Presentation on theme: "Tolkien and the “Great War” Influences of war in The Lord of the Rings Tolkien and the Great War: Images of WWI in Middle Earth."— Presentation transcript:
Tolkien and the “Great War” Influences of war in The Lord of the Rings Tolkien and the Great War: Images of WWI in Middle Earth
Tolkien’s Involvement in WWI Here is a timeline of Tolkien’s involvement in WWI.Here On your document, record three interesting things about Tolkien’s war experiences.
Characteristics of Trench Warfare Unlike the medieval battles that Tolkien had studied and loved, trench warfare was a brutal, perpetual struggle. Here is a memoir of one who fought in the trenches at the same battle, the Battle of the Somme. Read some of it and record some reflections on the memoir.Here
WWI and Poetry in England WWI affected not only Tolkien, but many other great writers and thinkers in England during their time. Here are some war poems by some of England’s best writers trying to cope with what happened during that war. It is from this page that you choose a passage to analyze later.Here
Aftermath of War One of the common complaints after WWI from the soldiers that did survive was “shell shock”. Shell shock is what is now referred to as “post traumatic stress disorder”. Here is a presentation of how shell shock was described and perceived at the time. Another slide later will take you to a link you may also find helpful. On your sheet record the following:Here How was shell shock defined? What were the symptoms? What were ideas regarding treatment? What was the prevailing attitude about causes and/or people who were afflicted with shell shock?
War Imagery in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings Tolkien shows a variety of war styles in his novel. Does this glorify war? You decide. Here is a quote from one of the actors: John Rhys-Davies On Translating Tolkien’s Drama to Screen You think about the book and about dramatizing it—in my more cynical moments I was talking about it with my son, and I said ‘look, something bad happens, and then there is a battle. Things get worse, and then there’s a battle. Things get worse, and there’s another battle. Then things get really, really bad, and then there’s another bigger battle!’ Though that’s a tongue in cheek parody of the story, that’s not far from the truth! The structure of Tolkien’s novel does not fit naturally into screenwriting 101. You have to seize it and take it and make it into something that is viewable. --Madsen “Standing” 33, Aug. – Sep. 2002
Medieval Warfare Examples of medieval battles are the ones most feel are glorified, mainly Helm’s Deep and the Battle at Pelennor Fields. Bernard Hill on Aragorn and Théoden He gives in [to hopelessness] basically, and then Aragorn pulls him back up by his boot straps— ‘Do this for you, do this for Rohan...This place is not about ramparts, bricks, and mortar. This is about the souls and spirits of the people; this is about the world of man.’ --Atkinson “Once” 48, Dec. – Jan. 2003
Images of Trench Warfare The idea of life in the trenches is seen not in the large battles that most of the Fellowship take part in, but in the arduous trek through Mordor that Frodo, Sam (and sometimes Gollum) endure. Here is some information that will show the correlation. Chart some similarities on your response sheet.Here The following slides will detail the effects of trench warfare on these characters.
The Dead Marshes Frodo and Sam must pass through the Dead Marshes on Gollum’s trek to get to Mordor and into the gate unknown: –“Who are they? What are they?” asked Sam, shuddering, turning to Frodo, who was now behind him. –“I don’t know,” said Frodo in a dreamlike voice. “But I have seen them, too. In the pools when the candles were lit. They lie in all the pools, pale faces, deep deep under the dark water. I saw them: grim faces and evil, and noble faces and sad…” (Tolkien 614) This compares directly to the accounts some faced when having to trek over the dead in the Battle of the Somme. The lights can refer to some of the gases seen in the waters.
Brutality and Agony of War Despair, hunger and thirst, all accompany Sam and Frodo as their ordeal lasts on and on. Sam’s sacrifice for Frodo embodied many of the stories that filled the stories of WWI, an example is seen in this poem. this
Lasting Effects on Frodo Frodo is the only hobbit from the Fellowship that cannot get past his experience. It very much mimics the idea of “shell shock” described earlier. –“But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.” (Tolkien 1006) –“I am wounded,” he answered, “wounded; it will never really heal.” (1002) Here is a paper from WWI on shell shock that includes cause, case studies, and treatment ideas of the time.Here
Concluding Remarks Tolkien clearly was affected by the war. In the preface to the novel, he says: –“One has indeed personally to come under the shadow of war to feel fully its oppression; but as the years go by it seems now often forgotten that to be caught in youth by 1914 was no less hideous an experience then to be involved in 1939 and the following years. By 1918 all but one of my close friends were dead” (xvii).
Tolkien’s ideas of war So, was Tolkien a pacifist? –Some say yes, using this section: “All the same,” said Frodo to all those who stood near, “I wish for no killing; not even of the ruffians, unless it must be done, to prevent them from hurting hobbits” (987). Frodo later refuses to draw a sword in any way.
Some say that Tolkien understood and advocated war, using excerpts such as: “Out of doubt, out of dark to the day’s rising I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing. To hope’s end I rode and to heart’s breaking: Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!” (829)
Finally, some assert that Tolkien was an advocate of what is called “just war” – in which war is acceptable under certain circumstances. Those advocates use this speech of Faramir’s: “..I do not need any to teach me of our peril. Even so, I spare a brief time, in order to judge justly in a hard matter. Were I as hasty as you, I might have slain you long ago. For I am commanded to slay all whom I find in this land without the leave of the Lord of Gondor. But I do not slay man or beast needlessly, and not gladly even when it is needed” (650).