The Spiritual Views of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis

J.R.R.Tolkein. The fascinating literary worlds of 'Narnia' and 'Lord of the Rings' reflect a deep belief in the concepts of Christianity. (Image: via Public Domain)

It has often been seen that authors and writers have been influenced by their personal experiences and religious and spiritual ideologies. This can be said about two great and celebrated authors, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The fascinating literary worlds of Narnia and Lord of the Rings reflect a deep belief in the concepts of Christianity.

Spiritual outlooks of Tolkein and Lewis

Lewis and Tolkien have committed Christians, and their belief in Christianity theories has affected nearly all of their works. In the writing of Lewis, it is found more easily. However, in the case of Tolkien, the spiritual focus is more profound. In the fictional realm of Narnia, you can find an analogy to the world defined by Christianity. In the case of Tolkien,  you may need several readings of his books to fathom the spiritual connotations of Middle-Earth.

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Tolkien was a devout Catholic, and in all his writing, you get to see a deep trust in the works of the almighty. He did not resort to using allegory to showcase his belief in the ways of God. He just wrote fantastic stories about timeless truths driven by his Christian worldview. Tolkien described his most famous creation, namely The Lord of the Rings, as a religious and Catholic work. Tolkien’s fiction reflects his inner ideologies and the Christian element is integral to the stories.

If you analyze the literary works of C.S. Lewis, you get a different view of his spiritual beliefs and Christianity. Lewis went to the Anglican Church or the Church of England as a child. Later, he became an atheist, only to convert back to Christianity. He was also more analytical in his writing than Tolkien. The one noteworthy aspect is that these two stalwart writers were friends and influenced each other differently. 

The central theme of 'Narnia' is the world created and shaped by the lion Aslan.
The central theme of ‘Narnia’ is the world created and shaped by the lion Aslan. (Image: Walt Disney Pictures)

The critical role individuals play in the story

Both Lewis and Tolkien talked about the significance of understanding that one’s life is, after all, a section of a bigger story, and one must know they have to play a specific role. However, they use this theme in their fiction in varying ways.

In the Hobbit, you will find the Middle-Earth characters holding conversations that show they are aware of their roles in a larger story. In this case, the hobbits’ role is to counter evil. Therefore, they do not think of rewards, focusing on their quest until the story concludes. 

If you look at the fantasy world of Narnia, Lewis weaves many individual stories into a more extensive account. The central theme of Narnia is the world created and shaped by the lion Aslan. He is referred to by multiple characters many times in the storyline.

Lewis wanted to remind readers of critical events so that they could correlate between various, more prominent elements of the story. Though Lewis’s focus is not the same as that of Tolkien’s, his stories are linked to a more extensive account, and the reader is given clues about this in the storyline. In addition, Lewis reveals that each person has been assigned a part and has to play it well. 

The spiritual view of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth depicts evil in many forms.
The spiritual view of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth depicts evil in many forms. (Image: via New Line Cinema)

Evil in its many forms

Tolkien’s Middle-Earth depicts evil in many forms. Evil is seen as humans, wizards, fallen elves, and lowly hobbits. It is physical, bestial, as well as supernatural. Evil begins with pride resulting from pursuing knowledge fuelled by selfish desires. Finally, evil leads to a loss of “self.”

Lewis demonstrates almost an identical understanding of evil. From Queen Jadi to the Witch and Shift the Ape, evil comes in many forms. The over-pursuit of knowledge and its corrupting impact on a soul draws an analogy between the biblical tale of Lucifer and his outcome.

Both authors viewed good as a force that exists for itself. They also emphasized that all can do good deeds, even minor and seemly unimportant characters. So both made minor characters heroic in their fiction. These include the hobbits and the children and small animals in Narnia. Both writers also depicted good as a result of community work and fellowship. 

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