Skip to main content
No. of Recommendations: 2
My wife reports that as a teenager she actually fell for a guy's line that he was Aragorn and she was his Arwen.

I think Tolkien was not interested in character development of Aragorn, though he did it somewhat with Boromir, the Hobbits and others. He thought of Aragorn as an archetype, a hero of a lost style of writing, right out of Beowulf and norse legends and so forth. These sagas were not big on character development. Gandalf is a different sort of archetype, a Christ figure, which was also important to Tolkien and his circle, which included C.S. Lewis. Tolkien was a Catholic, quite religious, and his notion of Middle Earth as a world where man is fallen is quite interesting. The Elves, I've read, are like angels, they do not share original sin, and that is why they must leave the world for the west. We can debate what it means about Frodo's decision at the end of the book.

The ring of power is not the atom bomb, except in the sense that notions of power and its corruption are universal. It's all about sin.
This is a book with deep religious themes, and if you look at it too closely, the religion is a little wacky. It is amusing that a deeply conservative work became beloved by counterculture types in the 60's. I think a new generation is ripe to reinterpret it, especially with the
movies. I think the themes that will resonate most will be Tolkien's deep environmentalism, which is actually reactionary and opposed to the advances of technology and civilization. What Saruman does to the shire is a very important thing: He takes the natural world and destroys it.
The movie emphasizes this when it shows him ripping up all the trees,
and I think this environmental message will be even bigger in the next two movies.

It's a great work because each generation will take it and interpret it in new ways. I think we've been locked into a certain interpretation for about 20-30 years and now that is changing. (Of course, the books have never had that much mainstream critical appreciation in recent years, although when they first came out W.H. Auden and others were big fans; Edmund Wilson hated Tolkien, and he was influential in the 50's, 60's and well into the 70's. I think it might be possible to see him with a fresh eye, although his influence lives on in Dungeon and Dragons, fantasy genre books, and computer culture.)

Print the post  


What was Your Dumbest Investment?
Share it with us -- and learn from others' stories of flubs.
When Life Gives You Lemons
We all have had hardships and made poor decisions. The important thing is how we respond and grow. Read the story of a Fool who started from nothing, and looks to gain everything.
Contact Us
Contact Customer Service and other Fool departments here.
Work for Fools?
Winner of the Washingtonian great places to work, and Glassdoor #1 Company to Work For 2015! Have access to all of TMF's online and email products for FREE, and be paid for your contributions to TMF! Click the link and start your Fool career.