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John R. R. Tolkien Essay

1651 words - 7 pages

In 1937, John R. R. Tolkien published The Hobbit; a children’s book that started with one significant sentence while grading one of his student’s assignments. That sentence gave birth to an entire universe that inspired Tolkien to write novels and poems and even a new language - that slightly resembled Finnish - according to The Tolkien Society. Tolkien’s world of elves, dwarves, orcs and hobbits is one that inspires children and adults alike. Although everyone is familiar with his novels, less acknowledged is the numinous collection of poems Tolkien created that reference his world of hobbits. His adventurous plots take readers on a journey with all kinds of literary devices. J. R. R. ...view middle of the document...

Their love would last until Edith’s death, which would permanently change Tolkien, who died two years later in 1973. Many believe that Tolkien based his personal experience with love of off two of his characters, Beren and Luthien. Tolkien began writing after he was discharged from World War I with trench fever. He worked at Universities as a professor and to translate a copy of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Tolkien retired in 1957 and much of his work was published after his death. The legend on his and his wife’s tombstone reads “Edith Mary Tolkien, Luthien, 1889-1971 & John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, Beren, 1892-1973.”, according to Tolkien Webquest.
A certain antediluvian feeling comes from reading a phrase or group of words that have meaning that transcend their formal definitions. This feeling of sacredness washes over when archaic words appear in text. In Tolkien’s many poems, he often implies deep messages with archaic diction. In Tolkien’s poem “All That Is Gold Does Not Glitter”, the title itself references the first line, which can have multiple meanings, giving the poem an antiquated feel with the phrasing of these archaic words. Tolkien means to shed light on important moral philosophies and concepts with his various poems. These philosophies vary from finding happiness and adventure to blaming death on authority such as the king in “Athelas”. His rhyme scheme and formatting of stanzas serve to connect and relate his philosophical concepts and seemingly bring his stories together. They way Tolkien utilizes basic rhyme schemes to convey his messages gives his poems an archaic feel, similar to Shakespeare. Tolkien’s novels go further into depth with this archaic diction due to the elaborate plot line and lives of the characters. Many of his books take place in Middle-Earth, a land that would have existed a very long time ago. The time, setting and atmosphere of the books give an archaic feel due to the diction. The character’s dialogue as well has been derived from real world archaic references, therefore making their communication seem ancient to the modern day reader. Hidden themes also play a part with the archaic feel due to the way Tolkien constructs these themes with archaic diction and syntax.
Tolkien’s poem “Bath-Song” is an ode to the marvelous bath that “washes the weary mud away” (Tolkien). His happy words and clever rhyme scheme as well as joyful subject create a simply playful tone. Many of his other poems involve a playful tone as well as a hint of adventure, rather than violence and grimness. This is almost ironic due to his experience in World War I fighting in the trenches. When the rest of society was looking down upon humanity, Tolkien was channeling his inner playful and adventurous spirit to spit out these poems. In his poem “Bilbo’s Last Song (At the Grey Havens)”, one of his most famous from his novels, Bilbo Baggins says farewell forever to his friends. One would think this would be a sad occasion but Tolkien...

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