Book Review: The Screwtape Letters

By: Amanda Crutchfield

Many young adults recognize the name C.S. Lewis for the magical series The Chronicles of Narnia. It is also commonly known that the Narnia books are all allegorical to religion. What many people may be unaware of is that C.S. Lewis was not a Christian until age 32.  In his early years of life, he was skeptical of religion. However, after searching for a truth, he came to accept Christ with an unshakable faith. Since then, Lewis has written many influential works sharing his beliefs and insights to the world. He reached a vast audience writing over thirty books of children’s fantasy literature and theology literature. One of his greatest accomplishments is The Screwtape Letters.

The Screwtape Letters is a satirical masterpiece written about the eternal life of humans. It consists of 31 letters written by Screwtape, a master demon, to his nephew Wormwood, a tempter in training. Screwtape is trying to assist Wormwood in capturing the soul of “The Patient”, a human, for “Our Father Down Below”, who is Satan. Referring to God as the enemy, everything they do is to draw the patient farther away from God, securing his eternal damnation. In the end, Screwtape is upset because the conversion of the patient ultimately lead to Wormwood’s failure. Some people, not understanding the satirical point of view of the story, are turned away by the irony. However, C.S. Lewis used the book to reveal the hidden corruption humans partake in every day.

Throughout the novel, it describes Hell’s successes in a human’s everyday life. What really hits home is the emphasis on Hell’s use of misdirection. In each chapter, there is some reference to how Wormwood needs to “misdirect,” “divert,” “twist,” “substitute,” or make humans believe what they are doing is just, when in reality it is not. As humans, we think if our actions aren’t terrible, that means they are good. However, that is not necessarily the case. Sometimes we are secretly creating our own path to damnation without our realization. As stated by Screwtape, “Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one-the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

Unable to fully express and comprehend the greatness of this book, all I can say is it really smacked me in the face. I believe, because Lewis wasn’t born into Christianity and found it through his personal search for truth, he has a credible view of the thoughts of humans both as Christians and Atheists. It’s as if Lewis himself knew exactly how every human functioned and thought. No matter who you are, there is at least one letter written in this book that can fully relate to you. One cannot read this book and go about life indifferent. I strongly recommend this book to anyone.

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