[Originally posted on April 4th, 2015]
Though I’ve already touched on the idea that Tolkien disliked allegory and subliminal meanings in his work, that is not to say that his writings didn’t develop their own themes over time.
In his letters he says:
“But I should say, if asked, the tale is not really about Power and Dominion: that only sets the wheels going; it is about Death and the desire for deathlessness. Which is hardly more than to say it is a tale written by a Man….
It is mainly concerned with Death, and Immortality; and the ‘escapes’: serial longevity, and hoarding memory.”
Death is the theme of LotR, in a sense (or at least one of the themes). Elves live forever (but can be killed in battle or by grief) but Men die of old age or sooner. Their ability to die is referred to as the Gift of Ilúvatar, as Elves are bound to the world and even if they are slain they can be reincarnated, creating a longing for escape from the Earth. Though Men are allowed to leave the world through death, it is unknown to them and thus they fear it and sometimes refer to the Gift as the Doom of Men. The Lord of the Rings provides a very interesting take on life and immortality, particularly in the relationships between Elves and Men (i.e. Aragorn and Arwen).