A 1-Sentence Summary of Each of Screwtape’s Letters

Screwtape The Screwtape Letters is a satirical Christian apologetic novel written by C. S. Lewis, first published in book form in February 1942. The story takes the form of a series of letters from a senior Demon Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood, a Junior Tempter. The uncle's mentorship pertains to the nephew's responsibility for securing the damnation of a British man known only as "the Patient".

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Andrew Naselli is Research Manager for D. A. Carson and Administrator of Themelios. He has written a one sentence summary of each chapter or letter.
  • Make him preoccupied with ordinary, “real” life—not arguments or science.
  • Make him disillusioned with the church by highlighting people he self-righteously thinks are strange or hypocritical.
  • Annoy him with “daily pinpricks” from his mother.
  • Keep him from seriously intending to pray at all, and if that fails, subtly misdirect his focus to himself or an object rather than a Person
  • Don’t hope for too much from a war [in this case, World War II] because the Enemy often lets our patients suffer to fortify them and tantalize us.
  • Capitalize on his uncertainty, divert his attention from the Enemy to himself, and redirect his malice to his everyday neighbors and his benevolence to people he does not know.
  • Keep him ignorant of your existence, and make him either an extreme patriot or an extreme pacifist who regards his cause as the most important part of Christianity.
  • Make good use of your patient’s series of troughs and peaks (i.e., “the law of undulation”), and beware that the Enemy relies on the troughs more than the peaks.
  • Capitalize on trough periods by tempting him with sensual pleasures (especially sex), making him content with his moderated religion, and directly attacking his faith as merely a “phase.”
  • Convince him to blend in with his new worldly acquaintances.
  • Understand the four causes of laughter (joy, fun, the joke proper, and flippancy), and shrewdly use jokes and flippancy.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of “very small sins” because “the safest road to Hell is the gradual one.”
  • Don’t allow him to experience real pleasures because they are a touchstone of reality.
  • Make him proud of his humility; use both vainglory and false modesty to keep him from humility’s true end.
  • Make him live in the future rather than the present.
  • Encourage church-hopping.
  • Encourage gluttony through delicacy rather than excess.
  • Convince him that the only respectable ground for marriage is “being in love.”
  • Understand that the Enemy does not genuinely love humans (but we don’t know what his real motive is).
  • Don’t give up if your direct attacks on his chastity fail; try to arrange a desirable marriage.
  • Convince him to use the pronoun “my” in the fully possessive sense of ownership (e.g., “my time,” “my boots,” “my wife,” and “my God”).
  • Understand that the Enemy has filled His world full of pleasures and that you must twist them before you can use them.
  • Encourage him to embrace a “historical Jesus” and to treat Christianity as merely a means to a political end such as social justice.
  • Confuse him with spiritual pride for being part of an elite set.
  • Replace “mere Christianity” with “Christianity And” by increasing his horror of “the same old thing” and thus increasing his desire for novelty.
  • Sow seeds of “unselfishness” during his courtship.
  • Twist his prayers.
  • Guard his life so that he grows old because real worldliness takes time.
  • Defeat his courage, and make him a coward.
  • Capitalize on his fatigue, and manipulate his emotions with the word “real.”
  • His end is inexplicable, but we must win in the end.