W. H. Auden


Explores the interplay of good and evil in the story through the actions and motivations of species “capable of speech and therefore of moral reasoning,” and praises Tolkien for creating characters with a realistic moral balance. Makes the important observation that good characters can imagine being evil while evil characters cannot imagine being good. (Note that this piece is pre-Silmarillion and Auden’s assessment of the Elves is based only on LotR.) Reprinted in Critical Quarterly 10 (1968):138–42.

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