Embracing the Took : kinship between Middle Earth and Sixties youth

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Shana Watkins (Creator)
Institution
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Advisor
Hephzibah Roskelly

Abstract: "The purpose of this thesis is to quash the reading of J.R.R. Tolkien's works as allegory, especially as allegory for the events of the turbulent 1960s, i.e. the Vietnam War, 1967's Summer of Love, the women's liberation movement, etc. By addressing each of the Sixties' infamous political and social movements, tragedies, victories, and controversies, this paper proves that the members of the Baby Boomer generation were inspired by the events described in Tolkien's primary works, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Middle Earth's events in the novels resounded throughout the Sixties, but were not actually about the Sixties, nor were they allegories of any previous decade, as some critics claim. Being a time of social unrest and demand for government and social revamping, the Sixties provided a particularly enthralled audience for the fantasy genre because it provided an alternative to mainstream literature. Sixties youth - part of which came to be known as the counterculture - demanded alternatives in nearly every facet of the American lifestyle, from the young rock-and-roll music genre to rebellious young celebrity idols like James Dean who contrasted Sixties parents' idea of glamorous and wholesome movie stars whose film and television characters strove to acquire the materialistic American dream. This thesis discusses themes that Tolkien's works and the Sixties had in common: namely, generational inheritance and rebellion; authority and isolation; social awakening; distrust and cynicism; reluctant and unlikely heroes; gender issues; activism; and hippie-ism. I also discuss how some critics misread Tolkien and how some contemporary critics fallaciously linked the Vietnam War with the battles of Middle Earth, concluding that Tolkien's works - and most fantasy literature - condone violence and offer simplistic good-versus-evil story lines with little character development. This paper proves that nothing could be further from the truth than these two erred accusations.

Additional Information

Publication
Thesis
Language: English
Date: 2007
Keywords
J.R.R. Tolkien, allegory, 1960's, Vietnam War, Summer of Love, women's liberation movement, political, social, movements, Baby Boomer
Subjects
Tolkien, J. R. R.--(John Ronald Reuel),--1892-1973.--Lord of the rings (1986)--History and c
Tolkien, J. R. R.--(John Ronald Reuel),--1892-1973.--Hobbit--History and c
Baby boom generation--United States $x Attitudes