Ah well, at least you are honest, Grondy :). I am going to keep posting here though, even
if it is a discussion with myself. If anyone feels like commenting on anything,
at anytime though, please feel free to do so. The dialogue will do me good.
[u]Introduction[/u] (to my thesis). This is for my professors. I need to turn in my
prospectus next week. I have an oral thesis defense that I need to take part
in the week after next, and this is what I plan on covering. Please, please,
tell me if you think something doesn't make sense, or if something could be added
As many Tolkien fans, I feel an overwhelming need to defend the importance of The Lord of the Rings, which has not been a favorite with literary critics. One reason could be the fact that it appeals to the non-rational side of humanity, that it touches our emotions, and many critics analyze literature and write for the rational side of humanity, attempting to lend scientific insight to the field of literature; so when a work appeals to the non-rational side of humans, such as The Lord of the Rings, it does not acquire the proper literary kudos. Another reason could simply be that it appeals to a very wide audience, which, of course, is the doom for many popular authors during their lifetimes. However, rather than just being a piece of literature that appeals to a mass audience, this work is actually one that appeals to both children and adults alike, which really is no easy feat. Also, a work that the author spent the better part of fifteen years creating, choosing, as he states, every single word of the novels with great care, should not be seen as something trivial. Yet, many critics see this mass appeal as a sign of simplicity, a sign that the writing and the message must be so obvious that anyone can understand it. If one reads Tolkien though, it is not difficult to determine that he is a very talented writer, and as a philologist, he should be. His sentence structure is not simple, his vocabulary is not for the unwise, and his plot has a complexity that can be mind boggling at times. He artfully combines mythic tradition with fairy-story elements, creating a complex text in which almost anyone can find a message of significance that pertains to his or her own life.
In this paper, I plan to demonstrate that the importance of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings lies in the very fact that it appeals to such a mass audience, for it reflects the crisis of the self that takes place within us all, both on an individual level as well as a macro level that reflects the structure of society. Using Freud's theories of psychoanalysis, I will explore the identities of the characters in the novel and how they relate to one another, their communities, the world of Middle Earth, and in turn, the modern world in which we live today. I plan on exploring the following three topics in this paper: 1) The Quest for the Self, 2) The Return to the Beginning (The Pleasure Principle vs. The Reality Principle), and 3) Eros and Thanatos (The Life Instinct vs. the Death Drive.) I will use Norman O. Brown’s Life against Death to illuminate a great deal of the text, and specifically expand on Hugh T. Keenan’s essay, “The Appeal of The Lord of the Rings: A Struggle for Life,” which I believe insufficiently explores the conflict of the life and death instincts in The Lord of the Rings, and especially how these books, by utilizing the struggle of these instincts, in turn relate to society.