Thesis

The Christianization of Middle Earth: Heroic Service in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings

This paper seeks to explore the spiritual and moral heroic dynamics in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings through the Christian virtue of humble service. Examining the emerging Christian values in an arguably pagan world creates a dichotomy of heroic values which compose a spiritual commentary for our modern world. Sam Gamgee, who I argue acts as the text’s moral crux, relies on the strengths of his Hobbit nature while keeping a reverence for “nobler” things. I will use Tolkien’s depiction of human character to explore the moral balance of inherent human qualities with conscious cultivation through righteous action. By highlighting this spiritual balance within Sam Gamgee, modern issues of class status begin to emerge through a focused Christian lens. Viewing heroic morality in this manner affords readers to celebrate the various strengths existent in all human beings and defends the concept of class difference as a natural aspect of the human condition.

This paper seeks to explore the spiritual and moral heroic dynamics in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings through the Christian virtue of humble service. Examining the emerging Christian values in an arguably pagan world creates a dichotomy of heroic values which compose a spiritual commentary for our modern world. Sam Gamgee, who I argue acts as the text’s moral crux, relies on the strengths of his Hobbit nature while keeping a reverence for “nobler” things. I will use Tolkien’s depiction of human character to explore the moral balance of inherent human qualities with conscious cultivation through righteous action. By highlighting this spiritual balance within Sam Gamgee, modern issues of class status begin to emerge through a focused Christian lens. Viewing heroic morality in this manner affords readers to celebrate the various strengths existent in all human beings and defends the concept of class difference as a natural aspect of the human condition.

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