First of all, we must understand that the author of “The Lord of the
Rings”, J.R.R. Tolkein, was profoundly Catholic. So much so, that when his
best friend for many years, C.S. Lewis, knowingly refused to accept the
Church as that which Christ founded, then J.R. broke his friendship with him
and never corresponded with him again. A bit tough? Catholic! We also
know that J.R. wrote his trilogy to be understood in a Catholic sense. This
is proven by his conferences in California to a university of admiring fans.
When he told them that the world he portrayed and envisioned was a
Catholic World, they booed him off the stage. He returned to England and
never gave another public speech for the rest of his life. We know also
from his letters that this incident hurt him greatly. He was truly upset
that so many were misunderstanding his work.
J.R. taught at Oxford and his specialty was ancient languages and
neumenology. We are informed that he wrote the L.O.T.R. (Lord of the Rings)
for his son who was serving in the 2nd World War, that during free time he
might have something to while away the hours. Even in the army the “book”
was a great hit. We are informed that presently it is the most read book in
the world, 2nd only to the Bible! This shows that it is in every sense a
Classic. It speaks to all peoples, races and cultures at all times.
In this very brief essay, we would like to present some of the analogies
which seem to be appropriate to the text and even at times to flow from it.
Obviously, the main thrust of the entire work is good versus evil. All the
good forces pitted against evil at overwhelming odds and the final victory
of good. Surely this is its greatest appeal.
Frodo Baggins is each one of us, the smallest of creatures with an impossible
mission (sanctity) against impossible odds (World, Flesh, Devil).
Gandalf is not only the symbol of the wise man but also of our Guardian
Angel. He comes and goes as he pleases yet is always there when we need him
Samwise Gamgee is a true friend. Scripture calls him better than a brother and one
of a million. He will rebuke us when necessary (e.g. ring wraithe) but will
carry us as well (e.g.maintain).
Galadriel is the symbol of Mary. She gives to us The Light (Jesus Christ),
(The Faith); it shines when all other lights fail. She physically picks
Frodo up (in his unconsciousness) and gives him strength to carry on.
Through her, from the elves, is given Lambas (Holy Eucharist) – the elven
bread, which the more it is relied on, the better it will sustain. Have
there not been several saints who lived off only the Holy Eucharist?!
The Elves symbolize the priesthood – above the race of man, eternal and
endowed with great powers. Their folly makes them the worst of all
creatures – Orks!
Arwen, the virgin of royal blood, is the only one able to slay the wraith.
Not even her father Elrond, the King, was able to do this. “Thou shall lie in wait
for Her heel and she shall crush thy head”.
Aragorn is The Perfect Man, 85 years old and still looking in his early
30’s. As Our Lord, he was reluctant to take up his real role until
persuaded to do so by others. He goes into the evil mountain (Hades,
Sheoul) and calls the dead to fight for him and thus releases them from
their curse and gives them rest. At the time of Our Lord’s death, the souls
of the dead openly roamed the streets of Jerusalem. And Christ freed the
souls in Limbo at His Ascension. He is The King, “For this was I born…”
Arwen, as Mary, accepts death to be more like Christ. Though Mary had no
sin and was thus not subject to death, the theologians hold that she did die
in order that she would be more like to her son. Arwen at the end,
becomes Queen, as Mary is proclaimed Queen of Heaven and earth. Arwen is
again likened to Our Lady when she helps to cure Frodo and brings him to her
father, king of the elves, who alone is able to save him. Arwen prolongs
his life by giving to him her own strength, as Mary is the Mediatrix of all
graces and not only saves us from Satan (Dark Riders) but brings us to Her
Father (God) who alone is able to save us from sin.
Baromir is a great man but falls through pride, thinking that he is great
enough to save the world, if only he had the ring. He realized his mistake
and, like every great man, makes amends even to the giving of his life.
The power of evil is so strong that Frodo gives into it at the end and
places the ring on his finger not wanting to destroy it but rather he is
overcome by its force and power, and is only saved at the last moment by
Gollum, whose life he has saved more than once. Gollum bites his finger
off, the punishment for his sin, and then falls into the pit to finally
bring an end to his miserable life and simultaneously bringing peace to the
world by the destruction of the ring.
Gollum is the classic example of those who sin and let sin take over their
lives. Gollum’s first sin is envy. He then kills his friend, steals the
ring and the rest of his life is spent in the darkness (sin). He hates the
light (Christ). He “accidentally” (providentially) “loses” the ring to Frodo's uncle
Bilbo Baggins, who guards it in silence and secrecy until God calls the right person
at the right time.
The Guardian of Gondor is like the Jews, when Aragorn (Christ) is revealed,
he refuses to let him reign but rather would see his own son die and his
people enslaved. Gandalf saves the day by defying the Guardian, encouraging
the people and exposing the madness of the Guardian. God uses the Roman
Empire to destroy Jerusalem, and brings salvation to souls through the
Throughout the entire work, the supernatural virtue of hope
predominates. Naturally speaking, there is no possibility of success. It
is important to notice that at no time does Frodo want to do this task. He
does it only as a duty. He has been chosen (John 15:16).
Sting is the sharp-edged sword of The Faith warning us when danger to our
salvation is near, and giving us ability to fight back.
The spider Shelob is the world which does not kill immediately but poisons, at
first, only to drag us into complete darkness, and there, slowly to suck our
blood (grace) entirely out of us. Frodo thought he had “conquered” the
spider but it followed, and finally got him.
We must never stop fighting “the world” nor ever think that we have
entirely conquered it.
Saruman is Lucifer, the highest of the angels who falls and pits all his
resources and might against the good, that he might rule the world and that
through fear. The Ents show us how it would most likely have been in
Paradise. All creatures obeyed Adam. Many saints have shown this to be
true. The close friends of God have power over all creation. The examples
are too numerous to list.
The Ents rebel against Saruman as creation rebels against man, for he has
rebelled against God.
Peace will come to the world only when all men unite to destroy evil,
crown The King [ed. note: can you say "The Sovereign Kingship of Christ"?] and honor the humble.
So “The Lord of the Rings” teaches us many virtues; always obey
Providence, fight the good fight, persevere, the power and majesty of true
friendship, the corrosive influence of sin and its effects, the necessity of
unity, forgiveness, we must fight to preserve goodness, the danger of pride,
we will all be tempted and must pass in order to be free, God will
ultimately prevail. Gollum “destroys” Frodo and Sam’s friendship by placing
seeds of doubt in Frodo’s mind. How easy it is to destroy a friendship!