Content Category

Literary Criticism

Abstract/Description

This paper compares the work of Flannery O’Connor and J.R.R. Tolkien and examines the religious and historical influences that inspired each author. It shows how each author responds to the Pelagianistic ideas of self-improvement and perfection. By exploring the feeling of mourning and the corruption of protagonists portrayed by both O’Connor and Tolkien the paper reveals that each rejects Pelagian theory, preferring instead the traditional Catholic doctrine of Original Sin. The paper further explores how both authors rely on divine grace to help their characters achieve ultimate progress and victory, thus showing that both follow traditional Catholic doctrine very closely. Finally, the paper examines the popularity of both authors in societies that were not generally religious and shows how this reveals a deep human longing to overcome limitations.

Origin of Submission

as part of a class

Faculty Involvement

Jeffrey Tucker

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“We’ve Had Our Fall”: O’Connor, Tolkien and Pelagianism

This paper compares the work of Flannery O’Connor and J.R.R. Tolkien and examines the religious and historical influences that inspired each author. It shows how each author responds to the Pelagianistic ideas of self-improvement and perfection. By exploring the feeling of mourning and the corruption of protagonists portrayed by both O’Connor and Tolkien the paper reveals that each rejects Pelagian theory, preferring instead the traditional Catholic doctrine of Original Sin. The paper further explores how both authors rely on divine grace to help their characters achieve ultimate progress and victory, thus showing that both follow traditional Catholic doctrine very closely. Finally, the paper examines the popularity of both authors in societies that were not generally religious and shows how this reveals a deep human longing to overcome limitations.