The Literary Value Of The Lord Of The Rings

1079 words - 5 pages

The most famous work in the epic fantasy genre is The Lord of the Rings, written by J. R. R. Tolkien in the 1950’s. Over the last few decades, there has been a lot of controversy over whether or not a story in this genre could be considered a valuable literary piece. It was suggested that fantasy was clichéd and too unrealistic to be in touch with the daily life. However, when one reads in between the lines, one might find a different interpretation from the same story; an interpretation that might not be at all as clichéd and farfetched as one might think. While literary experts often claim that literary works in the genre fantasy cannot have any literary value, the The Lord of the Rings-trilogy has the necessary originality, historical or ethical relevance and human truth value to be valuable.
First of all, the The Lord of the Rings-trilogy is original, not for the present day, but for its own time standards. Experts claim the book to be unoriginal, since it follows the structure of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth or the Hero’s Journey. The Hero’s Journey is a set structure, based on the typical epic fantasy adventure. It consists out of either twelve or seventeen parts, depending on which structure is used, and each story contains the same standard archetypical characters. Examples of these are the hero, like Frodo, the magician, like Gandalf, and the trickster, like Sam. This trilogy concerns the journey of these heroes, as they set on a quest to defeat evil. Their journey follows the template of the monomyth, as they leave their safe town with a magical artefact and are accompanied by a fellowship. When one determines the originality of the tale based on this, it seems a very unoriginal piece. However, the Hero’s Journey is based on the format of classical epic tales, like those of the Greek hero Prometheus or the ancient Egyptian god Osiris, instead of standard build-ups of modern-day adventure novels. Tolkien intended his book to be crafted after those ancient tales, as it was based on both Celtic and Scandinavian mythology in the core. The purpose he had for his manuscript was to create an entire mythology for England, as Tolkien felt his country was lacking one. By using the template of the monomyth, he actually created something entirely new, inspired by the heroes of ancient times. Not only did he use these ancient tales to create an entire fictional history, he also was the first person to write a story in a new genre: the publication of his trilogy was the birth of the epic fantasy.
Secondly, at first glance the The Lord of the Rings-trilogy may not seem to display any historical or ethical relevance. After all, one could say, the series is entirely unrealistic. It does not hold any truth to it, because nothing in the books ever occurred or could even occur. For instance, they are set in the world of Middle-Earth, which is supposed to be Midgard, or an early-day Earth, according to Tolkien. Six to eight millennia ago,...

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