A Tolkien

’s Essay Essay, Research Paper

A Tolkien s essay

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbitt, The Lord of The Rings and The Silmarillion among other books which, together, created an absorbing fantasy world that has inspired hundreds of writers, artists and fans all over the world. According to Tolkien enterprises, more than fifty million copies of Tolkien s books have been sold and they have been translated into twenty-five languages (Home page). Three movies have been made based on Tolkien s works (Witker How many) and a new film trilogy of The Lord of The Rings began to be produced in New Zealand in October of 1999. (Donovan Press release). Fredrik Ekman also inform us that there are more than one hundred games known to him that are based on Tolkien s works. (Tolkien computer games)

What is it about Tolkien s work that captivates readers and attracts so many followers?

After reading almost every book that has been written by him or about him, I believe that J.R.R. Tolkien is so popular because his work combines a thorough study of human nature with a world of fantasy so detailed and so rich that it might be taken for reality.

Tolkien s motivation for enriching his work so much has its ground in his disappointment for England s lack of folklore and legends from the past. He took upon himself the creation of a mythic prehistory for his beloved country, beginning his creation while convalescing from war wounds on 1917 and still working at it when he died on 1973. (Edelfeldt 8). David Day refers to Tolkien s work as the widest, most complex and most detailed existent mythological system of our literature (6). Maria Jose Rodellar, in her comparison between Tolkien s and the Greek mythology, marvels at how impressive Tolkien s enterprise was: …it would be comparable to the work of Homer, if before writing The Odyssey or The Iliad , he had created first the entire Greek mythology and part of the Greek history . (21)

J.R.R. Tolkien places his stories from The Hobbitt (1937) to The Lord of The Rings (1955), in an overwhelmingly rich environment. The stories interline with each other, sharing geographical, historical, linguistic, philosophical and magical background. Despite many obvious differences, the world created by Tolkien and our world have common factors that help readers identify with it. According to David Day, Tolkien placed his world in a very earthly location:

The story develops in the northwest of the Middle-earth , whose latitude is equivalent to the coast of Europe -The Mediterranean Rivera. Hobbitton and Rivendel have the same latitude than Oxford…the historic period is completely imaginary but Tolkien s feet were well settled on mother earth in regards to the physical scenario. (35)

In almost every one of Tolkien s works we seem to find a common factor: the power/corruption duality that is, in my opinion, the basic theme that underlines Tolkien s work. This human and very real struggle appears in Tolkien s The Silmarillion portrayed in the story of the silmarils (23-244). It appears again in his book The Hobbit, evidenced in Thorin s conflict (272-304) and it is the underlying design of the whole saga of Tolkien s The Lord of The Rings. Another factor that is common to most of Tolkien s stories in the fact that their protagonists are closer to the anti-hero profile than to the more popular and common hero descriptions. The main characters are plain people, more attached to customs and simple life than to belligerent, idealistic goals. (Santoyo 18) I would say that this is an important reason for Tolkien s success: People can relate to those personalities, they can identify themselves with the personages that appear in his work because they are one hundred percent human in their nature, instead of omnipotent, god-like figures.

Michael Skeparnides affirms in his essay …In Tolkien s work, a reader can interpret many parallels to our own world… the problems of the world of Middle-Earth are and have been the problems of our own world . (Essays)

Tolkien s world is a world of fantasy, a world of elves, dwarves, hobbits, mages, orcs, trolls and dragons among others, however, it is mostly a human world. In a human world, fantasy is necessary to help people cope with reality. As the Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges so well puts it in his Libro de los seres imaginarios (in English: Book of imaginary beings),

We ignore the significance of the dragon as we ignore the significance of the universe. But there is something in the image of a dragon that concurs with men s imagination and that is why the dragon appears in different latitudes and different ages: It is and is the only way to say it- a necessary monster (78).

That is why we can conclude, as Skeparnides did at the end of his essay, Tolkien s Middle-Earth is a powerful and intimate experience, yet no matter how wondrous and far fetched it may be, it is the product of the human mind and, inevitably, of the real human world (Essays).

Bibliographic references

Borges, Jorge Luis and Margarita Guerrero. El libro de los seres imaginarios. Spain: Alianza, 1984 (in translation).

Day, David. Tolkien. Enciclopedia ilustrada. Spain: Timun Mas, 1992 (in translation).

Donovan, Mary K and Steve Elzer. Press release. 7 Oct. 1999. 27 Nov 1999.

Edelfeldt, Inger. Tolkien s world. New York: MJF Books, 1992.

Ekman, Fredrik. Welcome to Tolkien Computer Games. Home Page. 15 Nov. 1999. 27 Nov. 1999. (http://www.lysator.liu.se/tolkien-games/index.html)

Rodellar, Maria Jose. La victoria de Tolkien. Buenos Aires: Minotauro, 1989. (In translation)

Santoyo, Julio Cesar. Tolkien Y La Tierra Media. Spain: Tusquets, 1987. (In translation)

Skeparnides, Michael. A reflection on Tolkien s World Gender, Race & Interpreted Political, Economic, Social & Cultural Allegories. Essays. 26 Nov. 1999.

Tolkien Enterprises. Who we are. Home Page. 28 Nov 1999.

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Silmarillion. Ed. Christopher Tolkien. USA: Houghton Mifflin Co. 1977.

—. El Hobbit. Buenos Aires: Minotauro, 1989. (In translation)

—. The lord of the rings. Hong Kong: Harper Collins, 1991.

Witker, James. How many have been made? The Hypertextualized Tolkien FAQ. Movie/How Many Page. 19 Aug. 1995. 27 Nov. 1999.


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