Tolkien also had three other children, Michael, Christopher, and Priscilla ("The Tolkien Trail"). After the war, Tolkien became a university professor. His first job was at the University of Leeds. Later, he taught at Oxford. According to "The Tolkien Trail, "Tolkien retired from Oxford in 1969. Tolkien and his wife then moved to Bournemouth. On November 22, 1971, Edith died... Tolkien died on September 2, 1973." sample of Tolkien's work is the following paragraph from the Fellowship of the Ring:
When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.Bilbo was very rich and very peculiar, and had been the wonder of the Shire for sixty years, ever since his remarkable disappearance and unexpected return. The riches he had brought back from his travels had now become a local legend, and it was popularly believed, whatever the old folk might say, that the Hill at Bag End was full of tunnels stuffed with treasure. And if that was not enough for fame, there was also his prolonged vigour to marvel at. Time wore on, but it seemed to have little effect on Mr. Baggins. At ninety he was much the same as at fifty. At ninety-nine they began to call him well-preserved; but unchanged would have been nearer the mark. There were some that shook their heads and thought this was too much of a good thing; it seemed unfair that anyone should possess (apparently) perpetual youth as well as (reputedly) inexhaustible wealth.'it will have to be paid for,' they said. 'It isn't natural, and trouble will come of it!'"
This passage is from the beginning of the first part of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
Even in this first paragraph, it is clear that Bilbo, whoever he is (we are not sure yet), is not real (since no one real turns eleventy-one), and therefore, a fantasy character. "Tunnels stuffed with treasure" is another phrase that seems fantastical. Bilbo is therefore symbolic of something beyond himself. There is also reference to his journey, which could be real or allegorical, and it, as it turns out, both of these, as is Frodo and Sam's later journey. The warning that "It will have to be paid for... " serves as foreshadowing of events to come. All in all, one can tell, even from a brief passage like this, that J.R.R. Tolkien's writing style is very interesting, and the characters and situations he describes, intriguing. Even though what he is describing clearly is not real, the characters and setting are close enough to real that we can imagine them. This also adds to (and makes possible) the allegorical nature of Tolkien's work.
Over the years, much literary criticism, and various book reviews, academic critiques, and other analysis has been offered in the Fellowship of the Ring, including the views of two critics presented here. According to Katharine Crabbe, for example:.".. although the theme of "The Lord of the Rings," like that of "The Hobbit," is the unending struggle of good and evil, in the later work Tolkien has managed to make that basic dialectical struggle complex and interesting by daring to entertain the idea that a range of goods as well as a range of evils is possible in the world." (Crabbe 67). As Crabbe further notes, "The first difference one notes in moving from "The Hobbit" to "The Lord of the Rings" is the tone" (68). As C.S. Lewis further states: "The... excellence is that no individual, and no species, seems to exist only for the sake of the plot. All exist in their own right and would have been worth creating for their mere flavor even if they had been irrelevant." (Qtd. In Isaacs and Zimbardo 14). Further, as Raffel states:
Taking allegory in its very loosest sense, I think the Lord of the Rings is indisputably allegorical. I do not mean that Frodo, or even Gandalf (as we first meet him), is a symbolic representation of Good - though surely the Nazgul, not to mention the Lord of Mordor, are symbols of Evil. Nor do I mean that Frodo's journey is a neat representation of, say the kind of journey undertaken by Niggle. Rather, so much Faith underlies the trilogy, so much strong feeling about the world (the so-called real world, as Tolkien might say), that representational elements are unavoidable: this is, again, a 'good and evil story. (Qtd. In Isaacs and Zimbardo 14).
I agree with each of these critics, that the Fellowship of the Ring has deep allegorical and symbolic significance, and moral significance for real life, beyond its literal meaning and entertainment value.
In conclusion, I learned a great deal from completing this research project about the author J.R.R. Tolkien. In addition to learning about his life, I have learned to appreciate his writing, even more than before. I have always loved Tolkien's stories, but I am now more aware of them as allegories, and can more easily spot important symbols within them. I enjoyed the process of learning about these elements of Tolkien's work. I also enjoyed learning more about his life, and was especially inspired that he made so much of his life, and such a positive contribution, especially for young people, after losing his own parents so early. This made me think about how Tolkien probably did not have much of an opportunity to enjoy a normal, carefree childhood, yet through his writings, he has nevertheless enriched so many other people's childhoods (and adulthoods). I also enjoyed my library research on Tolkien critics, and learned more about looking up literary criticism in the library. Finally, I enjoyed and learned from my various online investigations of Tolkien and his work. This showed me that there really is a lot of great literary information on the internet. One simply has to take the time, and have the determination, to sift through and find it. Overall, I enjoyed this project very much, and feel that I learned a lot from it. I also feel very inspired by Tolkien, his work, and his positive message.
Crabbe, Katharyn W.J.R.R. Tolkien. The Continuum Publishing Company. New York:
Doughan, David. "Why was Tolkien?" The Tolkien Society.
Retrieved May 10, 2005, from: http://www.tolkiensociety.org/tolkien/biography.html.
Isaacs, Neil D., and Rose a. Zimbardo. Tolkien and the Critics.
Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1968.
Q&a with Clay Harper, Tolkien Projects Director, Houghton Mifflin Company."
Retrieved May 10, 2005, from: http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/features/lordoftheringstrilogy/movie/qa_clay.shtml
The Tolkien Trail." Retrieved May 10, 2005, at http://www.tolkientrail.com/tolkienbio.shtml.