Depictions of race : self and other in Tolkien's and Jackson's Lord of the Rings / by Jonathan Epp.
Epp, Jonathan Aaron P.
SubjectLord of the Rings films
Racism in motion pictures
Racism in literature
Lord of the rings (novel trilogy)
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The war between darkness and light depicted in J. R. R. Tolkien’s famous fantasy. The Lord of the Rings, is the subject of much debate and interpretation. At a first reading, Tolkien’s story can be mistaken as following a traditional and predictable template of good versus evil. In this thesis, I challenge this binary reading. I use a postcolonial lens to illustrate the complexities within this work that provide characters on both sides of the conflict with opportunity for redemption and warning against corruption in a complex ideology that defies a narrow interpretation. I also argue that Peter Jackson’s cinematic adaptation of The Lord of the Rings overlooks these complexities to portray a simplistic battle between light and dark that racially stereotypes white as good and black as evil. In this reading I follow the Hobbits through the shadows of Otherness on a developmental journey and coming of age. I discuss the hybridity, ambivalence and alterity of various characters as they are drawn into the conflict. In particular, I discuss the role played by Gollum, a hybrid figure who belongs to the world of light as well as the world of darkness, and his influence upon his Hobbit companions. I point out the complex relationships that develop as the young Hobbits appropriate the military tactics of the Other to be used for their own purposes. I then suggest that in Jackson’s cinematic adaptation of Tolkien’s text, the focus of the narrative is shifted away from the complex Hobbit journey to highlight the war itself and that the visual adaptation promotes a racial identification of darkness to evil paralleling, in many ways, the war-on-terror.