The Screwtape Letters Chapter 30: 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 thirty of 'The Screwtape Letters' by C.S. Lewis, Wormwood has still not managed to make any headway towards gaining the soul of his patient for the Underworld.

The German Attack

Uncle Screwtape is a senior tempter for Hell (the Underworld) who has been tasked with mentoring his incompetent nephew (Wormwood) to gain the soul of his assigned patient. At this point in the story, the patient has not fallen for any of Wormwood's temptations and is well on his way to the Enemy (God).

In chapter thirty of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, Screwtape receives a report from the Infernal Police that makes it apparent that Wormwood is not getting the job done.

The Screwtape Letters
Book Cover

Wormwood Fails Again

As the Germans attack the patient's city, Wormwood needs to make sure he is able to turn things around quickly. If the patient dies now, he will be lost. Screwtape's last suggestion is to try to get the patient to fall into despair by turning him into a coward. Despair is the ultimate sin because it involves a lack of faith in God's ability to improve his situation.

The patient's response to the first raid was not what Screwtape hoped for. Of course he was scared, and he is not proud of that, but he did what he was supposed to do and more. The worst Wormwood was able to muster was one skipped prayer, a couple of cigarettes, and an irritation with a dog. Screwtape makes it clear that Hell is only interested in outcomes. 'Bring us back food, or be food yourself,' he warns.

The Optimum Use of Fatigue

Wormwood intends to play into the patient's fatigue, but Screwtape warns him that moderate fatigue will yield better results than exhaustion. Typically, the fatigue itself does not produce anger, it is unforeseen burdens on a man that is too tired to deal with them that makes him irritable. 'After they have despaired of relief and ceased to think even a half-hour ahead, that the dangers of humbled and gentle weariness begin,' he says.

False hope that the worst is over will make him think that he is at the end of his rope. Just when he is starting to relax, arrange for him to meet the girl. 'Make full use of the fact that up to a certain point, fatigue makes women talk more and men talk less,' Screwtape says. 'Much secret resentment, even between lovers, can be raised from this.'


Hopefully, once the patient sees body parts splattered on a wall, he will think he has experienced reality for the first time and conclude that Christianity is imaginary. The Underworld has already confused people about what 'real' means. In the Underworld, the goal is to make 'real' only mean the cold hard facts, and the emotions subjective.

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