Life Lessons from C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters


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When I was little, one of my favorite books of all time was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. I loved having one or two of the chapters read aloud to me before I went to bed. So when I peeked at the list of seven books, I knew automatically that I would want to read The Screwtape Letters, one of the same author’s earlier writings.
Similarly to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the story is set around the beginning of World War II. Screwtape is writing the letters while living in hell, while I imagined Wormwood somewhere within his “patient’s” conscience. All of the thirty-one letters are written from Screwtape’s sly and sarcastic viewpoint. All of the morals in the writings are backwards. For instance, greed is considered “good”, and love or bravery is always “evil”. Screwtape mentors his nephew in the art of being a good tempter, and Wormwood tries to coax his patient into gluttony, envy, lust, the wrong side of humor, flippancy, selfishness, and more. The demon tried to do this within the patient’s mind without him noticing-which helped me to see how so many people take the wrong path unwittingly.
One of my favorite parts of the book was in the eighth letter, when Screwtape explained the “law of Undulation”. He stated that the lives of humans undulate, with high points and low points. The highest points are when they are happiest, and the low ones are the opposite. He also mentioned that God counted on the low points more so than the high peaks, because they bring the “loathsome little vermin” closer to him. Some of the saints, he said, have gone through more lengthy unhappy times than anyone else. One of the funniest parts of the book was when Screwtape was looking at another virtuous mortal girl’s life file, and he wrote, “Not only is she a Christian but is such a Christian - a vile, sneaking, simpering, demure, monosyllabic, mouselike, watery, insignificant, virginal, bread-and-butter miss. The little brute. The makes me vomit. She stinks and scalds through the very pages of the dossier.

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It drives me mad, the way the very world has worsened.”
I would recommend this engrossing book to people of any religion or background, because it has many important life lessons in it about human nature. This fictional book, like many other C. S. Lewis books, teaches you about life, moral values, and victory over temptation. As one the New Yorker columnists wrote, “If wit and wisdom, style and scholarship are requisites to passage through the pearly gates, Mr. Lewis will be among the angels.”


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