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Summary:

Before I begin the summary, at the beginning of the tenth letter Screwtape makes reference to a demon Triptweeze. Based on this and other references through the letters thus far, we glean that C.S. Lewis is portraying Hell as a bureaucracy. Screwtape even earlier makes reference to himself as an “Assistant Head of a Department” and Wormwood as a “Junior Tempter.” Obviously C.S. Lewis wants us to have the impression of an organized body committed to the downfall of humanity.

The letter opens with Screwtape congratulating Wormwood: the Patient has met some new friends who are just the type of people he should be meeting. “Rich, smart, superficially intellectual, and brightly skeptical about everything in the world.” Screwtape asks if the Patient has ingrained himself with them “not in words” but by agreeing, or laughing at the right times, and making himself seem just like them. The goal for the demons, here, is that even after the Patient realizes that his faith is completely opposite from his new acquaintances he will not acknowledge this due to a mixture of pride, vanity, and shame. “All mortals tend to turn into the things they are pretending to be,” that is, the Patient, as long as he agrees with this man, will eventually become like him. There are a few steps Wormwood can follow to insure the Patient changes according to plan:

  1. Delay as much as possible the moment the Patient recognizes this new friend as a temptation. According to Screwtape, however, this should be easy. The man will dismiss the age-old wisdom of choosing your friends wisely as Puritanism, along with the value of your time and worldly vanities. Screwtape writes that this redefinition of “Puritanism” is one of their greatest achievements in the last hundred years (1842-1942, based on when the book was published.)

  2. When the patient realizes what the man he has met is like, there are two options depending on the Patients intelligence. If the man is a big enough fool, he will not realize what his new friends are like unless they are not there; when they are there, their true nature is swept away.
    If the man is more intelligent, he will realize what they are like but can be made to enjoy the duality of his life. He will feel superior to the people he attends church with, because they cannot possibly understand what the real world that he lives in is like. And when he is with his new friends, he will again feel superior because he has a “deeper spiritual side” which they cannot possibly understand. Thus he will, while being “treacherous” to both sides, feel constant self-contentment.

  3. Finally, if all else fails, the Patient can be made to believe that he is doing his new friends a favor by simply drinking their drinks and laughing at their jokes, that he is influencing them for the better.
Finally, Screwtape closes by reminding Wormwood that he should use this opportunity to make the Patient spend more than he should and ignore his mother even more. This “will be invaluable for the aggravation of the domestic tension,” he says.


Letter #9 | Letter #11

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