Monday, November 9, 2009

The Value of Tolkien's Lord of The Rings trilogy

Reading The Lord of The Rings trilogy has confirmed the place of Tolkien as my favorite fantasy author and as highly ranked among writers altogether. This is founded primarily upon the subject matter of his works but also includes the nearly tangible effect from his imaginative world building of Middle Earth, as well as the epic plot which is well-composed using various sub-plotlines. The story is effectively carried through the changing perspectives of multiple characters, contributing to their individual character development while further illustrating a well-rounded plot. I also enjoy Tolkien for his unique writing style. This was a matter of debate in our class, since there are those who enjoy the longer descriptions and the “slow pace” of the story at times and others who find it superfluous compared with other parts of the work. His influences from European mythology give his writing style unique character, reflecting the prose of Nordic mythology among others. Personally, I prefer his sometimes over-the-top and perhaps unnecessary emphasis on the description of surroundings and the inclusion of various historical details. It may have no concrete relation to the story itself, but it is still enjoyable to read since it is simply adding more to the world of Middle Earth.

I would also like to comment on the association of escapism with Tolkien. The entire genre of fantasy depends on escapism to some degree, as can be said with any other fiction reading; however I disagree that this association should carry a negative connotation. In my view, the stronger the power of the escapism, the more credibility is due to the work. Especially in the case of Tolkien, I do not think that the escapism in his works serves as grounds for criticism. I do not believe that Tolkien is entirely escapism, as The Lord of the Rings alludes to certain themes and ideas that are applicable to reality when reduced from its fantastical appeal. For instance, the idea of several races putting aside their feuds and disagreements, some of which have been deeply ingrained in their history, to unite for a common cause is an idea which is very significant to reality. Recognizing the greater evil puts the quarrels of the races into perspective and even contributes to the races beginning to understand each other and develop new relations. For example, Gimli, upon his visit to Lothlorien, is at first regarded with aversion and distrust, and likewise are his views of the Elves, but even by the end of his visit and continuing throughout the rest of the story, his relations with the Elves are strengthened, as can be examined through his bond with Legolas. One of Gandalf’s well-known aphorisms, “[a]ll we to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us” is also an example of a valuable idea which can be taken from the work. I do not believe that this is why The Lord of The Rings is so highly claimed, but I also think that these aspects contribute to the appeal of the work and should not be unmentioned.

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