Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Eucatastrophe

(YOO-cah-TASS-trohf-EE)  n. a word made up by J.R.R. Tolkien to describe the sudden, unexpected, and undeserved turn of events, provided by the grace of God.

A eucatastrophe is a good catastrophe!

The thing that is different about a eucatastrophe, is that it is completely unwarranted or deserved, arrives completely unexpectedly, and turns the tides in the favor of the protagonist.

A good example is the goblins arriving at the Battle of the Five Armies.  If not for the sudden and unexpected change in events, the elves of Mirkwood, the men of the lake, and the dwarves of Thorin's company surely would have gone to war against each other.  Instead they had to work together because they all hate the goblins!

Another example is Aragorn arriving at the Battle of the Pelenor Fields instead of the corsairs of Umbar.  It was completely unexpected both by the enemy and by the Rohirric/Gondorian forces, and it was undeserved.

The thing to underscore here is that it is provided by the grace of God.  It is not deserved at all, and it is a sudden change for the better.

Tolkien considered the resurrection of Christ from the dead the eucatastrophe of history: it was sudden, unexpected, and completely undeserved.  

How many places in Tolkien's works can you spot a eucatastophe?


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