Title

A morality for modern man: the concept and portrayal of good and evil in the major works of J.R.R. Tolkien

Document Type

Thesis

Publication details

Smith, RJ 1989, 'A morality for modern man: the concept and portrayal of good and evil in the major works of J.R.R. Tolkien', MA Hons thesis, University of New England, Armidale, NSW.

Available on Open Access

Abstract

The fictional works of J.R.R. Tolkien have had wide success, beginning with the publication of 'The Hobbit' in 1937. Yet in this phenomenon there is an enigma, for works which are fundamentally moral and religious in a medieval sense have been avidly read and even given cult status by a world in the process of rejecting or significantly discounting traditional Western religious and cultural values. It would seem that Tolkien's created myths have served some of the deeper needs of modern man. It is possible that much of this success is due to the projection of an overpowering sense of evil which is capable of being relieved through 'Eucatastrophe'. The evil has an almost palpable existence and has vastly more power than that possessed by the few good heroes. Overall evil appears insuperable, for never is its power fully unleashed; always in the background there is a greater evil. Confronting these demonic manifestations the narrative focuses on engaging rustic folk with their simple goodness. This dichotomy continues throughout the texts, and normally such resistance as can be summoned up appears futile.