The Cost of Redemption in the Lord of the Rings

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The Cost of Redemption in the Lord of the Rings

The struggle between good and evil is an ever present theme of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The struggle exists in all of Middle-earth, as the followers of Sauron wage war against the realms of free men and their allies, as well as in individual characters. Boromir, a tragic hero of Tolkien’s work has essentially good qualities marred by his corrupt desires for power and the Ring. The character of Gollum has an on-going internal struggle between the part of him that is corrupted by the Ring and his originally innocent self, Smeagol, who struggles to be good. However, as long as good and evil both exist, redemption is also possible. If Gollum, for example, was portrayed as only evil, and the Smeagol part of him did not exist, the reader would never hope for his redemption, knowing it was already impossible. However, redemption can always be found throughout Tolkien’s work. Reflecting his Christian beliefs, Tolkien often depicts characters redeeming themselves through death. The conflicted characters of the Lord of the Rings demonstrate that if both good and evil exist in a person, redemption is possible at the cost of some sacrifice.

Good and evil can co-exist in a single being, as demonstrated by the struggle within Boromir and Gollum. While there are the characters such as Gandalf and Sarumon who are viewed as entirely good or entirely evil, there are also those whose morality is not as black and white. Boromir, the son of the king of Gondor, is a member of the Fellowship and helps protect the ring bearer, Frodo, on the journey in the beginning of the Fellowship of the Ring. However, Boromir is tempted by the allure of the power of the Ring and desires to use it in order t...

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...t religious undertone, like in the themes of redemption and forgiveness. Those that follow the example of Jesus by acting as a servant or sacrificing their own life, are the heroes of Tolkien’s epic.

Works Cited

Forest-Hill, Lynn. “Boromir, Byrhtnoth, and Bayard: Finding a Language for Grief in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.” Tolkien Studies 5. (2008) Web. 22 Nov 2010.

Rosebury, Brian. “Revenge and Moral Judgment in Tolkien.” Tolkien Studies 5. (2008) Web. 22 Nov 2010

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004.

Thomson, George. “The Lord of the Rings”: The Novel as a Traditional Romance.” Wisconsin Studies in Contemporary Literature. 8.1 (1967): 43-59. Web. 22 Nov 2010.

Wood, Ralph C. The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom In Middle-Earth. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003.
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