J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings - Frodo Baggins as a Christ-Figure

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J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings - Frodo Baggins as a Christ-Figure

J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings has delighted readers since its publication owing to its author's skillful development of his fantastic realm and its inhabitants adventures therein. In fact, Tolkien is rightly regarded as the father of the modern fantasy genre, and it often seems all fantasy imitates his work in some way. However, as readers return to the work, it often becomes apparent that the work is more than a simple escapist journey into an imaginary world; the work represents the finest traditions in literature and rich grounding in Tolkien's study of language and mythology. Equally surprising, though, Tolkien himself admits that the series is a "fundamentally religious and Catholic work…"[1] To the casual reader, Middle-Earth, the setting, seems a world devoid of religious practice, Christian or otherwise. Unsurprisingly, Tolkien added that the religious aspect about which he spoke appeared "unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision," and that "the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism."[2] Therefore, an investigation into probable sources of Christian symbolism leads to questions of characterization and its most obvious target: Frodo Baggins, a Christ-figure.

The protagonist of the story, Frodo Baggins is a Hobbit, a small humanoid creature, short in stature and big in appetite. As soon as Tolkien introduces him in the first chapter, Frodo's status as a Christ figure emerges: "Anyway: there was this Mr. Frodo left an orphan and stranded," gossip Frodo's new neighbors when his uncle Bilbo adopts the him.[3] immediately, Frodo possesses two important characteristic of any Christ ...

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...ery land of Mordor, conquering an evil which seems far greater than himself. In doing so, Frodo makes up for carelessness of the nations of Middle-Earth who in their sloth allowed the evil to rise up, despite forewarning of the danger. In all these things, there exist clear similarities with Christ who undertakes a similar goal, vanquishing the evil of sin from the world with total selflessness, compassion, and determination. In the end, Frodo admits admirably, "I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved…."[6]

[1] Tolkien, J.R.R.. "To Robert Murray, S.J." 2 December 1953. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Ed. Humphrey Carpenter and Christopher Tolkien (Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston, 1981) 172.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Tolkien, J.R.R.. The Lord of the Rings (Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston, 1954) 31.

[4] Ibid, 217.

[5] Ibid, 309.

[6] Ibid, 309.
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