Departmental Bulletin Paper Liberation from Circulation : The Lord of the Rings and the Vanquishing of Tolkien's Agony

Ichinose, Shimpei

11pp.67 - 74 , 2016-03 , 北海道大学文学研究科
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.

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