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J.R.R. Tolkien insisted upon many occasions that neither The Hobbit nor Lord of the Rings was allegory, especially because so many people wanted to interpret both as commentary about WWI and/or WWII. [In an allegory, every character, setting, and significant event carries symbolic significance.] By his own admission, Tolkien actually yearned to try his hand at telling a really long tale, incorporating his love of linguistics into the telling. Many critics, however, find it impossible to take Tolkien at his word because both books contain so much apparent symbolism of cosmic battle as well as such vivid depiction of actual war. Perhaps it would be safer to say that Tolkien's work includes such a stimulating variety of universal themes and universal archetypes that their interactions tempt one to indulge in allegorical interpretation. Themes include the battle between good and evil, the revelation of hidden identity, the fulfillment of prophecy, the preservation of a significant remnant, creation and destruction, temptation, appearance versus reality, the quest, and self-sacrifice. Archetypes include the unlikely hero, the Christ figure, the warrior, the Arthurian king, the Satan figure, the healer, the wizard, the enchanted race, and the traitor. With such riches before them, readers need no allegory to enjoy Tolkien's tales to the fullest.
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