Tolkien’s vast and detailed legendarium has helped pave the way for the fantasy genre as we know it today. His wide variety of characters, detailed maps, and the rich history3 of Middle Earth have all undoubtedly provided inspiration to many modern writers, and continue to hold the interest of both new and old fans of his works. Within his world of Middle Earth, Tolkien has written about thousands of years’ worth of history, and has created for each of his imagined races its own culture and language. However, despite the unique differences of Middle Earth when compared to our own world, many of Tolkien’s key beliefs, such as his close ties to Christianity, have clearly manifested within his legendarium. While the inhabitants of Middle Earth operate under a divine system more like the Greek or Norse pantheon, there are clear Christian elements to his world. Even the physical landscape of Middle Earth, both in the early years of the First Age, and later on in the Third Age, seem to reflect the duality of the Christian concepts of good and evil. Tolkien seems to have set up a world in which intrinsically good things are closer to Heaven, and therefore closer to the Christian concept of God, whereas bad things often dwell underground, closer to the Christian ideas of Satan and Hell. Within the expanse of this spatial allegory that Tolkien has created, the residents of Middle Earth are able to move about in unique ways, and there seems to be a direct relationship between one’s physical elevation and their moral standing at that point in the story. This paper will seek to establish and analyze the allegory created within Tolkien’s legendarium, including its relationship to several key Christian elements, as well as observe a few specific instances of how character morality is directly reflected in their movement. By looking at character movements, and even the physical topography of Middle Earth, with Tolkien’s Christian beliefs in mind, readers can gain a greater understanding of the different ways Tolkien illustrates good and evil within his legendarium, as well as detect similarities between the ultimate fates of morally good and bad characters in the legendarium and keep figures in the Bible.
Zappe, Lauren, "Navigating Tolkien’s Spatial Allegory" (2017). 4610 English: Individual Authors: J.R.R. Tolkien. 15.