[quote="manygift1spirit, post:8, topic:235439"]
Tolkien himself used the word "applicability" in the intro to the book in lieu of "allegory", and denounced the latter completely. So I would argue that to say he hid the allegory well is still too bold a statement. Although to be fair this might be hairsplitting.
My take on this is that if, hypothetically, one could converse with Tolkien about the book and say something like "I think X in the book stands for Y", Tolkien would never say "Exactly" or "No, you missed the point, it really stands for Z". Now he might say "Hmm, I am not sure how that makes sense", or "I can see that". The alternatives which I claim he'd deny are what I'd call "allegory". But that still leaves the question as to what to call what he would say.
Another way to approach this might be to first point out that Tolkien's world is morally consistent with ours (one of the reasons why, BTW, the book resonates with so many, even though they may not profess explicitly the common moral worldview). One then notices the book is full of moral decisions, both good, bad and ambiguously complex. So while the moral framework of the story mirrors our own, it is not necessary to see symbolism of any kind anywhere, although by doing so one reader may help communicate to another the moral parallels. For example, when Gandalf turns down Frodo's request to keep the ring, this touches on common truths (the virtue of humility, the nature of true authority as being ordered toward service not power, etc), and yet the ring (say) need not symbolize anything. One could say it symbolizes temptation, but one needs not accept that because of the clarity of the scenario's dialog.
Do understand that is all just my opinion, albeit informed. Peter Kreeft has a couple of audio lectures on LotR and its philosophical applicability (my word) on his website here, numbers 4 and 28, especially the latter. While his personal enthusiasm for the book is not hidden, he probably knows more about the book, and commentary on it, than anyone who ever posts on CAF (or many others for that matter; he is no slouch on philosophy or the Catholic canon either:thumbsup:). He touches on this issue several times.
Ah, yes, I had forgotten about his use of the word "applicability." Thanks for the reminder. :thumbsup: I'll check out those lectures, too.