J.R.R. Tolkien’s massive body of work represents decades of effort from a man who, burdened by the suffering and grief of a world he considered to be fallen, wished to combine his love of fairy-stories and mythology with the otherworldly hope of eucatastrophe, Tolkien’s word for unexpected divine joy amid suffering, present at the heart of his strong Catholic beliefs. Tolkien’s world of Arda is consequently full of suffering; it is written as a dark and dangerous place, where dyscatastrophe, the prerequisite suffering before eucatastrophe, exists within the world from its conception and Eden has never been obtainable for Men. By chronologically tracing the existence of suffering in Tolkien’s world, from its origin through the fall of Melkor, to the grievous immortality of the Elves and their possessive love of the world, and finally to the fear of death present in Men, this paper aims to combine these moments of suffering and the underlying hope within them in order to show the necessity of eucatastrophe to Tolkien’s world through several of his major works. By focusing primarily on The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion while showing his use of amdir and estel, the different hopes of Men and Elves, as tools in service of eucatastrophe to highlight the hope present within our own world, this paper argues for eucatastrophe, dyscatastrophe, amdir, and estel as primary components to the major theme of death and immortality within Tolkien’s works, purposeful inclusions designed to give readers a glimpse of joy beyond their own world, which Tolkien held to be the most important function of the fairy-stories he loved.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Hopkins, Stephen


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities



Degree Program

English Literature



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date