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Thread: God in Lord of the Rings

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I genuinely don't understand why a lot of people seem to want to see religious metaphors/analogies in books. Don't get me wrong, Yummy - am not about to start ranting here - but I feel that great books should be able to stand on its own without any religious, cultural or political props.

I personally get put off by books and postAuthorIDs - unless they're very well written - that promote a certain brand of organised belief or thought. An postAuthorID is just a storyteller - he/she should be invisible throughout the entire narration. I believe that the postAuthorID fails the minute the reader notices his/her existence.

It is also a sign of respect that the postAuthorID gives to his readers when he allows them to enjoy the story, debate the finer details and formulate their own conclusions without the reader having felt that he or she was somehow forced into accepting a certain way of thought.
But there is no God in Lord of the Rings. Or are we still discussing it?
I'm glad you didn't delete my post for once, but I don't know what you've left out... Smile Smilie No big loss then...
Is there anyone here who believes that there is some kind of a God in Lord of the Rings? I mean, not that I dispise you then, but let's get back to topic again. We were discussing about... what again? Smile Smilie
I saw the title of this topic, and I was getting all ready for one of my anti-religious rants, and then it goes and becomes a genuine question. And one I know the answer to as well. It is because of his religion, that Tolkien did not include any religious references in his work. He did not wish to commit heresy by creating his own false gods as such. I mean yeah you've got Illuvater and the Valar, but they're really just creators and noone goes around worshipping them.
Tolkien felt it better to let the story just be without religion than try and force his own into it, or to try and invent a rival one. WHich is a good job really seeing as how Jedi Knight is now an oficial UK religion because of a load of nutty fans. I think Tolkien would have gone spare if that had been his creation.
Well I'm glad I didn't incite any rantings on your part. Big Smile Smilie Thanks for the reponse, it explains a great deal.

My mom is a CS Lewis fan and went to see FOTR expecting to find religious analogies and metaphors, but was disappointed. I told her it's not that obvious, except that the characters operate in a world where honor and duty are paramount. But then again, honor and duty are not exclusively Christian. I think she expected it to be a little more like the Tales of Narnia.

My folks disappointed me by not liking the movie. I'm not sure what they expected, but my dad said it wasn't his cup of tea - he's more of a Bond fan, likes reality fantasy in that way.

My mother seems interested in reading the books, but I'm afraid she'll be put off by the first 200 pages or so of Fellowship. It was rather hard for me to get through, mostly b/c I work all day and passed out after two pages, and Tolkien is rather dense. I suspect the same will happen to her, but I'll give her my copy andwe'll see how she does.

She did say that in the ladies room after the movie, one women exclaimed that she couldn't believe she spent three hours at a movie with no ending! That bothers me a little. To me that's like visiting Rome or Florence without reading up on the city to find out why it's so great and what to visit. She should have investigated the movie a little before seeing it, so she wouldn't have experienced the disappointment of a missing ending.
But you can't protect everyone from themselves. Too bad. Smile Smilie
Tolkien hinted that there was a higher postAuthorIDity waching over things via some of Gandalf's statements; however, as Plastic Squirrel said Tolkien didn't want any formalized religions gumming up the works. I think 'The Lord of the Rings' is a much better story for it; while 'The Chronicles of Narnia' would have no substance were it not for their underlying religious content.

You might have your mother start out reading 'The Hobbit' first; it is an easier start. Then when she gets to 'The Fellowship of the Ring', the first couple of chapters will pull together.

Yummy, I'm not being judgmental here as I know nothing about the personalities involved, but if your parents were as cluless (only concerning what to expect in the movie) as you imply, maybe you should have helped prepare them a little. If I'm out of line here, I apologize in advance.

And you might tell your parents that if they really wanted to see the story's ending, as do all the rest of us, they also must wait to see the final two installments during the holidays of 2002 and 2003. Smile Smilie

this is like the 3rd time I've tried to reply to this thing, and each time I've been completely incoherent and given up...this time I'm not giving up, so if I'm still incoherent, sorry in advance.

I think there was some little bit of a higher power in LotR, especially in some situations with Frodo, where he more or less invoked Elendil's name to ward off evil things...I know Elendil wasn't like God, but still, it struck me as relevant.

I agree with Ungoliant...I can't stand it when books have overtly religious overtones...'course, that's probably mostly becuase of my 10 years of religious's a depressing thing to be told you're going to Hell every Monday night...I hated having religion forced down my throat.
Grondi - no offense taken. I tried to prepare them, but my mom and I got waylaid on a discussion of God in the books that I didn't get a chance to explain the basic story to her. My fault. But also, it wasn't she who complained about the lack of an ending, she was just repeating what the woman in the bathroom said.

It's a great idea to start her with the Hobbit, and I'll do that.

As far as religion goes, I disagree with the comments made here, so far. I cannot think of a single society that does not believe in some form of higher being, and when you create a world that is basically populated with humanoids operating in sort of an English mirror world, I find it odd that they do not have religion or a higher postAuthorIDity into which they put their faith, especially the men (as opposed to the elvish peoples).

I'm not saying that one of our religions should have been in the books, but I think it's an element that is missing from Tolkien's world.

But, I completely understand why Tolkien didn't do it, considering what PS explained.

I do disagree about religion in books however, and I think Dune is an example of a book where religion takes on a significance that has meaning to the characters but doesn' t promote the religion itself. I think Frank Herbert admitted to himself that in a world of humans, there will always be some form of religion, and with great foresight, the religion in Dune is a combination of Christianity and Islam - I've always thought that was fascinating and quite prophetic, especially considering world events.

Oh, and Ungoliant, I don't search for God in every book I read, but in these books I was curious simply because I know a little about Tolkien's background at Oxford as an Inkling and as a great friend of C.S. Lewis. That's the reason for my query. It was a purely intellectual question. Smile Smilie

As far as religion goes, I disagree with the comments made here, so far. I cannot think of a single society that does not believe in some form of higher being,

hihihihihi I'm such a society Big Smile Smilie
Me and you both buddy Big Smile Smilie
And as to religion in Dune, I thought Herberts treatment of the subject was perfect. Every religious aspect brought to the book was genuinely flawed by the people who carried out the rituals, as in our own religions. Even the Lady Jessica who starts out as really quite nice, turns into a right b*tch when she becomes a reverend mother, and as for Muad'dib himself, oh dear, where do I start!
Hi Yummy - my previous response was actually towards your comment about your mother's disappointment at the end of the film by the lack of religious analogies etc. Didn't have a problem with your original question, Plastic's answer or Grondie's suggestions.

Disagree about your more recent response re. significance of religion to the characters in Dune. True, certain cultures or groups - the Fremen, and later on, the Quizarate in DM, Fish Speakers in GED, and the Theilaxu in HoD & CHD, could be described as 'religious', but religion itself has no impact on the main characters or the storyline, except as a means to manipulate the simple, the superstitious & the defenceless.

Also, there is no prophetic value whatsoever in Herbert's Dune - Frank Herbert merely based the ascendancy of the Fremen on the beginnings of Islam and its subsequent spread throught the Middle East and the rest of the world, with an added Judeo-Christian Messianic twist. It is just mere coincidence that events of 900 or so years ago, reflected in Herbert's Dune, bear some similarities to the current situation in the world today.

As to religion in fiction, especially fantasy - I understand if others wish to have their daily lives & practices reflected in the pages of their favourite books. I don't, and neither do I like to have the postAuthorID's cultural, religious, or political propoganda leaping at me from every page. Tolkien's LOTR was superb because he was just telling a story - without any preaching, hidden agendas or misguided intentions.
But surely Golly, Muad'dib is a Messiah figure and a religious figure leading to his worries of a Jihad in his name. Same as Luke Skywalker is a messianic figure to the Jedi, there's religion everywhere I'm afraid.
Didn't we have a discussion about sth like this on the old forum too? Seem to remember sth like that, that's all...

Anyway, I don't know anything about Dune, so I won't comment on that (simply cos I can't)

About this religious thingy in LOTR, I agree with Golly and Plastic. If you're really religious like Tolkien was, you're afraid to create a God of your own, just because you don't want that God to harm the real One (in your eyes then). I'm not religious at all, perhaps that's why I didn't miss a thing like a God in LOTR, but I suppose that's got nothing to do with it. There are some references to a higher power in the book, but Tolkien never stressed that force.

I'm not saying anything new here, I guess, but well... Let's just say I thought it would be a bit lazy just to say "I agree with...".
Big Smile Smilie
We always get a religious argument somewhere! At least we don't have as many god-botherers around any more Big Smile Smilie do we have any at all?
Big Smile Smilie Look fellas, I'm new here, so I have no idea if you've been over this ground before - sheesh!

Ok, I gotta completely and totally disagree that the religious aspects of Dune are coincidental and do not form a major part of the part of the book. (I have only read the first one, too, so I do not know how religion is treated in the later books). But in the original, it's all about Paul's ascendance to the Super Being - the Messiah. I'm not sure how you can divorce religion from that. Further, when I said that Herbert's use of a mixture of Islam and Christianity was prophetic, I mean that he was smart enough to see which way the world is heading, and it brings a very realistic quality to his work in that it is highly probable that many many years into the future, the religion of humanity will be a mixture of christianity and islam. Smile Smilie
Plastic, the fact that Muad'Dib was aware of the possible consequences of religious jihad in his name did not mean that he practised or believed in any form of organised belief system. That's what I was trying to say. In fact none of the Atreides, Bene Gesserits, Harkonnens, Corrinos, etc did. Sure, religion existed in Dune - no one is denying that - I was disagreeing with Yummy when he said that religion was significant to the characters without promoting religion itself. I'm saying religion has no significance to the (main) characters. Whatever inner struggles they had were not due to to any religious promptings. That's all. And Anakin was the Messianic figure in SW. Which weakened the plot considerably, imho.

Yummy, the concept of the Messiah (amongst the Fremen & other cultures) was planted by the Bene Gesserit as a safeguard in case any of their member ran into trouble. And If I remember correctly the Bene Gesserit created the Kwisatz Haderach through their selective breeding program and intended to use him for their own purposes - unfortunately Paul had his own ideas. When he became Emperor, he enouraged the idea of the 'Super Being' because it was a way for him to maintain control of his followers and the rest of the universe. Just pure political manipulation with a bit of hocus-pocus thrown in. If you have your own way of looking at it - fine.

As for future religions - no comment. That could be a possible scenario, another is that there will be no religion whatsoever. Who knows? Except for God, I guess. Smile Smilie

Grondy's addition: Yummy later replied that she wasn't a he. [Edited on 12/1/2002 by Grondmaster]
damn! i cant believe i missed this topic for so long!!!!!!!!
btw, i love ranting! so am i allowed to?
each of the posts down here look so long so i didn't bother reading them, if i already said something already said then ...whatever
I dont know why Tolkien hasn't put in a God ....i mean Illuvatar is just like a neutral guy who creates stuff and hands it over to melkor and manwe
there's no worshipping, cult of the living dead, pray to the lord of dark....kinda stuff
if that were there, it would make it a really interesting story!....i most probably will include a few dark rituals in my book.....
there's not even a prayer to the good gods in tolkien/......the worst thing which is considered dreadful is "elbereth gilthoniel"
the names of 2 elves.
how bad is that?
didn't elbereth had something to do with stars and being a valar? oh... really have to re-read the sil.. Sad Smilie
Elbereth and Gilthoniel are two different names for Varda who was the Valar who made the stars.
That reminds me - in the Weathertop scene, Frodo cried out, "Elbereth!" when the Nazghul Lord was about to attack him. Was the Nazghul Lord afraid then - was that why he backed off? Or was it just a coincidence?
That's why they all legged it. I think Aragorn says that the words had more effect on them than any knife wound would have. It's a lot better than residents of Mordor being scared of fire at any rate!
I think that you can read all sorts of things into LOTR, if you want... (of course you can say Alice in Wonderland is all about English Parliment ...) Frodo is not unlike a Messiah, and Sam, not unlike a Peter, the rock. Gandalf would be John the Baptist preparing the way, eventually dying for the cause of Christianity... Bilbo the Old testament prophets fading away to give way to the fulfilment of prophecy. Frodo goes around testing everyone with the Ring and reluctantly taking up the quest when no one else can just as Jesus "tested" the pharisees et. al and even asked to be released from his mission. Even the fellowship is a bit like the apostles. (CAN YOU tell that I've had way to many English Lit classes???) But all in all, I like to think it as a great fantasy novel, not an analogy of Christs mission.

BTW, Dune is my favorite novel. The BeneGeserit and their implants into the Fremen with the prophecy and the Quizatch Hadarach is a prophecy (which runs a theme through many books.. a savior). Though I could have never come up with a plot like Herberts, I think he borrowed from St. Patrick. He turned Pagan symbols and rituals into Christian ones to help the pagans convert and understand the gospel. This , though , is not the Dune discussion board, so I'll keep that speculation and elaboration on that to myself until I take another English Lit class Wink Smilie
Faye is right. If you want to read an evil god, there's one in LOTR. If you want to read a good god, there's one in LOTR as well. If you don't want to read either of them, they aren't there. Which is why I didn't read them, I guess. Big Smile Smilie
Hearty Applause for Faye and her fantastic analysis!
Welcome Swampfaye, in case I didn't do it earlier. Smile Smilie

I too agree the case as you have presented it, holds water; however, I don't believe Tolkien wrote with those thoughts in his mind; in fact he has catagorically stated some place that he didn't. Still that doesn't mean it wasn't hiding in his sub-conscious. Cool Smilie
ok the only thing i know about Quitsatz Haderach and Gom-Jabbar is from "To tame a land" a song by IRON MAIDEN!
otherwise, im lost here too
but come on, frodo isn't a messiah...cant even be considered one....
lucky would be a better word
though i still feel LOTr has plenty of loopholes like the whole tower of minas morghul is teeming with orcs and other vile creatures, and not one of them manages to kill frodo, not even by mistake
ok so elbereth was a person who created the scary is that?
well, I think in LOTR there is no religion or God as we might be used to have.
The Elves don't have to believe, they know, cause they came from the undying lands.
The godesque creatures in Tolkiens world are creators as someone stated in an early post. However they interfere sometimes with the simple folk. I think religion is here considered to come from the history. Every people remembers somewhat of their past and the heroes and hopes and trusts in their line. (Beren, Tuor, Gil Galad, Elendil). Their religion is to honor the ancestors and their work.

However there are some parts in LOTR that are related to religion or mythos. Galadriel and here mirror remind me of Keltic mythology (see Avalon stuff).

In total there is no God or religion in LOTR worth to be considered.

In contrary DUNE is highly religious. The whole plot is held together by religion:
the breeding and diaspora of the Bene Gesserit. The prophecy and messiah of the Fremen, the religion of technology of the Bene Tleilax and so on. Though not to be refered to our world it is a religious world in itself.
I agree entirely with the above post and would just like to give my hearty applause for Iron Maiden finally getting a mention in this Forum to the post just above it. [Edited on 12/1/2002 by Grondmaster]
Sorry Yummy. Damn! That's the second time that I guessed wrong! From now on, I'm going to assume that all the new members are women!

And Tommy, you made sense for once Smile Smilie

Faye, good comments, and you're right about this not being the Dune discussion board. Although I don't agree with Rincewind on religion holding the plot together in Dune/religion being a motive behind the BG's breeding program...well, hey, to each his/her own.
I genuinely don't understand why a lot of people seem to want to see religious metaphors/analogies in books. Don't get me wrong, Yummy - am not about to start ranting here - but I feel that great books should be able to stand on its own without any religious, cultural or political props.

I personally get put off by books and postAuthorIDs - unless they're very well written - that promote a certain brand of organised belief or thought. An postAuthorID is just a storyteller - he/she should be invisible throughout the entire narration. I believe that the postAuthorID fails the minute the reader notices his/her existence.

It is also a sign of respect that the postAuthorID gives to his readers when he allows them to enjoy the story, debate the finer details and formulate their own conclusions without the reader having felt that he or she was somehow forced into accepting a certain way of thought.

i disagree with the idea that postAuthorIDs should be 'mere' story tellers. i enjoy reading books which advocate certrain religious/cultural/political views, after all, it takes all kinds to make the world. Which reminds me, i think Lord of the Rings has its own political views. It renounces grandiose, totalitarian schemes of empire building and that the best form of government appears to be free association of diverse states.
And the idea of 'personal sacrifice'-
"And it is not our part here to take thought only for a reason, or for few lives of Men, or for passing age of the world."
-which is evident in the book goes against the progressive and liberalistic attitude.
And getting back to the topic, i love postAuthorIDs who have a definite idea in their head, and put it forth.....i detest those where you have to come up with your own conclusions so that it avoids blasphemy. A definite theory and idea forced upon the reader makes a book all the more interesting as it's solid, and not just a wavy possibility
i hope im making some sense here!?[Edited on 12/1/2002 by Grondmaster]
I don't dare to go off topic again, in case the *moderator spots me again, so I'll do my best to stick to the topic:
To me there is no God in LOTR. I'm not that religious, so I guess I just don't look for one, and I don't want any God to be in there.
(is that on topic enough, cos I don't know what else to say Big Smile Smilie)
Ungoliant: hey thanks! (sarcastic) Cool Smilie

Grondy was here!
[Edited on 12/1/2002 by Grondmaster]
Since I'm fairly new to this forum, I take it from the general commentary that if you go off topic the moderator will come to your house and beat you silly? Just kidding Smile Smilie

I've been on other forums where it's a little looser - now I'm getting nervous that I'll spark the ire of the moderator for speaking off topic, as I am wont to do. I suppose I should think of something on point to say in each post. hmmm . . .

Grondy says, "I don't bite but I probably have chewed-off more of your words than you wanted me too. Sorry." Sad Smilie[Edited on 12/1/2002 by Grondmaster]
Anytime, Tommy. Wink Smilie

Don't worry Yummy. You're allowed *some* leeway (I hope), what with you being new and all. It's mostly me, Plastic, Tommy & a couple of 'oldies' that have to worry the most, 'cos as Plastic said earlier, we tend to 'talk a lot of bollocks.' Smile Smilie

On-topic portion of post: 'Great' books will always mean different things to different people. For me, LoTR is a wonderful story simply told - a bit of light reading that I can enjoy quietly in the bath.
Sorry if I hacked too deeply folks; I deleted a whole bunch of my posts too. And there were one or two of yours that I could have just edited-out the erata, but I had already hit the delete button. Nothing gremain to the topic was lost however. Sad Smilie

And the topic remains: God in the Lord of the Rings.
LOTR is definitely missing a malicious God!
One who would interfere in wordly matters at will, and twist things to his advantage!
kinda like Loki [norse myth]...
im still wondering whether to finish me storyline with the Dark God winning or the Good god winning.....have reached uptil that....that's the finale.
btw, Elbereth isn't actually an elf i think... [i had previously thought her/him to be an elf,....but even then they are not God-like.....]
I don't think finding religion in books complicates them as opposed to having them as "simple" fantasy - I do think it deepens them. And I don't find any part of Tolkien simple. But I'm not trying to attack you. I think Tolkien is very complex and he went to all the trouble of creating this very complicated world with so much backstory, but without much religion in the LOTR series. What I understand from your post and from others is that the Silm answers some of my questions and maybe the religion that I would seek for the characters is there. I agree with you that the God would need to be a meddlesome God in these works. He couldn't just sit back and watch - it wouldn't fit.

The post that started this discussion was about a Christian God - where is Christ in these books. I knew that Tolkien was religious and I wondered if he had incorporated Christianity in the works and I missed it. Apparently he didn't, but the Silm does give some backstory on the creation of ME, and that's interesting.

Now that I'm a Tolkien fanatic -I'll be reading all of his works over this year.
Glad to hear that you're enjoying Tolkien, Yummy. I hope you get to Silm one of these days - it may answer some of your questions.

As for the 'meddling type god' in LotR, I agree. And I think that it would have spoiled the storyline though...but I guess Tolkien tackled the problem well by avoiding it. Enjoy the rest of LotR though! Smile Smilie And since you're interested in the qeustion of religion, may I suggest you visit the Gollum thread under 'Characters'? I suspect that the discussion there will turn to religion soon - we're discussing evil & free will right now. Wink Smilie

[Edited on 16/1/2002 by Ungoliant]
Sauron: Elbereth isn't an Elf, she's a Vala (suppose you could call them gods). The Elves love her 'cos she created the stars, among other things.

Interesting postThreadIDbit from Huan about JRRT's objectives in writing LoR, never knew that. But I can understand why Tolkien's heroes were mostly aristocrats and such - the concept of 'divine right' only went out of favour around a couple of centuries ago.
Sauron is the biggest Loki rip-off in literature, okay he's not a god, but apart from that he's nearly identical, even down to tricking the greatest smith in the world into making a magic ring or two.
Firstly, Loki always had to work from within, biding his time, and deceiving others coz his brothers were more powerful...
but Sauron, MASTER OF THE BLACK ARTS!, had no competition except for some valar guy sitting at the other end of the world.
he commanded those smiths to forge the ring..and he ruled the entire land!
loki wasn't like that i guess!
But Sauron didn't start like that. Have you read the Sil mate? He starts off as Morgoth's Lackey getting to run Tol Sirion, then he goes to working from within (In Numenor) and he doesn't order anyone to make any rings, they show him how to do it!
i think the main reason for the absence of God in LOTR, is because it's genre is like a 20th century fairy tale. has depth and richness, a fantastical setting where you could lose youself but also limiting because the characters are too representative of a 'species'. they lack personality and individuality, to clean and sanitary. nothing really nasty like sex ever comes into the equation. but that's what i like about it. i mean, how else could Disney capitalise on all those fairytale movies? Big Smile Smilie
I haven't read the posts above yet, will do so in a sec, but I found this next part in the foreword of my LOTR copy (Unwin & Allen paperback edition 1978), written by JRR Tolkien himself.

As for any inner meaning or "postBody", it has in the intention of the postAuthorID none. It is neither allegorical nor topical. /.../ Other arrangements could be devised according to the tastes or views of those who like allegory or topical reference. But I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think that many confuse "applicability" with "allegory"; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the postAuthorID.

I guess this means that Tolkien had no special intention with the writing of this book, he just wanted to finish the story he started with "The hobbit", and partly complete the history of ME. Somewhere else in that foreword he also says:

The prime motive was the desire of a tale-teller to try his hand at a really long story that would hold the attention of readers, amuse them, delight them, and at times maybe excite them or deeply move them. As a guide I had only my own feelings for what is appealing or moving, and for many the guide was inevitably often at fault.

So I think there's nothing wrong with critising Tolkien's work, like we're doing here, with looking for stuff that aren't supposed to be there. Or at least, things Tolkien didn't mean to put in there, maybe he did, unconciously, we don't know, but we can always keep on guessing. Smile Smilie

Yummy said he (she? sorry I forgot Smile Smilie )would reflect the world of today in the book, but I think the fact that Tolkien didn't do it (and he was very much aware of that) is what makes the book so special. People see lots of things in there that aren't there! Like some people say Sauron is a reflection of Hitler. Nonsense! The book (and also chapter II: the shadow of the past, which tells the story of Sauron) was begun long before 1939, so long before Hitler's "glorydays".

As for Sauron: I agree with Plastic, I guess.
And I much agree with Rosie as well. Though I don't like to say that the characters don't have a personality, it's just not printed out in the book. When you read between the lines, you can find out a lot about the main characters... Smile Smilie

(sorry for the really long post btw, but I've not been around much, so this makes up for it... Big Smile Smilie )
ok, i take back what i said about the characters lacking individuality. i wasn't really thinking when i posted that. Gollum has to be one of the most individual characters- the whole multiple personality disorder thing is great!
tolkien does say that his story wasn't meant to be an allegory of anything, but he does take alot from other stories like someone said, old Norse folklores and arthurian texts, etc.
He does. But what's wrong with that? Every good text is based on something. Smile Smilie
Gollum is a great character indeed. But most of the book characters have individuality. You just have to take some time to see through them! Big Smile Smilie
He starts off as Morgoth's Lackey getting to run Tol Sirion, then he goes to working from within (In Numenor) and he doesn't order anyone to make any rings, they show him how to do it!

well Loki had 2 brothers more powerful than him, and so he could never really dream of ruling the kingdom of Odin...whereas Sauron was the #1 successor of Morgoth, and Sauron doesn't do any mischief, he just serves Morgoth, and carries out his orders...[which he loves doing, as they're all concerned with killing]...finally Sauron becomes the lord of one part of the world which manwe and ppl never cared about....
so Sauron was an evil sorcerer, not a demi-god.
Huan - Interesting commentary - but I disagree that Frodo is a peasant - actually, I'd say Sam is the peasant, and Frodo has some stature in the Hobbit community. Sam is the subservient one. So, I think there are different "classes" within each ME society.

Tom - great quotations! And it's sooooo interesting that Tolkien bashed allegory, as his close friend C.S. Lewis wrote the Chronicles of Narnia as an allegory (didn't he?). So interesting!
Right on both counts Yummy. The Bagginses were financially independent, while The Gamgees had to labor for a living.

And C.S. Lewis' Narnia Chronicles are filled with allegory that doesn't detract from the story in the slightest, in fact, one has to stop and think about one has just read before the precepts of my Christian faith blare through. Smile Smilie I don't know if what I just wrote makes sense. What I'm trying to say is that you can read them without recognizing the underlying allegory, but it is there nonetheless.
if Tolkien was trying to write an Arthruian legend, like Huan said, then the royalist attitude of the book is appropriate, ain't it? the whole English history is about Kings and Queens and royal family feuds, after all.
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