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Christianity And Lord Of The Rings

Powerful Essays
If the study of literature shows nothing else, it shows that every author, consciously or subconsciously, creates his (or her) work after his (or her) own worldview. Tolkien is no exception. "I am a Christian..." he writes(1), and his book shows it. Christianity appears not as allegory--Tolkien despises that(2)--nor as analogy, but as deep under girding presuppositions, similarities of pattern, and shared symbols.
That there should be similarities between the presuppositions of of The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien's Catholic faith is to be expected given Tolkien's own views on Christianity and myth. Regarding the gospel story Tolkien wrote, "The gospels contain a fairy-story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essences of fairy-stories."(3)Since all myths are subordinate to the overarching "myth," it would be surprising if parallels were not found between greater and lesser. This is certainly true where the author consciously recognizes his archetype. If he has at all grasped its form and meaning, if the archetype has at all succeeded in working its way to his heart, then it must also work its way to his pen.
The essence of the gospel and of fairy-tales is, in Tolkien's own word, euchatastrophe--the surprising, hopeful turn in all man's despair and sorrow. Joy is the result, a brief glimpse springing out of the inherent evangelium of the genre.(4)This is the dominant note of, and even the apology for, fairy-tales.
Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy is set in a pre-Christian world. Hence it cannot adopt an explicit Christianity. Nonetheless it can, and does, shadow Christianity just as the Old Testament pre-shadowed the New, although admittedly Tolkien's is a post-view set as a pre-view. The Christian types to be found in The Lord of the Rings which we will examine are of two sorts: shared world view and shared symbols.
The first category embraces such distinctly philosophical issues as good and evil, historical perspective, freewill and predestination, grace, mercy, providence, judgment and redemption. The development of these themes in The Lord of the Rings is Christian or at least Hebraic.
Shared imagery is no less important to the tenor of the whole work. An example of shared imagery is the antithesis of dark and light so evident in both John the Apostle and Tolkien. Observe the close connection between Hal...

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18. I-347. [back]

Additonal References
Auden, W. H. "Good and Evil in The Lord of the Rings." Critical Quarterly 10 (Spring/Summer 1968) pp 138-42.
------------ "A World Imaginary but Real." Encounter 3 (November, 1954) pp. 59-62.
Callahan, Patrick J. "Animism and Magic in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings." Riverside Quarterly, Volume 14 No. 4 (March 1971) pp. 240-250.
Kocher, Paul Harold. Master of Middle Earth; the Fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1972.
Meisel, Sandra L. "Some Motifs and Sources for The Lord of the Rings." Riverside Quarterly 3 (March 1968) pp. 125-8.
Pfotenhauer, Paul. "Christian Themes in Tolkien." Cresset 32 (January 1969) pp. 13-15.
Sale, Roger. "England's Parnassus: C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and J. R. R. Tolkien." Hudson Review 17 (Summer, 1964) pp. 203-225.
Stimpson, Catherine R. J. R. R. Tolkien. Columbia Essays on Modern Authors #41. New York:Columbia University Press, 1969.
Urang, Gunnar. Shadows of Heaven: Religion and Fantasy in the Writings of C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams and J. R. R. Tolkien. Philadelphia: Pilgrim Press, 1971.
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