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Lord of the Rings: Tempted Mortals

The Lord of the Rings is not an allegory, and it is best to resist drawing parallels to the real-world events of the 20th Century. That said, I do think it is informed by Tolkien’s WWI experience. I also think it’s fair to ask what Tolkien is saying about morality.

LOTR is a set of arguments about the corrosive moral effects of hubris, anger, jealousy, greed, and aggression. In my opinion, this is a case of an author telling a damn good story that reflects his values. There is no conscious effort to write a tract; but Tolkien’s moral and theological content  is as easy to locate as Dante’s and Milton’s.

I think the way you locate the moral content is by looking at choices the characters make and the outcomes of the choices. Middle Earth has a well-developed natural order, supported by a monotheistic theology in which the one god and his agents actually exist. This is a list of mortal characters who are tempted by the Ring I made when I was preparing to write my Tolkien series at Part Time Monster. No citations for this post, because I wrote it entirely from my head. There are couple of notes at the end.

First-Time Readers: HERE BE SPOILERS

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Peter Jackson should have watched this before he made the third movie.

From the Rankin Bass Return of the King cartoon:

This is true to the books, IMO. This is one of the very few changes in Jackson’s movies that bother me enough to write about. I like the movies, but the scene with Gandalf and the Lord of the Nazgul feels like revisionist history to me. I’ll have a Tolkien post here later today and another at Part Time Monster. I’ll also have one at The Writing Catalog to show anyone who is interested how I planned my Tolkien series.