Some Themes, Motifs, and Patterns in Tolkien’s Writing

The following is a list of some notable themes, motifs, and patterns in Tolkien’s fiction. Feel free to add to the list.

  • God, creation, and divine providence
  • beauty, imagination, fairy-story, sub-creation
  • art, craftsmanship, and enchantment vs. technology, the Machine, “Magic,” and power
  • Fantasy, Recovery, Escape, and Consolation
  • wonder
  • “eucatastrophe”
  • the virtues: courage, justice, wisdom, love (friendship), hope, faith, and others
  • pity and forgiveness
  • good and evil
  • light vs. darkness
  • hope and trust vs. despair and doubt
  • fellowship vs. isolation
  • pride vs. humility
  • fate and free will
  • prophecy
  • the hero
  • the gods
  • sacrifice
  • death and mortality
  • the soul and the body
  • redemption
  • “otherness”
  • music, song, and poetry
  • language, speech, and names
  • “the Quest”
  • living things
  • nobility
  • juxtaposition of the strong and the weak, the high and the low
  • “death” and “resurrection”
  • “justice” vs. “healing”
  • time, mythical history, and the lost or irretrievable past
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