A BRIEF LIFE STORY

J. R . R. TOLKIEN

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was first born in 3 January 1892. He was born in South Africa where was colonial of Britain back then. His father was a manager of a bank. Because of the harsh weather conditions in Africa, his mom and him moved to Britain where actually the family was from. After his father passing away the family moved to Sarehole, which is known as a town that left much of impact on the author. The most that effected the author were how green the Sarahole was and how he was chased by his fellows. This created a big creativity on his mind even though it was his early years. Moreover, it is being assumed that Sarehole also had a major effect on the lands of Hobbit. 

Afterwards, he started studying at King Edward’s School and being even more interested in writing. As he was proceeding on Old Welsh and Finnish languages, he started creating Elf languages for himself. 

In 1914, when World Ward I started, he was a senior in Oxford University, he graduated the following year and joined the army. Before he was leaving to France for a mission, he married his childhood-lover and became a father of four.  The war where he lost of his four friends, the bomb was exploded nearby, so he was sent home. However the war had unforgettable marks on him. 

When the war was done, he was a employee in Oxford English Dictionary. He was also lecturing in Oxford. His most focused interest was Britain’s Middlewest’s lands’ works and languages. He started to creating his own Middle Earth.

He started writing the masterpiece, Lord of the Rings when he was a university student. The Hobbit,which was written for children actually, was like a intro for the collection. 

He was passed away in 1973 because of a disease. His leftover works were published by his son. 

PHILOSOPHY OF TOLKIEN

Tolkien believed history will be anything more than one long defeat and this idea of defeat and decline is the very quality that infuses his fiction with such a sense of longing and nostalgia. 

To understand his approach, we need to first understand he loved history. In the lost road his abandoned book he writes:

“My desire to see the lie of old and on lands to behold ancient men walking to hear their languages as they spoke them in the days before when tons of forgot lineage were heard in the Kingdom’s long fallen.”

-J. R. R. TOLKIEN

This deep passion for history shows in just how much it pervades his writing. There are over 600 references to the history of Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien’s own brush with world history had an even more obvious influence on middle Earth. Faithful servant Sam Gamgee was inspired by the servants who helped officers such as Tolkien in the trenches of World War 1 and Sam’s journey through the blasted and barren lands of mordor is an unmistakable image of no man’s land. 

No Man’s Land

Tolkien’s interest extended beyond events themselves and into the development of languages, literature and legends. In fact the expiration of his artificial languages word Tolkien’s main concern. The entire history of middle Earth is really just a history of the development of Tolkien’s constructed languages. Tolkien himself said 

“The invention of languages is the foundation. The stories were made rather to provide a world for the languages rather than the reverse.”

-J. R. R. TOLKIEN

The idea for lord the rings was that it was his own English translation of a book written by Hobbits: the red book of Westmarch. Incidentally this fictional book also has a rich history with no less than 5 fictional additions tracing back through writings made by Samwise, Frodo and Bilbo. So Lord of the Rings isn’t meant to be read as a perfect representation of historical events, but as stories that have been passed down, altered and inevitably corrupted. So it is safe to say that Tolkien was obsessed with history and the process of writing it. But that’s what makes it so strange that his thoughts about history or so radically different from most contemporary historians. Many philosophers of history is specially those popular at Tolkien’s time thought the move from past to future represented some kind of progress. Technologically we’ve gotten the wheel the steam engine. And morally most people would agree that we became a more just society after the adoption of the bill of rights and even more so after the end of slavery and again after the end of segregation. But Tolkien heavily disagreed. He thought that our technological progress wasn’t entirely a good thing and that we weren’t progressing morally whatsoever.

“The way men were living in the 20th century was increasing in barbarity at an alarming rate.”

-J. R. R. TOLKIEN

While Tolkien acknowledged that technology grew increasingly complex, he mocked the idea that industrialisation represented an advancement for societee. He witnessed his beloved boyhood home of Sarehale dispoiled by the invaison of men and machinery. It is a scene which replays itself during the scouring of the Shire.

Shire after invation

In his book of lost road, he fuses the human Kingdom of Numenor’s industrialization with their cultural decay.

“Our towers grow ever stronger and climb ever higher, but beauty they leave behind upon the earth… Men are ceasing to give love or care for the making of other things for use or delight.” 

-Elendil

In the Hobbit, Tolkien claims that technological development is a symptom of orcish thought. 

“It is not unlikely that goblins invented some of machines that have since traveled the world especially the ingenious devices were killing large numbers of people at once appeals and engines and explosions.”

– J. R. R. TOLKIEN

Those wheels and engines were rolled out for the first time in the form of tanks upon the Western front of World War 1 where Tolkien at the battle of the Somme witnessed first hand the goblin-work brought by the explosive power of modern artillery. Despite the horrors of trench and chemical warfare, many of Tolkien’s contemporaries at the time were regarded the great war as typical, not only of technological progress in the form of more innovative means of mass killing but as a necessary step in human history for social progress too. 

Chemical warfare of WW1

Tolkien disagreed. He believed conflict to be inevitable and that conflict being inevitable is part of his idea of history being cyclical. Instead of there being a straight line from a primitive past to more civilized future, Tolkien envision societies throughout the ages all dealing with the same everlasting set of circumstances arising from unchanging human nature. 

Many events in middle Earth are meant to be memories of the past. So we have Frodo 9 fingered in possession of Sauron’s ring which resembles another hero from the past Beren the one handed who recovers a magic jewel from Sauron’s former master in the first age. The repetition of this motif is not the result of a lazy writing because of being lack of an original idea rather frodo bears likeliness to Beren because the world they inhabit though separated by thousands of years is once again in similar. History is repeating itself because it’s cyclical. But Middle Earth is not simply cyclical, it’s cyclical but always getting worse. There is a grander in the past that can be echoed in the later ages but never fully recaptured. 

The point being for Tolkien older equals better. Having the same pattern repeat time and again throughout the cycles of history but becoming progressively a poor and poor copy is his way of illustrating that point. Tolkien’s portrait of history can be attributed to esthetics. Tolkien viewed those glorious old day as the ruins of a more glorious antiquity. Because in the history of middle Earth each ages inferior to the one which preceded it, its whole history is reflected with a nostalgia for a past that can never be recovered. 

Great Watch of Amon Sul
Argonath

His friend CS Lewis and he had a philosophy of history. Tolkien and Lewis believed that evil was real. Not some idea or social construct but a real and powerful force. The most powerful force in the world. Sometimes Tolkien would portray evil as personalized as with Sauron or with Sauron’s master Morgoth who was himself more powerful than all the force of good in the world to combined. But Tolkien also portrayed evil as an impersonal force, something even the most pure and innocent hearts were capable of being bent towards. 

Texting of Galadriel

Gandalf refuses the ring for that very reason knowing he could and would be corrupted.

Tolkien called Earth Morgoth’s ring. Just as Sauron poured most of his evilness into the one ring, his master Morgoth poured his spirit throughout the Earth and everything else in existence. Which means that there are personalized evils in the world and also there is an evil in existence that will remain until the Earth itself is destroyed.

“I do not expect history to be anything but a long defeat”

The reason for those word is this.

Eucatastrophe: a sudden and miraculous grace never to be counted on to recur it does not deny the existence of disk and astafy of sorrow and failure it denies in the face of much evidence if you will universal final defeat giving a fleeting glimpse of joy, joy beyond the walls of the world.

Aragon’s elvish name Estel: elvish word for hope

 All throughout life Tolkien looked around the world and between the scouring of his own boyhood Shire, his living through real-life Mordor in the trenches of the Western front of the World War 1 and later while writing Lord the rings witnessing the rise of a real dark lords in Hitler and Stalin. Tolkien had no reason to look up and reasonably expect good in life. And yet, through it all he never failed to believe in Estel (hope).

REFERENCES

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