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early british literature & LotR similarities

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spartanswimr

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Hello to all. I am a new member and I have some questions for some people who know the history of the LotR and could help me answer some questions that I have to do for an english project. I have to be honest and say I went to see the movie, never reading the book and now I am totally confused on trying to answer 3 questions. I really enjoyed the movie, and I understood it, but I can't see it from the perspective of what exactly J.R.R. Tolkien was trying to get through was trying to show early British literature through this movie. If you would like to help me please I.M. this screename spartanswimr over AOL IM and help. It would be greatly appreciated!


Thanks!
 

Snaga

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Spart - you've come to the right place I'm telling you! But I think I need to download a load of software to IM you and don't really want to do that.

How about you post the essay question to us all here? I guarantee that you'll get a forest of replies on it before too long. Only problem will be you'll have to decide who you agree with! Just now, I'm not too sure what you need to write about. :)
 

henzo33

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Welcome my friend, and know that you have definitely come to the right place. I agree with the statement that you should just post your questions here and then you will have many differnt answers and information to choose from.
 
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spartanswimr

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here are the questions

1. J.R.R. Tolkien was considered an expert in the area of early British Literature. HOw does this expertise show itself in LotR?

2. Tolkien wrote LotR as an analogy of pre & post industrial Britain. Explain.

3. Tolkien was an avid believer in the British traditional role of women. Explain how this is shown in LotR.

From answering these questions I can work to put it towards an essay. Any help would be appreciated...please try to answer very soon as this essay is due on friday and after I can see some posts on this material, which I am completely unfamiliar I can work to put an essay together.

Thank you!
 

Snaga

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Sparts

I'll start on q3. The most obvious thing to say is that most of the major characters in LotR are male. All the 9 members of the Fellowship. Female characters are few and are mostly shown as wives/mothers - think of say Rosie Cotton. Arwen, a female elf and daughter of Elrond is a minor, passive character who stays in Rivendell and then turns up at the end to marry Aragorn. The women of Gondor and Rohan are sent to safety whilst war is on.

The exceptions are very interesting too though:
(1) Galadriel - elvish matriarch, and powerful queen of lorien. But preserver of a safe home for the elves, not someone who goes to try to change things
(2) Eowyn of Rohan - warrior princess. Told to stay at home, but desire glory in battle. Disguises herself as a man to go to fight and wishes to find death. In the end kills the chief Ring Wraith. Finds peace through marriage to Faramir.
(3) Ioreth - healing women of Minas Tirith. Chatterbox and gossip, unable to grasp the urgency of the situation. Nurse = traditionally acceptable occupation for a woman.
(4) Lobelia Sackville-Baggins. Grasping, mean-spirited spinster.

All of these are archetypes (well portrayed though they may be) except 2., an unhappy character who finds happiness through marriage. But I think one of the strongest and most loved characters incidentally.

I'll think about the other 2, and anyway you'll get other replies. I should warn you there are many who object to the idea of LotR being an analogy/allegory for anything (Tolkien often said as much).

Hope that helps...:D
 
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spartanswimr

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thank you!

Thank you so much for your reply way from the UK! ;) It was greatly appreciated and it helped clear up some confusion I had with some things I had found online. I really do thank you, and any other help you can provide for number 1 and 2 it wouldn't go unacknowledged!

-Spartanswimr
 

Aldanil

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I'll try to offer some help with Questions 1 & 2, although not in that order. You will have to read the books, however, if you're to have much hope of saying anything cogent about Tolkien or his literary expertise. I say this in part as an English teacher who looks rather darkly upon the efforts of students to write essays analyzing texts that they haven't actually encountered, hoping that just watching the movie instead will provide them the information and insight required; more importantly (as very many threads and the often heated debates in this forum have made abundantly clear) the movie that you saw was definitely Peter Jackson's LOTR, and certainly does not constitute a reliable source for understanding either JRRT or his mastery of early British literature (which was indeed prodigious). The film's numerous reimaginings of the original text have sparked both vociferous praise and virulent condemnation, and sometimes a mix of the two; but they really can't hope to serve (nor should be expected to) as any academically viable substitute for reading the much superior (because far more patiently and painstakingly crafted) book. Not to mention the fact that only one-third of the movie has yet been released! To your brace of Friday-due questions, then:

2) As Variag's post suggests, there is considerable resistance, derived most forcefully from comments by Tolkien himself, to the notion treating The Lord of the Rings as an allegory of any particular modern event (and I'm presuming, again as V of K did, that you do mean "allegory" instead of "analogy"); nevertheless, it's not too hard to see a sharp and clearly deliberate contrast between the vision of the Shire as it's presented in the early chapters of The Fellowship of the Ring and the sadly altered homeland which awaits the four travellers at the end of The Return of the King. You'll want to look closely at "The Scouring of the Shire", and might consider, for example, comparing the character of old Gaffer Gamgee the gardener with young Ted Sandyman the miller. Tolkien speaks directly to the intent of this chapter in the penultimate paragraph of his Foreword to the 1965 Houghton Mifflin hardcover second edition, and specifically denies its allegorical portrayal of post-WWII England; the larger sense of lament for the squalid degradation of the English landscape by industrial development which had been going on for a century already when he was a boy a hundred years ago, however, is explicit and unmistakable. Another source worth checking out on this subject is pp. 166-168 of Tom Shippey's new book, J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century.

1) The clearest echoes of Tolkien's truly encyclopedic knowledge of Old English literature can be heard in the land of Rohan, from the names of the Rohirrim and the description of Meduseld the golden hall of their kings to the Anglo-Saxon tongue in which Eomer and Eowyn hail Theoden's arousal at Edoras and the four-beat alliterative music of their poetry, of which the fullest example is the lament for the fallen warriors at the Mounds of Mundberg which concludes "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields". Enumerating just the specific borrowings from Beowulf to be found throughout LOTR (and The Hobbit as well) would likely be beyond the scope of either this post or of any assignment you'll complete by the end of this week. Here again Tom Shippey can provide considerable aid for your endeavours, both in the volume mentioned above and in his earlier analysis The Road to Middle-Earth, especially pp. 93-100.


That should give you something to go on with, I think; delve deep, O newcomer to the marvels of Arda, and discover hidden wonders as great as the Glittering Caves of Aglarond!
 
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henzo33

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I would love to touch on question number one, as I have studied under a very good friend of "The Man" when I was at Cornell University, Prof. Robert Farrell. As you could grasp if you ever tried to read a biography or essay on Tolkien and his literature, the man was a master of Medieval and Old English Literature and Language (professor of these at the University of Oxford). The languages of Elvish and Dwarvish were created by Tolkien from his extensive knowledge of the Scandanavian languages and its many dialects including Old English. The form of LotR, the Hobbit, and even Sil. are based on the medieval scandanavian/viking literary form of the Saga. Works such as Grettir's Saga, and Njal's Saga can show the avid and even the amateur Tolkien fan where he in fact pulled many of his ideas for the storyline from. Now I am not saying that the man "borrowed" ideas from these books, but these books gave him the spark to create a whole world in which new races with original languages and cultures existed. Heck, the Hobbit was created from the pure imagination and knowledge "The Man" had as he told bedtime stories to his children. Two perfect example of how medieval literature played into his work would be: 1) the similarities between the Hobbit and Beowulf (which coincidentaly was his expertise); and, 2) his translation of Sir Gawain and the Grenn Knight. I hope this helped in some way and I wish you luck on your paper, as I do remember the days of "all-nighters". But I beg you, please, do yourself a favor and read what is known as "The Greatest Story Ever Told": The Lord of the Rings.
 

Aldanil

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Who Da Man Saruman You Da Man (set to the tune of a high school fight-song)

How would old John Ronald Reuel have reacted, do you think, to being thus affectionately addressed as "The Man"? Might he have taken more kindly to the manner of a Quenya-inflected "Man I Atan?" -- I Adanlye!" routine, I wonder?
 
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spartanswimr

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thank you for all the replies

Hello all! I just wanted to add, that we are not of read the book and all these questions are just based upon the movie..the first one. We have to see all 3 but, that is over time. I am not to of read the book for these questions..these are movie based questions. I guess he wants us to know the answers by research & the film, but I think that is why it is becoming so difficult for me to accomplish. Thanks for all your help and any replies based on this knowledge would also help.

-spartanswimr
 
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spartanswimr

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help for # 2

Hello to everyone. Thanks to all for the extended help. I took some of your information and put it together with my research to put some of my essay together. For number two I am having a hard time find anything on this that doesn't include book information. All of these questions are supposed to be just based on the movie and so this is difficult since I didn't know as much as I do now about Tolkien but still just can't find the right information about him for this question. Any help would again be appreciated.

- spartanswimr
 

Aldanil

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from OE to movie book-free

If your assignment is limited to just what's presented so far in the film, here's a connection (which isn't really "book-free" as titled above, but doesn't depend on your having read it in Tolkien) between the most famous poem in Old English and a specific moment in the movie.

In Beowulf, when the hero beheads the boiling-blooded corpse of Grendel with the massive sword he's just used to slay the monster's mother, the blade melts away in his hand, leaving only the hilt; similarly, when Aragorn examines the Morgul-knife with which the Ringwraith stabbed Frodo in the ruins of Amon Sul, (and we all know how painful it is when you get stabbed in the ruins), the cruel blade dissolves in smoke, leaving only the hilt in his hand. From Anglo-Saxon lore to LOTR....
 
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henzo33

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Another comparison one can make from the movie to Beowulf, could be that the deaths of both Beowulf and Isildur were caused by their own lust. In both characters, and you could even throw Boromir into this mix, there is an outside factor that brings out the worst qualities in their respective personalities. For Isildur the One Ring brings about his lust for power and the egotistical view that he can withstand its temptations. And with Beowulf the treasure develops his overwhelming lust for fame and fortune and the overconfidence that he alone can defeat the dragon that guards this riches.
 
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spartanswimr

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pre & post industrial Britain

Thank you for all the postings & replies, but I didn't need anything on Beowulf, we have already read that. I just needed to know how LotR is an analogy of pre & post Industrial Britain and give examples..anyone out there that can help?

Thanks for all the other stuff though.

_ spartanswimr
 

henzo33

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Not that I am exactly aware of how many of those questions you have to answer, but the information on Beowulf in comparison to LotR would greatly help you with question 1), "Early British Literature. It wiuld probably make your Prof. very happy to see you using a book that you have already touched on to answer this question. But do what you want, as i admit to not knowing the circumstances of your class. As for the pre and post industrial Britain question, I have no idea whatsoever.
 

Snaga

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I think the Shire as an example of an idyllic pre-industrial society is fairly clear, and is portrayed well in the film.

When Frodo looks into the mirror of Galadriel (its Frodo in the film, Sam in the book!) he sees a vision of the Shire if his mission should fail. Its not tremedously clear, but the vision is of a Shire in which the hobbits are forced to work against their will, slave-driven by orcs, in dark smoke-belching mills. This represents an industrialised society, in which power and production is more important than leisure and beauty. The image of the 'dark satanic mill' is powerful one in the English psyche. It conjures up the northern industrial towns, in which during the industrial revolution in the 19th century people worked in appalling conditions for a pittance (i.e. what still happens all over the world!). This was a phenomenon still very much in evidence in Tolkien's time, although in reality the worst excesses had probably been eradicated.
 

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