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Racial Issues in Middle-Earth: A Postcolonial Perspective on J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (professional degree), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Rasproblem i Midgård : Ett Postkolonialistiskt Perspektiv på J.R.R Tolkiens Sagan om Ringen (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

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.

Abstract [sv]

Uppsatsen analyserar Sagan om Ringen av J.R.R Tolkien. Den visar på hur olika raser är beskrivna i texten och hur dessa grupper interagerar med varandra. Uppsatsen använder sig av Postcoloniala teorier, i huvudsak Orientalism och de andra för att visa på rasistiska spår i texten. Uppsatsen behandlar texten och undersöker karaktärernas åsikter om varandra. Målet med uppsatsen är att visa att Sagan om ringen har underligande rasistiska strömningar mellan de olika raserna i Midgård. Det koloniala temat i texten ses tydligast i de geografiska beskrivningarna, hudfärg på karaktärer och de steriotypa beskrivnnignarna av olika grupper i verket. De steriotypa beskrivnnigarna kommer troligtvis ifrån Tolkiens egen uppväxt i det imperialistiska Storbritanien under slutet av 1800-talet då tidstypiska beskrivingar från denna era kan skönjas i texten som helhet. Sagan om ringen innehåller flera rasistiska partier men det är inte möjligt att beskriva hela verket som rasistiskt.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 18 p.
Keyword [en]
Tolkien, Middle-Earth, The Lord of the Rings, Racism
Keyword [sv]
Tolkien, Midgård, Sagan om ringen, Rasism
National Category
Specific Literatures Specific Languages
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-39844OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-39844DiVA: diva2:901700
Subject / course
English
Educational program
Teacher education
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2016-02-09 Created: 2016-02-08 Last updated: 2016-02-09Bibliographically approved

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