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A Study of the Theology and Moral Structure of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings


  • Edvin Nilsson

Summary, in English

Since its first publishing in 1954, The Lord of the Rings has been read by millions, and it has become the subject of many scholarly studies. However, one of its most famous characters, Gollum, has only been marginally examined. The aim of this essay is to counteract precisely that and examine how Gollum exists within, and in his own way embodies, the theological and moral system of The Lord of the Rings. In order to study Gollum, I have identified four key aspects of Christian theology and morality in these novels: binary moral values, free will, temptation and redemption. The first section of the analysis has a wide focus, using these four aspects to examine the moral structure of Middle-earth. This serves as the context in which Gollum exists and can be studied. In the second section of the analysis, he is, in turn, discussed in relation to the four aspects presented in the first section, with the addition of kinship as a fifth aspect. I reach the conclusion that despite Gollum’s extreme behaviour, he fits seamlessly into the Christian moral system of Middle-earth, struggling with the same issues as the other characters, although it takes on another shape in his story. It is also made
clear that such a reading of Gollum opens up for an interpretation of him being a symbol of the general moral struggle found in the other characters of the story.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Tolkien
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • Gollum
  • Theology
  • Moral
  • Morality
  • Morals
  • Sméagol
  • J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Literature
  • Literary


  • Eric Pudney