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But Tolkien goes further than Milton in subcreation. On a more artistic level, Tolkien thought God also gives humans the opportunity to participate in creative imagination. We can design, build, or imagine our own designs and artwork. That artwork--if it is beautiful and true--can echo, enhance, mimic, or even go beyond the beauty of the natural world--thus expanding God's creation and pleasing the Creator that we imitate His activities. For Tolkien, humans had a moral and artistic duty to use their imaginations and to create fictional worlds, following the divine example. In particular, Tolkien thought writers, poets, and artists had a moral obligation to provide an "inner consistency of reality," i.e., that they must take the time to fill out the world and inhabit it--to give it a history, depth of detail, and sufficient scope for it to be a complete world where readers or viewers can lose themselves (see Duriez 191-92). Subcreators could craft their art to make it self-consistent and large enough to evoke wonder, a sense of what Tolkien calls "" or what David Sandners calls the . Just as the rational mind desires "a unified theory to explain or cover all phenomena in the universe, the imagination also seeks a unity of meaning appropriate to itself," as Duriez puts it (192). Such world-building would be a moral good, per se, regardless of any didactic teaching or moral message tacked on top of it. In this regard, Tolkien often heavily criticized C.S. Lewis's Narnian books. He felt Lewis was too focused on allegory and didacticism, and that misfocus caused the "inner consistency of reality" (Duriez 192) in his tales to suffer.
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Claude Leví-Strauss and other structuralists proved especially influential in cultural studies, literary theory, and interpretation of mythology. A common approach to understanding narrative structure in folklore and stories is to use structuralism. We might, for instance, apply it to Tolkien's Silmarillion, noting the connections of the Valar and the Maiar in relationship to Ilúvatar, and how Melkor is defined completely by his rebellion against Ilúvatar while the Valar are defined completely by their obedience to him, and so forth. Oppositional binaries in the creation account there rely on opposites for contrast (hot versus cold) just as in the Old Testament creation story, oppositional binaries between light/dark or land/sea or male/female only have existence because they appear in contrasting pairs, and so forth.