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Transcript of J.R.R. Tolkien:
One World to Another
In what ways did Tolkien's life influence his books?
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
Who was he?
He was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa on January 3, 1892.
He went back to Britain with his mother and his younger brother when he was 2 years old.
His father died when he was just 4 years old; His mother when he was 12.
He was very involved in the Catholic church.
He studied Latin and Greek languages and literature at Oxford University.
He married Edith Bratt in 1916, immediately before going to fight in France during WWI.
*He was awarded a first-class honours degree in 1915.
He contracted trench fever and was sent home
His first child, John Fancis Reuel was born in 1917
He got a job as a professor at the University of Leeds (Later on at Oxford) and his second son Michael Hilary Reuel was born in 1920.
His third son, Christopher Reuel was born in 1924.
He met and became close friends with C.S. Lewis in 1926.
His daughter Priscilla was born in 1929.
He became a founding member of a writer's group called "The Inklings".
was published in 1937.
Many more of Tolkien's books were published over the years as he rose to fame.
Edith Tolkien died in 1971.
J.R.R. Tolkien died September 2, 1973.
So, how did his life influence his books?
Tolkien's life strongly influenced 3 main aspects of his books:
1. The Characters
2. The Settings
3. The Themes
"A new world is opened up to him as in later years he becomes something of a scholar, translating and retelling tales from the older days." (Duriez 73)
"Tolkien had gone up to Oxford to study "Greats" meaning Latin and Greek languages and literature, but was actually more fascinated by the North European languages." (Coren 31)
"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."
-J. R. R. Tolkien
"The Hobbits are just rustic English people, made small in size because it reflects the generally small reach of their imagination".
-J. R. R. Tolkien
Are not magic, but are skilled in disappearing quickly and quietly
Wear no shoes, they have naturally leather soles in their feet, complete with fur on top
Live very comfortable lives, They do not like to take part in adventures.
Love eating, drinking, and having visitors (when invited, of course).
"They were great craftsmen. A great temptation for them was possession.
Dwarves lived long lives, not marrying as a rule until they were a hundred. They had their own, secret language." (Duriez 89)
"These are not wicked folk. If they have a fault it is distrust of strangers. Though their gic was strong, even in those days they were weary." (Tolkien 194)
"For they did not love dwarves, and thought he was an enemy. In ancient days they had had wars with some of the dwarves, whom they accused of stealing their treasure." (Tolkien 195)
Tolkien was born in South Africa, a place that had such extreme racial division.
"The country was divided into several groups of people: black, brown, and white." (Coren 7)
"But they [Tolkien and his brother] soon caught on, and quickly came to relish the old and steady sounds and rhythms. Cotton balls, which itself was short for gamgee-tissue. Why gamgee? A local man named Samson Gamgee had invented them." (Coren 15)
"Spiders were to feature in Tolkien's books, and it is not surprising why." (Coren 11)
"The story of the love of Aragorn and Arwen echoes an ancient tale of Beren and Luthien, which Aragorn had retold Frodo, Sam and the others beside Weathertop." (Duriez 46)
"One of her dances in the woods was to inspire a story in Tolkien's
, the tale of a mortal man who falls for an immortal elven maid after watching her dance in the forest. " (Coren 38)
This is the Sarehole Mill, also known as "The Great Mill" in
"Everything was possible. It was a lovely place in which to live, and the two boy were very happy." (Coren 14)
Tolkien knew all too well the horrors of the war. It was evil and ugly, everything about it screams
"The battlegrounds were a quagmire of mud and blood and tears and decay.".... "This was not the glorious, but the grotesque." (Coren 37)
Medieval Fantasy Style
"Ronald adored them and read with relish story after story just so long as it mentioned dragons and sea serpents, mythical adventures and the deeds of noble knights." (White 20)
Tolkien's books are packed with mythical adventures.
An adventure from
Many noble knights are featured in
The Lord of The Rings
Mortality and Immortality
Aragorn is the true heir to the throne of Gondor, yet he humbles himself and lives as a ranger, and plays a crucial part in the quest of the ring. He is a true hero.
Although Boromir has many flaws, he shows the characteristics of a true hero when he sacrifices himself for the good of those who are smaller than him.
Sam shows many traits of the unlikely hero. He is small but powerful. He is a humble servant, much like Aragorn. He fights for the good in the world.
What was Tolkien's inspiration for the theme of heroism?
Tolkien's life as a devout Christian played an obvious part in Tolkien's writings. Who would inspire the heroes in
The Lord of The Rings
? The greatest hero of the Bible, Jesus Christ.
J. R. R. Tolkien firmly believed in the teachings of the Bible. In the Bible Jesus sets an example of what a true hero is.
2 Corinthians 8:9
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe
with the towel with which He was girded.
"Tolkien and his brother thought, as all children do, that their mother was immortal. Nothing could happen to her, nothing serious anyway." (Coren 20)
"They are, quite literally, exiles, for as Tolkien tells us in
, they are descended from Elves who forsook their true home in the West and set out East for Middle-earth. They were and are
for the West, as we Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve
meant for the Garden of Eden and now
meant for the New Jerusalem." (Markos 26-27)
Jesus answered, "My Kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My Kingdom is not from here."
Death (and mortality) is a very strong theme in The Lord of The Rings. Many sacrifices involving death are made for the greater good.
Mabel Tolkien sacrificed so much for her boys, much like many characters do in Tolkien's books.
Light is a symbol of hope and goodness in Tolkien's books, also greatly influenced by the Bible.
"May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out" -J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of The Ring
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."
. Great Britain: Harper Collins publishers, 1991.
"Tolkien and the Lord of The Rings: a guide to Middle-Earth."
Great Britain: Azure publishers, printed by Omnia books 2001. Source: White Pines Library 823.912 TOL
"J.R.R. Tolkien: The Man who created The Lord of The Rings"
Markham, Ontario: Fitzhenry 7 Whiteside publishers, 2004. Source: White Pines library 823 TOL
"Tolkien: A Biography."
London: Little, Brown and Company (UK), 2001 Source: White Pines Library 920 WHI
Markos, Louis. "On the Shoulders of Hobbits" Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2012.