The concept of“return”is considered significant in J.R.R.Tolkien’s The Lord of the
Rings;this paper aims to illuminate the perspective afforded by Tolkien’s personal experiences
with the concept, and to explain its role in his trilogy. Tolkien endured various traumatic
experiences where some of the people closest to him never came back. In his childhood,
Tolkien’s father died in Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State, far away from his homeland of
Britain. During Tolkien’s youth, close friends and numerous fellow soldiers died overseas in
World War I. Because of these experiences, Tolkien seems to have adhered strongly to the
concept of return and/or circulation while writing his work. The Lord of the Rings has a
structure in which many characters return somewhere or other through disappearance or death.
The characters’departures and returns create an image of circulation,which brings to mind the
Ring ― the trilogy’s central theme. Tolkien is as obsessed with circulation as his characters are
with the Ring. Yet,this story’s circulating structure collapses at the final scene,where Frodo and
other characters are willing to choose departure without return. This paper interprets the
collapse as Tolkien’s trial to overcome his emotional shock. By writing this trilogy,Tolkien is
liberated from the traumatic “no return”experience, thus ending the constantly circulating
journey of repeated departures and returns.