The Screwtape Letters Chapter 29: Summary & Quotes

Instructor: Kerry Gray

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

In chapter twenty-nine of 'The Screwtape Letters' by C.S. Lewis, it has been confirmed that the Germans intend to invade the town where the patient lives.

German Invasion

In chapter twenty-nine of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, Uncle Screwtape, a senior tempter, will continue to instruct his nephew, Wormwood, on how to take advantage of his patient, the human to which Wormwood was assigned to deliver to the Underworld (Hell).

The war in Europe has up until now, had only a limited effect on the patient. However, as the Germans intend to raid the patient's English town, he will be thrown into the thick of it. At this point, the patient is in the Enemy's (God) camp, therefore it is vital that he stay alive until Wormwood can figure out a way to pull him into the fold.

The Screwtape Letters
Book Cover

Even Villains Need Virtues

Screwtape considers the options: 'Are we to aim at cowardice - or at courage, with consequent pride - or at hatred of the Germans?' While research is underway, currently the Underworld has no abilities towards making a man virtuous, so they can't make him brave. All villains need some virtues in order to be truly wicked, which puts the tempters at a disadvantage.

Attila, for example, needed bravery to conquer most of Europe in such a vicious way. Until the Underworld learns to develop their own virtues, they will have to utilize the ones the Enemy created. Unfortunately, that means that the Enemy never completely leaves the souls that have been claimed for the Underworld.

Cowardice is Painful

Hatred can be summoned by the Underworld, which can be twisted to feel noble if it is directed at the enemies of women and children. Screwtape says, 'Let him say that he feels hatred not on his own behalf but on that of the women and children, and that a Christian is told to forgive his own, not other people's enemies.'

The most terrible of all vices occurs when Hatred and Fear are combined into Cowardice, which is being too afraid and concerned for one's self to be able to do the right thing. The best part of cowardice is that it leads to humiliation. 'To make a deep wound in his charity,' Screwtape advises, 'you should therefore first defeat his courage.' The Underworld will usually try to turn vices into a source of pride, but cowardice is one vice of which men have never been proud.

Test of Virtues

The predicament for the Underworld is that shaming a patient could have the unintended consequence of pushing the patient into repentance. Most likely, the reason the Enemy allows threats to occur is to test their virtues. 'He sees as well as you do that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality,' Screwtape writes.

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