J.R.R Tolkien’s work of fiction The Lord of the Rings, have with the advent of Peter Jackson’s film adaptation brought the series to newfound heights of fame. As with many works of it’s kind, The Lord of the Rings depicts a battle between good and evil, with the main characters in the books striving to thwart evil’s plan. In many other works, the author’s personal belief system or worldview drives the narrative, with the message being paramount and the characters the vehicles of conveyance for the point of the story. C.S Lewis, a friend and contemporary of Tolkien’s, is a prime example of this. Lewis’ popular series The Chronicles of Narnia is an allegorical work, teaching Christian principles through the use of fiction. While raised as a Catholic himself, Tolkien does not explicitly promote his religious background, nor does he engage in allegory. However, Tolkien’s views of morality can be found throughout the work, specifically in the way in which evil is portrayed, the use of power and moral freedom of choice. Randel Helms writes in his book, Tolkien’s World, “Tolkien’s particular myth parallels his Christianity, … positioning a malevolent and corrupting outside influence, spiritual and probably eternal, against which man is doomed to fight, but which he has no hope of conquering” (67).
One of the ways Tolkien’s worldview is scene in his writing is in the total freedom of choice each character enjoys. Contrary to the Victorian era’s obsession with depicting good and evil two dimensionally, Tolkien imbues his characters with three-dimensional properties, allowing for all of his characters to choose. At a council meeting Elrond states “Nothing is evil in the beginning” (The Fellowship of the Ring 351). This belief is fund...
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...in the book of Genesis in the Christian bible. Evil, as presented by Tolkien, is not inherently powerful. Evil’s power is found in corrupting those with power already or in powerful positions within their society. Humility of thought and action are what separate the wielders of power in Tolkien’s books. This is no more evident than with the fall of Sarumon. Asked to step down from his tower, he refuses and is cast out of the wizard order he used to lead. Gandalf intones “he will not serve, only command (The Two Towers 588).
J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is a peerless fantasy of epic proportions. While eschewing allegory in favor of an historical perspective, Tolkien has imprinted the work with many of his own closely held Catholic beliefs. In a lecture concerning Tolkien’s writing given to students at Villanova University, Dr. Tomas W. Smith put it this way
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