themselves to God, they get really irritated when they feel like someone is wasting their time, as if it belongs to them.

''The man can neither make, nor retain, one moment of time; it all comes to him by pure gift; he might as well regard the sun and moon as his chattels.''

People act like their time belongs to them.

The Enemy

For a fiend, Screwtape also knows quite a bit about God….possibly more than he would admit for fear of getting in trouble as the reality of Him conflicts with the doctrines of Hell.

''I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His invention, not ours. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden.''

The frustration that Screwtape has with the limitations that the Enemy's love for people has placed on the Underworld is reiterated.

''He has a bourgeois mind. He has filled His world full of pleasures. There are things for humans to do all day long without His minding in the least - sleeping, washing, eating, drinking, making love, playing, praying, working. Everything has to be twisted before it's any use to us. We fight under cruel disadvantages. Nothing is naturally on our side.''

With all of the advantages that the Enemy has to offer, how can the tempters possibly be expected to accomplish their mission? Both camps are fighting for the same world, but what they do with it once they get it is very different.

God loves His People and wants them to be happy.

''When He talks of their (humans) losing their selves, He only means abandoning the clamour of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever.''


Despite the obvious disadvantages to the Underworld, Screwtape has some suggestions for strategies that have been proven successful for separating men from a virtuous life.

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

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