• In the Land of Mordor Where the Shadows Lie: Good, Evil and the Quest in Tolkien's Middle Earth

    Gavin Holman (see profile)
    English literature, Fantasy literature, Twentieth century
    Item Type:
    Leeds Becket University
    Tolkein, 20th-century fantastic literature
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    The land of Middle Earth, which is the setting for Tolkien's major mythic works, is one which has been created from the best of traditional sources. Tolkien was a famed expert on the literature and language of the early medieval and dark ages. His researches and writings in Anglo-Saxon and Northern lore gave him a unique insight into the meanings of myth throughout the ages. When he came to form the mythology of Middle Earth he built into it all the aspects that made such literature popular for all time. He also included many further subjects and points that had been missing from earlier tales, or merely hinted at. The result is a complete history, cultural, geographical, religious and mythic. In all chronicles of this kind there is an attempt to describe or explain the current state of affairs. In Middle Earth this state is not a pleasant one, and its origins go back to the beginnings of sentient life in that realm. The world is divided between the Dark powers and those who strive for Light. While it can be said that any world would be composed of good and evil parts, in Middle Earth the situation in contemporary times is balancing on a knife-edge. The evil forces are immeasurably more dangerous than those in existing literature, and those powers must be countered somehow to restore Middle Earth to normality. If one can explain the imperfect state of Man through comparison with the description of an elemental clash between the forces of good and evil, then the mythic tale which does can be said to have succeeded. Good and evil in Middle Earth are established as facts by Tolkien and he uses the classic method of resolving the differences between them - the quest. This device not only shows up good to the best, but also provides a way of countering the evil.
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    4 years ago
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