Wormwood’s Letter to Screwtape

Here is a PDF of the following

“Things are not going too well, even in hell.”

To His Lowness
Sir C.P.R Screwtape, T.E, B.S.,
General Hellquarters.

Dearest Uncle,

They say up here that it takes all sorts to make a world, but I am sure it takes only
one Screwtape to make a hell. In fact, I believe that “one sort” is in itself a

Judging from your last letter, you are furious at me for letting my “patient go. If you
gave less orders and did a little more thinking, you would soon realise that you are
really furious at yourself, because what you call my failure is the failure of the
methods you have been teaching me. The trouble with you and all your
Hellquarters staff is that, like most statesmen up here, you are no longer in
contact with the people. We poor devils up here are beginning to know that
business is no longer what it used to be. Not that the Enemy is taking our
customers away from us. He also complains bitterly, but is not so prone to
blame his agents for their lack of efficiency as you are. He would rather give
them a hand in handling a situation which is really becoming impossible. He
has an unlimited supply of Hope, whilst we seem to be most sensitive to
Fear, which makes us cruel and stupid and, I think, accounts for most of our

Strange enough, these two sentiments seem to be bound together. The Enemy
instructs his agents to make a liberal use of both of them, and I must say they do so

with remarkable success. We, of course can use only Fear and even then it does not
always work in our favour. In the past, the general Hellquarters have adopted the
policy of destroying Hope in humans. That, I feel, is the worst blunder ever
committed by a supposedly responsible body of devils. Everyone knows that if you
want to tame an animal and keep him under you control, you must balance Fear with
Hope; Fear alone will only breed anger and may mean the end of the Tamer. You
must keep your animal (or soul) in a constant state of internal conflict; if you
don’t, he will soon regain control of himself, and might eventually out-devil

It is my duty, as a faithful devil, to warn you that the inconsistent orders that reach
us from the G.H.Q (of which your 31 letters are a mighty example) have put us,
tempters, in such a frightful state of mind that it is we, and not our patients, who
have become the battleground of incessant Hope and Fear. Our hesitations are fatal
to us: without knowing it, we are being tamed by simple, single-purposed human
souls. Of course, the Enemy is also losing ground, because we have weakened the
reactions of Hope and Fear. But what good is that to us? I am beginning to
feel that our real enemy is man himself. There are signs that we are being
found out. That flop … has been guilty of quite a lot of loose-talking in his
undignified mania of amusing human audiences. Showing there how clever
we are has only resulted in this most disquieting “eureka” by one of them:

“Zwei der größten Menschenfeinde,
Furcht und Hoffnung, angekettet,
Halt’ ich ab von der Gemeinde;
Platz gemacht! ihr seid gerettet.”

Now, of all the things we have to reckon with is our strategy, the mot important one
is the fact that the human soul is the only place where we can meet the Enemy. I
warn you that that battleground is getting very slippery. The Enemy Himself is
complaining about it. In fact, I believe representatives from both sides have met
secretly to find out the best means of revamping the war, since the humans do not
seem to cooperate very much. They say they have enough of their own quarrels. If
things go on like that, I am afraid we shall have to call off the fight and admit that
“Hate’s Labor’s Lost.”

Reading your letters again, I can see that you have sown the seeds of your own
defeat. You have asked us to blur the simple, clear-cut ideas of “True or False”, “Good
or Evil”, “Love or Hate”, that the Enemy had been trying to drive into the human
head. They have listened only too well to our suggestions, so well, indeed, that it has
become impossible for them to see a real contradiction anywhere. Instead of the good
old childish word “or”, which made their speech so funny to listen to, they now use
involved expressions like: in a certain degree, as if, to all practical purposes, etc… I

ask you, my dear Screwtape, how can you arouse passion in people like that? They
won’t do a thing even against us. They don’t want to know if we are right
or wrong, but only if we have something new to offer; if not, they are not
interested and we might as well not exist at all, as far as they care. The most
hopeless side of it is that anything we can do to relieve the situation would
benefit the Enemy as much as ourselves, so that we would not be any better

The results of most of your machiavellic methods have been detrimental to the
Cause. Take, for instance, your bright idea of seemingly encouraging religious feelings
and acts in order to pervert them. That was just as silly as seeking peace through
war. The patients grew infatuated with Christian ideas, they acquired habits of all
sorts, including a most pernicious inclination to “believe”, and so became and easy
prey whenever they fell into the Enemy’s hand. It shouldn’t have escaped your notice
that the Enemy never encourages that sort of tactics, and that may very well
be the secret of his strength. It is true that some of his agents think that
small lies are helpful in teaching big truths, that clever tricks will help to
establish justice or that a little cruelty is not too high a price to pay so that
charity may reign in the world. Such short-sighted measures are not at all
uncommon on the Enemy’s side; they are often used by some of his unintelligent
tempters when dealing with “soft” patients. But I have been told that He,
personally, does not like them. Even as He stood in grave danger, he told His
body-guard to put his sword back where it belonged, “because”, he added,
“he who plays with the gadget might hurt himself in the end.” He knew
well that being true to one’s principles is the most clever trick in the long
run. I wish some of our leaders had more of that common sense. I mean

Owing to the way you have treated me for my failure, I must admit that it is
only in accordance with our rules. You have been too long in Hell to know
any better. I hear that you even had the cheek to publish the letters you
sent me, without even mentioning any of my answers. At least, I can see
that you have learnt something from the journalists we have sent you down

Roast in peace, disgusting uncle, and be sure I hate you forever.
Mine very truly,


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