Rings thought

Feb 11th, 2008 | By | Category: Personal Columns

The arrival of the mid-term school break brings out The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Were it not on DVD, it would be worn out by now, having been played so many times, yet it each time it seems as captivating as ever. Stopping for tea, there is the temptation to sit just a while and watch as the great wizard Gandalf promises to return by daybreak on the fifth day.

The stories leave some people cold. Perhaps it is growing up in the land of Arthur and Merlin that makes Tolkien seem special. The accents are those of home. The Shire is a picture of rural England, of cottages and gardens and farms and tight-knit little communities. The Hobbits are little people, ordinary people, unsophisticated people; people without power or status. When they sit over their pints in an inn, it could be in any traditional pub in rural England.

It is said that Tolkien believed that England once possessed a mythology to match that of the Nordic or the Celtic peoples and that he sought in part to create a mythology to match that of other nations. Yet his work is far too subtle and developed for it to fall into company with myths from elsewhere. Tolkien doesn’t tell mythical stories, he creates a complete civilisation and culture. He re-creates a pre-industrial world where mechanisation is the work of evil powers producing warriors of darkness.

The First World War and the wholesale mechanisation of destruction, is thought to have had a great impact upon Tolkien, yet his civilisation reaches much further back than the preceding Edwardian or Victorian ages.

His Hobbits do not venture outside of the Shire for all they could possibly desire is there. Tolkien’s world is one in which peaceful coexistence is possible; in which diverse groups can inhabit the same space; in which there is no government interfering in daily life; in which characters can be ruggedly independent and still live in strong communities.

Maybe the attraction of Tolkien is thoughts of the world as it could be.

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  1. Ian – you have succeeded where Tolkien has failed, to capture my imagination with this post.

    The thought of a world in peaceful coexistence is certainly attractive though I don’t recall things being exactly ‘peaceful’ in the Lord of the Rings!

  2. Steph,

    There’s a bit where Merry and Pippin want to be back in the Shire and one of them says that if they give up, there won’t be a Shire. It is to recover the peace that the power of the Ring needs to be destroyed

  3. I see it also as the battle of good against evil with the good winning through. I am also like you Ian growing up out in the sticks I would love to live in the Shire and I think the Hobbits houses are fantastic (unless you are as tall as Gandalf)They would not take much heating either being covered in earth and grass. Very environmentally friendly.The film trilogy has got to be amongst the best films ever made. Me and my boys also love to sit down for a marathon viewing session too.

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