Two Conceptions of Death in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Works: An Ambrosian and a Thomistic Account

Baker, Hudson
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J.R.R. Tolkien says that the “real theme” of The Lord of the Rings is “about something much more permanent and difficult” than the desire for power; namely, “Death and Immortality.” In this thesis I explore the similarity between two accounts of death in Tolkien’s works and those of two Catholic theologians: Ambrose of Milan and Thomas Aquinas. In doing so, I argue that the Elvish account correlates strongly with the theology of Ambrose, whereas the conception espoused by Men resembles the theology of Aquinas. Finally, I propose that these two accounts in Tolkien’s works are synthesized in the story of Aragorn and Arwen to form a complete conception of death, one which merits serious attention within Catholic theology on death.

Death., Dying., Tolkien., St Ambrose., Thomas Aquinas., The Lord of the Rings