Tolkien Reader Response Essay

1115 words - 5 pages

Fairy tales have been told for generations and now every child has dolls, movies and books filled with magical adventure. Cinderella, Sleeping beauty, and Snow white have become classics in every household. However, J.R.R. Tolkien described in his essay “On Fairy Stories” that the world has corrupted fairy tales by making them childlike and denoting them to evil. Our culture prescribed fairies to be diminutive, supernatural creatures; however, fairies are neither small nor necessarily supernatural. A fairy is a direct product of Faerie, which is “the realm or state in which fairies have their being” (Tolkien “On” 2). Fairy stories are derived from the human mind, more so the imagination. ...view middle of the document...

Ultimately, readers will be able to look upon the world with a newfound wonder and appreciation. Along with this new sense of vision Faerie awakens man’s desire to be outside his own world.This eminent desire is one of the leading forces of The Lord of the rings. One guiding force of the novel is the omnipresent good that guides Frodo and the fellowship through disastrous times. A glimpse of this force is shown when the Fellowship reaches the transcendent Lothlorien, and Legolas exclaimed that they wandered into the Golden Wood (Tolkien Fellowship 378). This is a beautiful, light filled Elvish kingdom that contrasts many others of Middle Earth, like the Mines of Moria. Legolas finds his true happiness with these elves because their home arouses his desire to be in the undying land. Humans, like elves, long for this undying land, but through religion. Fairy tales then encourage readers to withstand the trouble of the world and arouse the desire to be with their Creator outside this known realm.
Escapism, another function of Fairy tale is experienced in Lord of the Rings. Although highly criticized, Tolkien believed that escape is a necessary and beneficial element of fairy stories. Men face “hunger, thirst, poverty, pain, sorrow, injustice, death” and even the weaknesses of themselves in which “fairy stories offer a sort of escape” (Tolkien “On” 12). This escape from life is one that the Primary World cannot offer. In fairy tales the other creatures become the weaknesses and troubles of this world. These “other creatures are like other realms with which Man has broken off relations, and sees now only from the outside at a distance” (Tolkien “On” 13). In The Fellowship of the Ring this can be characterized by the terror of the Balrog. This demon like creature is engulfed in fire and threatens the lives of the fellowship as they pass the bridge of Khazad-dum. In a sense, the Balrog represents the calamitous forces that dwell within the human mind, but the escape that Faerie provides for this weakness is through Gandalf, the demon’s foil. The Fellowship’s only protection from the seemingly indestructible Balrog was Gandalf himself. The beast began to approach bridge, “Fire came from its nostrils. But Gandalf stood firm. ‘You cannot pass,’ he said”...

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