Message Board | Rules

Thread: Psychoanalysis and LOTR

Bottom of Page    Message Board > The Lord of the Rings > Psychoanalysis and LOTR   [1] [2] >> I am really starting to research psychoanalysis and apply it to LOTR, but I am having a bit of trouble. I need to divide my thesis into three sections, but I keep returning to two main sections instead of three.

So far, I am dividing it into:
1) The Quest for the Self, which basically discusses how Middle Earth is set up as Freud sees the mind -- divided into Ego, Super-Ego and Id. This could also focus on Gollum as Frodo's double, and how he has appeared out of guilt, which surfaces through repression (as the shadow often does.)

2) The Return to the Beginning, which focuses on man's obsession with beginnings (including history and childhood). This could be related both to the actual text, focusing on the childlike nature of Hobbits, as well as society and our fascination with LOTR in general, since the text relies heavily on the past and mythology.

3) Now, this is where I run into problems. In this section, I am thinking about discussing Freud's death instinct, and how it becomes entwined with our life instinct, or the pleasure principle (basically the symbolism of the Ring itself, Aragorn's journey through the Paths of the Dead, etc.). The problem here is that the death instinct can be seen as a return to the beginning, so perhaps it should be included in the second section of my paper? But then I get stuck. If this does indeed belong in the second part of the paper, then I am struggling with coming up with a third section. Ugh! Help!

Does anyone know much about psychoanalysis and its application to texts? If so, could you please discuss each of these sections with me so that I can work through a few ideas?
Well, after thinking about it over the weekend, I have decided to combine sections two and three. I will plan on making section three about the relationship of science and advancement to our denial of the death instinct and our search for immortality, which is specifically represented by Saruman and Sauron, as well as the cities and artifacts in LOTR. ( I will expand on all of this with specific examples later...)

Or maybe I should keep section three and make this a part of it???
Sorry Eruwen, the academic shrink business lies beyond me ken.
Ah well, at least you are honest, Grondy Smile Smilie. 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.

Introduction (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
or changed:

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.
Eruwen i completely agree we should defend Tolkien's work although many people would not pay much attention to what you say i will kinda? understand moral support
To me tolkien goes into such depth that i get lost in middle earth, his sentence structure allows you to be pulled in by his wording and i find it good that someone has said it there always something new in the old words that only few can find good luck!!!!
This work has not been a favorite with literary critics for many reasons, but I believe it is mainly because it appeals to such a wide audience.

The literary critics in Elizabethan times regarded Shakespeare in the same way that
JRRT's works are regarded nowadays. The same is true for Goethe's works in his time.

Few authors which are now counted among the classical writers were acclaimed by the 'critics'
in their time.

About 100 years from now, JRRT's works will regarded the same way that Shakespeare, Goethe, Dostoevsky, etc. are regarded now.
That's exactly what I am hoping, Mir. Any writer who appeals to a "mass"
audience usually has to wait decades if not centuries to gain acceptance
with literary critics.

And I appreciate your support, Elessar Smile Smilie.
Indeed, the point of any work that is now considered as 'literature' was always to reach and appeal to as much people as possible.

Claiming that a book is not literature because too much people read it, is so hopelessly elitist. Literature was not made for the critic up in his ivory tower, but for everyone.

I think JRRT has certainly managed that as much as Shakespeare, Dante and Goethe in their time.
I agree, Mir.

Section I. The Quest for the Self
During our lives, a division takes place within us all that can be termed as the search for the self, or a search for identity. We constantly struggle to establish our ego while being pulled in different directions by our id and superego. Throughout this struggle, we strive for peace, either by establishing a strong ego that can quiet the noise created by the id and superego, or by returning to more peaceful times in the history of our self, such as childhood or our inorganic self. Freud long believed that only certain individuals developed neuroses due to the repression that takes place during this division within the self; however, later in his career, especially while writing Civilization and Its Discontents, he started to establish that the entire human race is actually neurotic due to these repressions, and society and culture are the macro representations of the neuroses that we as individuals suffer.

The quest has long been a part of the oral as well as the literary tradition, for it mirrors this journey to find our own identities and, as established by Bruno Bettelheim in his book The Uses of Enchantment, is a very important part of our psychological development. I believe that this is one of the reasons many of us are so strongly affected by The Lord of the Rings, for it mirrors our own journey of the self as well as our neurotic society. In order to establish a self, we must see ourselves in an other, and a text, such as The Lord of the Rings, may serve as this other. We are able to find our own individual struggles in many of the same battles that each of the characters face, and by looking at the maps of Middle Earth, we can see that Middle Earth itself is a reflection of both the self and society. The books lack a center or an ego, set in an age that is shifting from the age of elves to the age of man, and Aragorn, the man caught in the midst of it all is trying to determine what role he wants to take on in society, shifting between the elvish world and the world of man. Most people even have trouble establishing who the ’true’ hero of the novels is.

I plan to demonstrate how the individual struggles of each of the characters all entwine to lead to the establishment of man by the end of the novel, the establishment of the ego and the self. Keenan mentions that ’Frodo is the Child who fathers the Age of Men’ (68), but he does not elaborate on how he does this, why this occurs or what the significance of this is to the reader. I will especially focus on the journeys of Frodo and Aragorn as representations of the ego; Gandalf as a representation of the superego; and Saruman and Sauron as representations of the id. By reviewing the maps of Middle Earth, I will continue my exploration of the self and society, especially focusing on the waxing and waning boundaries of each of the lands, as well as the representation of the ocean and the part it plays in the lives of the elves of Middle Earth; their constant longing for the sea reflects the ’oceanic’ feeling that plagues us all, that feeling of a time when we lacked the boundaries we created within our selves.
II. The Return to the Beginning
As briefly mentioned before, we all long for a time when we lacked boundaries, when all the pieces of the self existed in harmony with one another without being repressed by the powerful superego or urged into duress by the id; this time for many of us is childhood, when our ego is very weak, the superego has not established itself, and we indulge in pleasuring the self without feeling the need to repress our desires. This is the time before the reality principle establishes itself in our lives. Keenan is correct in stating that ’Tolkien’s thematic presentation explores in its course the psychological meaning of childhood’ (62). This depiction of The Shire and the hobbits in The Lord of the Rings as a representation of a happy and indulgent childhood is a large part of the appeal for both children and adults alike; even Tolkien longed to be a hobbit living in The Shire, for it reflected his own childhood memories. I plan to elaborate on why society feels compelled to explore childhood, especially through The Lord of the Rings, and why we long to return to these beginnings. I also will address, on a macro level, why we as a society feel attached to the past, and have urges to repeat history, just as many of the characters and societies in The Lord of the Rings.

As the reality principle begins to assert itself, we must try harder and harder to repress our self-indulgent desires, we must grow up and never experience the same satisfaction that we experience in youth. By externalizing the self love and satisfaction we have in childhood, "the fundamental quest of man is to find a satisfactory object for his love" (Brown 7), also known as a substitute-gratification. As we continue to repress our desires, we find that we experience more guilt each time a desires surfaces that we must lay to rest. We can find this struggle explicitly in the journey of the childlike hobbit, Frodo Baggins. I will focus on his own particular struggle with the obsession of an object - The One Ring, and how this struggle causes such a great amount of guilt in Frodo that it results in a split within himself, represented by Gollum as Frodo's double.

We as humans long for not only our own childhoods but also the less developed civilizations of the past. The memory-traces of the experiences of our ancestors make us prisoners to the past, for we repeat and repress many of their experiences that surface in our conscience. As we repeat these past experiences, we long for these beginnings when there was less to repress, yet we feel if we keep moving forward, if we find the perfect object or objects that will satisfy us, then we will be able to appease the resurfacing pleasure principle. As a reflection of this neurotic longing for our past, the books contain a great amount of imagery devoted to roots, which I plan on exploring. Also, the books by incorporating such a large amount of Norse mythology further feed into our fascination with history. According to William Blake, we divide not only within ourselves, but society keeps dividing more and more, breaking away from the union we all once had with one another. As society grows, these divisions become greater, and we long for a core, a way to pull ourselves back together, and history allows us a small way in which to do this. Of course, Blake also believed that our move forward was like a spiral, moving forward and yet backward, but always up to a more perfect wholeness.
III. Eros and Thanatos
As Norman O. Brown insightfully states in his book Life against Death, we deny death throughout life, but by doing so, we in turn deny life. Keenan’s essay mentions that the great appeal of The Lord of the Rings is the fact that it intricately ties together life and death, as they are tied together in our own lives, for Middle Earth is both a land that is living and yet dying. However, he fails to mention two of the most dramatic representations of this, one is The Ring itself, and the other is Aragorn’s journey through the Paths of the Dead. The One Ring defies death by promising power and immortality, yet if a being were to use it, he or she would bring only death and destruction upon themselves and others. On the other hand, Aragorn’s journey through death in life, leads Aragorn to accept his fate, and leads to a triumphant ending. Only when man truly accepts death, can he begin living.

In childhood, we take pleasure in the body and not in the mind of science and rationale. Once we reach adulthood, we begin to turn toward scientific thought and what we believe is progress, repressing our bodily desires and searching for gratification in external objects. Sauron, who lacks physical form, or at least works only from the shadows in The Lord of the Rings, is completely the rational self without bodily desires; he is a sexless being, as are all of his creations. He desires only The One Ring, yet The Ring is also a representation of himself, for in making The Ring, he put his own essence into it. He is constantly referred to as an ever-watchful Red Eye, which also reflects the paranoia that surfaces as guilt shadows us. All of the scientific advancement Sauron and Saruman achieve is not only unsuccessful but also leads to their complete destruction, and in the processing of attempting to advance their rational self, they destroy the natural world around them.

Part of our obsession of moving forward in society with civilization, as mentioned before, is the obsession to satisfy ourselves, and we do not want to die until we find this satisfaction. Unfortunately, we will not be truly gratified until we learn to look to the self and its reunification in the complete rest of the inorganic self. As we advance forward searching for satisfaction other than in ourselves, longing for immortality, we create cities to defy death, both through the security they offer and through the fact that we believe we will live on through the objects we build. These cities also create further division and boundaries between different societies and cultures. The great, fortified cities and mighty artifacts that are scattered throughout Middle Earth create an oppressive history that follows the characters throughout the novels. As we journey through life both as individuals and as a society, never finding gratification, we become more and more hostile toward life. We turn the play of childhood outward and it turns into a hostile game of ownership, such as the fight for The One Ring.
Many people read The Lord of the Rings once a year as they make their way from childhood through to adulthood, and during each stage, they find a different message in the text that pertains to them at that particular point in their lives. They are able to find characters and situations that mirror their own struggles with the pleasure principle, the reality principle and the death instinct. They are able to reflect on the happy indulgence of their childhoods, but also see through The Lord of the Rings, that they need to journey on to maturity, that they cannot just focus on a small part of their lives, but need to move forward to gain perspective. Even though, as a society, we may be separating from each other more and more, there is still hope that we can lessen these divisions. For on a more personal level, this move forward in life is a slow journey back to our inorganic self and wholeness. As we move forward, shedding the cells of the self, we are incorporating more of the world and society into our own egos; we are actually lessening the divisions that were started with the ultimate separation and trauma of division that takes place at birth, and there is the prospect that this may one day come to be reflected in society.

Brown, just as Tolkien, takes a more positive view than Freud of the journey through life and the possibilities of man to come back together as a community and live more as a whole. Frodo cannot stay in Middle Earth and is granted passage to Arda with the elves at the end of the text, for there is no room for the naive pleasures of childhood without the wisdom of adulthood. He cannot stay in Middle Earth for man, Aragorn, the representation of the adult ego, has fully established himself. The poignant ending of the books, just as with life, leaves us feeling hope for the future of Middle Earth, and yet a certain sadness for everything that has come before and has been lost. We mourn for the razing of The Shire, and the life that the hobbits used to live, yet this sadness is tempered with the joy of a more complete wisdom. The elves, the representation of man as he should be, leave Middle Earth, for we have yet to reach this level of wisdom; and Frodo leaves, for we have left this level of innocence behind. The Lord of the Rings is a work that may not be respected by critics, but it is a work that will endure, for it is important to us as a society and individuals; it is a reflection of our own minds and our own journeys through life to find our self.
Well, I just had my oral thesis defense with my professors, and we have actually decided on a different outline for my thesis. We realized that an entire thesis could actually be devoted to any of the three topics into which I had divided my thesis. So, I'm going to only focus on Eros and Thanatos in LOTR, and divide the three sections into the three different volumes. This is good since Eros and Thanatos has been the theory of Freud's that I have always been the most fascinated with. Anyway...
Teacher Smilie Good luck with it Eruwen, and may the muse fill your pen with the right words to make it a success. Orc With Thumbs Up Smilie
Thanks, Grondy...I'll be doing a lot of Read Smilie and hoping for a little Genius Smilie let me know what you think of the following; I know it may seem far-fetched to many of you, but I'm attempting to bring to light the reason that LOTR touches such a deep part of our psyche:

As with many fairytales, The Fellowship of the Ring, (which I will be referring to as FOTR from here on out), begins with the reinforcement of the connection between life and death. Our journey through Middle-Earth immediately starts off with a celebration as well as a loss, for we celebrate Bilbo’s birthday and then witness his disappearance from Frodo's life, leaving Frodo to prove himself as the master of the house. Bruno Bettelheim points out that most fairytales begin with the death or loss of a parent, which "creates the most agonizing of problems, as it (or the fear of it) does in real life" (8). We learn at the beginning of FOTR that Bilbo Baggins is like a father to Frodo, and even goes so far as adopting him as his heir. We also learn that Bilbo is the person whom Frodo most loves in the world. By putting Frodo in the position of having to act on his own without parental guidance, the reader, no matter what her age, more readily identifies with him, for we all either need encouragement that we will succeed or have been in a particular arrangement in which we have had to prove ourselves.

As the death instincts work quietly within an organism's life to bring that organism closer to death, Bilbo at the beginning of FOTR also is feeling the need to return to his inorganic self, for too much stimulus has built up for him to repress, as is usual for all of us over the course of our lives, and he is feeling "like butter that has been scraped over too much bread" (58). Of course, this feeling is compounded for Bilbo because of the Ring, which further acts as both an internal and external stimulant. Bilbo says he wants to return to the mountains, so he can rest. Mountains, according to Erich Neumann, bring together life and death, for they represent all aspects of Mother Earth: the "vessel, belly, and earth." As such, she "can be terrible as well as good," for "the Archetypal Feminine is not only a giver and protector of life but, as container, also holds fast and takes back; she is the goddess of life and death at once. [’] the Feminine contains opposites, and the world actually lives because it combines earth and heaven, night and day, death and life’ (Neumann 45). Bilbo longs to return to his beginnings, and for his life to come full-circle.

The birthday celebration that opens the book takes place in honor of Bilbo's eleventy-first and Frodo's thirty-third birthdays. Frodo’s birthday is a significant age in Western culture, for it is the age at which Jesus gave his own life to give humanity eternal life. It is at this notable age, 33, that Frodo inherits the One Ring from his Uncle Bilbo. Tolkien admits that, ’The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally Catholic and Religious work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision’ (Letters, 172). I do not intend to build up Frodo as a Christ figure though, for I do not think Tolkien with his dislike of allegories would want that, but I would like to suggest that the weight of the burden Frodo will have to bare as he journeys through Middle-Earth is enhanced for the reader by the particular age Tolkien chooses for him to inherit the Ring. Tolkien edits out most references ’to anything like 'religion', to cults or practices, in the imaginary world’ because he believes ’the religious element is absorbed into the story and symbolism" (Letters,172). In saying this, Tolkien seems as if he does not want to beat the reader over the head with religion, but no doubt realizes that the significance of the number 33 has permeated beyond our conscious to lend meaning and seriousness to Frodo’s quest. Just as Christ through death brings eternal life, Frodo will journey to destroy the Ring, which leads to his own symbolic death, so that Man, as a representative of the ego, can live on, establish his identity, and have his own time as a leader in Middle-Earth. (Special thanks to Gandalf-olorin for the above quote.)

As soon as Frodo is left on his own to gain independent experience, he inherits two noteworthy items ’ Bag End and the One Ring ’ one a symbol of life and beginnings, and the other a symbol of death and destruction. Bag End is Bilbo’s hobbit hole. Hobbit holes are often built into hillsides and have round doors and round windows. It is in this hill, a womb in Mother Earth, that Frodo completes his gestation period of approximately twelve years before he sets out from the Shire. Through this gestation period and the growing recognition of his mortality, the shadow of death also grows upon him, for the influence of the Ring as a representation of both the Pleasure Principle and the Death Instinct grows greater as it does within us all as we age. Its immediate connection with the na’ve Frodo is to demonstrate the shadowing of life by death that we all experience. It is through birth that we usher in life and death at the same moment; it is through birth that mortality is recognized. In order to truly come to terms with death and establish Man in Middle-Earth, Frodo must be born and set out from the Shire. As he leaves his Hobbit hole in Mother Earth, through his round door, he is truly born. The round door, the exit from the womb, is also a symbol of life and death coming full-circle, just like the Ring. The beginning and the end are indeterminable from one another for they both lead to the same place.

The moment Frodo leaves the Shire, looking still as a child to the eye of Man, death hounds him. The Black Riders or Ringwraiths are figures that remind the reader of the Grim Reaper, for just like the Reaper they wear "a great black cloak and hood" and their faces are "shadowed and invisible" (111). They literally track Frodo's scent, hounding him to give them the Ring, which he greatly desires to do, for as they approach: "curiosity or some other feeling was struggling with his desire to hide" (111). He cannot even name the feeling that is tugging at him to show himself and give them the Ring, which would bring certain death. This is the same death instinct that drives us all to want to return to our inorganic selves, but, just like Frodo, we do not know that it is this longing that carries us through life. Just as death haunts us all throughout life, Frodo with his entrance into the world begins immediately to see death following him. By beginning the novel with images of both birth and death, Tolkien immediately prepares us for a story that will be a quest or journey through life.
You may or may not be pleased with these quotes I have found from some Tolkien sources.

The first from the Letters of JRRT:

"The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally Catholic and Religious work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references [Ed. though not all] to anything like 'religion', to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and symbolism. " [Letters p.172].

The second is from the book Celebration, quoting Tolkien:

"I object to the contemporary trend in criticism, with its excessive interest in the details of the lives of authors and artists. They only distract attention from an author's work...and end, as one now often sees, in becoming the main interest. But only one's guardian angel, or indeed God Himself, could unravel the real relationship between personal facts and an author's works. Not the author himself [though he knows more than any investigator], and certainly not the so called 'psychologists'. " [Celebration p.104].

Thanks, Gandalf. The first quote is very helpful. The second quote is Tolkien's opinion, and unfortunately, does not stop people from psychoanalyzing the work. I actually plan on focusing more on the text itself than the author though, so perhaps he would be happier with that Wink Smilie. I want to be sure to focus on why the text affects us so deeply rather than on any goal that Tolkien had in mind when he was writing. Great feedback! Thank you!!!
It seems to hold water; though if I rightly understood your argument, Frodo's gestation period was seventeen years rather than twelve. Teacher Smilie

Bilbo left the Shire in TA 3001 at an age of eleventy-one; Frodo left in TA 3018 at an age of fifty, (33+17=50) which coincidently was Bilbo's age in TA 2941 when he initially left the Shire with the Dwarves. This info came from Appendix B to Return of the King.
You are correct! Thanks for pointing that out. Ooo...perfect age for one to enter manhood -- 17! I remember trying to compare the years that Gandalf was coming and going with the fact that 17 years had past, and it didn't seem to pan out, which is why the number 12 was stuck in my head. I need to look at that again though.
Does anyone know where I can find the quote that mentions Tolkien choosing every single word of the books with great care? I thought I read it in his letters, but now I can't seem to find it.

Also, can anyone tell me which thread discussed Tolkien's view on technology? I remember Clover making an interesting comment in that thread (not that she doesn't usually make interesting comments, I just found one in there particularly useful.) Thanks!
They literally track Frodo's scent, hounding him to give them the Ring, which he greatly desires to do, for as they approach: "curiosity or some other feeling was struggling with his desire to hide" (111).

The Nazg’l track the scent of the Ring, not Frodo's scent. They were not the Bloodhound Gang, nor did Frodo smell that bad.

Also, can anyone tell me which thread discussed Tolkien's view on technology? I remember Clover making an interesting comment in that thread (not that she doesn't usually make interesting comments, I just found one in there particularly useful.) Thanks!

I remember that I myself have posted those parts from Letters, but I do not remember in what thread.

I remember trying to compare the years that Gandalf was coming and going with the fact that 17 years had past, and it didn't seem to pan out, which is why the number 12 was stuck in my head.

After the long expected party and before the Shadow of the Past-talk in 3018 T.A., Gandalf visited Frodo in the year 3008 T.A. i believe. (can't be bothered to consult the appendices atm - though the year 3011 T.A. keeps popping up in my head too although that's normally the year when Gandalf & Aragorn were searching for Gollum together).
The Nazg’l track the scent of the Ring, not Frodo's scent. They were not the Bloodhound Gang, nor did Frodo smell that bad.

Aragorn tells the hobbits -- "And at all times they smell the blood of living things, desiring and hating it" (FOTR, 256). Hmmm...guess Frodo did smell that bad...
So then, when is their next gig?
Also, can anyone tell me which thread discussed Tolkien's view on technology? I remember Clover making an interesting comment in that thread (not that she doesn't usually make interesting comments, I just found one in there particularly useful.) Thanks!
On the far right of the site menu (found just below the site banner) is our search function which you can use to search the site for the thread. I'd do it for you, but am not quite sure I'd recognize it and I got 39 matches for "Tolkien +technology" and 9 matches for "Tolkien's view on technology"
You know, I have been looking for the search function ever since you all started discussing it. I still can't find it!!!! Ugh. I have looked through every inch of my screen. Why am I missing it?
I also thought the function had disappeared until I found it today.

Look for the link "Search" located just above the Poll. Happy Elf Smilie
Hmmm...doesn't show up on my screen. Perhaps you're special Smile Smilie.
I can't find that either, Grondy.
It's the emperor's new link, only really intelligent people can see it. Like Grondy and me. I'll help you anyway. Wink Smilie

Scroll up to the top of the screen. Below the big banner and above where it says "Message Board > The Lord of the Rings > Psychoanalysis and LOTR", you will find many links with white text. Search is, at the moment, the last link on the list.

Things may move around (or away) up there as Grep is still working on the site. If you can't find "search" up there, click here to search
Aragorn tells the hobbits -- "And at all times they smell the blood of living things, desiring and hating it" (FOTR, 256). Hmmm...guess Frodo did smell that bad...

That quote does not say the Bloodhound Gang followed Frodo's scent. If the Bloodhound Gang smelled the blood of living things, they would not only smell Frodo's blood, but also Sam's, Pippin's, Merry's, Strider's, every inhabitant of Hobbiton and Bree, every animal passing and floating by, etc.

It would have been impossible for them to discern Frodo from all the rest, if Frodo did not have the Ring in his possession, which served as a beacon to them.
I agree that the Ring served as a beacon, but they were still using their noses to track Frodo. They are hunting, and when hunting, you use as many senses as possible to track the prey. Perhaps that's more along the lines of what I should say, for they do mention that there are other senses the Ringwraiths use for tracking.
Thanks for the Search function, Amari’. Works beautifully! Smile Smilie
I agree that the Ring served as a beacon, but they were still using their noses to track Frodo.

Or maybe the Ring served as a bacon to them, then.

Hardy, har, har. I wish we had a sound effect like "wah-wah-wah" or "buh-dum-ching" every time you come up with one of those silly one-liners. Wink Smilie
They're better than Leno's.
Here is yet another section that I would like to see everyone's reaction to. Let me preface this with saying that whenever I refer to Keenan, I am referring to Hugh T. Keenan's essay "The Appeal of The Lord of the Rings: A Struggle for Life."

The Fellowship must travel through the passageways of Moria because they are detoured from climbing the paths over the mountain, Caradhras. Caradhras defeats them with chilling wind and snow, displaying the horrible and destructive power of nature, rather than the regenerative and healing power that man often associates with nature, such as Tom Bombadil. The Fellowship must choose a different way to venture to the other side of the Misty Mountains, so instead of going over them, they must pass through them. This is another passage through death to life, just as the hobbits’ confrontation with the Barrow-wight. Unlike the barrow though, this passage involves the entire Fellowship. The hill and the mountain are ’consciousness rising up out of the unconscious, the foundation of the diurnal ego’ (Neumann 240). By having the entire Fellowship pass through Moria, the novel shows that we are always confronted by death no matter what stage we are at in life, death always resurfaces no matter how much we try to repress it into the darkness of our unconscious. This deviation from their direct course of action is necessary in order for them to gain experience by facing death and mortality. Keenan points out the significance of the name ’Moria,’ which Tolkien was most certainly aware of as a philologist: ’Mor is ’mountain’ in A.S. [Anglo Saxon]; but Moria suggests also moira, ’fate’ in Gr. [Greek], and mors, ’death’ in Lat. [Latin]’ (79). This, again, ties mountains not only to life, as a representation of the womb, but also to death, as a symbol of a tomb, and our ultimate fate.

An important part of the dialectical nature of life and death is shown, as Keenan mentions, by the two contrasting lakes at either end of the passage through Moria:

The one before the entrance is dark, loathsome, and artificial, a product of the evil within; and in it lurks an octopus-like monster. Only two ancient holly trees remain there as evidence of benevolent influence and symbols of the former friendship between the Elves and the Dwarfs. On the other side of Moria lies the beautiful, natural, life-giving lake of Mirrormere, which is worshipped by the dwarf Gimli. (79)

Before I venture to explain the symbolism of the water, I must disagree that the living trees are the only ’symbols of the former friendship between the Elves and the Dwarfs,’ for the door to the entrance of Moria contains important symbols of that friendship as well, which Keenan, unfortunately, fails to expand upon. The door not only has symbols of the friendship between Elves and Dwarfs, but also symbols of the struggle between life and death. (See Appendix A)

The trees ’wrought of ithildin,’ imprinted on either side of the door, are symbols of nature, reflecting man’s beginning and end (397). ’The image of the tree, firmly implanted in the earth that feeds it, but rising up into the air where it unfolds its crown, has stirred man’s imagination from time immemorial. It shades and shelters all living things, and feeds them with its fruit, which hang on it like stars’ (Neumann 245). The trees also bring to our psyche the images of the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge (or death) in the Bible. Trees are rooted deep into the earth and the unconscious, yet they stretch their branches up into the stars and into life, bridging the gap between life and death, displaying our destiny above and below the earth as one, a birth from and a return to the darkness of the womb. For through knowledge and experience, we were denied eternal life, yet by journeying through both, we shall gain it back again in a higher sphere, for above the trees on the door to Moria rises a crown and seven stars, a symbol associated with creation as well as the Apocalypse. The immediate association of the crown is, of course, with the dwarf Durin, for when he looked into Mirrormere, he saw a crown upon his head, and the story continues that the crown is once again in Mirrormere waiting for him to reawaken and claim it. Again, this myth impresses itself upon our psyche, for the crown also is associated with the Almighty rising above life and death, bringing both together in the end of all things. The single star in the center of the door, which Gandalf describes as the Star of the House of F’anor, resembles the Star of the House of David, as well as the star guiding the Three Wise Men to Jesus. Stars are our faithful guides, for they are on predestined courses, and they, like fate, lead us through life; and though the path may change, it leads to the same end.

Also on this door to the entrance of Moria are the images of the hammer and the anvil, symbols of the productivity of human-kind, symbols of mastering nature, especially rock. Although these images are directly related with the dwarfs in the novel, they also are tied to man’s own attempts to repress death through productivity. As we strive to attain immortality through production, building monuments that will outlive us, we are actually affirming death, for around us are images of past generations that are no longer living, casting a shadow on the consciousness of the future. However, since the images of life and death, nature and productivity, are all together on the door, it shows that these things can be in balance. But in the case of Moria, the dwarfs upset this balance with their greed, delving too deep, and in the end, productivity could not hold back death and destruction. But hope is not entirely lost, for trees also signify regeneration, and after Moria, the Fellowship will be revived in Lothl’rien, a city built in the trees.

Now, after a small diversion, I return to the bodies of water that are present at both the entrance and exit of Moria, which remind us of the all-encompassing water of life and death. Again, as we move forward through life, death is always present because it entered with us into the world, it is there pushing us forward. The Fellowship cannot go back out through the entrance, for the way is blocked, they must move forward to gain experience, all the while hearing the sound of ’doom, doom, doom’ echoing on the drums beating through Moria. Gandalf falls into the deep pits of Moria, and the Fellowship is reduced to eight, which means that Frodo and the rest of the Company must venture forth for awhile without the guidance of the wise superego (460). They must learn and make decisions on their own, just as we all must make decisions without always knowing the outcome. And when they come out on the other side of Moria, after facing a Balrog, the ultimate symbol of death and destruction, Gimli, Frodo and Sam gaze into the waters of Mirrormere. Yet, unlike most mirrors, in which we see our own reflection and gain a recognition of the self, ’Of their own stooping forms no shadow could be seen.’ Instead they see ’the forms of the encircling mountains mirrored in a profound blue, and the peaks were like plumes of white flame above them; beyond there was a space of sky. There like jewels sunk in the deep shone glinting stars, though sunlight was in the sky above’ (433-34). Instead of seeing their own self, they see beyond the self, into the eternal self, and they are put into such a state of deep thought that they cannot even speak after gazing into the waters. They move forward without Gandalf understanding that true knowledge lies within.
I''m holding off criticism of scholarly retorts to critics, as it took me a few minutes to remember what I wanted to post (sleep soon.) I'll read it later though, as the only thing underneath the thread title on my screen is a short, wide BLANK banner, very like the one at the bottom of my screen, so I'll need to bookmark for the search function. Now, to what I actually wanted to share, such as it is:

Like all good little American HS seniors in AP English I took the AP English test, consisting (for those unaware) of a hundred multiple guess questions, a couple of essays (or maybe three; it's been a while) chosen from a list of topics within associated works, and last but certainly not least the one that separates the men from the boys: free response essay, address a stated topic using "a work of recognized literary merit." Now, bear in mind, this was fifteen years ago, so I was a tad concerned the work I knew from day one I'd use would be up to snuff. However, I'd been waiting five years to write that essay, and I wrote it. The task was to give an example of how an author uses geography to contrast good and evil within a work (I'm not sure how I worked in the Strider poem, but I know I did; the Ring Verse with "in the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie" is much better suited, and no I didn't ramble this much when I wrote it.) To make a long story... complete, anyway, I felt pretty good about the other essays, and not bad about the multiple guess, but... what about Tolkien? Well, on a scale of 1-5, the College Board gave me a 5, so I guess Tolkien, or at least the Trilogy is, in fact, "a work of recognized literary merit." And if the failed authors turned critics don't like it they can stuff it.

Carry on (and good luck and God bless, Eruwen.)
Hey, I took the AP English Test, too, about 13 years ago. Wow, I really don't remember what I wrote about though. I think I wrote something on Waiting for Godot. Thanks for the encouragement, Morambar. Luckily, I have very supportive professors who think that Tolkien is a perfect choice for a thesis topic.
And yet another section...

The first being that Frodo receives help from outside of the Shire is Tom Bombadil, a being who is completely in tune with nature, so much so, that he has the ability to manipulate it because the boundaries between himself and nature are unclear. A fairy-tale hero, according to Bettelheim, ’is helped by being in touch with primitive things ’ a tree, an animal, nature ’ as the child feels more in touch with those things than most adults do’ (11). Frodo, just setting out from the Shire, is still a child-like being, his instincts are still closely associated with one another, they have yet to separate into the warring factions of his psyche. He has not yet matured enough or repressed enough due to culture and civilization to forget about nature and how we are a part of it. When Frodo and his friends become ensnared in the trunk and roots of Old Man Willow, Frodo’s cries for help are answered by Tom Bombadil, who comes bounding up the path toward the hobbits, ’singing loudly and nonsensically’ (169). However, ’sound rather than sense is important in Tom’s poetry because he, like nature, is nonrational,’ and Frodo is closer to the nonrational at this period in his life as well (Kelly 180). The hobbits do not question the words, ’Hey! Come merry dol! Derry dol! My darling!’ in Tom’s song, for his voice touches the emotions of the hobbits, making them feel glad (168). He easily makes Old Man Willow release the hobbits, and they follow Tom home, relieved to meet a friend in the darkness of the Old Forest.

Two types of nature are shown in this chapter regarding the Old Forest ’ destructive and regenerative. However, we find that destructive nature is only made that way because of the productions of human-kind. The trees ’became very unfriendly’ after the hobbits cut down hundreds’ of them, ’and made a great bonfire in the Forest’ (157). This is Frodo’s first insight into the results of the productions of human-kind, and what takes place as man builds and believes he is becoming civilized. He, in fact, is distancing himself from nature, causing him to have less in common with his surroundings, signifying the repression of his animistic instinct, and the increased division of his self. But, Tom, demonstrates the power of a being who understands and works with nature, showing how we all must strive to understand it, for it will be the only way we will truly master it, and not through the forced bonds and boundaries that we put on it.

The Ring does not even have power over Tom, which is why he is discussed at the Council of Elrond as a possible way of hiding the Ring. Elrond mentions Tom’s elvish name, Iarwain Ben-adar, which means ’oldest and fatherless’ (347). He has no father with which to start the competition, division and separation that fuels many of our lives. Gandalf points out that ’if he were given the Ring, he would soon forget it, or most likely throw it away. Such things have no hold on his mind. He would be a most unsafe guardian’ (348). He has no attachment to objects, he has no need for them, since he has the ultimate union with his surroundings, demonstrating how through this communion, one may even overcome time. The quest ’is possible only for those who are subject to individuation and time, that is, those who are conscious of the division between the self and the other’ (Zimbardo 107). Goldberry first describes Tom simply as ’He is,’ by which we automatically relate him to a god, but she then expands on her description, stating that he is ’the Master of wood, water, and hill’ (173-74). If we all were capable of understanding nature as Tom, then we all may simply ’be,’ without the worry of time and death overshadowing us.

Frodo immediately has another run-in with death when he departs from the home of Tom Bombadil. As Frodo journeys away from his natural self, learning more about civilization, he wanders into a fog, the bright and clear vision that he had at Tom’s is replaced with haze, and he stumbles into the cold and darkness of the tombs of the Barrow-wights. We learn from Tom that the Barrow-downs were once a land of ’little kingdoms’ warring amongst one another, ’and the young Sun shone like fire on the red metal of their new and greedy swords’ (181). Greed, which stems from our attachment to objects and the struggle to own those objects, is what we come to understand as the chief objective of those old kingdoms. Because of their supreme attachment to objects such as gold, which ’was piled on the biers of dead kings and queens,’ the Barrow-wights find no rest in death, for they have not completely surrendered to the wholeness of their inorganic selves; they cannot, for they are too attached to the material world as it is juxtaposed against the natural world of Tom. The Barrow-wights are covered in mounds, so that they seem like they should be resting in the womb of death, but because of their corrupt state, it is not difficult for their bones to be stirred by the shadow of Sauron. Even in death, they would not give up the objects they had fought so hard to win, for they ’walked in the hollow places with a clink of rings on cold fingers, and gold chains in the wind’ (181). When Frodo awakes in the tomb of the Barrow-wight, he sees that his friends have been all dressed in white and that ’about them lay many treasures, of gold maybe, though in that light they looked cold and unlovely’ (194). Frodo realizes that in death, the objects that surround us will not bring us much comfort, and in fact, not only look worthless, but are worthless.

Frodo, not wishing to succumb to the unrepressed desires of the material world that could bring his immediate destruction, sings out for help to Tom, who immediately comes to the hobbits’ aid. The hobbits are all freed from the barrow, and immediately cast off their white clothes and jewels. ’You’ve found yourselves again, out of deep water’ (198). Tom has once again brought life to the hobbits who were so near death. The hobbits, again, being so close to nature, are able to cast off the desires that come with the developing self with the help of a being who existed ’before the principle of self came’ (Zimbardo 107). The two images of eternal life and eternal death are brought together to demonstrate the conflict between our beginnings and our ends, and our struggle throughout life with the instant gratification promised by the pleasure-principle, which often means self-destruction as well.
And more...any feedback is welcome. Wink Smilie

If it is one image in The Lord of the Rings, (and perhaps one of the greatest images in all of Literature), that most completely represents man’s psychological struggle, and demonstrates the way in which all of our instincts, desires and drives are inextricably intertwined, it is the image of The One Ring. We learn much about the Ring during Gandalf’s discussions with Frodo before he leaves the Shire, but at the Council of Elrond, we learn the story of the Ring in its entirety. Elrond and the Council serve as a superego, a source of reflection and contemplation; Elrond is ’ancient wisdom, and his House represents Lore ’ the preservation in reverent memory of all tradition concerning the good, wise, and beautiful’ (Tolkien, Letters 153). The Council reveals how the Ring is linked to all of the races of Middle Earth, and especially how it continues to hold them in its grasp. It is an object that they all hate, yet for which they all yearn, just like death is what we all secretly yearn for yet abhor all the same. Even Frodo feels the power of the Ring, for when he is asked to bring the Ring forward at the Council, ’he felt a great reluctance to reveal the Ring, and a loathing of its touch’ (324). In order to be released from the power of the Ring, it must be destroyed, and it can only be destroyed in the fires from which it was made by Sauron, the fires of Mount Doom.

We learn that man once had a chance to destroy the Ring, for Isildur, the heir of Elendil, cut it from the hand of Sauron, but instead of destroying it, he took it for his own. He could not resist the temptation of having power over all living things, which is what still drives man today. ’Freud suggests that the aggression in human nature ’ the drive to master nature as well as the drive to master man ’ is the result of an extroversion of the death instinct, the desire to die being transformed into the desire to kill, destroy, or dominate’ (Brown 102). Man has repressed his desire to die, making him long for eternal life; Isildur took the Ring for his own in order to have power in life over death, but instead of power, the Ring brought his downfall, which is why one of the names for the Ring is Isildur’s Bane. He sought immediate satisfaction, but, as the instant gratification of the pleasure-principle often leads to destruction, it was no different with Isildur and seeking to satisfy his own drive for pleasure was detrimental to him in the end.

Man seeking to satisfy himself is nothing new in our world; Freud often stated that man’s ultimate goal was to satisfy his instinct for pleasure, or at least to avoid pain as we moved forward to the ultimate peace of death. Isildur’s actions, when he had the chance to destroy the Ring but did not, could be seen as the ’Primal Crime’ in The Lord of the Rings. It replicates the story of Adam and Eve, and their quest for knowledge and power, which led to their downfall. Isildur’s actions, his longing for power, also bring the downfall of man in Middle-Earth, for after he failed to destroy the Ring, ’the race of N’menor has decayed, and the span of their years has lessened’ (320). As man’s desires continue to resurface, and he continues to repress them, his guilt accumulates, weighing down on him and repressing his self until he physically and mentally appears as a shrunken visage of what he is truly capable.

We also discover that Aragorn, son of Arathorn, is Isildur’s heir, and that he feels responsible for the weakness of his forefather in his moment of temptation; Aragorn believes it ’fit that Isildur’s heir should labour to repair Isildur’s fault’ (330). This sense of responsibility and guilt that weighs on his shoulders, replicates the guilt humanity still feels today from the Fall of Adam and Eve from Paradise, which Freud calls: ’Memory-traces of the experiences of former generations’ (Moses 159). Brown believes that the Fall does not necessarily have to be a real event though, that it could simply be ’a fantasy of guilt perpetually reproduced by the ego so that the organism can repress itself’ (Brown 167). Whether the event is real or not, whether we feel guilty because of memory-traces or fantasy, man represses himself continuously on his journey through life. Just as in our world in which man has inseverable ties with his past, the men of Middle-Earth are doomed to repeat certain aspects of their history. The N’men’reans, of whom Isildur was a descendent, tested the gods before Isildur and fell (See endnote 1), and Isildur in the vicious cycle of history, took his own turn in challenging the Valar by attempting to harness great power and become a great lord. And at the Council, the Ring has been found again, the sword of Elendil will be forged anew, and Isildur’s heir will join the quest to repress the pleasure-principle and re-establish the reality-principle in Middle-Earth. Until man accepts death, and reunifies his separated psyche, he will be doomed to repeat the actions of his predecessors.

An important part of the story to the psychological development of children, as well as to those who may feel they do not have what it takes to succeed in life, takes place at the Council. After all of the reflection, contemplation and discussion takes place, Frodo, volunteers for the task of destroying the Ring. Elrond reassures the small hobbit by saying, ’This quest may be attempted by the weak with as much hope as the strong. Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere’ (353). Yet, just before Frodo volunteers for the task that he knows will make him a different person, his heart is filled with ’an overwhelming longing to rest and remain at peace by Bilbo’s side in Rivendell’ (354). He wants the peace and safeness of the beginning as he holds death, destruction and desire in his pocket. He does not want to bring the internal and external stimulus, which will cause him pain, into his self, but it is a necessary part of being in order to develop, grow, mature and then, finally be ultimately at peace in death. We would all love to remain at peace, but the different parts of our psyche are at war with one another, and both Frodo’s superego (the Council) and id (the Ring) push him forward into the battle with his self.

1. The N’men’reans who lived on an island between Middle-Earth in the East and Tol Eress’a in the West, the land of the immortals, were banned from sailing into the West by the Valar, the ’gods’ of Middle-Earth, who knew man would become jealous of immortality. Sauron tricked the N’men’reans though, telling them that the Valar banned them from sailing into the West merely to keep them from challenging the power of the Valar and taking immortality for themselves, so a large armada of the N’men’reans sailed into the West and were swallowed into the ocean. The ones who stayed faithful to the Valar, remained in Middle-Earth and built two large kingdoms: Gondor and Arnor. (For more information see The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, pg. 155-57, and The Silmarillion, pg. 309-38.)
BTW, does anyone know where in Tolkien's letters he mentions that we are moving forward, spiraling up, backward and forward in life to regain a higher paradise? (Very Blakean of him if I do say so myself Wink Smilie.) -- or was this in his essay on fairy-stories?

Nevermind...I found it in a letter to Christopher Tolkien dated Jan. 30, 1945. Phew!
Since everyone is sooooo interested...

Just like in Rivendell, after a very narrow escape, the Fellowship has time for reflection and healing in the Elf-realm of Lothl’rien. After facing so much death and destruction, the Company makes its way back into the womb of nature. ’It is as though the life of the organism moved with vacillating rhythm. One group of instincts rushes forward so as to reach the final aim of life; but when a particular stage in the advance has been reached, the other group jerks back to a certain point to . . . prolong the journey’ (Freud, Beyond 35). The Fellowship has advanced as much as it can at this particular moment, for each person within the Company needs time to gather himself and realign internally, time to bind some of the external stimulation and excitement to which he has been subjected in such great amounts. This binding is important in order for an organism to be able to function in a world where the reality-principle has the upper-hand.

In Lothl’rien, the Company gains clarification as to the reason they are on this Quest, for they see in Lothl’rien a remnant of the original Paradise from which man has been exiled, and to which man is looking to return. As Frodo walks into the Elf-realm ’it seemed to him that he had stepped over a bridge of time into a corner of the Elder Days, and was now walking in a world that was no more’ (453). Everything appeared as the original Paradise, for all the shapes that made up the land were ’clear cut, as if they had been first conceived and drawn at the uncovering of his eyes, and ancient as if they had endured forever’ (454). Nothing had changed in Lothl’rien, for the Elves could not endure change. Change means stimulation, disorder and division, which would be too much for the Elves to handle for eternity. The Fellowship understands that they do not belong in L’rien and will not reach Tol Eress’a (see endnote "i"), which is comparable to Eden, ’for that is not the way of repentance, which works spirally and not in a closed circle," but they can strive to create something like it in Middle-Earth. By vascillating forward and backward as a spiral through experience, they will grow and work their way back to the union of the psyche, recovering "something like it, but on a higher plane,’ the higher plane which is gained only through true knowledge and experience (Tolkien, Letters 110).

Just as in Paradise, everything in Lothl’rien is in tune with nature. Sam cannot tell whether the Elves ’made the land, or the land’s made them," they are such a part of one another (467). The Elves of Lothl’rien even make their homes in great mallorn trees. They do not live near the roots of the trees, but up in the branches, reaching toward the sky, bringing them closer to eternity, light, and life; and yet, since they will never die, they have their roots in the earth, just like the tree. According to Tolkien, ’the Elves’have a devoted love of the physical world, and a desire to observe and understand it for its own sake and as ’other’ ’ [’] as a reality derived from God in the same degree as themselves - not as a material for use or as a power-platform’ (Tolkien, Letters 236). Through understanding the physical world as an ’other,’ the Elves come to understand themselves better, for only by recognizing the ’other’ and seeing the reflection of oneself through the other, does one know his or her own self. Even Frodo cannot help being affected by the closeness the Elves have with nature, their symbiotic relationship, for when he touches a tree, he realizes that ’never before had he been so suddenly and so keenly aware of the feel and texture of a tree’s skin and of the life within’ (455). He feels the life force flowing from all the objects that surround him, for the Elves have not closed the gate of the senses and have not created boundaries to separate themselves from their surroundings.

When the Fellowship first meets Galadriel, one of the first elves to arrive in Middle-Earth out of the West, she looks long upon each of them and speaks to each of their hearts, offering ’a choice between a shadow full of fear that lay ahead, and something that he greatly desired: clear before his mind it lay, and to get it he had only to turn aside from the road and leave the Quest and the war against Sauron to others’ (463). She knows that most beings will succumb to the pleasure-principle, and will immediately seek to satisfy their longings rather than take the longer, more difficult journey to satisfaction. When forced to make a choice between the path that will cause disruption to the self, and the path of desire, which seems like the easiest, safest road, then the organism truly is faced with a difficult decision, for what he really has to choose between is the lasting satisfaction of the reality-principle or the brief satisfaction of the pleasure-principle. Now, this really only pertains to the life of the organism in and of itself, for the reality-principle though giving greater satisfaction in the long-run, is really only a false security, a false peace; since the reality-principle is only binding stimulations and not incorporating them back into the individual to create true wholeness, this has led, according to both Freud and Brown, in general, to a race of neurotic beings. What we really seek is a balance and a reunification of both, which is portrayed by the Elves, their Paradise and our longing to return to the beginning, to the wholeness of our relationship with nature, and which all leads in turn to our longing for the end and death.

Lothl’rien is described as ’a timeless land that did not fade or change or fall into forgetfulness’ (455). In a place such as Lothl’rien where time does not seem to exist and change does not occur, history is not necessary, for it is a product of man as a neurotic being. The men of Middle-Earth, or at least the N’men’reans, had once had life spans triple that of our own, but ’Their reward is their undoing - or the means of their temptation. Their long life aids their achievements in art and wisdom, but breeds a possessive attitude to these things, and desire awakes for more time for their enjoyment’ (Tolkien, Letters 154). The reunification of Life and Death would mean an end of the historical process, an end of the repetitive nature of man. We would not be searching to cure ourselves in a constant struggle of tug-of-war. ’To see how man separated from nature, and separated out the instincts, is to see history as neurosis; and also to see history, as neurosis, pressing restlessly and unconsciously toward the abolition of history and the attainment of a state of rest which is also a reunification with nature’ (Brown 91). If we are doomed to repeat ourselves through history, then we will one day repeat our beginnings to bring wholeness to ourselves once again. But if Frodo succeeds, ’Time will sweep’ Lothl’rien away; history and change will begin, and perhaps one day even end (472).

Frodo is called upon to look into a mirror of water again, this time known as the Mirror of Galadriel. As he gazes into the mirror, ’a hole had opened in the world of sight, and Frodo looked into emptiness’ (471). Frodo must face his unconscious, beyond the boundaries of his self, he must face the thoughts and desires that keep rising from his eternal being. What he sees staring back at him from the emptiness of the water is an Eye ’so terrible’that Frodo stood rooted, unable to cry out or to withdraw his gaze.’ It does seem rather ironic that beyond the ’world of sight’ is an Eye, but the gaze of the Eye itself never reaches Frodo. He recognizes the other, but does not see himself in the other that makes up desire, death and destruction, which is why he can be a Ringbearer. The Eye is a vision of the desires that truly make up the thoughts of the boundless self, but Frodo is not ready to incorporate this part of the self into his being. As Frodo looks at the Eye, The Ring grows ’heavy, heavier than a great stone, and his head was dragged downwards’ toward the water (471). The pleasure-principle pulls Frodo toward darkness capable of completely enveloping him, which is why Galadriel warns him not to touch the water; she knows he will drown, for Frodo is not ready to establish the reality that the dark desires of The Ring are really a part of his own nature.

Each of the members in the Company is either given or offered a gift before departing from Lothl’rien. Aragorn is given a sheath for his sword, And’ril, and when Galadriel asks if there is anything else he desires of her, he states that ’only through darkness’ will he reach what he truly desires, which is the Lady Arwen (485). He understands that he must have experience, and bind his impulses, before he can gain true satisfaction and engage in a healthy relationship. Galadriel gives Frodo a phial, which contains ’the light of E’rendil’s star, set amid the waters of [her] fountain.’ The images of life and death are brought together once again as Galadriel ensures Frodo that the light from the star ’will shine still brighter when night is about you. May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out’ (488). She is as ’The Great Goddess of the night sky,’ who ’nourishes and slakes the weary soul of the living creatures in the somnolent darkness of the unconscious, the land of the dead’ (Neumann 246). This light from the night sky will guide Frodo through his unconscious to the completion of the Quest and the establishment of his ego.

It is obvious at this parting that Gimli, the dwarf, has grown rather fond of Galadriel. As their boat floats downstream, Legolas reassures Gimli that he has his unstained memories of Lothl’rien to comfort him, but Gimli replies with great wisdom that ’memory is not what the heart desires. That is only a mirror, be it clear as Kheled-z’ram’ (490). Memories, history, will not bring man back to Eden, and will not ultimately comfort him, he must move forward ’through darkness,’ death and the establishment of the reality-principle to regain Paradise and the true fulfillment of the pleasure-principle, for even in this final meeting with Galadriel, she seemed ’present and yet remote, a living vision of that which has already been left far behind by the flowing streams of Time’ (483). She is the Eden, the memory trace that cannot be recovered by reality. We will not gain communal pleasure by merely reflecting on the memory of the past; we must repeat it and work through it in order to ultimately regain the wholeness of the beginning that we seek, a reunion of the psyche rather than a reversal.
Sorry Eruwen, but your knowledge is way beyond many of us here, and in our awe we are afraid to speak up and embarrass ourselves, speaking personally of course.

I do hope it gets the job done for you, and your board is as impressed as we are, for you have obviously spent much study and thought over many weeks of effort constructing it. We wish the best for you.
I'm used to continuously embarassing myself, it's just that this psychology stuff isn't my cup of tea, nor my cup of coffee.
Thanks, Grondy, that's very nice of you, not well-deserved I think, but nice; however, I doubt either you or Vir could make fools out of yourselves, since you are both very knowledgable people. And yes, Vir, I completely understand how it's not most people's cup of tea. Yet, psychoanalysis incorporates so much of the Romantics that it's hard for me to believe that people who like LOTR would not buy into psychoanalysis (if they knew more about it). Ah well...perhaps I'll just start posting these as journals Sad Smilie.
Please continue posting them here Eruwen, for in the future surely there may be some enlightened individuals who will give your work the scutiny it deserves: 'Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon...'
Hmmmm I get the feeling that I've already made a fool of myself.
I'll give this a shot, but don't hope for much; it's really not my area either, and I've certainly not been submerged in academia to the point of a doctoral thesis. I like the intro, which makes a good case, IMHO. I'm assuming you're addressing Aragorn and Arwen in the Eros/Thanatos section; they seem like they'd provide rich material, what with Arwen choosing between immortal misery that, being Eldarin, might well kill her itself, and a brief but happy life with Aragorn. And he, in fact, has a similar choice; he might have been able to go off and be merely Captain of the Rangers, and Frodo still have destroyed the Ring (though I don't like Frodos chances in that event) but Elrond will give his daughter to no less than the King of Gondor, so Aragorn must embrace 70 years of being a moment from death at all times to win his lady Love.

In this one might even say the Eros/Thanatos issue is inevitably intertwined with the Pleasure/Reality conflict, for virtually all of the characters must choose between indolent denial that brings ultimate death, or risk death by confronting reality and possibly saving their lives at great risk. In the words of the Bard, "to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take up arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them."

More later, I hope; as I told Grondy, I've never had much use for Frued, and less since I found out about his own Oedipal complex; seems like he made a bid for sanity by projecting his neuroses on the world. I prefer Jung; he makes more sense to me. ;-p

Yeah, OK, having caught up, I don't really have much to add; I can talk Tolkien 'til the cows come home, but not offer much in the way of psychoanalysis. To what I've already said I'd only add that there's a war between reality and pleasure in both Rivendell and Lothlorien, and even in Balins attempt to resurrect Moria. In each case, the characters are offered a Return to Beginnings that seemingly grants Pleasure, but unless they voluntarily embrace Reality immeditaely it will inevitably force itself on them in the end. Indeed, having analyzed it from this perspective I can see another strongly Christian theme: the choice is between a pleasurable life in the short term that brings eternal death or a life of service confronting and resisting deaths acknowledged power to obtain an eternal life of pleasure. In the end, it's not BETWEEN Eros and Thanatos, but a choice of forms, of the illusiory or temporal nature of one and the permanency of the other, and which occupies which place.

I don't know if that's any help at all, but good luck and God bless in this and all you do. Even if you ARE married. ;-p
Yay! I have a response Smile Smilie.

I'll give this a shot, but don't hope for much; it's really not my area either, and I've certainly not been submerged in academia to the point of a doctoral thesis.

Well, this is actually my master's thesis, and I have now sworn off doing a doctorate...for a while at least.

I like the intro, which makes a good case, IMHO.

I've actually changed the intro, and am focusing solely on Eros and Thanatos; my professors and I have worked out that I can actually write a thesis on each one of the topics listed in my intro. (See new intro below)

I'm assuming you're addressing Aragorn and Arwen in the Eros/Thanatos section; they seem like they'd provide rich material

I have actually put quite a bit of thought into this and keep going back and forth as to whether or not I should include them, since their story isn't a huge part of the books. I will probably include them though.

In this one might even say the Eros/Thanatos issue is inevitably intertwined with the Pleasure/Reality conflict.

You are correct, it is absolutely intertwined. I have stated this in a few sections above (What?! You haven't read all of them? JK Wink Smilie

I've never had much use for Frued, and less since I found out about his own Oedipal complex; seems like he made a bid for sanity by projecting his neuroses on the world. I prefer Jung; he makes more sense to me.

I actually haven't read much of Jung, but what I have, does seem to make sense. There are certain things about Freud that make sense to me, and certain things that don't. I would say that most of his theories regarding sexuality, I do not agree with; yet, I have had a particular fascination with his life and death instincts, and to be honest, I think it's because they basically seem like a scientific attempt to reflect the concepts of the Romantics (Blake in particular -- especially regarding boundaries and constraints; and the spiral (vascillating) projection of the Soul upward through the Universe).

unless they voluntarily embrace Reality immeditaely it will inevitably force itself on them in the end...In the end, it's not BETWEEN Eros and Thanatos, but a choice of forms, of the illusiory or temporal nature of one and the permanency of the other, and which occupies which place.

I like both of these comments, and agree with them; however, I would add to the second sentence that it's because of the push and pull of Eros and Thanatos that we actually created the two separate concepts of ephemeral and permanent. If they were actually whole, and we did not separate them out in our psyche, then we would not have the concept of time, and therefore, not worry about life and death. (Blake to the rescue!)

Following is my new intro (updated 4/1/06):
As do so many Tolkien fans, I feel an overwhelming need to defend the importance of The Lord of the Rings (which I will refer to throughout as LOTR). But why should I feel this way? Why are Tolkien fans often put in a defensive position when it comes to comparing LOTR to other well-known works of Literature? Why is it that many critics look down on the works of Tolkien as texts they cannot see falling into the Canon alongside other great works by authors such as Shakespeare, Dickens, Woolf or Faulkner? Is it because the work appeals to both children and adults alike? Yet this is something that I have a difficult time believing should lead to the downgrading of a work, for it should lead people to mark the author as one who has great psychological insight into humanity.

LOTR strongly appeals to the non-rational side of humanity, touching our emotions by relating to the mythic, primordial recesses of the self in ways that many other works only dream of being able to do, helping both children and adults to understand not only childhood but also the enigma of life in general. Unfortunately for us, many critics analyze literature to appeal to the rational side of humanity, for they are attempting to lend quasi-scientific affirmation to the field of Literature in order to give it a place in our current world that holds reason and rationale in such high regards. This is why it is important to use psychoanalytical theory when exploring a work such as LOTR, for as both an art and a science it brings together the rational and the non-rational, bridging the gap between critical literary theory and awe-inspiring works of dream and fantasy rooted in the depths of the self like LOTR.

Naturally, I can see how it may seem silly to some in our world in which the reality-principle reigns, in which myth and fantasy have been labeled as nonsense, that most Tolkien fans would give anything to spend one day in a place where hobbits and elves mingle with humans, where something greater than getting to work on time and making sure dinner is on the table seem to be important. For by giving in to our fantasies, we are satisfying our primal urges, which are seeking to obtain an earlier state of the self. LOTR has such mass appeal because it reflects our dreams and fantasies, which ’are those images already present in the ego which the ego in its cognitive function is seeking to rediscover in reality’ (Brown 164). However, since the novel falls into ’the rhythm of dreams and childhood play,’ most critics cannot recognize it as a ’civilized’ work, which simply means it does not reflect ’that level of culture which effectively represses the rhythm of the primary process in favor of rationality and the reality-principle’ ’ the world of today, the world of the critic (Brown 37).

But a work that the author spent the better part of fifteen years creating and choosing every single word in the books with great care, written as he says in his "life-blood,’ should not be seen as something trivial (Tolkien, Letters 122). 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. But as a lover of history and philology, Tolkien is able to artfully combine mythic tradition with fairy-story elements, a perfect place for the intersection of the identity and the uncontrolled forces of the self to battle, creating a complex text in which almost anyone can find a message of significance that pertains to his or her own life. And as the story moves forward, one senses that it is much more than a myth or a simple fairy-story, for the darkness of the text increases, imitating the darkness that fills our own minds as we age, the darkness we struggle to fight back. LOTR helps us to understand the overwhelming feeling of helplessness that many of us begin to feel as we get older and approach death.

In the text that follows, I am indebted to Norman O.Brown’s Life Against Death, and his interpretation of Freud, especially in regards to Civilization and Its Discontents. Brown insightfully states that throughout life we deny death, but by doing so, we in turn deny life, and that by repressing death we actually affirm it. In a sense, we are like zombies, walking through life as the living dead. I will also refer rather often to Hugh T. Keenan’s essay, ’The Appeal of The Lord of the Rings: A Struggle for Life,’ since he draws a great deal on Brown’s text. Keenan does recognize, as I mentioned earlier, that the great appeal of LOTR is its psychological profundity, especially, the way in which it intricately ties together life and death, as they are tied together in our own lives, for Middle Earth is both a land that is living and yet dying. ’The peculiar achievement of the author is to have created a world which is at once completely (or to a superlative degree) sentient and yet dying, to have presented vividly, objectively, and emotionally the eternal conflict between life and death’ (Keenan 64). However, Keenan fails to expand on this concept, and does not even mention one of the most dramatic representations of this: The One Ring itself. The One Ring defies death by promising power and immortality, yet if a person were to use it, he would bring only death and destruction upon himself and others. Only when man truly accepts death, can he begin living.
  [1] [2] >>