Originally Posted by gmw
How do you distinguish deliberate versus being a result of a person's own set of values, or values they believe are appropriate for the story? With Tolkien I was mainly thinking of accusations about how the war effected his work, but the main deliberate layering of anything I see in his writing is the deep background in language and the evolution of it (and society). I don't need a dozen "Catholic themes" examples, but one or two that tell me this was a deliberate act rather than just personal values feeding a story could be interesting.
Well, in the case of The Lord of the Rings, I am pretty sure that Tolkien had admitted that he included Christians Themes within the story. As for the examples... Obviously simple good and evil is not a clear example since that is an extremely common trope in high fantasy stories. But here are a few that seem clearer to me.
Gandalf, Aragorn and Frodo each can be regarded as a Christ figure. I can't remember where I read it, but it has been suggested that Gandalf represented Christ the prophet, Aragorn Christ the King (who returns to establish his Just Kingdom) and Frodo Christ the Sacrifice. Each undergoes either a symbolic or in Gandalf's case real death and rebirth (Frodo actually undergoes two of them I think...).
There are hints through the books that the Ring did not come to Gollum, Bilbo or Frodo by chance. In other words, in some sense providence plays a role in the destruction of evil.
I could dig more out but you said you just wanted one or two