Modern Literary Era And John Tolkien

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J.R.R. Tolkien popularized an entire genre using his wit and intellect, but where did he acquire these brilliant ideas of pure and evil quarreling, war, destruction, and freedom from in his life? Tolkien lived through many wars such as WWI and WWII, so how could he have not left secret meanings tied towards these large influences in his largely popular books. Tolkien uses his own life during World War I, World War I and II history and references to the atomic bomb to show that the Lord Of The Rings is an allusion to World War I and II.

In the Modern Literary Era, the chaos of WWI and WWII had influenced many writers to write stories of nationalism and heroic tales with sometimes tragic endings, and many authors seemed to reference these war times in their novels. First of all, during WWI and WWII Germany was the main instigator and villain whom everyone despised, but, what could have happened if they had not invaded Poland and Belgium and ignored their greed (Germans Invade Poland) (Knighton)? An example of a path that Germany could have decided to take is if they had decided not to test their fate, as this quote from(TOLKIEN 187) depicts. In this scene, Aragorn says “If I had killed...I can save you, I will.” As shown, Aragorn did not take the Ring from Frodo as his ancestor did and was not tempted by its power, showing what might have happened if Germany was not tempted by grander reward and did not invade Poland as they did with Belgium. Secondly, During WWI and WWII Germany made mistakes in their strategy, and one of those was their use of poison gas in 1915 where they completely disregarded the Geneva Protocol (Everts) (Britannica) and in turn were attacked in the same fashion and with this chain reaction brought America into the war and eventually their demise. In Tolkien’s novel, Boromir, during the Council of Elrond, states “I do not understand...forth to victory!” (TOLKIEN 285). In this passage, Boromir is among the Fellowship where he suggests that the ring may be used for their gain but does not realize the horrifying case of friendly fire that will occur while being tempted and seemingly not knowing it. Thirdly during World War I and II, America and Britain slowly brought the axis powers down utilizing joint operations and combined strategy in Europe, although they had strained their relationship they were still amicable. World War I and II are said to show America and Britain’s friendship and solidarity keeping throughout perilous times as said in (Jones 29) “Throughout the all major theatres of the war.” Another relationship that personifies this is the alliance between Rohan and Gondor as they had a tumultuous relationship but ultimately, the two future kings came together and survived through the War of the Ring (Ethan 5) “As for the relationship...disturbing the new age’s peace.”

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In World War I and II, many steps in technology were advanced but some were much more dangerous such as The Atomic Bomb. Firstly, The Atomic Bomb was a very difficult dilemma during its time, with the decision of either dropping the bomb and ending horrid amounts of lives or pushing through Japan piece by piece while possibly killing more in the process “it leads to a quick end… Cold War.” (History Crunch). When Elrond and Isildur were first going to throw the ring into the fire in the Second Year of the Second Age, it could be an allusion to when the Allies could have not used the bomb but it could have made things worse, or when they decided to use it and end the war possibly with fewer casualties “I was the herald…. befallen him.” (TOLKIEN 260-261). This quote could be a reference to the easy and hard way, both Isildur and America took. Isildur didn’t use the ring and it leads to more chaos. The Atomic Bomb took a very extensive amount of time for its creators to make for a very specific reason, it took a very long time for the creators to find a way to create materials that can self destruct. The Atomic bomb is an anomaly and a very interesting one because the engineering and chemical composition of an atomic bomb destroys and recreates Krypton and Barium by splitting apart the engineered 235 Uranium from a supercritical mass to two separate subcritical masses then igniting them with explosive when they hit the ground recreating a supercritical mass. (Ash 1:32-4:42). Which means that the bomb uses itself as a self-destructive method. In the Lord of the Rings, the Ring is only able to be destroyed by the very same flames it was born in. In Tolkien’s novel, the ring is written to only to be able to be destroyed when it is cast into “Orodruin’s fire nigh at hand where it was made” (TOLKIEN 260) while the Atomic Bomb is said to be destroyed if “The mass has to be kept apart so that it is subcritical until ready to be exploded” (Arvin Ash). These quotes show that the ring is an allusion to the atomic bomb because the atomic bomb is an entity born within itself with the destruction of its entire being as well as the Ring.

The Lord Of The Rings is a book that was heavily influenced by Tolkien’s life, as is with most writers but many of his influences come from his time in the war and his relationship with his wife. To begin, Tolkien and his wife were very close and he had maddening respect for her (Sheldon 8) “That summer die in battle.” He has said that his wife was a heavy influence for the pivotal elvish character Luthien and many times in the book it is stated that Arwen, the elvish princess is almost a spitting image of Luthien.

So, therefore, Tolkien is using his life partner as the basis for one of the most influential elves of the year 3014. This point is shown in (Tolkien 243) when Tolkien describes Arwen “So it was that Frodo...Evenstar of her people” and another time he shows a chant describing Luthien on page 208-9 “The leaves were long…In the forest singing sorrowless.” This point is also proven when Tolkien approves the statement itself by saying in paragraph 11 and paragraph 2 of (Sheldon) with the statements of “I never called...Silmarillion” and “It was during this time...1972.”. During the horrifying battle of the Somme, Tolkien learned much about the horrors of war. He described it as “animal horror”(Garth 11). It could be said that his time in the trenches translated to his brilliant battle scene of The Siege of Gondor. In (Tolkien 853), Tolkien states that the orcs were digging trenches along with the defenses of Minas Tirith and this is a large example of his time in trench warfare. Next in (Tolkien 854) he described orcs setting up “great engines for the casting of missiles” which is a perfect description of trench warfare. Also, Tolkien is described by saying that the Rohirrim and Oathbreakers arrive and wipe out the remaining enemy which accurately depicts the heroism of the American heroes who came and aided the fight that the end (Tolkien 87). At many times in the book, Tolkien describes the battle at Minas Tirith as a closed-in space where both sides were holding out in trenches and behind walls.

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