I’ve been meaning to do this post for a while but until now have never gotten around to it. I would like to relate to you my own studies of European history and how I believe they relate to The Lord of the Rings.
To start off, I have to tell you this book is very special to me. In fact, it used to be a point of pride and my kindred spirits were easily found when I learned that others also knew of Middle Earth.
This was shattered when the movie came out and this magical world was brought to the masses. In case you have been living on Mars, let me give you the trailor here.
The reason I say “shattered” is that most people did not know of “The Lord of the Rings.” Therefore when you found another who also knew of this book you instantly connected. This happened to me in Toledo, Spain when I met a traveler at O’Brien’s Pub and during our chat told me his favorite book was “Lord of the Rings.”
My eyes lit up and before you knew it we were talking Elves, Magicians and Orcs. Aside from that, this traveler told me he was in the movie “Forrest Gump.” I’ve never been able to verify it but from what he told me he was the one who caught the football, ran it to Forrest and yelled “Run Forrest, Run!”
Apparently, this guy also played football in college at UCLA, was able to answer a lot of questions about LA, Hollywood and movie extras,and was a pretty decent sized guy so I really had no reason to disbelieve him. When I got home, I popped in Forrest Gump and paused it when the receiver runs to Forrest but couldn’t really tell due to the face mask.
But, as I mentioned, the movie came out, made it mainstream and our little secret society was shattered. The pain was lessened though as they were very good movies!!
But what gets me, is I have never seen any real debate about the reality of the film other than certain websites and movies dancing around the subject. I recently watched a National Geographic movie entitled “The Lord of the Rings – Beyond the Movie.”
Although National Geographic always does a good job, I feel that it does not hit to the heart of what Tolkien was trying to express. This is what I would like to do here.
*Side Note: I never read about Tolkien as a person so everything I write here are simply my own thoughts. After reading the Wikipedia entry about Tolkien below, it turns out I was not wrong about English people being the hobbits! 🙂 As for the other connections, I’ll have to read a bit more to see what the expert “Tolkienistas” have to say.
Now, Tolkien was an Englishman and his history is documented here. Therefore, we have to understand he is writing from and English perspective.
Now, just as I had done with my Avatar post, “The Politics of Avatar,” I’d like to have a little fun and relate what is going through my mind when I read and watch the movie “The Lord of the Rings.”
– In my mind, the elves have always been “Celts” or native English/Irish folk. The Druids are probably the ones who are most like the elves in that they love nature, live in the woods and have “mystical” powers that is derived from nature. They are also highly educated in their own ways which others find hard to penetrate. Here are a few Wikipedia excerpts.
1. “Pomponius Mela is the first author who says that the druids’ instruction was secret, and was carried on in caves and forests. Druidic lore consisted of a large number of verses learned by heart, and Caesar remarked that it could take up to twenty years to complete the course of study.
2. Roman reports of the druids mention ceremonies being held in sacred groves. La Tène Celts built temples of varying size and shape, though they also maintained shrines at sacred treesand votive pools.
The idea of these “elves” must have come from somewhere as most lore does and it is my opinion that elves must be the Druids which if you are a true nerd like me see the connection been World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings and other fantasy media. I like elves and if I had my choice I would become one…. or a ninja if my thoughts are leaning towards Asia. LOL.
– A bit of fun here, the Dwarfs are most absolutely GERMANS!! The only thing that does not connect is Germans tend to be big. However, Germans were also a threat during Tolkein’s time so perhaps he was being satirical by making them small? Dwarfs are excellent engineers and love their beer. They also have short tempers. Does anyone else think this might resemble a German?
– Hobbits like to drink tea, live in their very green quaint villages and so on. These have to be the English as the English also like their tea and from all the rain they get have very green grass. They are also very proper just like the English and the Shire very much resembles quaint, country houses in the UK.
“The Germans live in Germany; the Romans live in Rome; the Turkeys live in Turkey, but the English live at home.”
3. The Southerners
– This one is the most potent and should be seen very clearly by anyone who understands European history. In The Lord of the Rings, they mention the “Southerners” which are helping Morador. They come on “Oliphants” or some variation of the spelling “Elephant.” One will notice that these people are also very tall, lanky and brown! You know who else rode an Elephant to attack Europe?
Now as you know, I do not like to get into history lessons, but Hannibal came from Africa (The South) and you can read about him here. Hannibal is considered “an outsider” in terms of European history and could have caused a lot of problems for Europe as we know it. Therefore, it is very obvious, these “Southerners” were in Tolkiens mind, the men coming from Africa and a serious threat to Europe as we know it.
I would also like to propose the connection that Northern Africa can be a pretty desolate place just like Mordor.
4. MEN OF THE WEST!
This is referred to quite often in The Lord of the Rings and this is really something. Listen to the speech and keep reading.
Who do you think the “Men of the West” are?
Yep, Western Europe. After all, The Lord of the Rings is a “fantasy” story but can you imagine what the inhabitants must have thought when they were going to be attacked by,
Mordor, the eye of evil, how do you think the God fearing Christians must have thought when Islam was encroaching on their very doorstep. In my mind, “Mordor” is actual history according to a Western viewpoint.
Well, those are my main comparisons. But now, to a few things you may not have realized.
1. Led Zepplin
a.) Misty Mountain Hop
– So I’m packing my bags for the Misty Mountains.
Where the spirits go now,
Over the hills where the spirits fly.
I really don’t know.
b.) Ramble On
– Mine’s a tale that can’t be told, my freedom I hold dear.
How years ago in days of old, when magic filled the air.
T’was in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair.
But Gollum, and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her, her, her….yeah.
And by the way, who is that old man holding the lantern. That is so totally Gandalf.
– This one was actually in the movie so not much of a surprise, but fun none the less.