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Topic: Do you think Tolkien portrayed or reflected himself in any of the characters in The Hobbit or LOTR?

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Elves of the Third Age - Rank 1
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Date: Aug 2, 2012
Do you think Tolkien portrayed or reflected himself in any of the characters in The Hobbit or LOTR?

I was personally thinking that he may be reflecting himself as either Frodo or Bilbo, because, after all, both of them wrote the "same" books Tolkien did (The Hobbit and LOTR). Would be this an educated guess? What do you Tolkieners think?



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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Date: Aug 4, 2012
I believe Tolkien thought of himself as Gandalf. I think it's in the Letters somewhere, I'll have to look it up. Unless our learned scholar Galin beats me to it! That's the only example I can think of of Tolkien knowingly introducing 'himself' into a character.

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Elves of the Third Age - Rank 1
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Date: Aug 5, 2012

Oh really? I think I will investigate further into those Letters you mention!



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Rohirrim of Edoras - Rank 4
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Date: Mar 23, 2013
I think Tolkien introduced many parts of his personality and a lot of his life experience throughout his writings. He loved the woods and the flowering country side (The Shire), was appalled by man's indifference to the encroachment of "progress" on the growing, natural world, (Sauroman's story) and the Rangers were beset on the front lines of a battle to keep the Shire unblemished and (mostly) undiscovered but the evil of Sauron (Tolkien's own time in the military to protect his beloved country of birth). I think that it is exactly the ribbon of believable hunamity woven through the pages that make Tolkien's works so easy to fall in love with and so easy to find a character to relate to.

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Date: Mar 24, 2013

lomoduin.
I absolutely agree.
Tolkien's biography is filled with warriors, wisemen, and even surrounds himself with fellow writers in sort of a "White Council."
His comments that the world would be a better place if we focused on food and song instead of gold really is a "hobbit" sort of comment.
And in his letters makes a point of comparing himself to a hobbit.
Certainly there is a fascist flavor when he describes the dark forces ... orcs seem like barbaric Nazi storm troopers ... and his respect for his countries government is reflected in his respect for an enlightened monarchy with examples of Elrond, Galadriel, and even Aragorn Elessar.
Your point of an ecological mindset is clear in his description of Mordor, Isengard under Saruman, and the state of the Shire when the four hobbits finally come home.  So many majestic ecological forms appear in his works; the pools at Kheled-zaram, the Mallorn Trees of Lothlorien, the Glittering  Caves at Helm's Deep, Rivendell, the heroic presence of The Eagles ... the list could go on.

So I do agree that Tolkien saw elements of himself in character creations; Gandalf, Sam, Bilbo and Frodo, Eomer and Aragorn, and not just in his male characters ..... you can see he admired the determined fatalism of Eowyn, the wisdom and strength of character in Galadriel,and even a bit of Goldberry Rivers-daughter bringing cheer and comfort through his stories, poems, and songs.

And I support your observation that he was influenced by his times ... from the value of the leaf, from Sam's ecological rescuing  of the Shire with his gift from Galadriel, to destroying  Sauron and Mordor with the "atomic power" of The One Ring's destruction.
Definitely he is a man of his times.

On a more personal note ... it is so nice to see you post on the Forums.  You have been missed here.  And just by reading your recent posts we see the depth of insight and love you have for Tolkien and his works.
Welcome back my friend with a crusher big Bear hug!



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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Date: Aug 15, 2013
As a person who spent most of his time in academies and universities, I really understand the thought about him portraying himself as an old wise man like Gandalf or Saruman, however, I always imagine him as a kind of funny and witty elder person, all the time ready for a quick joke or a nice rhyme - and this is portrayed in protagonists like Merry, Pippin, Sam and Co. After all, a writer puts a part of himself in every character in his novels ...

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Slaves of udun
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Posts: 84
Date: Sep 15, 2013

As with any writing, it cannot be helped but for parts of the author's personality to be written into the characters.  However, Tolkien was adamant that the Lord of the Rings (all of it) was not an allegory. If a character in his mythos represented him - just one character - that would make it allegorical. He expressed some of his beliefs, such as a distaste for industrialization, but I do not believe he imagined himself as one of his characters...based on his own statements.



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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Date: Sep 15, 2013

Teralectus,
What if these elements show up spread around through many characters?
Any and every human has archetypal psychological patterns that are reflected through their various creations.

Tolkien in his life made manifest several archetypes ... the warrior (Boromir, Faramir, Aragorn), father (Gandalf, Denethor, Theoden, Elrond) scholar, magician, and mentor. (Gandalf, Saruman, Galadrial)

And these archetypes go on and on through out all his works (see my previous posts) And they are presented in his works in both positive and "shadow." ... and in his life

And while Tolkien protesting vehemently his work was not allegorical ... which I believe is just not true ... the trenches of World War I vs the Dead Marshes ... the fallen and resurrected wizard vs Christ ... even Tolkien's statement that the world would be a better place if we all loved food, drink, and song more than material gain (sounds like a hobbit to me."

But I defer to your judgement.
Could you explain the allegory/ non-allegory"

Thank you. (good post by the way!)

Bear 



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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Date: Sep 15, 2013
I would like to note that while any Tolkien's self-portrayal in The Hobbit or The LotR is not obvious at all, there is a piece that is quite autobiographic. I am talking of the Lost Road published in the History of Middle-earth vol. V. There is a history professor called Alboin who, from his childhood , 'dreams up' / comes up with new languages, first 'Eressean', then 'Beleriandic'.

Sliding off topic a bit, what I found most important in that piece was how deeply the father-son love and affection were laid out there. Which tells me that (for example) Feanor's neglect of his sons (I cannot call it any other way) was perhaps intentionally shown the way it was, and not because Tolkien wasn't familiar with the matter.

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Lórellinë

Slaves of udun
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Date: Sep 16, 2013

Hey, Bear. You're right - though he did say it's not allegorical, I can see how it unintentionally could be. My thesis point is that I don't think he embodied himself in one single character, if that makes sense.



-- Edited by Teralectus on Monday 16th of September 2013 12:36:54 AM

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Date: Mar 10, 2014

I think he may have seen himself as a mix of the following characters (?)

- Sam - Very common sense, down to earth hobbit. Was satisfied to be a gardener, husband and father.

- Bilbo - A typical, plump, small-town, decent member of the community that went away on an amazing adventure, came back alive, and settles back down to normalcy. however, he always had a bit of the wander-lust pulling him.

- The Gaffer - the wise elder of the village. His word carries great weight amongst his peers and the younger generation. A great story teller that keeps the listener enthralled.

- Gandalf - Mind and wit is very powerful. He's a master of lore and wisdom of loftier things than the Gaffer. Gandalf, like Tolkien, is a man of great power, yet likes to be with "Shirelings" to remind him of simpler times, simpler cares, and simpler pleasures.

 

HOWEVER, I believe that he saw himself more like Beren and his wife as Luthien, as it is written on their tombstones. 



-- Edited by azaghal on Monday 10th of March 2014 03:40:49 AM

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Fought the father of dragons at great cost,

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I Stabbed my knife into Dread Glaurung,

Could be worse, I could be dragon dung.

 

 
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