“It is mainly concerned with Death, and Immortality” (Tolkien commenting on The Lord of the Rings in a letter of 14th October, 1958).
The ways in which various characters encounter death, or consider the issue, offer instructive ways of understanding the problem. There are honorable and laudable deaths, as well as dishonorable. We will examine the approaches of several characters to their own mortality here, and see how Tolkien’s Christian faith shows itself in the various characters, as well as thematically throughout the epic story.
While the Fantasy of Middle Earth – its recovery of how things should be – is an important element of the epic tale, the very real doom at stake is a necessary evil, as it were, to propel the story. In this second (of three) segments on the Lord of the Rings, we examine the workings of the Dark Side of Middle Earth in excruciating detail. What fun! let’s begin …
“Those who would like to learn further about Numinor and the True West must (alas!) await the publication of much that still exists in the MSS. of my friend, Professor J.R.R. Tolkien”
wrote C.S. Lewis in the preface to his concluding book of the Space (or Ransom) Trilogy, That Hideous Strength (THS) in 1943. After Lewis had portrayed his indictment of a Western culture which had forgotten its values and theological moorings – his Abolition of Man argument illustrated in the fiction of THS – he pointed towards Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (LOTR) series as heralding the mythos of a West fully invested with those values.
 C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength (New York: Scribner, 2003), 8.
You look at trees and label them just so …
He sees no stars who does not see them first
of living silver made that sudden burst
to flame like flowers beneath the ancient song,
whose very echo after-music long
has since pursued. There is no firmament,
only a void, unless a jeweled tent
myth-woven and elf-patterned; and no earth,
unless the mother’s womb whence all have birth.
– JRR Tolkien Mythopoeia: To one who said that myths were lies and therefore worthless, even though “breathed through silver” PHILOMYTHUS TO MISOMYTHUS