Mary as Hero
Has it ever occurred to you that Mary is a hero? I think it occurred to Tolkien. As Joseph Pearce points out in his 2003 piece on Christian themes in Tolkien, it's no coincidence that the One Ring was destroyed on March 25. Pearce says:
The significance of this date will not escape the attention of Catholic scholars, though it is certainly overlooked all too often by Tolkien's non-Christian admirers. Tom Shippey, an Anglo-Saxon scholar and Tolkien expert, states in his book, The Road to Middle Earth, that in "Anglo-Saxon belief, and in European popular tradition both before and after that, March 25 is the date of the Crucifixion." It is also, of course, the Feast of the Annunciation, the celebration of the absolute center of all history as the moment when God himself became incarnate as man.
We are used to thinking of Mary's "yes" to the angel as a positive thing, a step forward, a beginning -- of course, so it was. But it was also the end of something, the unmaking of the rule of darkness over the world. Pearce says the annunciation
signified the way in which God had "unmade" the Fall, which, like the Ring, had brought humanity under the sway of "the Shadow." If the ring that the hero wants "unmade" at the culmination of Tolkien's quest is the "one ring to rule them all and in the darkness bind them," the Fall was the "one sin to rule them all and in the darkness bind them." On March 25, the one sin, like the one ring, had been "unmade," destroying the power of the Dark Lord.
Outsiders may see Mary as passive, as witlessly, helplessly receptive to the intrusion of the demanding angel. But it was her choice -- the choice of a hero -- to step foot outside of her peaceful Shire. She is the hero who pressed on, the small one who had the heart, the strength, the courage to face the darkness and to unmake it. Hail, Mary, hero.