Approaches to Race and Racism in J.R.R.Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings"

Master's Thesis, 2020

76 Pages, Grade: 1,7

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The Book of the Century

Chapter I: Theoretical Framework and Tolkien
1.1. A Short History of Racism in Tolkien’s Time
1.2. Concepts of Race and Racism
1.3. Tolkien on Racism and Anti-Semitism
1.4. Summary

Chapter II: Race and Colour in The Lord of the Rings
2.1. Colour-coding in Middle-earth
2.2. Black, the Colour of Evil?
2.3. White, the Colour of Purity?
2.4. of many Colours
2.5. Final Considerations

Chapter III: Approaches to Race in Middle-Earth
3.1. Time, Space and Race
3.2. Concerning Hobbits
3.3. Evil East vs. Good West? The Geographical Layer of Racism
3.4. Dwarves and Anti-Semitism
3.5. An Unlikely Friendship: The Relationship of Elves and Dwarves
3.6. The Good, the Evil and the Wild: The ‘Race(s)’ of Men
3.7. Orcs and Uruk-hai
3.8. The Mixing of Race

Chapter IV:


“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”

- Haldir, The Fellowship of the Ring

The Book of the Century

The Lord of the Rings is, in many regards, the best book ever written. At least if one were to look at the amount of sold copies, numbering over a staggering 150 million.1 But how can the success of a fantasy book be explained in a time without media hype, omnipresent advertisement and internet reviews? It must be love at first sight, a “genuine, sincere, popular response”2 from its readers. Tom Shippey, one of the leading Tolkien researchers, argues that it “must be the creation of Middle-earth itself”3 which inspires so many to read it. The Lord of the Rings is a fairy-tale that invites the reader to leave their own world behind to embrace a whole new world filled with wonders, various peoples and beautiful landscapes, with one particular reader feeling “disheartened on finishing it, because she feared she would never again find anything that would satisfy her in the same way.”4 Although Tolkien’s epic offered many readers an escape from the grim reality of the (then raging) Cold War, it is perhaps surprising how it managed to do so with ‘persistently familiar’5 conflicts present in the narrative.

One of those conflicts may be seen as racial in nature, although noticeably little research on that topic exists pre-2001. The visualization of Tolkien’s world by Peter Jackson saw a particular rise in race-related debate linked with Jackson’s approach to race portrayal in his movies. John Yatt for instance called out a strong racist undertone present in Tolkien’s fiction.6 Since then, leading Tolkien researchers such as Tom Shippey, Dimitra Fimi or Jane Chance have interpreted the supposed ‘racism’ in their own ways. Chance for instance looks at the books from a medievalist point of view, an approach that later has been taken up by Margaret Sinex with particular focus on one of the ‘Evil Men’ - the Haradrim. Despite the ever-growing research available on the topic of race and racism in Tolkien’s works, it can be argued that it is still underrepresented among Tolkien research. This thesis seeks to expand on this topic and will try to give another input to the debate, which is still ongoing.

While - as any historian will admit - it is impractical to judge individuals from the past with modern moral values, said individuals may be compared against the moral standards of their own time. This is why analysing the historical background during the development process of The Lord of the Rings shall be the first part of this thesis. Likewise, using scholarly input from respective researchers of that time will help to understand how race and the then fledging concept of racism was understood and processed not only by scholars, but the general population. Additionally, insight shall be shed on Tolkien’s own opinion on race with the help of his correspondence and lectures. This chapter is of particular importance to the analysis of The Lord of the Rings; the theoretical framework established here will help in deciding whether the epic measures up to the contemporary views on race or rather stands out from them.

The main body will consist of approaches to race construction and portrayal in the epic. While Chapter II will lay special emphasis on colour-coding in Middle-earth, Chapter III will look at the already mentioned approaches to race with selected examples. The reasoning behind this division was made with the background of existing research. An analysis of colour-coding in Middle-earth is lacking in modern research (apart from, for instance, a short study by Miriam Miller) and thus, Chapter II will seek to expand on that. In contrast to Chapter II, Chapter III will try to offer various ways to look at race in Middle-earth. Notable examples have been picked such as the supposedly ‘Jewish’ portrayal of Dwarves, the evil Orcs and ‘weak’ Hobbits; and of course, the various groups of Men will also be subject of analysis.

Another consideration is the scope this thesis will encompass. Despite the fact that Tolkien’s legendarium consists of many more books, a conscious decision has been made to centre this thesis around The Lord of the Rings itself, thus leaving The Hobbit, The Fall of Gondolin and others aside. Only The Silmarillion will be used from time to time, as there is more information to be found on events and characters which are only mentioned briefly and without sufficient background information in The Lord of the Rings.

Chapter I: Theoretical Framework and Tolkien

1.1. A Short History of Racism in Tolkien’s Time

The topic of this thesis implores a quick glance on the historic background of racism in the early 20th century, and to a lesser extent also Anti-Semitism as part of it, rising to questionable prominence during the World War period. Considering the fact that Tolkien’s lifetime coincided with the heyday of racism and - assuming that no author is free of real- life influences - a short but concise foray into the ‘long’ 20th century is of advantage for the goals of this thesis, with a particular focus on Eurocentric racism.

In 1899, Rudyard Kipling’s The Burden of the White Man was published, standing testimony to the widespread (among Western powers!) belief in the righteousness of their ‘civilizing’ missions. The end of the 19th century was the age of colonisation; European powers sought to expand their spheres of influence in the ‘Scramble for Africa’, a series of annexations, invasions and occupations of the African Continent, fuelled by the strong belief in the superiority of the ‘White Race’, a theme which was taken up by scores of writers, newspapers and intellectuals of that time. Groundwork for their racist views was laid in 18th century Europe, the “cradle of modern racism.”7 The Enlightenment gave rise to natural sciences, especially the emerging anthropology, which worked hand in hand with aesthetics, old classics and religious pietism, influencing one another, to establish and define man’s place in nature. Inevitably, defining humans along aesthetic terms, such as skin colour and the shape of one’s nose for instance, led to the establishment of ‘superior’ and ‘inferior races’. This was further enforced by travel stories of Europeans returning from Africa; greater contact between Europeans and Africans increased the fear the former had of the latter: [...] it is untrue that sentiments about black inferiority could have existed without contact with blacks, or that anti-Jewish feelings could have persisted even when there was no knowledge of Jews. The reverse was actually the case. People needed to see the frightening stranger, so supposedly different from themselves, with their own eyes.8

Arthur de Gobineau was one of the - if not the - writer who began to divide mankind along racial features: his An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races, published in 1855, should become a source upon which many notable ‘race’ theoreticians and intellectuals drew throughout the next hundred years. In his essay, he argues that there are three ‘races’: the White, Black and Yellow, each having different, ‘race’-related characteristics. For him, the Black ‘race’ is the lowest of the three, being most animalistic and intellectually limited but having great energy and willpower. The Yellow ‘race’ is one step higher and in contrast, is prone to apathy and materialism and favours theory over practice. The White ‘race’ however is superior to the other two because it possesses a superior intellect, challenges adversity, and has great physical and intellectual power.9 Essentially, Gobineau states that all ‘races’ are marked by inequalities which are permanent and thus, he was instrumental for the further development of racial stereotyping in Europe. Racist stereotypes were consolidated with the popular pre-World War practice of human zoos, which were intentionally showing denizens of other continents as primitive, inferior and less intelligent,10 with the practice continuing more or less in the same manner until the late 1930s in most Western European nations (at least in those which had considerable colonial holdings). Later, racial stereotyping was particularly implemented by Imperial Germany when encountering colonial soldiers of the Entente, dubbing their use ‘unhonourable’; racial abuse when encountering them was widespread, with terms like “Affentheater”11 (ape theatre) being popular synonyms for POW-camps where coloured or oriental prisoners were held. Famous ‘race’ theoreticians like Lothrop Stoddard meticulously warned of the implications by arming non-whites and the subsequent danger they posed to white supremacy12, most notably in his infamous magnum opus The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy. Racist treatment of people of colour, however, continued, despite the fact that millions of colonial troops had fought - and died - for both French, British, as well as German war goals. It did not diminish noticeably until well after the Second World War, when both decolonisation and the experience of national socialist state racism forced scholars to rethink these concepts.

Stoddard, in fact, had the sad honour of coming up with the noun “subhuman”; a term which was appropriated by German chief ‘race’ theorist Alfred Rosenberg13 and applied most prominently on the Jewish People from 1930 onwards. Due to their theological implication in Christ’s death, the Jews have been prosecuted by almost all European nations for centuries, with Anti-Semitism being prominent among all classes across most nations. Gobineau, the influential racial thinker of the late 19th century, saw the Jews (although members of the ‘White Race’!) as harmful to the “Aryan race”, which in turn he deemed ‘the best race’ in existence. In 1879, German agitator Wilhelm Marr published The Victory of Judaism over Germandom where he ‘foresaw’ German defeat at the hands of Jewish cunning; furthermore, he is mainly responsible for coining the term “Anti-Semitism”14. Due to their century-long pariah status, Jews were used as scapegoats whenever a crisis took place; they were held responsible for plagues15, bankruptcy or personal problems.16 Anti­Semitic pogroms happened after the Russian defeat of 1905 in the Russo-Japanese War; many Jews fled to Britain, where, as a consequence, the Alien Act of 1905 restricted further Jewish immigration - only two of a considerable amount of Anti-Jewish actions of that time. Most notably for recent history, however, was both the scapegoating of Jews for the German defeat in the Great War, resulting in the infamous stab-in-the-back-myth (Ger: ‘Dolchstoßlegende’), as well as publications such as The Myth of the Twentieth Century or Mein Kampf - by Alfred Rosenberg and Adolf Hitler, respectively. Both books were, combined with century-old development of racial thinking and ever-present Anti-Semitism, instrumental (but not solely responsible) in ushering a new, institutionalized state racism which ultimately led to the Holocaust. How widespread Anti-Semitism was at that time can be seen in the willingness of many occupied countries and German Allies to help ‘exterminate’ the perceived ‘Jewish threat’.

The Blacks and Jews were not the only victims of rising racist thinking in Europe. The term ‘Yellow Peril’ was, too, coined around the turn of the century, first appearing in Jacques Novikow’s Le péril jaune (1897)17 and further used by illustrious people such as German Emperor Wilhelm II., e.g. in his famous Hun speech.18 With the defeat of Imperial Russia in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904/05 and the subsequent emergence of a new, powerful and westernized Imperial Japan on the world stage, ‘Yellow Peril’ was the go-to term to describe European fears of the perceived threat from the East,19 notwithstanding the fact that Japan was a formal ally of the British Empire at that time. Just some years prior the Boxer Rebellion in China added to the East’s negative image as a morally lax and cunning, subhuman ‘race’ - roughly along the lines of Gobineau’s racial taxonomy fifty years prior. Terms like ‘Yellow World’ and ‘White World’ were not only used antagonistically in newspapers reporting on the war in the Far East20, but statements of a world re-organization along racial lines.21 Although initially there were three ‘race worlds’, they were later enlarged to five by Lothrop Stoddard,22 adding the ‘Brown’ and the ‘Indoamerican’ worlds. Whereas the geographical positions of the respective ‘race worlds’ were more or less fixed, geopolitical changes made the division blurry, meaning racial stereotypes were applied to the current enemy of the time. During the World War period for instance (1914 - 1945), Russia and the Soviet Union became chief victims of racial stereotyping formerly reserved to the Chinese and Japanese:

“That was most obvious during the Nazi era [1933-1945], when virtually every piece of anti­Russian propaganda talked of the "Asiatic millions" or "Mongolian hordes", which threatened to over-run Europe, but the identification of the Russians as Asian, especially as Mongolian, continued [...]”

Although the term ‘Mongolian’ was almost exclusively misapplied to the Russian/Soviet people, the trope of countless/unnumbered ‘Asiatic hordes’ is shared among almost all people starting east of Central Europe and ranging to The Land of the Rising Sun, exemplifying the decade-long, propaganda-fuelled European fear of being overrun, swamped or “flooded”23 by the very same ‘hordes’ from the East. In light of this, one should add that Japan was not only the victim of racial theories, but especially during World War II, went out to conquer their neighbours solemnly believing in the superiority of their own, Japanese ‘race’, making Germany not the only notorious culprit of such a dangerous ideology.

Especially during the first half of the 20th century one may observe the final step of what the sociologists Omi and Winant described as the “longue durée of racial formation from religion to science to politics.”24 During the World War period, political and scientific racism often went hand in hand, essentially becoming one under Nazism: sciences indulged in racial studies, bent on scientifically proving the superiority of the ‘White’ or ‘Aryan race’, sponsored by Goebbels propaganda machinery. One of the most infamous Nazi crimes was their experiments in the field of eugenics. Eugenics, the belief of ‘improving’ the genetic material of a population, developed as result of a misappropriation of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species (1859) by racial thinkers - a book which ironically stood in stark contrast to the common racial discourse. It was English Sociologist and ‘Social Darwinist’ Herbert Spencer who, as a result of said misappropriation, coined the phrase “survival of the fittest”, further legitimated white supremacy and colonial thinking based on European technological and cultural advances.25 One does not need to mention the futility of this pseudo-science. Millions of deaths and enormous destruction later, both sociologists and scientists would refute the ‘findings’ of their former colleagues, although even more time would have to pass to heal the damage done.

On a last note it should be mentioned that although racial thinking was usually the norm, it was by no means an absolute: works as Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, published in the same year as Kipling’s poem, critically reflected on the reality of the colonizing mission in Africa. Mark Twain critically opposed26 Kipling’s The White Man’s Burden, and ironically Japan (which during WW2 regarded themselves superior on racial grounds) proposed a racial equality amendment to be attached to the League of Nations.27 More writers challenged racism, imperialism and Anti-Semitism, but they were always a minority as racial thinking was unfortunately prevalent throughout all nations and classes of the time. Despite their criticism, colonization, imperialism and Anti-Semitism continued. By 1914, over 90% of Africa was occupied by European powers - so was South Africa, where Tolkien was born in 1892.

1.2. Concepts of Race and Racism

Theories concerning one of the most delicate words of today’s world are as old as the words themselves and underwent continuous change since their first adoption in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1903.28 Over time, a ‘conceptual inflation’ ensued, where the concept of ‘racism’ itself referred “to a wider range of phenomena.”29 But what exactly is understood by the terms ‘race’ and ‘racism’? When analysing racism (and race) in a literary work like The Lord of the Rings, a suitable concept of racism is required. This seems to be a challenge, considering the wide array of concepts which came up since the emergence of the terms in the English language. Some of the concepts shall be briefly discussed here, before settling on one contemporary definition at the end of the chapter. As the trilogy was written between 1937 and 1949, the focus of this study will lie on the first half of the 20th century and the ‘racial’ discourse employed by its contemporaries.

According to the OED30, the term ‘race’ entered the English language use in 1547 and derived from a similar word in the Romance Languages (‘rassa’, ‘razza’, ‘raca’, ‘raza’ in French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish respectively). At first, it actually meant the closer family or lineage of mainly aristocratic families31. Later, during the period of Enlightenment, the concept was inflated to mean a whole group of people who share the same characteristics. The idea of ‘race’ was, however, still interchangeably used with ‘nation’, ‘variety’ and others. With the advent of anthropology and ‘racial sciences’, ‘race’ became a heatedly debated topic amongst intellectuals of all branches; two of them were the already mentioned Arthur de Gobineau and Robert Knox, an anatomic from Scotland, whose works can be considered the earliest academic examples of racial analysis. Although each of them has its own nuances, they largely share quite a number of similarities, which Rattansi summarizes as follows:

Firstly, that humankind could be divided into a limited number of distinct and permanent races, and that race was the key concept for an understanding of human variation. Secondly, that there were distinct physical markers that characterized the different races, especially skin colour, facial features, texture of hair, and, with the growing influence of phrenology, size and shape of skull. Thirdly, that each race was innately associated with distinct social, cultural and moral traits. Fourthly, that the races could be graded in a coherent hierarchy of talent and beauty, with whites at the top and blacks at the bottom.32

These characteristics - with slight alterations- led the discourse over the next 20-odd years, after which geopolitical circumstances (and of course, the Holocaust) made a rethinking of the definition one on the main points of the fourth UNESCO statement.

Thus, proponents of the ‘race’ theory - that there are indeed different human ‘races’- attributed to visible aspects such as skin colour or the shape of a particular body part a hidden cultural characteristic (for example ‘greed’). “The deterministic manner of this representation means that all those who possess the signified phenotypical characteristics are assumed to possess the additional cultural characteristics”33 commented Miles. Following this logic, each individual belongs to a ‘race’ based on their skin colour, and thus must have the cultural traits assigned to that particular skin tone. Phenotypes, however, were not the only way to differentiate between races, and other ways arose - owing mostly to political occurrences. One of these nuances was the differentiation based on capital. ‘Race’ or ‘breed’ was sometimes attributed to poorer social classes which were growing rapidly with the Urbanisation and Industrialisation of the 19th century.34 Furthermore ‘race’ was not solely applicable to divisions based on skin colour, but could also be applied on a national level and to political enemies, which was most notable in Nazi jargon (‘German Master Race’, ‘The Jewish Race’). Especially in the Jewish case, one is able to observe the fact that ‘race’, despite all pseudo-science concerning the matter, was more often than not constructed on social and political basis.35

The fallacy of the whole ‘race’ argumentation was revealed relatively early. Several notable academic works on that topic arose in the Interwar Era, most of which refuted the biological justification of ‘race’. In the same year the infamous Nuremberg Laws were passed in Germany (1935), a temporary high watermark of Anti-Semitism, Julian Huxley and Alfred Haddon published We Europeans: A Survey of ‘Racial’ Problems, in which they made clear that there is no scientific basis to the belief that there are ‘distinct races’ and disapproved ‘racial biology’ (the infamous Rassenkunde in Germany). Furthermore, they argued in favour of dropping the ‘race’ term from use entirely, as they saw it as too “emotionally charged”, favouring the “non-committal term ‘ethnic group’” instead.36 In their conclusion, they distinguished between six different contemporary uses for the term ‘race’: [...] used to denote one of the major divisions of mankind - black, white, yellow and brown. Secondly, it is used to denote the actual human material of a particular country, group, or nation and its biologically transmissible characteristics [.] Thirdly, it is used to denote a hypothetical “pure race” which is taken to have existed in the past and later to have become contaminated by admixture with foreign elements [...] Fourthly, it is sometimes used as equivalent to a recognizable or supposedly recognizable physical type as Arab, Irish, etc. Fifthly, it is occasionally used applied to a local population which by reason of isolation, or supposed isolation, has become or is supposed to have become fairly uniform and stable in physical type [.] Sixthly [.] to denote the peoples who speak a certain type of language, for example in such a phrase as “the Aryan race,” the “Latin races.37

Although they discredit the use of the word ‘race’ as well as its supposed meaning, Huxley and Haddon, interestingly, still remark that there are three main groups “[whose] characters [.] are the most convenient and readily observed”, and proceed to comment on the nature of the hair, skin and nose types of those three.38 Miles rightly remarks that their “taxonomy [.] differed only from nineteenth century classifications in that it did not label these groups as ‘Negroid’, ‘Caucasian’ and ‘Mongoloid’ [.].39 One year prior to Huxley and Haddon, German physician Magnus Hirschfeld wrote Racism (1934), which was only published in the English-speaking world in 1938, after his death. He too, rejects the notion that ‘race’ can be explained in scientific ways, but fails to elaborate further on the difference between racism and xenophobia. In fact, he does not give a definition of racism at all, notwithstanding the fact that his book was one of the first to use the new term.40 In 1942, American anthropologist Ruth Benedict, contrary to the aforementioned intellectuals, approved much of the classifications done in the century before. She agreed that there indeed are three main ‘races’ of mankind, a notion which is apparently shared by her reviewer; the utterance “including accounts of the accepted human types”41 42 seems to even imply the approval of the ‘three-race thesis’ by the general population. Benedict further rejects the idea that ‘race’ is a modern concept, a claim previously found in Barzun’s Race, A Study in Modern Superstition 42(1938). Benedict describes ‘race’ as a “classification based on traits which are hereditary”43 and thus, seems to disagree with the scientific findings of her contemporaries. She asserts that ‘race’ makes a “scientific field of enquiry”44 necessary, but differs in the views on racism, which she defines as “the dogma that one ethnic group is condemned by nature to congenital inferiority and another group is destined to congenital superiority.”45 Thus, although her concept of race differs from that of her contemporaries, her definition of racism is quite unique in that regard. Miles summarizes Benedict’s own idea aptly as: “the concept of racism refers to a set of claims which are contrary to the scientific evidence and which therefore constitute a denial of science.”46 Ruth Benedict’s view on ‘race’ and racism combines both the classification based on hereditary traits so prevalent in the 19th century as well as the unitary refute of the belief that one ‘race’ is inherently superior to another by most of the scientific world of the World War era.47

In the same year Ashley Montagu, a fellow anthropologist and outspoken critic of the ‘race’ term, published Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race, in which he refuted Benedict’s claim of ‘race’ being a biological reality. His own view on racism was that it is an ideology which states [...] that something called ‘race’ is the prime determiner of all the important traits of body and soul, of character and personality, of human beings and nations. And it is further alleged that this something called ‘race’ is a fixed and unchangeable part of the germ plasm, which, transmitted from generation to generation, unfolds in each people as a typical expression of personality and culture.48

He, however, agrees on Benedict’s views on racism as a whole and joins Huxley and Haddon in proposing to drop the ‘race’ term “altogether from vocabulary.”49 Montagu’s book was received very positively due to his convincing argumentation50, which may have been one of the reasons for his appointment as rapporteur of the UNESCO statement on ‘race’. Yet another contemporary, Carleton S. Coon, provided his own classification of race, in which he distinguished between five distinct races; the ‘Caucasoid Race’ (or ‘White Race’, which he used interchangeably) occupying Europe, but also large swathes of Northern Africa and the Indian subcontinent.51

The whole discourse involving ‘race’, which began in the 19th century predated the emerging of a new conceptual discourse in the 1930s - concerning racism. Miles argued that the original concept of racism presupposed the existence of a discourse of ‘race’ because it was defined to refer to the nineteenth century beliefs that the human species consisted of a number of ‘different ‘races’, identified phenotypically, and that these ‘races’ were ranked in a hierarchy of superiority and inferiority.52

According to his line of thought, the concept of racism is only applicable to the representational and classification practises developed in the late 18th - 19th century. The aforementioned scholars in this chapter agree on this argumentation as is evident in their works. All other European representations of the Other, coming from the 19th century, Miles refers to as “ethnocentrism”.53 In light of the presented evidence and ongoing discourse throughout the first half of the 20th century, one cannot help but to agree to their findings. One is therefore prone to agree with Miles here, making his quote quite fitting to the purpose of this chapter because he aptly summarizes the consensus of Montagu, Benedict and others.

1.3. Tolkien on Racism and Anti-Semitism

After looking at the history of the modern ‘race’ theory and the coming of age of the terms ‘race’ and ‘racism’, it should be beneficial to look at the thoughts of the author himself regarding those keywords. Thankfully, a rather great collection of Tolkien’s correspondence with his sons, publishers, fans and others has been published, which facilitates the work all the more.

After his initial success with publishing The Hobbit, the possibility of a German translation was being negotiated by Tolkien’s publisher Allen & Unwin. After inquiring about Tolkien’s Aryan status, the German publisher was met with a harsh rebuke by the English author, stating:

I do not regard the (probable) absence of all Jewish blood as necessarily honourable; and I have many Jewish friends, and should regret giving any colour to the notion that I subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine.54

Questioning their “lunatic laws” he was even willing to suffer financially (at a time where he usually was in need of money) by letting a “German translation go hang.”55 It is worthy to note that Tolkien indeed wrote two answers to the German request and let his publisher decide which to send - in the second letter (arguably the one which was not sent, if one was sent at all) he specifically states that he “regrets” having no Jewish ancestors, a people which he considered highly “gifted”.56 In fact, as the letters make quite clear, Tolkien was not only opposed to the ‘race doctrines’ of “that ruddy little ignoramus Adolf Hitler”, who was “ruining, perverting, misapplying, and making for ever accursed, that noble northern spirit”57, but quite an opponent of the whole ‘race-thinking’ going on at that time, as he implies in Letter 81 to his son, talking about contemporary “confused ideas of race [and nation]”58. As regarding Anti-Semitism (in addition to the already mentioned rebuke of the German publishers) it can be noted that when he first met Cecil Roth, a Jewish historian, he described him very positively in one of his letters to his son.59 Last but not least, contemplating about the possible Jewish origin of his name, Tolkien, however, answered in the negative, nevertheless adding he “should consider it an honour if it were.”60

It should have become quite clear by now how Tolkien viewed ‘race’ and the misappropriations by many of his contemporaries. Being first and foremost a lover of language, he considered it the “prime differentiator of peoples - not of ‘races’, whatever that much-misused word may mean in the long-blended history of Western Europe [...]”61 His views on race stand in contrast to that of many prominent contemporaries and colleagues. H.P. Lovecraft (a contemporary of Tolkien), for instance, was notably racist: “[.] in the puffy, malformed faces of the slug-like beings (half Jew and half Negro, apparently) [.]”62 According to Steiner, Lovecraft’s racial attitude can be seen as representative of the contemporary society63, unlike Tolkien’s stance on race.

To sum up, there is no reason to believe Tolkien harboured racial thoughts or Anti-Semitic beliefs, a claim that can be supported by looking at his correspondence; on the contrary, he seems to not only to have contempt for the contemporary ‘race theories’, but also writes very positively with regard to Jews. Similar remarks with the same content can be found, for example, in his interviews, essays and lectures, but for the purpose of this work the already mentioned instances should suffice. Many well-known researchers in the field of Tolkien studies such as Patrick Curry64, Dimitra Fimi65 and Jane Chance66 have come to similar conclusions, which only supports the findings of this sub-chapter. In particular it was Christine Chism who, in her essay67, focussed on Tolkien’s understandable hate of the systematic misappropriation and appropriation of 19th-century racial theories, Nordic (although he hated that word!68 ) myths and legends as well as art, science and other by the Nazis.

1.4. Summary

Although the concepts and works already presented are but a small selection of the broad discourse on ‘race’ going on in the first half of the 20th century - with German contemporary views left out for obvious reasons -, it quickly becomes clear in which complexity the discourse developed. Although many academic works agree on the fact that ‘race’ has no scientific basis and even that the term should be abolished, several contemporary non­German scientists begged to differ with their own interpretations of the ‘race’ term, making the overall discourse varied and complex. The fact that the term ‘race’ was - and to some extent still is - used in vernacular contradictory to its proper meaning(s) can be attributed to the rather widespread popularity of the pseudo-scientific ‘racial sciences’ of the 19th century, out of which both Eugenics and Social Darwinism developed and became two regrettable trends in the early 20th century and further propelled the term into everyday use. The historical background presented in the beginning of this chapter shows that stereotyping, prejudice and blatant racial views were the norm not only in Europe or America, but in other continents as well.

After that, it has been established that settling on ‘one’ contemporary definition of both ‘race’ and racism is difficult, not least because The word 'race' was given a great variety of meanings in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It was used to refer to cultural, religious, national, linguistic, ethnic and geographical groups of human beings.69

The various concepts presented vary only slightly; some argue for the abolishment of the term ‘race’ from everyday use (Montagu / Huxley & Haddon). Others, like Ruth Benedict, opted for the possibility to retain the term to discuss the various human ‘races’, but distanced herself from the racist belief that supposedly, there are superior and inferior ‘races’. ‘Racist’ (or Racism) is the term that unites most of the scholars. They agreed on the origin of the concept - it derived from the 19th-century racial discourse. Thus, the existence of ‘race’, however scientifically flawed, was crucial for the development of the concept of racism. When trying to unite the various concepts, one could settle on the definition that ‘race’ describes a common group of people who share a common (hereditary) phenotype (and appearance in general). Linked to their appearance are hidden traits; those traits may include a common religion, language, shared values and/or geographical location, but also traits as laziness, greed and so on. Thus racism, as explored by Montagu, Benedict and Co. and summarized by Miles is the belief that

1) Different ‘races’ exist and share common traits linked to their appearance and that
2) A particular group of people/ ‘race’ is inherently superior over another ‘race’ due to various reasons, which may have to do with their appearance and/or traits.

This superiority - or inferiority - can be expressed in writing in different ways. For instance, a particular ‘race’ may be associated with less desirable traits or particular weakness(es). Likewise, another ‘race’ may be portrayed as exceptionally powerful or be described as possessing particularly endearing traits. The different possibilities, with the help of the definitions agreed upon in this chapter, shall be explored in the following chapter, with regard to the following questions:

1) How is race portrayed by Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings ?
2) Is Racism evident in the narrative and how is Tolkien’s approach to it?

Chapter II: Race and Colour in The Lord of the Rings

2.1. Colour-coding in Middle-earth

When talking about representations of race, an obvious starting point would undoubtedly be what first catches the eye. Visual representation of a particular item or a person are one of the most common ways in literature to describe or create something particular. Especially colours and their attributed meaning can - and do - often characterize an item or person as belonging to a particular group. This rather popular practise can be dated as far back as ancient Egypt, were Nubians were depicted with darker hues on murals than contemporary Egyptians.70 As established in the previous chapter, the existence of various phenotypes is crucial to usual depictions of race not only in Tolkien’s time, but throughout history. It is only natural to expect similar depictions to be found in The Lord of the Rings. When reading the novels, one could assume that the colour black (including skin colour) is associated with evil, whereas white usually denominates ‘good’ characters and items. For Tolkien, who drew several illustrations for most of his books himself, colour played a great role. Miriam Miller published an enlightening paper on colour in Tolkien’s legendarium.71 There, she convincingly argues that colour is (among other uses) indeed used as identity marker by Tolkien; however, she does not combine race/peoples and colour - in this regard, she only scratches the surface. She, however, sets one premise upon which this chapter should expand: that white and black are used for good and evil, respectively. The question how Tolkien, both as devout Catholic and artist, used colour, especially with regard to race and peoples, shall be explored further in this chapter.

2.2. Black, the Colour of Evil?

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky, Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die, One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.72

The ring verse, the last part of which is engraved on the One Ring, contains many, although not explicit, references to the colour black. Mordor, ‘where the shadows lie’, is described on many occasions as either “dark”73 or “black”74 land. It seems to carry an aura of fear, and Aragorn, one of the greatest heroes of the story, warns the Hobbits about even uttering the name in broad daylight.75 In fact, most - if not everything - that comes either out of Mordor or is linked to it, is connoted with the colour black or the term ‘dark’. Sauron, the Dark Lord in his dark tower, rules over this land, which is guarded by a “Black Gate”; he sends forth the Nine to search for the Ring, which are referred to as “Black Riders.”76 Later in the text, the Fellowship of the Ring faces the “black Armies” of Mordor. This is just a small selection of the myriad of combinations of dark/black + noun found in the novels. Most of these ‘Mordor-items’ are harmful to the ‘good’ peoples. When Gandalf reads out the Ring verse in the Black Speech of Mordor, the Elves are visibly pained and “all trembled, and [...] stopped their ears.”77 Uttering the language of Mordor apparently also comes with a supernatural change of weather, for “a shadow seemed to pass over the high sun, and the porch for a moment grew dark.”78 Supernatural is also the nature of the “Black breath”, whose power is not specified but with which the Ringwraiths almost killed Faramir. His condition was so grave, that ‘only a King’ could heal him.79 Not only does ‘black’ usually denominate entities which are harmful to others, it is outright used to ‘colour’ evil beings, such as Morgoth, the original Dark Lord, whose name literally means “The Black Enemy (of the World).”80 His standard is “sable unblazoned”81, or ‘plain black’. In the same sense the Ringwraiths, or Nazgül, are coloured by ‘black’; “tall black figures”82 with black robes and black hoods. However, in both cases the term ‘black’ is used merely as indicator of allegiance to Mordor or evil, with evidence to be found in the text. For one thing, Morgoth is a Valar, one of the twelve gods of Arda. Amongst other things, he had the ability to change his appearance depending on his needs83, making a universally true description of him nearly impossible. An even more compelling case can be made of the Nazgül, for they have no skin-colour at all! During the events described in the text, they are, as their name implies, wraiths; not able to be seen by the mere eye, forcing them to rely on clothing to give them any form of a visible shape. When the leader of the Nine flings back his hood, he reveals an iron crown, gleaming red eyes - but no visible head. Only a brief episode on Weathertop gives the reader a glance on their original appearance, because Frodo, wearing the Ring, is able to see right into the ‘wraith-world’:

He was able to see beneath their black wrappings. There were five tall figures [...] In their white faces burned keen and merciless eyes; under their mantles they wore long grey robes; upon their grey hairs were helms of silver; in their haggard hands were swords of steel [.] The third was taller than the others: his hair was long and gleaming [.]84

Here, one can see that those “black men”85 are in fact - or once were - white-skinned humans. Gandalf supports this when he says to Frodo that Sauron gave nine rings “to Mortal Men, proud and great.”86 Further evidence is found in the Silmarillion, where it is explicitly stated that at least “three were great lords of Numenorean race.”87 The Numenoreans were a human race blessed by the Valar, enhancing their physical and mental capabilities as well as increasing their lifespan to thrice that of normal men. For their help in the fight against Morgoth, Sauron’s former master, they received the blessed island of Numenor to dwell in. Numenoreans are described as having a pale skin, dark hair and keen, grey eyes.88 Thus, part of Sauron’s “most terrible servants” are members of that ‘noble’ human race and are evidently white-skinned and grey-eyed. Ironically, for the Numenoreans, black was a highly revered colour, as the tale of Tal-Elmar suggests.89

This ‘case-study’ of the Ringwraiths serves as a reminder that Tolkien’s descriptions should not always be taken at face-value; in fact, terms like ‘black men’ seldom hint at the skin­colour of the described. This finding shall become more important as this chapter progresses. Other examples are to be found aplenty in the novels. For instance, a general case can be made of the Numenoreans, the majority of which started worshipping darkness (i.e. Morgoth) prior to the War of the Ring. Because many Numenoreans were also colonizing Middle-earth at this time, both they and their ‘religion’ survived after Numenor was sunk by Eru Illuvatar90 as punishment for their sins. The remaining worshippers were henceforth called ‘Black Numenoreans’, owing to their allegiance to darkness and Sauron. This is quite important as some of them occupy several high posts in Sauron’s hierarchy. For instance, one is the messenger of the Dark Lord: the man was robed all in black, and black was his lofty helm; yet this was no Ringwraith but a living man. The Lieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dur he was, and his name is remembered in no tale; for he himself has forgotten it, and he said: ‘I am the Mouth of Sauron.91

Yet again the colour black is used as a main descriptor, however, not in regard to skin-colour. In fact, black appears as most prominent colour throughout the trilogy and is used to describe a wide array of items. The text has already pondered on things relating to Mordor often being associated with black. However, it appears that many other things are, too. For instance, both the wizard Saruman’s tower as well as the Othram, the first wall circle of the ‘White City’ Minas Tirith, are built of “black stone.”92 Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, casts a “black glance”93 upon Pippin, although he, having Numenorean ancestors, has grey eyes. Later, Gandalf says that the next course of action would be to face Sauron in a “black battle”94 far from home. In both examples, black appears to have a new connotation; although one could argue that in both cases, ‘evil’ can be substituted for ‘black’ without changing the meaning of the sentences. The connotation in question is that of doom; in the first example, Denethor is bitter because of the loss of his son Boromir. The ‘black glance’ foreshadows his subsequent descent into madness and death. Gandalf points out, that it makes no difference if they wait inside Minas Tirith or challenge Sauron at his doorstep - for die they shall either way.95 Notably, the chair of the Stewards is also black.96 The connection of ‘black’ and ‘doom’ is supported by Pippins dialogue with Beregond, one of Minas Tiriths Citadel guards:

‘Yes’, muttered Pippin. ‘It is the sign of our fall, and the shadow of doom, a Fell Rider of the air.’ ‘Yes, the shadow of doom,’ said Beregond. ‘I fear that Minas Tirith shall fall. Night comes. The very warmth of my blood seems stolen away.’97

Here, ‘shadow’, ‘doom’ and ‘Fell Rider’ (a synonym for Nazgul) share the same descriptor ‘black’ throughout the story, therefore stressing both the connection they share as well as the negative connotation all three seem to enjoy.

Hitherto the examples discussed included ‘evil’ characters and their association with the colour black - but that doesn’t mean they are the only ones carrying that colour. Many ‘good’ characters have attributes linked to the term ‘black’; most notably in their attire. The men of Gondor, who form the last bulwark in the war against Sauron, are clad in “silver and black,”98 which is often repeated throughout the chapters. Pippins armour is “black as jet,”99 and the guards of Minas Tirith are “robed in black”, an utterance which is formerly only found in the description of the Nazgul. A similar association may be evoked when reading the passage of the muster of Minas Tirith; Forlong, the Lord of Lossarnach, is described as wearing a black helmet.100 Yet another item of utmost (symbolic) importance is black - the standard of Aragorn, the long awaited heir of Gondor. This standard is sewn by Arwen, his elven betrothed, and brought to him by her brothers for him to wield in the climactic battle of the Pelennor Fields.101 Legolas Greenleaf, one of the members of the Fellowship of the Ring, serves as yet another example. He is a ‘wood-elf’ and hails from Mirkwood102, and is from the elven race of the Moriquendi - dark elves. This, however, does not imply their allegiance to evil - in Tolkien’s legendarium, dark elves are those elves, who never went to Valinor to see the ‘light of the trees’103. Therefore this example is yet another piece of evidence for the rather biblical use of terms like light/white and dark/black.

One last obvious point remains - black is also the colour of the skin of various peoples in Middle-earth. When Frodo and Sam are camping in Ithilien, they spy upon a column of ‘dark-faced’104 men marching to Mordor. These are the Haradrim, Southrons allied to Mordor, with black hair and black eyes.105 The Easterlings are among the people who are described as “swarthy”106, although that description is applied to both ‘good’ and ‘evil’ races. For instance, among the Men of Bree, arguably a ‘good’ people, many are swarthy.107 So are many of the Gondorians, especially the coast-folk.108 Another notable case would be that of the Woses, who are a forest-dwelling people and undoubtedly ‘good’, because they help the Rohirrim in overcoming the Orcs during the Siege of Gondor. They too, are portrayed as swarthy, but so are the Dunlendings, who in turn are allied to Saruman.109 Sam, Frodo’s gardener, is also often described as either “brown” or having “brown hands”. That may or may not imply that he is swarthy, too, although there is no evidence in the text for either stance. However, the Haradrim, who, on several occasions, are described as ‘swarthy’, have ‘brown’ hands, too: “[...] his brown hand still clutched the hilt of a broken sword.”110 So either Sam, who is from the north-western Shire and a Southron from an area near to the Equator have the same skin colour, or there are different levels of ‘swarthy-ness’. It seems to be more probable, however, that Tolkien’s descriptions are not to be taken at face value in some instances. A special case is that of the “black men like half-trolls, with white eyes and red tongues”111 who appear in the Battle of the Pelennor; it seems quite obvious that these ‘black men’ are apparently so monstrous, that they must be half troll.112

As already, ‘black’ is commonly used to describe items associated with evil, Mordor and Sauron. One should not wonder that it therefore is used for descriptions of Orcs as well, the most common ‘evil minions’ in Middle-earth. Although Tolkien himself described the Orcs as “sallow-skinned”113 114 115 116 in his letters, in his books one rather finds both the terms ‘black’ and ‘dark’ referring to their skin tones. These, however, are more often than not quite ambiguous. For one thing, when the Fellowship fights in the Mines of Moria, they encounter a large swarthy Orc-chief clad in “black mail”.114 Shortly before, they fell another Orc, who is described as having “dark skin of greenish scales,”115 implying an overall green skin-colour; it is either dark because of the particular hue, or dark because of missing lighting (they were fighting in a Mine, after all!) So ‘swarthy’, in this particular case, may imply (as the chieftain was obviously of the same race as the killed Orc) that he, too, may have the dark greenish skin of his ‘compatriot.’ The Uruk-hai, a crossbreed between Orcs and goblin-men, are also “swarthy”,116 with a proper skin-colour (greenish?) nowhere specified. Only once in the entire trilogy is an explicitly “black-skinned” Orc mentioned. The Orc in question is unnamed and is not driving the plot forward. This begs the question as to why the skin colour of this particular Orc, and not, for example that of Shagrat and Gorbag, who play a far greater role, is given. One line of argumentation would be that although most orcs are ‘swarthy’, few of them are indeed black. The same can be said about the Southrons, who are uniformly swarthy, but only the ‘troll-men’ are black - if they are! These troll-men in particular offer yet another way of interpreting ‘black’. As seen in the examples of the Black Riders, Black Numenoreans, “black Uruks from Mordor”117 and said troll-men, the term ‘black’ (if not referring explicitly to skin) seems to be reserved for powerful beings of darkness. Enough has been said about the Nazgul and the Numenoreans to underline that thesis; the Uruks of Mordor are a special breed of Orcs able to resist sunlight, furthermore, they are even “large[r] and [more] evil”118 than common Orcs. In their case, ‘black’ and ‘evil’ are tightly knit together, further stressing the fact that more often than not, the term ‘black’ is rather used to signify allegiance to evil - or even multiply ‘evil-ness’- as to indicate skin-colour: no named orc acquires the same sobriquet as the ‘Black Riders’ or ‘Black Numenoreans’. For one thing, because apparently, few of them are indeed ‘black’ of skin, and secondly, because as ‘mere’ foot soldiers, they simply do not117 deserve this status.118

On a last note, it should be noted that in Tolkien’s legendarium, darkness/’blackness’ was not always connoted with evil: [...] Night should also in its kind be good and blessed, being a time of repose, and of inward thought; and a vision also of things high and fair that are beyond Arda, but are veiled by the splendour of Anar [the Sun]. But Melkor would make it a time of peril unseen, of fear without form, an uneasy vigil; or a haunted dream, leading through despair to the shadow of Death.119

Black was not always evil (not created as such); it was because of Melkor, who first associated darkness with evil. This can be seen as one of his greatest evil achievements. By using that example, Tolkien shows that everything can be corrupted: people, concepts, and colours.

2.3. White, the Colour of Purity?

Not as prevalent as ‘black’, but still found aplenty, ‘white’ features in similar fashion in the text. The most prominent use seems to be as an epithet; for instance, both wizards Saruman and Gandalf carry it. While Saruman is known throughout the trilogy as “the White”120, Gandalf only acquires it in The Two Towers. After his fatal clash with the Balrog of Morgoth, a fire-demon, he is ‘resurrected’ by the Valar and send back to Middle-earth to fulfil his quest; however this time, he is greatly enhanced both in power and wisdom. This is shown by his attire; no longer is he wearing grey, rather ragged robes, but is clothed in white from head to toe. So drastic is his change, that Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli first mistake him for Saruman. Saruman is introduced to the reader as “great among the Wise. He is the chief of [Gandalf’s] order and the head of the Council [of the Istari].”121 He is widely regarded as one of the wisest beings in Middle-earth, thus “the White” here is linked with great power/knowledge. Saruman’s alternative epithet “the Wise”122 further stresses this point. The link is even more evident in Gandalf, who acquires this title only after his enhancement in power. Both wizards were Maiar; lesser gods, sent by the Valar to unite and advise Men and Elves “to do good”123 and help them against Sauron. In light of this, it can be interpreted that ‘white’ is connoted as ‘good’ or even ‘noble’, thus seen positively. Another common interpretation of the colour is the biblical quality ‘purity’, a notion which can also be attributed to the original mission of both - one of pure intentions. However, only one stays true: while Saruman becomes increasingly enamoured with power and becomes a “black traitor”124, Gandalf is the one with whose help and wisdom the ‘good’ side triumphs against Sauron in the end.

Saruman’s case gives plenty room for (colour) analysis. First off, his heraldic symbol is the “White Hand (of Saruman)”125, which is quite ironic considering the change he undergoes. When he changes sides, he also discards his former epithet (‘the White’), exclaiming “for I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colours!”126 In his quest for (even more) power, ‘white’ is no longer enough for the evil wizard - he yearns for ‘more colours’. “White serves as the beginning”127 he adds, clearly stating his intentions. Even his wisdom changes with his ‘colour’; whereas earlier “the lore of the Elven-rings, great and small, [was] his province”128, he becomes deeply entrenched in the “arts of the enemy”129 later on, showing his corruption. His descent into darkness is foreshadowed by his hair and beard. While most of it is white, strands of black hair can be spotted around his ears and lips.130 Miller argues that his rejection of white is in fact a “refraction”131, same as evil is a ‘refraction’ or perversion of good - a theme which is found across the entire trilogy. Later, when Saruman is defeated, Gandalf supplants him as new leader of the order: “You have no colour now, and I cast you from the order and from the Council.”132 Saruman’s loss of position comes simultaneously with his loss of colour, stressing the relation of colour and identity as well as power. Thus, colour plays a role in indicating good and evil in the case of the two wizards, but also as identity marker as shown in the case of Saruman.

White is not exclusive to both wizards, however. Another character associated with it would be the elf Galadriel, who reigns in Lothlorien, which is styled as “the heart of Elvendom on earth.”133 Like Gandalf, her wearing “white cloaks”134 could be interpreted as having great powers, and indeed she is the mightiest elf in Middle-earth.135 Lorien itself is strongly associated with the colour white. Only there grow white-barked Mallorn-trees with golden leaves upon which “white flets”136 are built; white flowers grow at their stems and white streams flow there; a “white bridge” and “white ladder” is mentioned - these are just some examples. Lorien, the ‘elven paradise’ and last remaining peaceful place (“There is in her and in this land no evil, unless a man bring it hither himself”137 ) is also a place of purity and goodness, both qualities with which ‘white’ is traditionally connected and positively connoted.

Another symbolic place would be Minas Tirith, the “White City”, were the White Tree, symbol of Gondor grows. Standing right on the border to Sauron’s dominion, its biblical significance as beacon(s) of ‘goodness’ becomes evident when looking at the following extract from the bible: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”138 In The Return of the King, the Forces of Good rally in Minas Tirith, to repel the united Forces of Darkness in the climactic Battle of Pelennor. The simile of a beacon surrounded by darkness is exemplary in the following excerpt from The Return of the King, which depicts the battlefield just before the Rohirrim arrive: [.. ,]Light was glimmering. Far, far away, in the South the clouds could be dimly seen as remote grey shapes, rolling up, drifting: morning lay beyond them. But at the same moment there was a flash, as if lightning had sprung from the earth beneath the City. For a searing second it stood dazzling far off in black and white, its topmost tower like a glittering needle; and then as the darkness closed again there came rolling over the fields a great boom.139

In this scenario, the positively-connoted glittering (white) of the topmost tower of Minas Tirith is contraposed to the ensuing darkness (black), which is perceived as evil. This biblical white-black dichotomy is evident in various different cases. For once, when Eowyn, with hair that “gleamed like pale gold”140 (almost white) kills the “Black Captain”141, the leader of Nazgül. In the same act she decapitates his flying steed, often depicted as a dragon-like creature in art. Immediately the tale of St. George and the dragon comes to mind. Some other notable scenes involve Gandalf, as Gracia Ellwood points out:

Now the parallelism is to the Nazgül, and especially to their lord, the Black Rider - like Gandalf once a powerful magician, and one who underwent death. In the confrontation on the Pelennor outside Minas Tirith, the White Rider goes forth against the Black, as in several scenes in the Apocalypse. Especially later in the scene in the broken gateway to the city, we see White against Black. The great struggle with the Balrog is echoed: "‘You cannot enter here,’ said Gandalf, and the huge shadow halted. ‘Go back to the abyss prepared for you! . . .’142

Twice the (White) wizard faces off against seemingly almighty creatures of darkness (the Balrog on the bridge of Khazad-dum, and the Witch-King at the Gates of Minas Tirith); twice white repels black. This (very Christian) colour-coding assigns both black and white clear roles: evil and good.

Saying that everything white is ‘good’ would be too hasty, however. As shown in the case of Saruman, the text features already one infamous example of white-turned evil. He is, however, by far not the only one. As already mentioned in the first part of this chapter, the Nazgul, in their ‘real’ appearance, are white, too. And so are the Black Numenoreans, who wholly indulged themselves to the darkness. In the Return of the King, another temporary villain is introduced right in the first chapter: Denethor. He is the Stewart of Gondor, who reigns instead of the missing kings. He is first introduced to Pippin by Gandalf: “Théoden is a kindly old man. Denethor is from another sort, proud and subtle, a man of far greater lineage and power.”143 Later, Pippin sees him with his own eyes, and is “reminded not so much of Boromir [Denethor’s son] as of Aragorn.”144 Aragorn, who is the epitome of a man of numenorean descent, is therefore not so unlike to Denethor; all positive qualities the reader already knows about Aragorn are immediately assigned to Denethor per Pippin’s comparison. Later, however, Denethor descends into madness (due to Sauron’s corruption): he abandons his Stewardship and intends to end his and his son’s life, exclaiming “the West has failed.”145 He then proceeds to first break the white staff of his stewardship, and then burning himself alive on a pyre. By breaking the ‘white staff’ he symbolically discards his last notion of ‘goodness’ before committing suicide (a cardinal sin according to Catholic belief). Denethor’s demise is foreshadowed in the previous chapter, when “out of the White Tower [Denethor] walked, as if to a funeral, out into the darkness [,..]”146 Likewise, his son Boromir abandons the ‘good cause’ when he tries to take the ring from Frodo, although he later redeems himself before dying by protecting Merry and Pippin.147 Thus, abandoning the ‘good side’ has invariably lethal consequences. Other ‘evil’ white characters include Grima Wormtongue, who, originally a man of Rohan, spies and plots in the service of Saruman. Another one is obviously Gollum, who will be dealt with in the next chapter.

2.4. of many Colours

In her study of colour in The Lord of the Rings, Miller notes that [...] as limited as is the total palette used by Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings, the colours used in personal and group names (of both categories) are still more limited. Again with the exception of Radagast the Brown, we find only the three neutrals (black, white, and grey) and the two metals (silver and gold). There are no counterparts here to such real and fictional characters of the Middle Ages as Erik the Red, Harold Blue-tooth, and the Green Knight. It is clear that these five colour words have thematic and symbolic value in Lord of the Rings.147

The symbolic value has already been explored with regards to black and white. Few other colours appear regularly, albeit not as dominant. A particularly interesting colour is grey, with one of its most famous ‘bearers’ being Gandalf the Grey. Miller noted that grey in The Lord of the Rings is “uncharacteristically positive”, remarking that normally, “old age, gloom, sadness” and “a sleazy sort of border-line immorality”148 are the attributes associated with that colour. One can agree that grey is usually portrayed in a rather positive way in the novels149, however, said ‘border-line immorality’ can indeed be found -implicitly- in the character of Gollum. Gollum himself is never explicitly described as ‘grey’; instead, his attributed colours fluctuate between black and white. Shagrat describes him as “little thin black fellow”150 ; the Rangers of Gondor mistake him for a “black kingfisher”151 and when he is fishing in the Forbidden Pool, only is “black head”152 is visible. On the other hand, plenty of textual references draw Gollum with “bone-white”153 skin and “whitish”154 hands. Due to the sheer amount of occurrences of this particular way to ambiguously describe Gollum one can argue that it is deliberately done to portray his inner fight between betrayal (evil) and redemption (good). Throughout the last two books, Gollum is walking this thin line as he sojourns with Frodo and Sam to Mordor, well aware of their mission. On the one hand, he is still drawn heavily to the Ring, whose owner he was for 500 years before the events in The Hobbit; on the other hand, the pity and mercy shown to him by Frodo kindle his ‘good’ side within. This ‘split’ and Gollum’s unique color-coding is further expressed in his two personalities: while ‘Gollum’ is his evil, scheming side, ‘Sméagol’ (his original Hobbit name) is good and helpful. For Tolkien, the possibility of redemption of Gollum/Sméagol was of particular interest:

If [Sam] had understood better what was going on between Frodo and Gollum, things might have turned out differently in the end. For me perhaps the most tragic moment in the Tale comes in II 323 ff. when Sam fails to note the complete change in Gollum's tone and aspect. [...] The interest would have shifted to Gollum, I think, and the battle that would have gone on between his repentance and his new love on one side and the Ring. Though the love would have been strengthened daily it could not have wrested the mastery from the Ring. I think that in some queer twisted and pitiable way Gollum would have tried (not maybe with conscious design) to satisfy both. [.]155

Gollum’s morality sways between the lust for the ring and (subconscious) hope for redemption, which literally makes him a grey character for two reasons: firstly, because it is the colour one gets when mixing his frequently attributed colours -white and black- and secondly, because he can neither be comfortably categorized into good, nor evil.

Whenever the story shifts the place of action to Mordor, the appearance of the colour red increases substantially. Together with the ever-present colour ‘black’, red forms the ‘devilish’ “colours of evil, war and destruction.”156 Sauron’s coat-of-arms depicts a red eye on a black field157, and even the flies in Mordor are “marked”158 by it. The banner of the Haradrim depicts a black serpent on red, and the Southrons wear “scarlet robes”159 themselves. Although dominant, red is not restricted to evil forces - Erkenbrand, marshal of Rohan, is noted for having a red shield.160

Green is usually the colour attributed to Rohan (its banner being a white horse on a green field161 ), as well as Lothlorien (“a city of green towers”162 and obviously, beautiful landscapes (“grass [.] like a green sea”163 ). Traditionally, green is a colour heavily associated with nature, and as such it is also used by Tolkien. The nature-loving Hobbits wear clothes of green (and yellow); in the centre of Lothlorien is a mound “covered with a sward of grass as green as Spring-time in the Elder Days”164 (thus rendering the green even more beautiful, as is references days of glorious past) and Legolas, a wood-elf, carrying the byname Greenleaf. Another association with green, however, is poison and corruption. Just as poison ‘corrupts’ items it is added to, corruption by evil is often accompanied with a ‘pale green’ colour in The Lord of the Rings. A first glimpse of that corruption is given to the reader when the Hobbits are trapped in the Barrow-Downs: “a pale greenish light was growing round”165, with an attack of a Barrow-Wight following suit. This is possible due to the Witch-Kings evil influence, who roused the Barrows some days prior.166 Another prime example is Minas Morgul itself: former city of Gondor and known as Minas Ithil (=Tower of the Moon), it was captured by the Nazgül, who turned it into Minas Morgul (=Tower of Black Sorcery). After that, it acquires a certain “corpse-light”, which was “green-white” and “illuminated nothing.”167 ‘Corrupting green’ can furthermore be explored in Gollum, whose eyes flicker in the Morgul-colours every time he is in an ‘evil mood’.168

Seldom is one colour attributed to either just one meaning or morality. Gold is usually the colour of extreme beauty (such as Galadriel’s hair169 ) and as such, the reader expects the colour to be used exclusively for ‘good’ entities. However, the narrator mentions the Southrons and their Elephants being partially clad in gold several times.170 The red and gold of the Haradrim clothes are found again in the flowers of the Shire.171 It should also be noted that the One Ring, in many ways an extension of Sauron, the prime ‘antagonist’, is forged out of gold with “fiery letters”172 adorning it.

2.5. Final Considerations

This chapter aimed to show how nuanced the utilisation of colour is in The Lord of the Rings. Although Tolkien used relatively few colours, as remarked by Miriam Miller, but those he used were imbued with various meanings and attributes throughout the trilogy. Several observations can be made about the use of colour:

Firstly, no single colour is ‘absolutely good’, pure or impossible to corrupt. Even the colour white, which is mostly used for ‘good’ characters and items, “can be broken”173, as Saruman exclaims. Indeed, it is mostly Saruman, in which the corruption of White is exemplified. The White Hand of Saruman is not a symbol of goodness in Middle-earth, being painted on the shields of his Uruk-hai. The same observations apply to the colour green: although mostly used positively with regard to nature, it is also the colour of ‘poisoning’, evil influence or corruption as seen with Minas Morgul. Taken together, white and green are the colours of the corpse-light found in the Dead City.

Likewise, black is not exclusively the colour of evil. The kingly standard of Aragorn is black, and is the background of the coat-of-arms of Gondor. This shows their Numenorean descent, for they valued the colour black and revered it as beautiful and regal - their ships had black sails and they liked to build using black stone, as the tower of Orthanc and the Othram show. Furthermore, black exists as skin colour, but its use as such is incredibly rare. Instead, Tolkien uses hues - swarthy and pale - to describe most races. Swarthy skin is attributed to both Uruk-hai and Haradrim, but to at least part of the Gondorians and Woses as well; pale are the descendants of Numenor, both good and evil; the elves and the Rohirrim; and the Hobbits are brown(ish). Thus, Tolkien does not link ‘evilness’ with a particular skin-colour: both pale and swart serve Sauron, as well as fight against him.

Most of the time both extremes on the colour spectrum are used to indicate allegiance to either good or evil forces - that being said, the black and white colours are definitely used as synonyms for good and evil. Often these occur in the name of the characters in question, i.e. Black Numenoreans or Black Riders and Gandalf the White or the White City. The same argumentation can be found in Rearick:

‘For all you are the children of light, and children of the day: we are not of the night nor of darkness.’ (I Thessalonians 5:4). This is only the smallest of samples of light and dark metaphors and images used in scripture. Remembering that dark and light in The Lord of the Rings is about the powers of good and evil and not race, readers should realize that Orcs are dark because they are far from the good.174

Thus, the following argument emerges as most plausible: that Orcs (or Haradrim) are dark of skin because of their evilness, and not evil because of their swarthy skin. Apart from biological explanations (the Haradrim, after all, are from the South), the hue of the skin is -again- used as visual identification to either good or bad, not as accusation that dark skin is synonymous with evil.

Miller noted that colour is often used as heraldry175 - a medieval practice to show membership to a particular family, kingdom, clan etc., which Tolkien employed regularly in his medieval-set Ring trilogy. This is why sable is often used instead of black (“high helms and sable shields”176 ), and why white is often interchangeable with silver (“his long white hair, his sweeping silver beard”). Thus, besides white or black, which more often than not indicate allegiance to either side of morality, heraldic colours become another layer of identity markers. This is why Saruman can have a ‘White Hand’ as coat-of-arms, but his allegiance being to darkness. It is that medieval setting of the Ring trilogy and Tolkien’s extensive borrowing from Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian literature that help explaining his limited (and particular) colour-choices. John West Jr. further notes that in contrast to Celtic literature, “Anglo-Saxon has few ‘colour-words’. What colour words do occur in Old English usually refer to the lightness or the darkness of things [...]”177 The extensive use of both is plainly visible in The Lord of the Rings, in which case Tolkien finds himself following an old literary tradition. This is, however, not purely Anglo-Saxon; attributing dark to evil and white to good is both primordial and Christian178 ; thus Tolkien follows the millennia- old (European) moral narrative and dichotomous color-coding.

Chapter III: Approaches to Race in Middle-Earth

3.1. Time, Space and Race

Regretting that the Norman Invasion all but eradicated ‘what could have been’ an Anglo­Saxon mythological legendarium for England, Tolkien yearned to create his own. Like many famous myths, his own should take place in the real world:

I am historically minded. Middle-earth is not an imaginary world. The theatre of my tale is this earth, the one in which we now live, but the historical period is imaginary. The essentials of that abiding place are all there (at any rate for inhabitants of N. W. Europe), so naturally it feels familiar, even if a little glorified by the enchantment of distance in time.179

Precisely, the events presented in The Lord of the Rings date back 6000 years, which Tolkien deemed to be a long enough time to appear ‘credible’. To fill his world with ‘credible’ entities, he resorted to an array of Medieval, Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian myths and folktales, some of which are quite familiar - the Arthurian tale and Beowulf being the most famous ones. As Middle-Earth roughly represents Europe, many readers mistakenly read the Ring trilogy as an allegory - for WW2 for instance. Tolkien himself detested that interpretation, stating that his work is not allegorical at all - at most, it is applicable.180

Another problem is how Tolkien used the term ‘race’ in his epic. As Shippey has noted; [...] he rarely uses the word ‘‘race’ ’ and never in the modern sense used by official bureaucracies (Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic, etc.). In Tolkien’s English, the word means either ‘species’ (the Hobbits are ‘‘a remarkable race’’) or more often family bloodline (‘the race of Elendil’).181

With this information in mind, this thesis will try to look at Tolkien’s approach to race in The Lord of the Rings. Despite the enormous racial diversity present in Middle-earth, only a few handpicked choices can be included in the analysis, due to the scope of this thesis. These choices include the rather obvious Orcs, which are central to the narrative. The race of men presents a unique possibility for analysis as they are the most ‘relatable race’ to our own world. Since the reader accompanies the Hobbits, from whose point-of-view most of the story is told, their inclusion was paramount. Last but not least, Dwarves were chosen for the analysis due to the criticism as Tolkien supposedly drew from Jewish stereotypes in their portrayal; hence, they shall briefly be taken into consideration as well.

3.2. Concerning Hobbits

The Hobbits are, in many ways, the protagonists of the story. Not only are nearly all Ringbearers Hobbits ((Bilbo,) Frodo, Sam and Gollum!), it is from their perspective that most of the story is told.182 This is further evident in the story-within-story narrative: essentially, Tolkien translated an ‘old tale’ he found in the Red Book of Westmarch into English: there, among other tales, the original story of the War of the Ring was written down by Frodo Baggins based on his own adventure.183

The Hobbits are described as being divided into three branches; the Harfoots, Stoors and Fallohides. Every ‘subtype’ differs with regard to physical appearance and behaviour. The even smaller, brownish Harfoots are the most numerous type. All Hobbits share the characteristically small stature, because of which they are often called Halflings (only half as big as a grown man) or Periannath, which is the same in Elvish (Sindarin). Hobbits live very isolated in the Shire and seldom venture forth: Bilbo is looked upon as “queer”184 since he left home for an adventure; since his return, he is suspiciously looked upon by most Hobbits. In general, there seems to be a high degree of local patriotism in the Shire to the point where fellow Hobbits, who are living on the outskirts (i.e. Buckland) are looked down upon: [...] there was this Mr Frodo left an orphan and stranded, as you might say, among those queer Bucklanders, being brought up anyhow in Brandy Hall. A regular warren [...] Mr Bilbo never did a kinder deed than when he brought the lad back to live among decent folk.185

Of course, ‘decent folk’ are supposed to be the ‘normal’ Hobbits living in central Shire. Their aversion to everything ‘outlandish’ make the Shire a racially very homogeneous place; neither men nor other races are heard to dwell there. The isolationist nature of the Shire means that few have even heard of the place, and even fewer know its location. Gandalf, as one of the few non-Hobbits who regularly visit the Shire, has an unflattering reputation, as seen in his very first mention in the book:

He's often away from home. And look at the outlandish folk that visit him: dwarves coming at night, and that old wandering conjuror. Gandalf, and all. You can say what you like, Gaffer, but Bag End's a queer place, and its folk are queerer.186

It is clear (most) Hobbits in general are distrustful of foreign influences, which leads even the “most respectable Hobbit”187 (Bilbo) to being a victim of suspicion, because he spent some time abroad. This behaviour was called a “foolishness in refusing to acknowledge the rest of the world”188 by Ellwood. Jane Chance argues along similar lines:

The political problems in the Shire grow out of its deceptively ‘safe’ isolation from the rest of Middle-earth. Its inhabitants distrust those who come from outside, who are different from them in ways they do not understand. A stranger ... arouses mistrust, and the inhabitant’s band together.189

Hobbitish interest is juxtaposed to the tidings of the world - it is very, very local: “Growing food and eating it occupied most of their time”190 ; that, and discussing family-trees.

Thus, Tolkien sets up the reader with the most unlikely heroes: the Hobbits. Their ignorance of the outside world, narrow-mindedness and general conservatism, presented in what Patrick Curry called “anti-heroic tenor”191 are qualities seldom found in epic protagonists. Compared to other medieval tales, the Hobbits are neither Lords nor Knights, they stem from the working-class, like Sam, or at most the Middle-Class, as Frodo does. Sam’s origin is evident in his “accent and idiom”, which identify him as “rural peasantry”192, as well as his occupation as gardener. Meanwhile Frodo’s higher status comes from his ability to speak and understand Elven tongue; he is a bachelor without a job - facilitated by his inherited riches. Both are quite unlikely (theoretically) as heroes due to their Hobbitish background. However, they are also unlikely Hobbits. Frodo for instance, “who does have an interest in and respect for outsiders and their affairs”193 is quite unlike the general Hobbit already mentioned; adding to his Elvish proficiency, he clearly stands out and qualifies as ‘queer’ in the eyes of his fellow Hobbits. Sam was described by Tolkien as “a more representative Hobbit than any others that we have to see much of”194 because of his ‘vulgar’ demeanour - his ‘commonness’ as opposed to Frodo, for instance. Still he, unlike other Hobbits, is both fascinated and afraid of the outside world, which manifests in his desire to see both elves and oliphants195, but also his hesitation to leave the Shire. Later, Merry and Pippin, who qualify as ‘queer’ Hobbits on behalf of their adventurous “Tookish”196 side alone, join Frodo’s quest.

When leaving the Shire, the Hobbits are ironically met with the same ignorance they show outsiders in their own lands. The reader is able to catch a first glimpse of that in the prologue, when a Hobbitish archer detachment is mentioned as having been sent in support of the Northern Kingdom (Arnor) against the Witch-King. Because “no tales of men record it,”197 men seem to discard Hobbit help as insignificant. Whenever the Hobbit protagonists meet new races or cultures, the initial emotions range between bewilderment and ignorance. Haldir, one of Lothloriens march-wardens, even ponders on the possibility of the Hobbits being evil, as he has never seen them before.198 Later, when Éomer, Third Marshal of the Mark, is confronted by Aragorn, he is bewildered by the reality that are the Hobbits. Meanwhile the mentioning of that ‘strange name’ is source of amusement for Eothain, Éomer’s weapon-bearer: “Halflings! But they are only a little people in old songs and children’s tales out of the North.”199 Faramir’s rangers even mistake Frodo and Sam for elves200, meaning that they have never seen either race, the tow being physically as far apart from each other as dwarves or orcs and elves. It is a common trope that, once ‘grown folk’ get accustomed to the Hobbits, most nevertheless discard them as second-rate on behalf of their stature. For instance, both Pippin and Merry are taken into the service by Denethor and King Théoden, respectively. That this is just a ‘ceremonial’ acceptance, soon becomes clear to them when war drums are heard. Théoden, who Gandalf states “is a kindly, old man”201, refuses to take Merry with him on the Ride of the Rohirrim, seeing him as “burden”202, simultaneously stating that he accepted him as squire for his (Merry’s) safekeeping only. Denethor’s approach is even pettier: as Pippin came with Gandalf, whom Denethor thoroughly dislikes, the young Hobbit becomes merely a token in the power-play between the two wise men. Pippin eagerly offers his service as he feels remorse over Boromir’s death; he is henceforth used for Denethor’s amusement (like singing for him) or attending him in his daily chores. That he is not useful for ‘greater deeds’ (at least from Denethor’s perspective) is evident in the fact that the Stewart gives leave to his former servant to fight on the frontline203, implying that Pippin is not fit for that. As Jane Chance puts it:

Denethor’s mistake here is both personal and political: his literalism makes him assume that ‘small’ [Pippin] means helpless and weak and that ‘large’ [Boromir] means strong and able. [...] Seeing clearly involves understanding the powerful nature of largess of spirit and goodness of heart, whatever the size and importance of the individual.204

Shortly before cremating himself alive, Denethor releases Pippin from service as he no longer has any use for him. Even before Denethor, the Men of Gondor discard Pippin’s usefulness in the days to come: “What is he? A dwarf out of the mountains in the North? We wish for no strangers in the land at this time, unless they be mighty men of arms in whose faith and help we can trust.”205 Yet again, ‘full-grown’ men are literally and metaphorically looking down upon a Hobbit because of his appearance. Even in the midst of battle, Hobbits are not deemed worthy of attention: the Witch-King, while aware of Merry’s existence, “heeded him no more than a worm in the mud.”206 This proves his undoing, as moments later, Merry stabs him from behind, fulfilling an old prophecy; “not by the hand of man will he fall” - and Merry is a hobbit. Pippin, too, proves his martial ability in the battle before the Black Gates - he single-handedly slays a troll, many times his size. Tom Shippey remarks that both Hobbits more than once rise up to the occasion of lending help to ‘greater races’: “it is Pippin who [.] offers comfort to Beregond, and Merry who never loses heart when even Théoden appears prey to horror and doubt.”207 Both Hobbits rouse the reluctant Ents to the march on Isengard, thus effectively taking out the threat of Saruman.

In the course of the trilogy, however, it is Frodo and Sam who truly stand out. Travelling mostly alone, under constant threat, both by enemy orcs or the ever-present possibility of Gollum’s betrayal, they overcome the odds and finish their quest. By destroying the ring they manage to do what another, far more powerful Numenorean hero (Isildur, who cut the ring from Saurons finger) could not. Only a Hobbit could sneak into Mordor; while Sauron fears that Aragorn or even Saruman might appropriate the ring for themselves, he largely ignores the threat that is the Ringbearer himself - due to Frodo’s unimposing stature. The plan is foolish, as mentioned several times throughout the story, but as Gandalf explains, it is their only course of action: “Well, let folly be our cloak, a veil before the eyes of the Enemy!”208 Only Frodo’s ‘weakness’ - or rather limited ‘power’ and size - is able to accomplish that feat. The ring increases power according to the measure of its wearer - the more power one wields, the more susceptible to the corruption of the ring one becomes. This is why both Gandalf and Elrond were reluctant to even touch it, for fear of the consequences. Thus Frodo’s ‘weakness’ becomes the greatest strength; not only for the Fellowship, but the rest of Arda. He is able to withstand the ring until the end.

For the purpose of this chapter one ought to return once again to the isolationist Hobbits from the beginning. After escaping from Isengard, Saruman manages to wreak havoc in the Shire, uprooting plants, creating a shortage of food and building up industry. This ‘Scouring of the Shire’ is aided by Hobbits, with one of its chief instigators being Lotho Sackville- Baggins, Frodo’s relative. Before entering the Shire, the Hobbits say farewell to Gandalf, who prophetically proclaims: “And you might have more trouble even at the Buckland Gate than you think. But you'll manage all right. Good-bye, dear friends!”209 This foreshadowing of the last troubles to come are followed by Gandalf unquestionable belief that the four Hobbits are able to manage them. Indeed, only their growth, which they experienced on their quest, helps them in overcoming Saruman and his ‘ruffians’; as opposed to the isolationist stay-at-home Hobbits, who (although reluctantly) follows the “Chief’s”210 every order - even though the Shire had few rules before.211 This powerlessness in resisting a sudden threat from outside can again be explained by the Hobbit’s lack of awareness of the outside world. Only help from ‘outside’, in the form of the four travelled and experienced Hobbits, is finally able to revert and repel the damages done by Saruman. In the Battle of Bywater, the Shirefolk, led by the protagonists, is able to defeat a force of men, thus proving to the reader yet again that they are not to be underestimated on account of their race.

3.3. Evil East vs. Good West? The Geographical Layer of Racism

Apart from colour, there is reason to apply the good and evil dichotomy to cardinal directions in The Lord of the Rings. Looking at a possible geographic divide is particularly interesting when looking back at the ‘racial division’ of the globe by several of Tolkien’s contemporaries (Stoddard). When reading the epic, the ‘East’ is more often than not portrayed in a rather sordid light. It is usually portrayed as a dark place, where shadows rise; Frodo turns east to “fear and shadow”212 ; “darkness [...] rushed up from the East and swallowed the sky.”213 Such descriptors are plenty throughout the trilogy. Often, a direct comparison between East and West is drawn, as by Boromir: “In that dream I thought the eastern sky grew dark and there was a growing thunder, but in the West a pale light lingered [.]”214 Explicit imagery is linked to East and West, identifying them as places of darkness and light. Another plain example is Galadriel, the Lady of Light, who “spread[s] out her hands towards the East in a gesture of rejection and denial.”215

The imaginary axis that divides Middle-Earth into East and West runs along the river Anduin. While westwards lie mostly the lands of the ‘good’ peoples, East is uniformly inhabited by “wild folk.”216 This puts another quote by Boromir into perspective, when he says that “the enemy holds the eastern bank,”217 implying that everything east of the Anduin is hostile. This is supported by a description of the lands preceding Mordor:

On the eastern bank to their left they saw long formless slopes stretching up and away towards the sky; brown and withered they looked, as if fire had passed over them, leaving no living blade of green: an unfriendly waste without even a broken tree or a bold stone to relieve the emptiness.

They had come to the Brown Lands that lay, vast and desolate, between Southern Mirkwood and the hills of the Emyn Muil. What pestilence or war or evil deed of the Enemy had so blasted all that region even Aragorn could not tell.218

In contrast to this stands the description of Rohan, which is located on the westward bank: [.] they came with a strange suddenness on the grass of Rohan. It swelled like a green sea up to the very foot of the Emyn Muil. The falling stream vanished into a deep growth of cresses and water-plants, and they could hear it tinkling away in green tunnels, down long gentle slopes towards the fens of Entwash Vale far away. They seemed to have left winter clinging to the hills behind. Here the air was softer and warmer [...]219

It is apparent that Rohan can retain its natural beauty because it is untouched by the enemy. The lack of corruption identifies it as ‘good’ land, while the brown lands have an explicitly negative description due to the influence of Sauron, who turned it into a wasteland. This influence is even plainer in Mordor, one of the two lands associated with the ‘East’:

There smokes trailed on the ground and lurked in hollows, and fumes leaked from fissures in the earth [.] Frodo and Sam gazed out in mingled loathing and wonder on this hateful land. Between them and the smoking mountain, and about it north and south, all seemed ruinous and dead, a desert burned and choked.220

Its iconographic description is closely related to both the Christian tradition of hell as well as Norse Nelheim: [.] Hell in Christian mythology is a place of fire, ash and suffering. Hell is a barren, desolate place from where no good comes [.] In Norse mythology, Hell was called “Nellheim” and was a cold, mountainous place geographically very similar to Mordor.221

The land of Mordor is flanked in the West by the Mountains of Shadow, and by the Mountains of Ash in the North. Mount Doom, an active volcano, and place of the Ring’s destruction is located between them. In this ‘hell’ Saurons reigns as ‘devil’. He is often alluded to as “dark hands of the East”222 or “Shadow from the East”223, which establish the East - often a synonym for Sauron - as a ‘hellish’ and evil place.

The other land is Rhun (= ‘the East’), which, however, is only ever hinted at: “These were Men of other race, out of the wide Eastlands [.]”224. While plenty of information can be taken from the text about the lands of the West (Rohan, Gondor, the Shire for instance), and even some lands from the East (Mordor, the Brown Lands) the Far East is left in a mysterious shroud. Frodo manages to catch a glimpse of what was likely Rhun, when he sits on the Seat of Seeing: “Eastward he looked into wide uncharted lands, nameless plains, and forests unexplored.”225 Likewise, (although plenty of descriptions of the Southrons exist) the South itself is neglected by Tolkien. Nonetheless, both are alluded to as places under Sauron’s influence and thus evil: “[...] the Enemy [Sauron] has been among them, and they are gone over to Him, or back to Him - they were ever ready to His will - as have so many also in the East.”226 This ‘evilness’ is supported by Tolkien’s use of colour:

In the East there was a dull red glare under the lowering cloud: it was not the red of dawn. Across the tumbled lands between, the mountains of the Ephel Duath [sind.= Mountains of Shadow] frowned at them, black and shapeless [.]227

It is not the red of sawn, but the evil red, the red of the Eye of Sauron, which together with the black mountains equate the ‘devilish’ colours often attributed to the creatures of the East.

But why did Tolkien choose the East as abode for all things foul? One explanation can be sought in Tolkien’s sources. In his wish to create a mythology for England, Tolkien turned to Scandinavian and Medieval tales for inspiration. In the Arthurian Tale, King Arthur is removed “westward across the water to [.] Avalon, where [he] will be healed and given immortal life.”228 Apart from the obvious resemblance to Frodo’s ending, Avalon in Middle­Earth is Valinor (with a particular harbour-city named Avallone!), the paradisiacal island in the West. Following Tolkien’s common modus operandi (which was described as “binary opposition”229 by Anne Petty), it is only natural to contrast the ‘western paradise’ with ‘eastern hell’. The East as place of Evil is also too be found in Arthurian Literature, where the traitor Mordred rouses the East against Arthur (“the endless East in Anger woke”230 ). The same can be said about Scandinavian literature, where the East traditionally harbours antagonistic tendencies, often exemplified through their ‘evil’ inhabitants, the giants. The imagery of the evil giant from the East is found again in Tolkien: both the Trolls of Mordor, the giants of Norse literature as well as the giant Mumakil231 show the enormous monstrosities present in both mythologies.

Focussing on England, it is obvious that the Middle-Earth equivalent of it would be The Shire, the home of the protagonist Hobbits. The cardinal direction ‘North-West’ thus becomes a safe place ‘close to the heart’ - Hobbiton being on approximately the same latitude as Oxford today.232 Thus, the East serves as polar opposite, being a place of danger and trial, but also needed for the growth of the characters: only Frodo’s trials in Mordor enable him to later save his very home from Saruman’s curse (which makes the Shire not so safe a place throughout the story!)

As experienced with many other themes and motifs (like colour), Tolkien includes many exceptions to the rather shallow East-West divide. Yet again it is Saruman, who proves to be a major antagonist in the West; his transformed Isengard serving as miniature-Mordor in the heart of the western territory. When Gandalf is “gazing into the darkness”, he is perceiving evil from both “east and west”233 - Saruman and Sauron. Even after the defeat of Sauron, many in the West are susceptible to evil, as the Scouring of the Shire shows. With the Dunlendings an entire people/race is subverted by Saruman to fight against Sauron, proving that Denethor, Grima and Lotho are not individual cases. Likewise, the North-West is not uniformly good. Like in Norse mythology, the North of Middle-Earth is a place of sheer cold and evil. Morgoth created his gigantic fortress, Angband (=’Hell of Iron’), in the North. Here again the influence of Norse mythology is evident. The Witch-King once reigned in Angmar, an evil Kingdom far north of the Shire. Even after their defeat, evil spirits lingered in the North, infesting the Old Forest and the Barrow-downs, both places where the Hobbits almost met an untimely end. Another dangerous place are the Ettenmoors. Lying just north of the ‘last homely house’ Rivendell, they are infested with trolls, as is evident from its name.234

Likewise, the medieval trope of ‘wastelands’, so often found in stories about the grail, are found in Middle-earth, too. Ellen Jones identifies the corresponding places as Mordor, Isengard and the Shire (while occupied by Saruman),235 which lie in the West, centre, and East of Middle-earth, giving further notion to the fact that evil as exemplified by wasteland, may be encountered independent of cardinal directions.

Like in our world, in Middle-earth, the Sun rises in the East. Thrice, sunrise serves as a symbolic herald. When Merry and Pippin are captured, the paling sky “in the East”236 announces the arrival of the Rohirrim and their rescue. Similarly, when Saruman’s army sieges Helm’s Deep, reinforcements come immediately after “the eastern sky gr[e]w pale.”237 And just before the arrival of the Rohirrim at the Pelennor Fields, the sun begins to glimmer through the dark skies.238 In all three cases, the ‘good’ people looks towards the East and see the rising Sun, which announces the turning of the tide in their favour. Thus, the East also becomes symbol of hope.

The last case would be that of the ambiguous South. Two sides inhabit it: the Haradrim and the Gondorians. While Gondor is styled as “the bulwark of the West”239, the Haradrim fight on the side of Sauron. Although morally, Gondor relates to the West, it is introduced to the reader as “Southern Kingdom”240 and Boromir as “man from the South.”241 Notably, the Haradrim are otherwise known as ‘Southrons’, which neatly divides the South into both moral good and evil spheres. Compared to the richness of information about other lands available to the reader, few descriptions about Far Harad come up - the ‘deep South’. Only Aragorn offers one of the few pieces of information, when he states that in Harad, “the stars are strange.”242 But on the other hand, so are the helmets of Gondor.243

Closely reading the text, one may note that evil is indeed found everywhere. From the cold North to sunny Harad, from the seemingly ‘safe’ Shire to hellish Mordor, evil emerges in various forms and shapes. Thus, the Anduin, which was established as border between ‘good’ West and ‘evil’ East is naught but a symbolic one: “[...] in the end, you must leave [...] the River, and turn west - or east.”244 Most often than not in Middle-earth, turning or serving evil is an active choice - the symbolic choice between East and West. That choice will be further elaborated on when dealing with the peoples of Middle-earth.

3.4. Dwarves and Anti-Semitism

When dealing with racism in Tolkien’s works, an often read accusation is that the Dwarves are based on Jewish stereotypes; being greedy, master craftsmen and ‘bearded’ - just to name a few. In a paper published in Mythlore 245, Rebecca Brackmann elaborates on those accusations. Although most of her assumptions focus on their portrayal in The Hobbit (which will not be discussed in this paper), the stigma sticks to The Lord of the Rings, being the logical continuation of The Hobbit.

Few Characters are Dwarves in The Lord of the Rings. Indeed, only two are introduced to the reader: Gloin, who was one of the travel party to the Lonely Mountain in The Hobbit, as well as Gimli, the former’s son and member of the Fellowship of the Ring. Tolkien uses Gloin to give a quick insight into Dwarven culture: they are miners, builders and metalsmiths, very proud of their achievements in those areas. Moreover, they are steadfast friends of the Men of Dale, who live next to them.246 Later, he tells the council that not few Dwarves went to the “wider world” in search of “greater wealth and splendour”, but found their doom when delving “to deep.”247 This may imply that greed made them go abroad and greed proved to be their undoing. Later, Gloin implies that greed was at least one of the reasons when mentioning that Balin set out in hope of finding one of the lesser rings of power.248 Nonetheless it is said that greed was “inflame[d in] their hearts”249 by the Rings given to them by Sauron, thus proving that greed is not a natural ‘race trait’ of the Dwarves. This is supported by the findings of Brackmann and Vink.250 Indeed, Gimli, as the single reference point for the Dwarven race after Gloin’s departure, is portrayed quite positively. As shown by Brackmann251, Gimli is as stout as every dwarf when he enters the unknown dangers of Moria: “I will go and look on the halls of Durin, whatever may wait there.”252 In the same heroic manner he saves Éomer’s life by beheading two orcs with one clean stroke, which prompts admiration from his companions (“Never did I see an axe so wielded”253 ). His martial prowess is put into perspective when he is said to have killed 42 orcs at Helm’s Deep, besting Legolas’ count by one.254

Despite his heroic antics and fearless behaviour Gimli is shown to have a soft spot for both spiritual and cultural things. His desire to see Moria (or Khazad-düm) and the Glittering Caves does not stem from an urge to find some treasure, but to merely gaze at the beauty encountered there. Especially Gimli’s admiration of the Glittering caves, following Brackmann255, is to ‘do away’ with the stereotyping of Dwarves: No, you do not understand," said Gimli, "No dwarf could be unmoved by such loveliness. None of Durin's race would mine those caves for stones or ore, not if diamonds and gold could be got there. Do you cut down groves of blossoming trees in the springtime for firewood? We would tend these glades of flowering stone, not quarry them.256 It is clear that this example does speak of all Dwarves, as Gimli explicitly mentions ‘Durin’s race’ (Durin being the forefather of all Dwarves). In the same breath, he mentions that “there would be an endless pilgrimage of Dwarves, merely to gaze at them, if such things were known to be. Aye indeed, they would pay pure gold for a brief glance!”257 Clearly, a race that is supposed to be ‘greedy’ would not exchange pure gold for a ‘mere view’.

Tolkien himself was not entirely innocent of putting the characterisation of his Dwarves into public focus. In a 1964 BBC interview (10 years after publishing LotR), he said that “The Dwarves of course are quite obviously - wouldn’t you say that in many ways they remind you of the Jews?”258 What seems like an explicit statement, was immediately clarified by Tolkien as relating to Dwarvish Language, Khüzdul, being modelled on Semitic. Likewise, as he wrote in Letter 229 and compared Dwarves with Jews in the following points: “[...] at once native and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country, but with an accent due to their native tongue.”259 Even though the resemblance of both peoples lie in the linguistic department, other parallels have been drawn by John Rateliff, who sees their warlike nature, superb craftsmanship and affinity to gold as taken from medieval descriptions of the Jews. In addendum, he notes that “Tolkien has been selective in his borrowings, omitting the pervasive Anti-Semitism of the real Middle Ages”260, for which he gives him credit for.

The same can be said about Tolkien’s borrowings from Norse literature. There, Dwarves are described as being exceptional craftsmen, too, in addition to having a preference to living underground. They are greedy as well, and found both on the side of the gods as well as fighting against them.261 This duality is hinted at in The Lord of the Rings, where apparently some Dwarves are fighting for either Sauron or Morgoth.262 Notwithstanding this fact, Tolkien yet again omits the arguably worst portrayal of them. As Vink notes, in Norse Literature Dwarves “originated as maggots in the flesh of the fallen giant Ymir and were given life by the gods.”263 In Tolkien’s creation myth, Dwarves are created by Äule, a Valar, out of stone, after which Eru Illuvatar gave them life - which explains the Dwarven affinity for stone, minerals and dwelling underground. Thus, Tolkien still drew inspirations from past literature but ‘improved’ the demeaning parts, a notion which Vink supports.264

Considering these findings, it definitely can be said that - although he looked upon Jewish people as inspiration- Tolkien neither used excessive stereotyping nor was he propagating Anti-Semitism in his portrayal of the Dwarves. Instead, he omitted obvious degrading parts of both medieval and Norse literature and imbued his Dwarves with heroism and positivity.

3.5. An Unlikely Friendship: The Relationship of Elves and Dwarves

In a world populated by many different races, their behaviour towards one another is of particular interest. Not only does it show how power relations between them are established, but also how the races deal with each other based on their racial differences. One of particular interest throughout all of Tolkien’s writings, is that of Elves and Dwarves. Without going into further detail, it suffices to mention that The Silmarillion (which deals with everything since the creation of Arda until the events in The Lord of the Rings) establish the relationship between the two races as quite strained due to various regrettable actions from both sides.265

In The Lord of The Rings, the relationship remains strained and is evident as soon Dwarves and Elves appear together in Rivendell. Gloin laments about an incident where he and other dwarves were wrongfully imprisoned by the Elves of Mirkwood. To this, Gandalf answers as follows: “If all the grievances that stand between Elves and Dwarves are to be brought up here, we may as well abandon this Council”266 Clearly, the history of perceived ‘wrong­doing’ by either race is fairly long. Nonetheless, both Legolas the Elf and Gimli the Dwarf are appointed as representatives of their respective races in the Fellowship. A first dispute breaks out when they reach the eastern door of Moria:

‘Those were happier days, when there was still close friendship at times between folk of different race, even between Dwarves and Elves.’ ‘It was not the fault of the Dwarves that the friendship waned,’ said Gimli. ‘I have not heard that it was the fault of the Elves,’ said Legolas. [...]267

Yet again it is Gandalf who stops the rising tension. It should be remarked that Gandalf refers to happier times when both races were on friendly terms, even though it has long passed. After the Fellowship has traversed Moria, they enter Lothlorien. Its march-warden Haldir greets them courteously, but quickly changes his mood when he discovers a Dwarf in their company: “‘A dwarf!’ said Haldir. ‘That is not well. We have not had dealings with the Dwarves since the Dark Days. They are not permitted in our land. I cannot allow him to pass.’”268 Even though he lets the Hobbits pass - a race which in his mind did not exist until that day- Dwarves are explicitly forbidden. After Frodo stands up for Gimli, Haldir insists to bind his eyes while guiding him through Lorien. Obviously, the Dwarf feels discriminated against and objects. Only after a lengthy quarrel, after which all the members of the Fellowship agree to their eyes being bound, the quest can continue. This development forces Legolas to lament:

‘Alas for the folly of these days!’ said Legolas. ‘Here all are enemies of the one Enemy, and yet I must walk blind, while the sun is merry in the woodland under leaves of gold!’ ‘Folly it may seem,’ said Haldir. ‘Indeed in nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him. [.]’269

This passage can be taken as direct example of Tolkien voicing his concern through his characters, with more instances to come. In this particular example the difficulties between both races are shown as hindrance to a greater goal (pursuing the quest); even to the point that a stricter march-warden may have prevented entrance to Lorien entirely. The Elven- Dwarf relationship begins to thaw with Gimli’s encounter with Galadriel, who shows deep empathy with the plight of the Dwarves who perished in Moria: [.] the Dwarf, hearing the names given in his own ancient tongue, looked up and met her eyes; and it seemed to him that he looked suddenly into the heart of an enemy and saw there love and understanding. [...] He rose clumsily and bowed in dwarf-fashion, saying: ‘Yet more fair is the living land of Lorien, and the Lady Galadriel is above all the jewels that lie beneath the earth!’270

Not only does Gimli changes his view on elves as ‘enemy’, he even gives the greatest compliment possible from a Dwarf: that the Elven queen is more praiseworthy than all the minerals the Dwarves value so much. Their mutual admiration and respect is stressed by the fact that after the Fellowship’s departure, Gimli receives three strands of her golden hair. It can be argued that this example of “courtly devotion”271, so common in medieval prose, is impossible between two races as different as Elves and Dwarves. Yet it is between Gimli and Galadriel, who becomes her champion throughout the story. His devotion is so great that he threatens to kill Éomer when he questions his ‘devoted’.272 Galadriel’s gift-giving is given even more significance when realizing that Feanor, arguably the greatest Elf in existence and crafter of the Silmarils, is denied the same honour Gimli receives, even though he asks thrice.273

After Galadriel’s reaction, Legolas seems to ‘warm up’ towards Gimli, and vice-versa. When Éomer threatens Gimli, Legolas steps in (“He stands not alone”274 ). Later they have a friendly ‘competition’ on who can slay more Orcs at Helm’s Deep. After the battle, they both share their individual passions: Gimli talks about the beauty of the Glittering Caves, Legolas about the Fangorn forest. They assure each other to visit the respective places together, which they do after the destruction of the One Ring. In the end, both sail to Valinor, although this honour is bestowed only upon Elves and Ringbearers. That fact that Gimli is the only Dwarf allowed to sail to the Undying Lands shows which enormous role he plays in the reconciliation of the two races. Thus, the most prominent representatives of both races (and for a long part of the story the only ones) serve as example how enemies or rivals can become “fast friends”275 for mutual benefit. Their strength throughout the story lies in their unity. Gimli, who is discriminated against by Éomer because of his size (“I would cut off your head, beard and all, Master Dwarf, if it stood but a little higher from the ground”276 ) is backed by Legolas; later he vows not to leave the Elf’s side wherever he may go (“Yet you comfort me. Where you go, I will go.”277 ), until the very end. Even tough Owen Edwards argues that their friendship was Tolkien’s reply to the “Gentile Anti-Semitism”278 279 of his time, it should rather be seen as celebrating the real possibility of two people from very different backgrounds coming together and developing a friendship that outlives the stereotype.

3.6. The Good, the Evil and the Wild: The ‘Race(s)’ of Men

While Middle-earth is inhabited by various sentient and intelligent creatures and races, Tolkien’s unmistakeable focus in The Lord of the Rings lies on the race of Men. While the Elves are slowly fading into obscurity or sailing to Valinor, never to return, the Kingdom of Men is reunited and restored. The Fourth Age begins as the Age of Men.

The Lord of the Rings introduces the reader to various groups of Men. The Numenoreans have been mentioned already; Men who were blessed with unnatural long life and tall stature. Due to these biological differences, they can be considered as a separate race of Men. After the sinking of their island because of their sins, these blessings receded. Their descendants living in Middle-earth are called Dunedain, of which Faramir, captain of Gondor is one. He is the one who offers the reader an insight into how Gondorians see their and other races of Men:

For so we reckon Men in our lore, calling them the High, or Men of the West, which were Numenoreans; and the Middle Peoples, Men of the Twilight, such as are the Rohirrim and their kin that dwell still far in the North; and the Wild, the Men of Darkness. ‘Yet now, if the Rohirrim are grown in some ways more like to us, enhanced in arts and gentleness, we too have become more like to them, and can scarce claim any longer the title High. We are become Middle Men, of the Twilight, but with memory of other things. For as the Rohirrim do, we now love war and valour as things good in themselves, both a sport and an end [...]280

A clear hierarchy is established here: the Numenoreans stand on top, with the Middle Men between them and the perceivably inferior (‘wild’) Men of Darkness.

The Numenoreans (Gondorians), however, as explained by Faramir, are no longer ‘High’. Due to negligence of their rulers, as well as infighting, their former might diminished. They became a “failing people, a springless autumn”280, as Faramir elaborates further. The infighting mentioned is of particular interest as is has notable racial underlining. It happened after Valacar, then King of Gondor, married a woman from a “lesser and alien race”281 out of love. (She was a ‘Northman’, from whom the Rohirrim also descended.282 ) This led to rebellion between the purist parts of the Gondorians which later developed to outright war after the King died - the Kin-Strife. The pure-blooded Usurper Castamir is described as “cruel”, “haughty and ungenerous”283, for which he was loved less the more time went on. After the rightful King returned and slew Castamir, his sons fled to Umbar (on the coast of Harad), which became a “refuge for all the enemies of the king,”284 in this way explaining (politically) the negative relations between Gondor and Harad throughout the story. However, what this tale shows even better is that pure-‘bloodedness’, or in other words, being member of a ‘superior’ race is not equivalent to being better morally, martially or spiritually. For all his temporary successes, Castamir failed on all levels. His usurpation was considered as one of the three evils285 that befell Gondor, launching it further into decline. Due to the loss of population, the Gondorians mingled with “lesser Men”286, which in all honesty, sounds quite discriminating. However, it is indicated that this taxonomy is presented as viewed by the Numenoreans themselves, such as Faramir, who elaborates on the racial hierarchy of Men to Frodo and Sam. The ‘decline’ is not attributed to the mingling but rather to Middle-earth itself - with the sinking of the isle of Numenor, the former blessings and divine support diminished over the centuries.287

Thus, the Men of Gondor are presented as in continuing decline. This decline is personified by two exemplary Gondorians, Denethor and his son Boromir, Faramir’s brother. Boromir degrades since the Fellowship sets out from Rivendell, continuously tempted by the proximity of the One Ring. His final fall happens when he is left alone with Frodo, where he unsuccessfully tries to snatch the Ring from him. As per Chance:

Such strength of character, such courtesy, is not witnessed in the man Boromir, who fails to control his own desire for the Precious - the Ring... Boromir, the antitype of Gimli, deteriorates morally after the sojourn in Lorien. His mistake is to privilege his own need for the Ring, ostensibly to protect Minas Tirith from the Enemy but in reality to express his racial hostility toward Hobbits and his own sense of personal and national superiority.288

Until the end, Boromir cannot grasp why such a great artefact has fallen into the hands of what he pejoratively calls a ‘halfling’, and not him, such a great and valiant man. While the reader by now understands the qualities of Frodo as Ringbearer, the reasons for the haughty

Boromir are not as apparent. In his impotence, he curses “all halflings to death and darkness”, before “he fell sprawling”.289 His fall in this extract is very symbolic, as Johnathan Evans argues, and shows the trademark “temptation afflicting all of Boromir’s race.”290

A similar fall happens to his father, who is acknowledged as “tall, valiant [...] more kingly than any man”, “wise” and “far sighted”291. However, the very first impression of Denethor foreshadows his doom: “Pippin saw his carven face with its proud bones and skin like ivory, and the long curved nose between the dark deep eyes [.]”292, evoking resemblance to a skull. Denethor gives in to the same mistakes which led to the Downfall of the old Kings of Gondor, as Faramir ironically told Frodo before: “[.] lords sat in aged halls musing on heraldry; in secret chambers withered men compounding strong elixirs, or in high cold towers asking questions of the stars.”293 After the wounded Faramir is brought to his father, Denethor reacts as foreshadowed by his son:

But he himself went up alone into the secret room under the summit of the Tower; and many who looked up thither at that time saw a pale light [.] when Denethor descended again he went to Faramir and sat beside him without speaking, but the face of the Lord was grey, more deathlike than his son's.294

The parallels between the two quotes are fairly evident. Yet again the pale light (compared to Minas Morgul) and his deathlike face invoke assumptions of Denethors corruption and foreshadow his demise. Denethors halls are sterile295, which reflects on his last days of ruling: Jones compared the fertility of a king to his lands in grail legends296 ; a similar comparison between Denethors sterile halls and his impotence to oppose Sauron may be drawn here. In his powerlessness, he gives in to madness and regresses into the primitive (“we will burn like the heathen kings [of old]”297 ) when he puts himself to death to escape the expected downfall of the city.

Regarding physical appearance, the Men of Gondor still resemble their forefathers. As shown in the description of Mablung and Damrod, two of Faramir’s rangers, most seem to be tall, grey-eyed and pale-faced.298 They speak in soft voices and are “men of fierce valour”299, as Faramir explains. Still, many Gondorians, especially from the coast, have a swarthy skin, a feature they share with the Haradrim, ancient enemies of Gondor from the South.

The Haradrim are introduced to the reader by Gollum:

Dark Faces. We have not seen Men like these before, no, Sméagol has not. They are fierce. They have black eyes, and long black hair, and gold rings in their ears; yes, lots of beautiful gold. And some have red paint on their cheeks, and red cloaks; and their flags are red, and the tips of their spears; and they have round shields, yellow and black with big spikes. Not nice; very cruel wicked Men they look. Almost as bad as Orcs, and much bigger.300

Granted, Gollum is an ‘outcast’, at odds with everything and everyone and as such is not the most reliable of sources. Nonetheless, he is able to acknowledge the ‘beautiful gold’ the Haradrim wear. His description draws similarities to the Gondorians, as Margaret Sinex explains:

Their weaponry also decisively marks them as Men [...] Like the Men of Gondor and their allies, some Haradrim wear corselets; they fight with swords, spears and shields and carry flags and banners into battle. The audience of the medieval romance recognized these armaments as part of the world of western European chivalry.301

Thus, a remote kinship is established to those ‘evil men’, which in the course of the book is expressed further. When a Southron is killed, Sam ponders about is motives:

It was Sam’s first view of a battle of Men against Men, and he did not like it much. He was glad that he could not see the dead face. He wondered what the man’s name was and where he came from; if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from home; and if he would not really rather have stayed there in peace.302

This extract is a highly symbolic one. Not only does Tolkien criticize war through Sam’s eyes, he is humanizes an ‘enemy’ by implying his subversion by a higher power (Sauron), shifting the blame of ‘evilness’ from the fallen warrior. Sinex further argues that by not showing the Southrons face, Tolkien consciously dispenses with the medieval (but also contemporary!) practise of overly exaggerating or inflating particular facial features of a minority or enemy, such as the nose or mouth.303 Even though her point is valid, the attentive reader knows that this does not usually constitute Tolkien’s modus operandi.304 The hidden face rather ensures the anonymity of its ‘wearer’ - just like a closed helmet would achieve. This allows the Southron to be a canvas for his whole people, thus extending Sam’s elaborations to all Haradrim - or Evil Men in general - in Saurons service. In this argumentation, the Southrons may be seen as an example that a whole group of people -a race, a clan, a kingdom- can succumb to corruption, especially if it is as powerful as Sauron’s (which is shown in his subversion of Numenor).

It should be further noted, that the adjectives used to describe the qualities of both Gondorians and Haradrim are quite alike. Faramir’s description of the Gondorians as ‘Men of fierce valour’ is thus compared to how “fierce”305 the Haradrim are. Both are described as “tall”306 people, and the martial prowess of the Southrons is acknowledged on several occasions, such as in the fighting on the Pelennor Fields.307 In light of these quite positive views of the enemy, the opposite is nonetheless found more often. The most common adjective used in tandem with either Southron or Haradrim remains “cruel”308. In contrast to the Gondorians, Southron voices are perceived as “harsh.”309 Considering the fact that the epic is narrated through the eyes of the West, this descriptions seem fairly normal when applied to an enemy and nothing out of the extraordinary. All the more credit should be given to the several positive portrayals of the nature and appearance of the Southrons. Sinex adds that in the case of the appearance they are “unmistakeably handsome”310, and their preference for scarlet and gold-coloured ornaments and clothing implies their wealth as well as their cultural richness. In opposition to that stands the fact that both yellow and red are, as explained by Strickland311, colours of infamy in medieval prose and often used in the portrayal of Jew. As medieval scholar, Tolkien was aware of that; however it seems impractical that he therefore implied the religion of the otherwise (obviously) oriental

Haradrim. If one were to compare their colours with those of Sauron’s standard312, it rather becomes clear that yet again Tolkien uses colours as methods of identification, in this case, as soldiers of Sauron. A more difficult case, however, are the Troll-men. These hail from even farther South than other Southrons, and are marked by extraordinary size. This is where Sinex sees medieval parallels in portraying Saracens as giants.313 Thus, the exaggeration of a bodily feature (rather the whole body in this case) seems to still appear in Tolkien’s tale, where the apparent hybrid-men are ‘monsterized’. This practice is rooted in medieval French epics, where poets were prone to point out the blackness and enormous size of Saracens, as Sinex points out.314 Considering the fact that they only appear once in the book, they can be seen as stylistic device used by Tolkien to increase the danger the Men of the West face on the Pelennor Fields, where “black” may mean the same as in Black Uruks or Black Numenoreans - either their allegiance, their heightened power or both. As this is an isolated case, this example hardly qualifies as proof for Tolkien’s supposed racial worldview but rather indicates his borrowing from medieval prose where he - yet again - refrained from utilising the most drastic descriptions.

The Easterlings form the second group of Evil Men. They are often mentioned alongside the Haradrim (“the wild Easterlings or the cruel Haradrim”315 ), but are, however, marginalized in contrast to the latter. Throughout the epic, Tolkien gives only few pieces of information about them. Some of them are swarthy; akin to the already mentioned Gondorians and Haradrim. They seem to be “bearded like dwarves”, as one Gondorian soldier remarks, “wielding great axes.”316 Out of a combined nine mentions throughout the three books, only once are they linked with the adjective “wild”317, and once described coming from a “savage”318 land. In contrast to this stand several instances where they are portrayed as “bold and grim”, fierce and “asking for no quarter.” Especially the last quote is contrasted with the cowardly orcs, who instead of fighting like the Easterlings, flee for their lives. It is evident that several of the qualities ascribed to the Easterlings are undoubtedly positive as Tolkien used the same for his depiction of another, certainly ‘good’ people - the Rohirrim.

The Rohirrim are the horse-lords of Rohan, who “are proud and wilful, but they are true­hearted, generous in thought and deed; bold but not cruel; wise but unlearned, writing no books but singing many songs [...]”319. Their description is full of binaries; they are bold like the Easterlings, but not cruel like the Haradrim; their unlearned, non-writing culture is opposed to their rich oral tradition. They are experienced in the same manner by Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn: “a long line of mail-clad men, swift, shining, fell and fair to look upon.”320 Again both positive (‘fair’) and negative (‘fell’) adjectives are used in the description. Furthermore, the Rohirrim seem to be the only humans in Middle-earth to have blonde (“flaxen-pale”321 ) hair. Like the Gondorians, the Rohirrim are not safe from corruption. Most notable is the case of Grima, who serves Saruman and infiltrates the court of the King of Rohan Théoden. Grima does initially start out as a good man as well (“Grima Wormtongue, even, did Théoden honest service before he sold himself to Saruman”322 ) The influence of the traitorous Grima is so great, that Théoden himself falls under Saruman’s yoke, regressing into a “man so bent with age that he seems almost a dwarf.”323 Only the magic of Gandalf the White manages to reinstate Théoden to his former strength and oust Grima, who then flees to Isengard and henceforth accompanies Saruman.

The example of the Woses show that there are swarthy men who play a prominent, positive role for the ‘good’ people. These are the people who inhabit the Druadan Forest between Rohan and Gondor. The Rohirrim, in their urge to make it in time to the Siege of Gondor, receive help from Ghân-buri-Ghân, the king of the Woses; he leads them through safe paths away from Mordor’s armies so that the Rohirrim can attack them in the flank. For this, King Aragorn prohibits entrance to all peoples into the Druadan Forest so the Woses may live there undisturbed. The Woses are the classic ‘wild man’ of medieval literature: [.] a strange squat shape of a man, gnarled as an old stone, and the hairs of his scanty beard straggled on his lumpy chin like dry moss. He was short-legged and fat-armed, thick and stumpy, and clad only with grass about his waist.324

Compared to Bernheimer’s description of wild men in medieval literature, a plain similarity becomes obvious: a growth of fur, leaving bare only its face, feet, and hands[.. ,| Frequently the creature is shown wielding a heavy club or mace, or the trunk of a tree; and since its body is usually naked except for a shaggy covering, it may hide its nudity under a strand of twisted foliage worn around the loins.325

The parallels become even more apparent when linking the Woses with Bernheimer’s statement that wild men were often “creature[s] of woods and rocks”326, which echoes in their description by Tolkien. In contrast to the medieval folktales, Tolkien’s Wild Men are ‘good’ people, valuing their isolation as evident in Ghân-buri-Ghân’s wish that his folk is to be left alone once the war is finished: “then leave Wild Men alone in the woods and do not hunt them like beasts any more.”327 Once again the physical indicators are not a manifestation of individual strength or use of a particular race; rather again the relation between two races is criticized because the arguably ‘superior’ race (Rohirrim) are treating the Woses wrongly and based on their appearance. Flieger elaborates on yet another type of Wild Man in Tolkien’s epic - “the masterless man.”328 Aragorn is introduced as such, despite his revelation as ‘warrior-king’ of Arthurian status in the course of the story: [.| a figure both actually and metaphorically on the edge of society, sitting alone in the corner of the common-room at Bree among "vague figures difficult to make out in the shadows and corners"(FR, 167). Thus introduced, he is made to seem just one among many strangers, men on the move, "squint-eyed, ill-favoured" types. "One of the wandering folk - Rangers we call them," says Butterbur the innkeeper (168), and it is clear that the word "ranger" carries its own suspicion, suggesting someone too much at home in the wild, living rough and sleeping out, not like civilized folk who live in houses.329

Especially in the poem concerning Aragorn, the line “All that is gold does not glitter”330 serves as Tolkien’s reminder to the reader not to be fooled by mere appearance; a motif that runs through the entire epic and which can be - and has been - exemplified by various characters. No cultural group is inhabited solely by ‘pure’ characters, but rather every kingdom has its fair share of antagonistic characters with their own strengths and weaknesses. If any, Tolkien can be criticized for ‘silencing’ the Easterlings and Haradrim.

However, the tale follows closely the exploits of the members of the Fellowship and therefore, contact points with the Eastern peoples are - apart from battle scenes - quite low.

3.7. Orcs and Uruk-hai

While Tolkien can be credited for pioneering a myriad of novelties in the field of fantasy literature, his greatest (re-)creation was arguably that of the Orcs. Even more so, as they, unlike Elves, Dwarves and Trolls, have few comparable precedents in other literary works and therefore can be seen as an artificial race. As such, they can also be seen within the mythology of The Lord of the Rings: as Evil is ‘unable to create’, and the power of creation residing solely within Eru Illuvatar, Orcs must be some sort of twist on an existing race. Such is the theory of Treebeard, who thinks that Orcs were made in mockery of elves.331 Frodo supports this when he says to Sam that “the Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own. I don't think it gave life to the orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them”332. It is unclear where Frodo himself got that information from, but as his theory is similar to that of Treebeard, there is reason to assume that this is what most inhabitants of Middle-Earth think of the Orcs. Tolkien himself offered various possibilities for their origin (inter alia, the possibility that they descended from Men), but never settled on one in particular. He was clear, however, that Evil cannot create; making the Orcs a race created in mockery of elves and rooted in Morgoth’s hatred towards everything that Eru created before. As such, Orcs work as personified evil in Tolkien’s legendarium. Everything connected to them is in one way or another a mockery of an existing concept.

Their creation myth is reasonable from a storytelling perspective, or as Shippey puts it: “Orcs entered Middle-earth originally just because the story needed a continual supply of enemies over whom one need feel no compunction.”333 This makes sense, although Tolkien did not strictly adhere to this principle at all times as will be shown in this chapter. As Janet Croft has shown in her work, the Orcs are similarly demonized as the enemy was in World War 2 by all sides.334 The very name ‘Orc’ is taken from Old English and literally means ‘demon’, as Tolkien explains in one of his letters.335 Furthermore, the reader should not forget that the trilogy is written from the point of view of the ‘good people’; sentiment towards the Orcs should not be expected. Moreover, one should keep in mind in which state Middle-earth finds itself throughout the story, as an eager Orc whipmaster calls out: “Don’t you know we’re at war?”336

One of the most apparent things about the Orcs is their visual appearance, for which Tolkien received the most criticism. In a letter, he mentioned that

The Orcs are definitely stated to be corruptions of the ‘human’ form seen in Elves and Men. They are (or were) squat, broad, flat-nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths and slant eyes: in fact degraded and repulsive versions of the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types.337

To the modern reader, this looks highly irritating, and rightly so. However, this quote is a product of its time: as explained in Chapter One, many Europeans would not raise a brow at this statement in the 1940’s. As Martinez explains:

He is careful to say, however, that the Orcs were ‘degraded and repulsive versions’ of those Mongol peoples who would be least attractive to European sensibilities [...] it is clear that Tolkien felt a Mongoloid base was necessary for Orcish appearance. Not because he equated Asians with evil, or thought them ugly. But because he needed a human model which, when distorted beyond realistic appearance, might appear monstrous and corrupted. In fact, many Asian cultures represent demons and evil gods in a similar fashion.338

Although understandable where he is coming from, it leaves the reader with a bitter taste still. Would it not work if Tolkien used debased Caucasoid types, or just mentioned ‘degenerated humans’? Tolkien’s quote yet again proves that he was aware of the racialization of his contemporary world and at least some teachings of the proclaimed ‘pseudo-sciences’. It can be argued that Tolkien played with the racialist sentiment of his time and employed it in his work, without necessarily believing in it, as his written correspondence shows more than once. Dimitra Fimi argues along the same lines, writing that “Tolkien’s portrayal of the Orcs concentrates on unfamiliar characteristics [to Europeans].”339

When the Uruk-hai of Isengard capture the two Hobbits Merry and Pippin, Orcs from Mordor join their party on their way back to the tower. Here, the two species are portrayed side by side:

In the twilight he saw a large black Orc, probably Ugluk, standing facing Grishnakh, a short crook-legged creature, very broad and with long arms that hung almost to the ground. Round them were many smaller goblins.340

Similarly to the race of Men, the Orcs seems to be subdivided into (at least) three different species: The large Uruk-hai, the short, crook-legged Mordor orcs and the even smaller goblins, who are apparently the “Northerners”341 who joined in from the Misty Mountains. On the other side of Middle-earth, Sam is eavesdropping on two Orcs from Mordor; one of them is Shagrat, a “large orc with long arms” and “slaver dripping from his fangs.”342 Later, Frodo and Sam encounter two more Orcs:

One was clad in ragged brown and was armed with a bow of horn; it was of a small breed, black­skinned, with wide and snuffling nostrils: evidently a tracker of some kind. The other was a big fighting-orc, like those of Shagrat's company, bearing the token of the Eye [...] As usual they were quarrelling, and being of different breeds they used the Common Speech after their fashion [.]343

Here is textual evidence that Orcs consist of various breeds, supported by the different description of both Orcs. They are so different, that they do not even have a common Orcish language, resorting to the Common Speech for means of communication. After the fateful fight at Amon Hen, during which course Boromir dies, Aragorn examines the fallen Orcs:

Their gear is not after the manner of Orcs at all! ’ There were four goblin-soldiers of greater stature, swart, slant-eyed, with thick legs and large hands. They were armed with short broad- bladed swords, not with the curved scimitars usual with Orcs; and they had bows of yew, in length and shape like the bows of Men.344

Orcs differ not only in their appearance, but also in equipment, and not unlike men. Both thick legs and swart skin are quite different to Tolkien’s ‘mongoloid’ Orcs in general.

In light of this, it can be argued that like Men, Orcs come in various different species and thus, cannot be described stereotypically. That some are definitely ‘crook-legged’, ‘slant­eyed’ and ‘flat-nosed’ is to be expected; most Orcish appearance mentioned in The Lord of the Rings, however, deviates from this, as shown in this chapter. Thus, Tolkien’s quote is not to be taken at face value, at least not for all Orcs.

It is evident throughout the books that Sauron’s foot-soldiers are nonetheless ‘mockeries’ of either Elves or Men. For instance, their language is “foul and uncouth”345 ; Orcs speak in “harsh, brutal, cold”346 voices. The line “babel of baying voices”347 implies they even have trouble understanding each other, also making their language less-than-functional. These descriptions put them into a stark contrast to both voices and language of the ‘good’ people, who speak in “soft voices”348. Also, their preference for crooked, bent swords or scimitars must not necessarily be associated with oriental influence; instead, a curved sword is a deviation from the standard, ‘straight’ form of Western longswords (such as Aragorn’s sword Anduril) and thus, can be seen as another representation of corruption. The fact that Uruk-hai use bows like men and refrain from using scimitars may be explained in their mannish blood; “these half-orcs and goblin-men that the foul craft of Saruman has bred”349. The Orcs are so corrupted, that they are unable to withstand the sun, shunning it.350 Only the infusion of ‘mannish blood’, such as in the Uruk-hai, is able to offset that disadvantage.

Like Faramir’s ‘anthropology lesson’ to Frodo, a similar insight is gained from Ugluk’s interaction with Grishnakh and his Orcs. Ugluk boasts: “We are the fighting Uruk-hai! We slew the great warrior. We took the prisoners. We are the servants of Saruman the Wise, the White Hand: the Hand that gives us man's-flesh to eat.”351 After this ‘nationalistic’ show of pride, the superiority of the Uruks is established when Ugluk quickly beheads two quarrelsome Orcs and thus restores order within the two other Orc-groups. The Isengarders’ superiority is further cemented by their mocking the inability of the other orcs to run under sunlight.352 Several passages support the Uruks as being a “larger”353 and more powerful breed; a fact of which the Uruks are well aware - and which they show whenever possible, leading to quarrels on more than one occasion.

Their constant quarrelling has a detrimental, yet significant quality to them, which puts them at odds with the portrayal of the ‘good’ races. While the latter cooperate in spite of their differences and thus are able to overthrow evil, the Orcs are unable to really unite. This is significant because it is (one of) the reason(s) why the Hobbits are able to fulfil their quest.

In The Two Towers, the three species of Orcs are quarrelling over the fate of the two Hobbits Merry and Pippin. Unable to set aside their differences, the Orcs are dispatched over the course of the chapter by Éomer’s riders. Only the Uruk-hai, able to “band together”354, offer resistance to the last. Of course, this helps the Hobbits to flee from captivity. A similar scenario plays out with Frodo and Sam in Mordor, where the story almost takes a turn for the worse: Frodo is captured by Shagrat, an Orc captain. However, because he and Gorbag, another captain, cannot split Frodo’s belongings, they and their ‘lads’ begin murdering each other: this leaves the fortress where Frodo is held undefended (and full of dead Orcs), so that Sam is able to free Frodo unhindered.

Despite their establishment as evil race, both Tom Shippey and Robert Tally find some positive aspects in the portrayal of the Orcs. Tom Shippey for instance remarks that “Orcs are marked above all by a strong sense of humour.”355 Words like ‘sport’, ‘play’ and ‘fun’ are frequent in their speech and they are making jokes on a regular basis, even if their jokes seem mostly to revolve around suffering or pain; laughing and jeering is one of the most common ‘speaking actions’ seen by Orcs. Shippey sees that as a good quality, although he admits that “like all good qualities it can be perverted”356, which points right back to the Orc as a corrupted human.

Furthermore, Shippey claims that Orcs “recognize the idea of goodness, appreciate humour, value loyalty, trust, group cohesion”357 ; evidence for that is given by Tolkien aplenty, such as Shagrat’s and Gorbag’s talk about settling somewhere away “from big bosses” with “a few trusty lads”358. Loyalty is emphasized by the Northern Orcs who track the fellowship who killed their leader in Moria, wishing for revenge. Snaga, a Mordor Orc, also emphasizes loyalty when exclaiming he “fought for the Tower against those stinking Morgul rats.”359 Shippey notes that “Orcs [...] have a clear idea of what is admirable and what is contemptible behaviour, which is exactly the same as ours.”360 Tally, too, points out that the Orcs often behave like men would do. When Ugluk references the Rohirrim as “rebels and brigands”361 he speaks from his point of view. Similarly Gorbag refers to the abandonment of a companion as “typical elvish trick”, reversing a usually positive adjective (elvish) into a negative one.362 Moreover, Tally remarks that the Orcs “are, at times, more humane”363 than the other races. Even though their ‘humanity’ has practical reasons, such as giving medicine to a hostage they are explicitly ordered to bring home alive, it shows flashes of Tolkien’s sympathy for the devil. For story-telling purposes he did not have to include these moments, but it again often shows the ambiguous depiction of different races, with passages of positive and negative descriptions alternating. A rather sharp turn from the usual description of the evil and irredeemable Orc is the brief discussion between Shagrat and Gorbag, which is overheard by Sam:

What d'you say? - if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere on our own with a few trusty lads, somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and no big bosses.’ ‘Ah! ’ said Shagrat. ‘Like old times.’364

The wish for freedom from authority, after all, is very human, and is something that makes the Orcs unlikely familiar: “These Orcs are not having any more fun than the Men [...] War is hell, for all parties involved.”365 Tally further elaborates that the portrayal of those two disgruntled orcs is an indicator for Tolkien’s “own, perhaps unconscious sense that ‘both sides’ deserve respect and sympathy.”366 Their familiarity is a conscious implementation of Tolkien, who wrote that in “real life, [Orcs] are on both sides, of course.”367

3.8. The Mixing of Race

Throughout the story, several characters appear who are explicitly stated to be of mixed race. An opportunity of interpretation arises when reading the relevant passages with the historical background in mind, which was established in the first chapter. Not only will some insight shed into the portrayal of characters descended from two races, but some exploration in the interracial marriages will be attempted.

Aragorn and Arwen are prime examples for both mixed-race characters as well as interracial marriage. Aragorn has Elven ancestors, but this is not enough to consider him being biracial. Arwen, on the other hand, is the daughter of Elrond Half-Elven and thus, is one herself. In the words of her father, she is [...] of lineage greater than [Aragorn’s], and she has lived in the world already so long that to her [Aragorn is] but as a yearling shoot beside a young birch of many summers. She is too far above [Aragorn].368

Nonetheless she decides to marry Aragorn, who proves himself to be worthy after reuniting the Kingdom of Gondor. For this, she even sacrifices her immortality as she refuses to go to the Undying Lands with her father. Even tough “Elves and Men are represented as biologically akin”369, Arwen has to ‘regress’ to the level of Aragorn’s mortality.370 Nonetheless, Fimi sees Tolkien’s portrayal of their union as benevolent: Not only is it described as highly positive (“And in the glory and beauty of the Elves, and in their fate, full share had the offspring of elf and mortal, Eaérendil, and Elwing, and Elrond their child.”371 ), but also “[enrich] the ‘racial’ structure of [.] Middle-Earth and prove ‘race mixture’ to be beneficial”372.

Likewise, the marriage of Faramir, in who the Numenorean blood “runs nearly true”373, and Eowyn of Rohan (‘lesser men’) is endorsed by Tolkien. Similarly, but with the roles reversed, her brother Éomer marries Lothiriel, princess of Dol Amroth, who like Aragorn has Elvish blood. So, the reader experiences at least several interracial marriages at the end of the book. Tolkien clearly saw those as ‘beneficial’, to use Fimi’s words; otherwise, he would not have used them to such extent. Another case has already been made in Chapter 3.4., where the history of King Valacar and his Northmen wife has been presented - a marriage which happened out of love, despite the protest of many ‘pure-blood purists’ like Castamir.

Several examples stand in contrast to Tolkien’s portrayal of positive ‘racial mixing’ which can be interpreted the other way. Obviously, two instances that quickly come to mind are both the Uruk-hai as well as the Troll-men. The Uruk-hai have been bred by Saruman to create a superior breed of Orc to both withstand the sunlight as well as giving Saruman means for his own wish of domination of Middle-earth. Treebeard is suspicious of Saruman’s experiments in the closely-guarded Isengard:

He has taken up with foul folk, with the Orcs. Brm, hoom! Worse than that: he has been doing something to them; something dangerous. [...] I wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!374

Tolkien’s stance on Saruman’s experiments shines through in his notes, where he considers that as “[Saruman’s] wickedest deed: the interbreeding of Orcs and Men [.]”375 While The Lord of the Rings is not an allegory, the reader is able to deduct Tolkien’s stance on the Eugenics-movement from his portrayal of Saruman’s wickedness.

The same can be applied to the infamous Troll-men of Harad. It is known that Sauron bred a new race of trolls during the events described in the trilogy376, so it can be assumed that he must have something to do with the biracial ‘Troll-men’; furthermore, this would establish their ‘blackness’ not necessarily as skin-colour, but again as colour of identification with evil, such as depicted with many more characters.

In conclusion the findings seem to suggest Tolkien’s general endorsement of interracial relations (as shown by marriage) when these happen by own choice of the parties involved. Whenever that case is not true, but in contrary implies the use of force (or worse), Tolkien criticizes them with the means that his own legendarium offers to him - hence, only the prime antagonists Sauron and Saruman conduct such wicked experiments.


Before engaging with the thesis question, some general observations about The Lord of the Rings can be made. The first and most obvious is that the books “combine an explicitly medieval bias with implicit Christian [themes]”377, as Jane Chance puts it. This is perhaps not surprising, considering how many different medieval influences Tolkien specifically used for the creation of this world, most of which have been compiled by David Day.378 Tolkien himself acknowledged it when he wrote that “The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision.”379 Another observation is rather an outlook on the general framework of this thesis. During the process of gathering and compiling information, writing and analysing, it quickly became clear that the scope of the paper might not be enough to give the topic the credit it deserves. Important decisions had to be made what to include and what to leave out, one of it concerning the Elves. Even though they still appear in parts of this thesis, a proper analysis could only be made by fully including Tolkien’s other writings. During the events described in The Lord of the Rings, the Elves are a declining people, with many of them leaving Middle-earth. As such, they were neither the focus of Tolkien380 nor are they therefore in this thesis. Still, it became apparent how much more information is available on this topic so that expanding this thesis further by fully including the whole of Tolkien’s works would be a logical next step. With this information in mind, it is time to return to the aim of this thesis.

One goal of the thesis was to try to understand how Tolkien approached and constructed race in his magnum opus. His anthropology divides the race of Man into three groups, of which the Numenoreans and their descendants, the Gondorians, occupy the highest step of the ladder. The Rohirrim are in the middle and the Evil Men at the lower step. This however, is quickly deconstructed as fictional, an in-universe Gondorian outlook on the different groups of men, as shown in Faramir’s monologue. For Tolkien himself is highly critical of the proclaimed ‘High Men’; many Evil-doers in fact are the Numenoreans, such as the Nazgül or the Mouth of Sauron. Tolkien explores the weakness and susceptibility to evil and corruption found in all humans through the characters of Boromir and Denethor, which betrays them in spite of their heroic antics, appearance and martial ability. In fact, one of the recurring themes of The Lord of the Rings is that outward appearance is no fixed indicator of one’s ‘power.’ Although described as unlikely adventurers and disregarded by friends and foes alike due to their diminutive size, the Hobbits are indeed the main heroes of the story, delivering not only their homeland, but the whole of Middle-earth from Evil.

Meanwhile, Tolkien’s portrayal of both Dwarves and Haradrim draws heavily from both Norse and medieval literature. While their particular representation at times has earned him some criticism, it is apparent that Tolkien consciously distanced himself from using the most blatant discriminatory details. Even though he picks up the stereotypical Dwarvish greed for gold from Norse literature (which has been often compared to the Jewish greed for gold in medieval literature), he remodels their creation myth: Tolkien’s dwarves do not come out of a dead giant like maggots as seen in Norse mythology, but are created by the God of the Smiths himself (Likewise, there is no remark to be found about the unusual size of Dwarven noses!) The Dwarven protagonist Gimli is, on the contrary, a heroic character and portrayed in an undoubtedly positive light. The same approach is evident with the Haradrim: While their general description begs comparison with medieval portrayals of the Saracens in appearance, choice of colour and clothes, there is still difference in favour of Tolkien. Unlike the dehumanization of Saracens, the Haradrim are often alluded to with the same positively connoted adjectives as are the Men of Gondor (‘fierce’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘tall’). Furthermore, Tolkien goes out of his way to imply that they do not necessarily follow Sauron out of free will, but because they have been lied to, coerced and forced to do so - in which case there is striking similarity with the (Black) Numenoreans. Through Sam’s thoughts on the dead Southron warrior Tolkien shows deep empathy for an enemy of a different cultural group. The fact that they sometimes are referred to as ‘cruel’ and ‘wild’ is due to the wartime condition the narrative finds itself in; however, there is never explicit proof of the Southrons cruelty.

The depiction of the Orcs stands in stark contrast to that of Men, not least because they are conceived as ‘mockeries’ of either Elves or Men. Their portrayal can be described as mildly unflattering, with fangs, long arms and crooked legs and ugly faces. Like Men, Orcs consist of various subgroups - Uruks, Orcs and smaller breeds from the north. And also like Men, some of their qualities appear eerily familiar. Nonetheless it is clear that Orcs are not supposed to be a human race in the contemporary world, but rather a symbol and warning to which stage mankind can descend. “Orcs are horribly corrupted”, Tolkien wrote, “if no more than many Men to be met today,”381 further stressing the fact that Orcs do not represent a particular human group, but are rather found on “both sides.”382 Tolkien’s sympathy does not extend to Orcs like it does to Evil Men because of their advanced stage of ‘evilness’: while the Haradrim and Easterlings are made peace with after Sauron is destroyed, none is made with the Orcs.

Tolkien’s division into good and evil is supported by his use of colour; with black and white denominating evil and good sides respectively, supporting the ‘catholic’ subtext of the narrative. However, such a simple use of binaries is skillfully disrupted by Tolkien when he assigns the colour white to the evil wizard Saruman or black as livery and standard of the Men of Gondor. As has been shown in Chapter II, seldom is a colour assigned exclusively to one meaning, but rather do positive and negative meanings alternate in one and the same colour: so is green both a beautiful colour of the landscape of the Shire, Lothlorien and Rohan, but also the colour of corruption experienced in Minas Morgul and the Barrow­downs. This is, perhaps, most significant in the colour of the skin of the various races; both light-skinned and dark-skinned races serve Evil, as well as Good.

The next question dealt with racism, precisely: Does racism exist in The Lord of the Rings ? In light of the findings throughout Chapter III, this question can be answered in the positive. This is shown by both evil and good sides, for instance when the Uruk-hai degrade both their fellow Orcs as well as the Rohirrim (‘Whiteskins’) based on their race. Similarly, Gimli is initially excluded from entering Lothlorien on racial grounds (being a dwarf), and Boromir claiming racial superiority over Frodo. Likewise, the Hobbit-folk of the Shire and the Men of Gondor exhibit xenophobe tendencies (“we wish for no strangers in the land”383 ). However, whenever racism is portrayed, it is quickly deconstructed not only as morally wrong, but also as hindering the goals of several characters. The failure of the Uruks to come to terms with other Orcs results in their demise at two crucial points in the narrative. Boromir’s folly is explained by the growing influence the One Ring has on him (thus, the evilness of the Ring enables evil racism to grow inside Boromir), for which he pays with his life. The xenophobia of the Hobbits synergizes with their isolationism, which enables Saruman to take control in the Shire. But perhaps most significant is Gimli’s treatment in Lothlorien, to which Haldir exclaims that “indeed in nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him.”384

Tolkien’s geographical creation can be seen in the same light. It is true that he portrays the East as geographical locus for Mordor (‘Hell’) and Sauron (‘Satan’), but this is rooted in a deeper literal tradition coming from Norse and Arthurian sagas. Au contraire to having a “moral cartography”385, Tolkien shows that evil and corruption may appear everywhere: “among the kingly Gondorians, the blond Riders of Rohan, the seemingly incorruptible wizards, and even the thoroughly English-folk of the Shire.”386 This approach sets him apart from his contemporaries such as Lothrop Stoddard or Gobineau.

In light of the evidence provided by this thesis and in the words of Virginia Luling, the appearance of racism is deceptive: “not only because Tolkien in his non-fictional writing several times repudiated racist ideas, but because [...] in his sub-creation the whole intellectual underpinning of racism is absent.”387 Some passages and descriptions may surely raise not few brows today; but as Dimitra Fimi has noted, looking at The Lord of the Rings through a modern lens means de-contextualizing it.388 His reference to Orcs as ‘degraded and repulsive versions’ of Mongol types is undoubtedly inconsiderate and insensitive (to modern readers); but as shown in Chapter I, there is no evidence to be found that Tolkien harboured racialist views. Furthermore, as analysed in Chapter 3.7., Tolkien should be given the benefit of the doubt. Even more, comparing Tolkien’s work to its contemporary time shows how ‘modern’ its values were back then. Tolkien lived during a time were racist views were endemic, as has been shown in Chapter I. There, some examples were presented how racist behaviour expressed itself, none of which Tolkien showed in his work. Neither elements of Gobineau’s racial taxonomy or Stoddard’s racial division of the world, nor Nazi endorsement of eugenics are to be found in The Lord of the Rings. In a time where he was surrounded by such ideologies, it is even more laudable that Tolkien neither indulged himself in the same racial worldviews as many of his contemporaries nor included them in his works. On the contrary, he often criticized both German and British governments for their race­related questions, colonialism, and imperialism and so on.389 390 Even tough Tolkien can possibly be criticized for various things such as not giving the Haradrim an active voice, having almost no female characters, being insensitive at times and so on, racism is not one of them. One of the books most recurring themes is that people of various groups and races are able to lay aside their differences and unite in a common goal. And not all of them are tall, fair-skinned and strong. The Fellowship is the best example for this, and especially the enemies-turned-friends Gimli and Legolas. Only united is Middle-earth able to persevere, which is an important lesson the reader may take well into the modern time: united we stand - no matter if the enemy is racism or a Dark Lord.


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Rosenberg, Alfred (1930): “The Myth of the Twentieth Century. An Evaluation of the Spiritual-Intellectual Confrontations of Our Age.” Retrieved from [accessed 02 March 2020].

Scheps, Walter (1975): “The Fairy-tale Morality of The Lord of the Rings”, in Jared Lobdell (ed.): A Tolkien Compass, Ballantine Books, New York.

Scull, Christina and Wayne Hammond (2008): “The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion.” London, HarperCollins Publishers.

Shimazu, Naoko (1998): “Japan, Race and Equality. The Racial Equality Proposal of 1919.” Oxford, Routledge.

Shippey, Tom (2000): “Orcs, Wraiths, Wights: Tolkien’s Images of Evil,” in: George Clark and Daniel Timmons (eds.), J.R.R. Tolkien and His Literary Resonances: Views of Middle-Earth. Westport, Greenwood Press.

Shippey, Tom (2001): “J.R.R.Tolkien: Author of the Century.” Boston, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Shippey, Tom (2005): “The Road to Middle-earth. How J.R.R. Tolkien created a new Mythology.” London, HarperCollins Publisher.

Shippey, Tom (2015): “The Lord of the Rings, Book of the Century.” Retrieved from the-century.html [accessed 26 May 2020].

Shippey, Tom (2017): “Literature, Twentieth Century: Influence on Tolkien,” in: Michael D.C. Drout (ed.), J.R.R.Tolkien Encyclopedia. Scholarship and Critical Assessment. London, Routledge, 382.

Sinex, Margaret (2010): “Monsterized Saracens: Tolkien’s Haradrim and Other Medieval ‘Fantasy Products.’” Tolkien Studies. 7(1).

Sösemann, Bernd (1976): “Die sog. Hunnenrede Wilhelms II. Textkritische und interpretatorische Bemerkungen zur Ansprache des Kaisers vom 27.Juli 1900 in Bremerhaven.“Historische Zeitschrift. 222.

Steiner, Bernd (2005): “H.P.Lovecraft and the Literature of the Fantastic: Explorations in a Literary Genre.” Munich, GRIN Verlag.

Stepan, Nancy (1982): “The Idea of Race in Science: Great Britain 1800-1960.” London, The Macmillan Press LTD.

Stoddard, Lothrop (1920): “The Rising Tide of Color Against the White World Supremacy“. Retrieved from [accessed 02 March 2020].

Strickland, Debra (2003): “Saracens, Demons, and Jews: Making Monsters in Medieval Art.” New Jersey, Princeton University Press.

Tally, Robert (2010): “Let us Praise now Famous Orcs: Simple Humanity in Tolkien’s Inhuman Creatures.” Mythlore. 29(1).

Tally, Robert (2019): “Demonizing the Enemy, Literally: Tolkien, Orcs and the Sense of the World Wars,” in: Rachel McCoppin (ed.), War and Literature: Commiserating with the Enemy. Basel, MDPI.

The Bible (2001): The New Oxford Annotated Version . Oxford, University Press.

Tolkien, J.R.R. (1954): “The Fellowship of the Ring.” Reprint (2004). London, HarperCollins Publishers.

Tolkien, J.R.R. (1954): “The Two Towers.” Reprint (2004). London, HarperCollins Publishers.

Tolkien, J.R.R. (1955): “The Return of the King.” Reprint (2004). London, HarperCollins Publishers.

Tolkien, J.R.R. (1977): “The Silmarillion.” Edited by Christopher Tolkien. Reprint (1999). London, HarperCollins Publishers.

Tolkien, J.R.R. (1980): “Unfinished Tales of Numenor & Middle-earth.” Edited by Christopher Tolkien. London, Harper Collins Publishers.

Tolkien, J.R.R. (2002): “The History of Middle-earth, Volume 10: Morgoths Ring.” Edited by Christopher Tolkien. London, HarperCollins Publishers.

Tolkien, J.R.R. (2002): “The History of Middle-earth, Volume 6: The Return of the Shadow.” Edited by Christopher Tolkien. London, HarperCollins Publishers.

Tolkien, J.R.R. (2015): “The Fall of Arthur.” Edited by Christopher Tolkien. London, HarperCollins Publishers.

Tolkien, John R.R. (1981): “The Letters of J.R.R.Tolkien.” Edited by Humphrey Carpenter. London, George Allen & Unwin.

Tolkien, John R.R. (1997): “The Monsters and Critics and Other Essays.” Edited by Christopher Tolkien. London, HarperCollins.

Twain, Mark (1901): “To the Person Sitting in Darkness.” The North American Review. 172.

Vink, Renée (2013): “‘Jewish’ Dwarves: Tolkien and Anti-Semitic Stereotyping.” Tolkien Studies. 10(1).

Walsh, John (2007): “Hell,” in: Michael D.C. Drout (ed.), J.R.R. Tolkien Encylopedia, Scholarship and Critical Assessment. London, Routledge, 269.

Wollock, Jennifer G. (2011): “Rethinking Chivalry and Courtly Love.” Oxford, Praeger.

Wolter, Stefanie (2004): “Die Vermarktung des Fremden. Exotismus und die Anfänge des Massenkonsums.“ Frankfurt, Campus Verlag.


1 Gunner, Shaun (2017): “The Fellowship of the Ring published 63 years ago.” Retrieved from [accessed 26 May 2020].

2 Shippey, Tom (2015): “The Lord of the Rings, Book of the Century.” Retrieved from [accessed 26 May 2020].

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 DiTommaso, Lorenzo (2006): “The Persistence of the Familiar: The Hyborian World and the Geographies of Fantastic Literature.” Retrieved from raphies_of_Fantastic_Literature [accessed 27 May 2020].

6 John Yatt (2002): “Wraiths and race.” Retrieved from [accessed 27 May 2020].

7 Mosse, George (1985): “Toward the Final Solution: A History of European Racism.” Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 1-3.

8 Mosse, 14.

9 Biddiss, Michael (1966): “Gobineau and the Origins of European Racism”. Race. 7(3), 262.

10 Wolter, Stefanie (2004): “Die Vermarktung des Fremden. Exotismus und die Anfänge des Massenkonsums.“ Frankfurt, Campus Verlag, 191.

11 Ibid, 139.

12 Stoddard, Lothrop (1920): “The Rising Tide of Color Against the White World Supremacy“. Retrieved from [accessed 02 March 2020].

13 Rosenberg, Alfred (1930): “The Myth of the Twentieth Century. An Evaluation of the Spiritual-Intellectual Confrontations of Our Age.” Retrieved from, 174 [accessed 02 March 2020].

14 Rattansi, Ali (2007): “Racism. A Very Short Introduction.” Oxford, University Press, 5.

15 Ibid, 16.

16 Rex, John (1970): “The Concept of Race in Sociological Theory”, in: Sami Zubaida (ed.), Race and Racialism. London, Routledge, 35-55.

17 Novikow, Jacques (1897): “Le péril jaune“. Paris, V.Giard & E.Briere.

18 Sösemann, Bernd (1976): “Die sog. Hunnenrede Wilhelms II. Textkritische und interpretatorische Bemerkungen zur Ansprache des Kaisers vom 27.Juli 1900 in Bremerhaven.“Historische Zeitschrift. 222, 342-358.

19 Jerng, Mark (2018): “Racial Worldmaking. The Power of Popular Fiction.” New York, Fordham University Press, 34.

20 London, Jack (1904): “Yellow Peril”, in: King Hendricks and Irving Shepard (ed.), Jack London Reports: War Correspondence, Sports Articles, and Miscellaneous Writings. New York, Doubleday, 340-350.

21 Jerng 32.

22 Stoddard 15.

23 Jerng 32.

24 Omi, Michael and Howard Winant (1994): “Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1990s.” New York, Routledge, 66.

25 Rattansi 54.

26 Twain, Mark (1901): “To the Person Sitting in Darkness.” The North American Review. 172.

27 Shimazu, Naoko (1998): “Japan, Race and Equality. The Racial Equality Proposal of 1919.” Oxford, Routledge.

28 "racism, n."OED Online, Oxford University Press, March 2020. Retrieved from [accessed 21 March 2020].

29 Miles, Robert (1989): „Racism as a Concept”, in: Martin Bulmer and John Solomos (ed.), Racism. Oxford, University Press, 344.

30 "race, n.6". OED Online. March 2020. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from [accessed 21 March 2020].

31 For further reading, see Biddis, Michael (1979): “Images of Race.” Leicester, University Press, 11.

32 Rattansi 31.

33 Miles, Robert (1989): “Racism.” London, Routledge, 71.

34 Rattansi 46.

35 Early classification attempts (Gobineau) saw the Jews as a ‘subtype’ of the ‘White Race.’

36 Huxley, Julian and Alfred Haddon (1935): “We Europeans: A Survey of ‘Racial’ Problems.” London, Penguin Books Ltd., 220.

37 Huxley 220.

38 Huxley 142.

39 Miles Concept 346.

40 Ibid, 344.

41 Freeman, Richard (1942): “Race.” Review of Race and Racism, by Ruth Benedict. The Eugenics Review. 34(3), 96-97.

42 Barzun, Jacques (1938): “Race, A Modern Superstition.” New York, Harcourt, Brace and Company.

43 Benedict, Ruth (1942): “Race and Racism.” London, Routledge, 6.

44 Ibid, 96.

45 Benedict 97.

46 Miles Concept 346.

47 Thus Benedict seems to employ a racialist worldview as opposed to a racist one, although the boundaries began to be become blurry very fast.

48 Montagu, Ashley (1942): “Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race.” New York, Columbia University Press, 14.

49 Montagu, 62.

50 Johnson, Guy (1943): “Myth.” Review of Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race by Ashley Montagu. Social Forces. 21(4), 493 - 494.

51 Coon, Carleton S.(1939): “The Races of Europe: The White Race and the New World”. New York, The Macmillan Company.

52 Miles Concept 51.

53 Ibid, 52.

54 Tolkien, John R.R.(1981): “The Letters of J.R.R.Tolkien.” Edited by Humphrey Carpenter. London, George Allen & Unwin, 29.

55 Ibid.

56 Letters 30.

57 Letters 45.

58 Letters 81.

59 Letters 55.

60 Letters 324.

61 Tolkien, John R.R.(1997): “The Monsters and Critics and Other Essays.” Edited by Christopher Tolkien. London, HarperCollins, 131.

62 Lovecraft, Howard P.(1968): “Selected Letters II (1925-1929)”. Sauk City (WI), Arkham House, 44.

63 Steiner, Bernd (2005): “H.P.Lovecraft and the Literature of the Fantastic: Explorations in a Literary Genre.” Munich, GRIN Verlag, 54.

64 Curry, Patrick (1997): “Defending Middle Earth. Tolkien: Myth and Modernity.” London, HarperCollins, 47-50.

65 Fimi, Dimitra (2006): “Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits.” London, Palgrave Macmillan UK, 131-157.

66 Chance, Jane (2002): “Tolkien the Medievalist.” London, Routledge.

67 Chism, Christine (2002): Middle-earth, the Middle Ages, and the Aryan nation. Myth and history in World War II”, in: Jane Chance (ed.), Tolkien the Medievalist. London, Routledge, 63-92.

68 Letters 294.

69 Stepan, Nancy (1982): “The Idea of Race in Science: Great Britain 1800-1960.” London, The Macmillan Press LTD, xvii.

70 Rattansi 30; although in this case it should be noted that this depiction is purely visual - no indication of either superiority or inferiority is made.

71 Miller, Miriam (1981): “The Green Sun: A Study of Colour in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.Mythlore. 7(4), 3-11.

72 Tolkien, J.R.R. (1954): “The Fellowship of the Ring.” Reprint (2004). London, HarperCollins Publishers, 66.

73 FotR 523.

74 Tolkien, J.R.R. (1977): “The Silmarillion.” Edited by Christopher Tolkien. Reprint (1999). London, HarperCollins Publishers, 412.

75 FotR 250.

76 Tolkien, J.R.R. (1955): “The Return of the King.” Reprint (2004). London, HarperCollins Publishers, 1000.

77 FotR 333.

78 Ibid.

79 RotK 1132.

80 Silmarillion 412.

81 Silmarillion 179.

82 FotR 255.

83 He lost it after his defeat in the War of Wrath.

84 FotR 255-256.

85 FotR 219; initially described by Barliman Butterbur; however ‘black men’ is the go-to term by which the Nazgül appear in the first chapters.

86 FotR 67.

87 Silmarillion 320.

88 FotR 213; most notable in the Numenorean par excellence, Aragorn.

89 Scull, Christina and Wayne Hammond (2008): “The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion.” London, HarperCollins Publishers, 567: 'But why do you speak so of the black sails? The black sails are to us a sign of honour, for they are the fair night before the coming of the Enemy [...]’

90 The equivalent of god in Tolkien’s universe.

91 RotK 1163.

92 Tolkien, J.R.R. (1954): “The Two Towers.” Reprint (2004). London, HarperCollins Publishers, 752.

93 RotK 988.

94 RotK 1152.

95 Gandalf, being unsure of the Ringbearers fate, has still hope that Frodo is able to finish his quest if given time.

96 RotK 986.

97 RotK 1002.

98 RotK 984.

99 RotK 1056.

100 RotK 1008.

101 RotK 1034.

102 Letter 289; itself meaning ‘dark boundary forest’ and taken from Eddaic poems.

103 Silmarillion 54.

104 TTT 844.

105 Ibid.

106 RotK 1047.

107 FotR 210.

108 RotK 982, 1008.

109 RotK 1484.

110 TTT 864.

111 RotK 1107.

112 The case will be further elaborated in another chapter.

113 Letters 210.

114 FotR 423.

115 FotR 422.

116 TTT 587.

117 FotR 481.

118 Ibid.

119 Tolkien, J.R.R. (2002): “The History of Middle-earth, Volume 10: Morgoths Ring.” Edited by Christopher Tolkien. London, HarperCollins Publishers, 382.

120 FotR 74.

121 Ibid.

122 FotR 328.

123 Tolkien, J.R.R. (1980): “Unfinished Tales of Numenor & Middle-earth.” Edited by Christopher Tolkien. Reprint (2014). London, Harper Collins Publishers, 503.

124 TTT 616.

125 TTT 553.

126 FotR 338.

127 Ibid.

128 FotR 74.

129 FotR 337.

130 TTT 754.

131 Miller 5.

132 TTT 761.

133 FotR 458.

134 FotR 460.

135 FotR 485.

136 FotR 454.

137 FotR 465.

138 The Bible (2001): The New Oxford Annotated Version. Oxford, University Press, John 8:12.

139 RotK 1096.

140 RotK 1101.

141 Ibid.

142 Ellwood, Gracia Fay (1970): “Good News from Tolkien’s Middle Earth.” Grand Rapids, William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 118.

143 RotK 985.

144 RotK 987.

145 RotK 1118.

146 RotK 1080.

147 TTT 538.

148 Miller 4.

149 Miller 6.

150 Among others, usually to indicate hidden strength: Aragorn (“grey figure” (TTT 653)) and Gandalf, who are introduced as ‘outcasts’, become major heroes in the course of the story, wielding great power.

151 TTT 966.

152 TTT 895.

153 TTT 894.

154 TTT 842.

155 FotR 499.

156 Letters 246.

157 Miller 7.

158 RotK 1163.

159 RotK 1205.

160 TTT 864.

161 TTT 706.

162 RotK 1099.

163 FotR 456.

164 TTT 550.

165 FotR 454.

166 FotR 192.

167 Scull 145.

168 TTT 921.

169 TTT 922.

170 FotR 406.

171 TTT 865.

172 FotR 45.

173 FotR 76.

174 FotR 338.

175 Rearick, Anderson (2004): “Why Is the Only Good Orc a Dead Orc?” Inklings Forever. 4(A), 6.

176 Miller 2.

177 TTT 695.

178 Blumberg, Janet (2002): “The Literary Backgrounds of The Lord of the Rings,” in: John G. West, jr. (ed.), Celebrating Middle-Earth: The Lord of the Rings as a Defence of Western Civilization. San Francisco, Inkling Books, 54.

179 For further reference see: Lange, Armin and Eric Myers (2011): “Light against Darkness: Dualism in Ancient Mediterranean Religion and the Contemporary World”. Gottingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

180 Letters 182.

181 Letters 203.

182 Shippey, Tom (2017): “Literature, Twentieth Century: Influence on Tolkien,” in: Michael D.C. Drout (ed.), J.R.R.Tolkien Encyclopedia. Scholarship and Critical Assessment. London, Routledge, 382.

183 Barkley, Christine (1996): “Point of View in Tolkien.” Mythlore. 21(2), 256-262.

184 FotR 1.

185 FotR 43.

186 FotR 42.

187 FotR 43.

188 Foster, Robert (1978): “The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth: From The Hobbit Through The Lord of the Rings and Beyond.” New York, Ballantine Books, 65.

189 Ellwood 118.

190 Chance, Jane (2001): “The Lord of the Rings: The Mythology of Power.” Lexington, Kentucky University Press, 27-28.

191 FotR 12.

192 Curry, Patrick (2004): “Defending Middle-earth. Tolkien: Myth and Modernity.” New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 38.

193 Curry 41.

194 Ellwood 119.

195 Letters 246.

196 FotR 84: exclaiming „hooray“ when offered the chance to see elves, but „bursting“ in tears realizing that it means leaving his home.

197 Jones, Leslie (2002): “Myth and Middle-Earth. Exploring the Medieval Legends Behind J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.” New York, Cold Spring Press, 79.

198 FotR 6.

199 FotR 446: “You do not look evil!”

200 TTT 565.

201 TTT 859.

202 RotK 985.

203 RotK 1052.

204 RotK 1055.

205 Chance Mythology 101.

206 RotK 979.

207 RotK 1101.

208 Shippey, Tom (2005): “The Road to Middle-earth. How J.R.R. Tolkien created a new mythology.” London, HarperCollins Publisher, 142.

209 FotR 352.

210 RotK 1305.

211 RotK 1307.

212 FotR 12.

213 FotR 516.

214 TTT 792.

215 FotR 321.

216 FotR 473.

217 FotR 321.

218 FotR 506.

219 FotR 494.

220 TTT 550.

221 RotK 1207.

222 Walsh, John (2007): “Hell,” in: Michael D.C. Drout (ed.), J.R.R. Tolkien Encylopedia, Scholarship and Critical Assessment. London, Routledge, 269.

223 TTT 761.

224 FotR 228.

225 TTT 836.

226 FotR 522.

227 TTT 862.

228 TTT 914.

229 Day, David (2011): “Tolkien’s Ring.” London, Pavilion Books, 68.

230 Petty, Anne (2002): “One Ring To Bind Them All. Tolkien’s Mythology.” Tuscaloosa, University of Alabama Press, 78.

231 Tolkien, J.R.R. (2015): “The Fall of Arthur.” Edited by Christopher Tolkien. London, HarperCollins Publishers; although a quote from Tolkien’s recounting in alliterative metre, it still shows the literally tradition Tolkien drew upon.

232 Although technically from the South, it still falls under the same moral geographic location.

233 Letters 294.

234 TTT 660.

235 Tolkien, J.R.R. (2002): “The History of Middle-earth, Volume 6: The Return of the Shadow.” Edited by Christopher Tolkien. London, HarperCollins Publishers, 205: eoten, coming from Old English (‘giant, monster, enemy’) and having a cognate in the Icelandic jötunn (giant) (Jotunheim being the mythological place of giants) shows the strong influence Norse sagas had on Tolkien’s world building.

236 Jones, 154.

237 TTT 597.

238 TTT 705.

239 RotK 1096.

240 FotR 321.

241 Silmarillion 414.

242 FotR 314.

243 FotR 325.

244 RotK 985.

245 FotR 478.

246 Brackmann, Rebecca (2010): “Dwarves are Not Heroes: Antisemitism and the Dwarves in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Writing”, in: Mythlore. 28(3).

247 FotR 312.

248 FotR 315.

249 FotR 351.

250 RotK 1414.

251 Vink, Renée (2013): “‘Jewish’ Dwarves: Tolkien and Anti-Semitic Stereotyping.” Tolkien Studies. 10(1), 132.

252 Brackmann 14.

253 FotR 386.

254 TTT 702.

255 TTT 708.

256 Brackmann 15.

257 TTT 715.

258 Ibid.

259 Vink 10.

260 Letters 229.

261 Rateliff, John (2011): “The History of the Hobbit.” London, HarperCollins Publishers, 80.

262 Vink 3.

263 RotK 1488.

264 Vink 3; for more information see Lindow, John (2002): “Norse Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Heroes, Rituals and Beliefs.” Oxford, Oxford University Press, 57.

265 Vink 12.

266 For more information, see Silmarillion, 272-284.

267 FotR 334.

268 FotR 394.

269 FotR 445.

270 FotR 453.

271 FotR 463.

272 Wollock, Jennifer G. (2011): “Rethinking Chivalry and Courtly Love.” Oxford, Praeger, 239.

273 TTT 563.

274 Unfinished Tales 296.

275 TTT 564.

276 FotR 483.

277 TTT 562.

278 TTT 640.

279 Edwards, Owen D. (2007): “British Children’s Fiction in the Second World War.” Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 459.

280 TTT 887.

281 TTT 885.

282 RotK 1370.

283 A similar marriage would result between Faramir and Eowyn, but with a positive outcome.

284 RotK 1371.

285 Ibid.

286 RotK 1369-1374.

287 Rotk 1372.

288 Ibid.

289 Chance Mythology, 51.

290 FotR 521.

291 Evans, Jonathan (2008): “The Anthropology of Arda. Creation, theology, and the race of Men,” in: Jane Chance (ed.), Tolkien the Medievalist. London, Routledge, 213.

292 RotK 1383.

293 RotK 987.

294 TTT 886.

295 RotK 1074.

296 RotK 986.

297 Jones 155.

298 RotK 1097.

299 TTT 861.

300 TTT 884.

301 TTT 844.

302 Sinex, Margaret (2010): “Monsterized Saracens: Tolkien’s Haradrim and Other Medieval ‘Fantasy Products.’” Tolkien Studies. 7(1), 187.

303 TTT 864.

304 Sinex 186.

305 If any, only the Orcs are shown with grotesque features, which is however elaborated in the appropriate chapter.

306 RotK 1146.

307 RotK 1069.

308 RotK 1110.

309 FotR 321.

310 RotK 1072.

311 Sinex 186.

312 Strickland, Debra (2003): “Saracens, Demons, and Jews: Making Monsters in Medieval Art.” New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 110: “Both yellow and red are colours that feature consistently in pejorative images of Jews [...]”

313 FotR 474; “The Eye was rimmed with fire, but was itself glazed, yellow [...]”

314 Sinex 187; she compares them to the portrayal of Saracens common in medieval prose, where the colours white, red and black are similarly used.

315 Sinex 184.

316 TTT 886.

317 RotK 1075.

318 RotK 1072.

319 RotK 1075.

320 TTT 560.

321 Ibid.

322 Ibid.

323 Kocher, Paul H. (1972): “Master of Middle-Earth. The Fiction of J.R.R.Tolkien. Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, 77.

324 TTT 668.

325 RotK 1088.

326 Bernheimer, Richard 819529: “Wild Men in the Middle Ages: A Study in Art, Sentiment and Demonology.” Boston, Harvard University Press, 1.

327 Bernheimer 114.

328 RotK 1090.

329 Flieger, Verlyn (2008): „Tolkien’s Wild Men. From Medieval to Modern,” in: Jane Chance (ed.), Tolkien the Medievalist. London, Routledge, 99.

330 Flieger 101.

331 FotR 230.

332 TTT 633.

333 RotK 1195.

334 Shippey, Tom (2001): “J.R.R.Tolkien: Author of the Century.” Boston, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 233.

335 Croft, Janet Brennan (2004): “War and the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien.” Westport, Praeger, 47-50.

336 Letters 144.

337 RotK 1218.

338 Letters 210.

339 Martinez, Michael (1996): “Parma Endorion. Essays on Middle-earth.” Retrieved from [accessed 26 April 2020], 52.

340 Fimi 157.

341 TTT 582.

342 TTT 585.

343 RotK 1185.

344 RotK 1209.

345 TTT 540.

346 FotR 331.

347 RotK 1184.

348 TTT 961.

349 FotR 117, 367, 440.

350 TTT 700.

351 TTT 852.

352 TTT 581.

353 TTT 589: “‘Maggots!’ jeered the Isengarders. ‘You're cooked. The Whiteskins will catch you and eat you. They're coming!’”; name-calling in regards to skin colour is shown by both sides in the war.

354 FotR 421.

355 TTT 598.

356 Shippey, Tom (2000): “Orcs, Wraiths, Wights: Tolkien’s Images of Evil,” in: George Clark and Daniel Timmons (eds.), J.R.R. Tolkien and His Literary Resonances: Views of Middle-Earth. Westport, Greenwood Press, 183-198.

357 Shippey Orcs 185.

358 Shippey Orcs 186.

359 TTT 965.

360 RotK 1185.

361 Shippey Century, 133.

362 TTT 581.

363 Tally, Robert (2010): “Let us Praise now Famous Orcs: Simple Humanity in Tolkien’s Inhuman Creatures.” Mythlore. 29(1), 24.

364 Tally 25.

365 TTT 965.

366 Tally 23.

367 Tally, Robert (2019): “Demonizing the Enemy, Literally: Tolkien, Orcs and the Sense of the World Wars,” in: Rachel McCoppin (ed.), War and Literature: Commiserating with the Enemy. Basel, MDPI, 103.

368 Letters 71.

369 RotK 1389.

370 Letters 153.

371 Fimi 154; Dimitra Fimi has extensively argued how Tolkien contradicts himself in his letters and works regarding the differences between Elves and Men; that both could produce offspring is one linking argument, but otherwise the two races are essentially different - not least because of the Elven immortality!

372 Silmarillion 105.

373 Fimi 154.

374 RotK 993.

375 TTT 616.

376 Morgoths Ring, 418.

377 RotK 1487.

378 Chance, Jane (2001): “Tolkien’s Art: A Mythology for England.” Lexington, Kentucky University Press, 144.

379 Day, David (2019): “A Dictionary of Sources of Tolkien: The History and Mythology that Inspired Tolkien’s World.” Houston, Pyramid.

380 Letters 142.

381 Referring only to The Lord of the Rings; The Silmarillion is heavily focussed on the Elves, for instance.

382 Letters 153.

383 Letters 71.

384 RotK 979.

385 FotR 453.

386 Scheps, Walter (1975): “The Fairy-tale Morality of The Lord of the Rings”, in Jared Lobdell (ed.): A Tolkien Compass, Ballantine Books, New York, 44.

387 Attebery, Brian (1992): “Strategies of Fantasy.” Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 33.

388 Luling, Virgina (1995): “An Anthropologist in Middle-Earth”, in Patricia Reynolds and Glen Goodknight (eds.): Proceedings of the J.R.R. Tolkien Centenary Conference, Mythopoeic Press, Altadena (CA), 56.

389 Fimi 156.

390 Letters 21, 81.

76 of 76 pages


Approaches to Race and Racism in J.R.R.Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings"
University of Trier
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Race, Literatur, Racism, Rassismus, Tolkien, Herr der Ringe, Weltliteratur, Anglistik, Literaturwissenschaft, The Lord of the Rings, Analysis
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Vadim Dolineak (Author), 2020, Approaches to Race and Racism in J.R.R.Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings", Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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