Racial Issues in Middle-Earth : A Postcolonial Perspective on J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings

University essay from Karlstads universitet/Institutionen för språk, litteratur och interkultur

Abstract: This essay focuses on J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, how the different races in the text are portrayed and how they interact with each other. The essay uses postcolonial theories, mainly “Orientalism” and “Otherness”, to prove traces of racism in the text. It focuses on the text and what can be found in the characters opinions of each other. The aim of this essay is to prove that in The Lord of the Rings there is an underlying story of racial issues between the different races of Middle-Earth and that these issues can be described as racism.  The colonial themes of the text can mostly be found in the geographical descriptions, the colour of skin and the stereotypical descriptions of different races within the text. The stereotypical descriptions are probably sprung from the fact that J.R.R Tolkien grew up towards the end of the big Imperialist era of 19th century Europe and the similarities and descriptions of foreign cultures existing in the real world can be traced throughout the text.  The Lord of the Rings contains themes with racial issues and this can be described as racism, even though it is not possible to say that The Lord of the Rings is a racist text as whole.

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