I know this is a somewhat strange question to ask.
Most people would say the LOTR trilogy is just a sci-fi fantasy, I suppose. And that's good enough, really. Not that I'm knocking it. I actually really admire the way the trilogy is crafted to keep your attention for, what, 8.5 hours.
So I'm reading that Tolkien was a devout Roman Catholic, right? And a professor of Anglo-Saxon and a professor of English and English literature.
One of the main works of that age is Beowulf, of course. Again, sounds like a Nordic fantasy. But I found this in the wiki entry:
'Whether seen as a pagan work with 'Christian coloring' added by scribes or as a 'Christian historical novel, with selected bits of paganism deliberately laid on as 'local color', as Margaret E. Goldsmith did in "The Christian Theme of Beowulf,' it cannot be denied that Christianity pervades the text, and with that, the use of the Bible as a source. Beowulf channels Genesis, Exodus, and Daniel in its inclusion of references to God's creation of the universe, the story of Cain, Noah and the flood, devils or the Devil, Hell, and the Last Judgement.'
So I'm wondering if LOTR has the same kind of coloring.
Frodo doesn't wear the ring on his finger. He simply has it on a chain round his neck. Reminiscent of when somebody says they have a cross to bear. Only here it's the ring he's bearing that has to be destroyed.
The most interesting relationship, imo, is that of Frodo and Gollum. It's the interaction of these two that actually in the end leads to the destruction of the ring. Frodo himself doesn't throw the ring in the fire. He is constitutionally unable to do so at the crucial moment. This is because goodness apparently cannot destroy evil in a one-on-one encounter. In this story, Gollum, consumed with covetousness, has to become the unwitting instrument to fulfill the goal of destroying evil.
Frodo lunges at Gollum toppling them both over the edge when Gollum has finally fulfilled his own quest of reclaiming the ring. Gollum falls into the lava with the ring while Frodo hangs on to the ledge and has to be saved by Sam.
Frodo's ultimate strength is the pity he shows for Gollum when Sam suggests they tie up Gollum and leave him to perish. It's the same pity that Bilbo Baggins felt for Gollum in the first episode of The Hobbit. This pity seems to me to be an archetypal Christian trait. The loving of your enemy, I guess. Course, they need Gollum as their guide to Mordor, too.
There are other motifs in the story that suggest its religious coloring.
Boromir is the one of the fellowship who like Judas wants to betray the cause. He seeks the ring for Gondor. He pays for it with his life. The only one of the fellowship to do so.
The fellowship itself is reminiscent of the apostles. 9 rather than 12, granted. Or then it is at least a Christian brotherhood.
There are three moments where you think a character has perished but returns later in the story. Gandalf fighting the Balrog, for instance, the demon of the deep. His victory turns him from Gandalf the Gray into Gandalf the White. A kind of resurrection with a promotion. - Then there's Aragorn going over the edge of the cliff during a skirmish. And Gollum falling over the edge into the precipice at the end of his fight with Frodo.
Well, this has turned out to be way longer than I intended. Thanks and apologies to anybody who makes it this far.
Course, maybe the story was just meant to be a seriously ripping yarn. And I'm reading too much into it......
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