Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Origin of Orcs

In the Silmarillion it said that Morgoth, who was the master of Sauron way back in the day, created Orcs, also known as goblins, from Elves. Since Morgoth was evil, certain limitations were set upon him, one being that he could not create life. To create minions of his own, he created the Orc race from Elves by corrupting them with his own power. This is why they appear to look like a deformed version of the Elves, because in the beginning of their race they were nothing more than evil elves. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Out of the Shire?

I can't remember if anyone brought this up in class or not, but at the end of chapter 8, Merry talks about the Prancing Pony in Bree. I didn't really notice it until tonight. He says "My people go out there now and again." I was just wondering what everyone else though since we've discussed a lot in class how Hobbits don't really get out of the Shire.

The Silmarillion

If any of you have the time and desire to sift through seemingly hundreds of characters and take notes on a book like you would for a grueling history test, then I highly recommend the Silmarillion. As much as I hate to say it, I can see why they never made it into a movie. What do you think? Did anyone else find it seemingly impossible to follow?

Who Controls the Ring?

Going off of some of the posts I read, and having completed chapters 9-10, I have more questions about the ring. Throughout these chapters, Frodo and the others finally make it to the inn they have been instructed to stay at. While here, Frodo causes some panic and confusion when he 'disappears' in front of the other guests of the inn. Frodo claims that the ring slipped on his finger without his even knowing it.

I believe Rebecca mentioned in a previous note that she questions the power of the ring- whether it is trying to get back to it's owner. My question is, do you think that the ring is gaining more power over Frodo without him knowing it? I mean did the ring actually slip onto this finger without his allowing it to? And if this is true, maybe the panic and confusion was actually caused for the reason that the ring wants people to question Frodo and his friends, so that those hunting for him, might find him quickly.

Or does Frodo use the ring for his own purposes (like disappearing from an embarassing situation like the inn) without even realizing he does so? I have not read the whole trilogy yet, so I'm sure these questions will be answered eventually. But based solely on where we are right now in the book, does anyone have any opinions over who is actually in control of the ring?

Giving up the Ring

Now that Frodo is a Ringbearer that makes him 'special'. Him and Bilbo are now suddenly different than everyone else, but if I am not mistaken shouldn't that translate to a few other characters? Does Tom Bombadil count? He had the ring. Also, if I remember correctly Gandalf took the ring from Frodo earlier in the book, right before he threw it in the fire. Looking back that seems odd to me that he takes it. He could have had Frodo put it in the fire. Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?

On the same token, you can say that Sam should be considered too. I don't know if the book is the same as the movie, but doesn't Sam give up the ring under his own accord just like Bilbo? Earlier Gandalf is talking about Bilbo and he says, "For he gave it up in the end of his own accord: a very important point." Gandalf and Tom do the same. What are your thoughts?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Tom Bombadil

Is this guy quite possibly the weirdest character in the book or what? Somehow, he knows everything and is everywhere. He skipps around the forest singing about the color of his boots and taking a bath. He is married to a super hot elf and has mysterious magical powers. Frodo calls him "Master". Then for some crazy reason, Frodo gives him the ring. Does anyone else find this odd? The character of Tom Bombadil kind of reminds me of a Father of Time character. From what Tom has said, it seems like he could be very, very, old. What do you think?

Saturday, January 26, 2008


It just amazes me how Frodo and friends can be so trusting so quickly and easily....maybe it is the food that drives them. ;) I just read chapter seven, and how quickly they trusted Tom. I am curious as to how this develops. Nonetheless, I can't help but do the "No!! Don't do that!!"reaction as though watching a movie and the 'dun-dun-dun' foreboding music plays. Anybody else just waiting for their trust to get them into deep trouble?

Friday, January 25, 2008

LOTR & Industry

I was interested in what all of you thought about the portrayal of industry in the books. I realize that we have not made it very far in the trillogy yet, but maybe some who have read it before can comment and others add later.

To me it seems that the two societies that Tolkien paints in the best light are Hobbits and Elves. Both are primarily focused on natural things. The evil forces, Sauron, Sauiman, etc... seem to be goal oriented and will expliot nature to further thier goals.

The character I find most interesting is Tom Bombadil, although there is little explanation about his origens or purpose. If not for him the whole quest would have ended abruptly 30 minutes outside the shire.

Any thought on this, or information on the Bombadil character?

Lord of the Rings song and video

Here is a link to the song "Lord of the Rings," by the german progressive metal band Blind Guardian. I thought most of you would enjoy this.

Blind Guardian also has an album entitled "Nightfall in Middle Earth," which is based off of The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Here is another video entitled "They're taking the Hobbits to Isengard." This is actually very amusing!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Lord of the Rings Family

So I know this is a little off, but I just thought someone would get a kick out of this. I have grown up always knowing about the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit through my Dad. He was very much into Dungeons and Dragons, which I'm not sure if anyone else here is. He was so into it that we had two cats named Bilbo and Baggins. I never knew what the significance was of these names until I read the books in middle school. Anyone else have any strange things like this?

The Power of the Ring

I am brand new to The Lord Of The Rings and I'm still a little bit confused, but what makes the significant power of this ring so evil? Can someone help me out?


I enjoyed reading about the friends collecting information and planning on helping Frodo no matter the ending result. First of all, I was surprised that they were each able to keep it a secret given how chatty and gossip-friendly hobbits appear to be. Of course, they were able to talk amongst themselves, but the entire situation shows a deep relationship among the friends. "Family by choice even though not by blood." There is something about this whole plan and especially the sacrifice that I think our society misses; a feature of deep selflessness that is very atypical. What do you think?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Off topic, but fun...

I know many of you are well versed in the Middle Earth mythos. For those of you not yet hung up on the immediate satisfaction of xbox look into I was a skeptic for a while, but it is a fun stratagy game that follows the books.

Steve Backhus


Today in class there was a conversation about common sense. My question is what are your feelings about the phase: "the smarter you are the less common sense you have."?

Freud-o Baggins?

Tolkien uses the 'divided self' theme many times in Lord of the Rings- and example when Frodo finds himself torn between 'perhaps I shall cross the River myself one day' to which the other half of his mind: 'not yet.' (ch.2) As the ring takes a stronger role in the story, notice how it acts as a wedge further dividing virtue from desire (personified in Gollum/Smeagol). Find any other examples of 'divided self'? Or how is Tolkien advising us to handle that Id on our shoulder?

"Frodo, Don't Wear the Ring" Music Video

Here's a link to the video for "Frodo, Don't Wear the Ring" by New Zealand musicomedians Flight of the Conchords. Not exactly the funniest thing they've ever done, but still enjoyable. It gets funnier toward the end.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tolkien's Military Career

I found this link to National Geographic about Tolkien's involvement in World War I and how it relates to The Lord of the Rings.

Reaping the Benefits of Roleplaying

From what we have read so far about hobbits, humans, elves and dwarfs (although we do not know too much about dwarfs), which race would you be?

I am curious because I think each race has unique characteristics that set them apart from each other, and since it would be hard to get to know all 7oish of you, this would be a fun way to associate a characteristic with a person and in the process, get to know everyone!

I would be an elf because I am rather clumsy, and with elf-grace, I would never embarrass myself! Also, I am a Sagittarius, and we are known for our arching ability, so I think this would be my natural choice.

Your turn!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Feudalism and Society in Middle Earth

In the middle ages society was organized into a strict hierarchy consisting of kings, clergy, nobles, vassals, and peasants. These classes were tied to one another in some manner in order for each to sustain themselves. The medieval ethos was that of loyalty and privilege. A medieval person viewed this social structure as honorable and by today's standards would not view themselves as inferior (in the modern sense) for belonging to a lower class. In the eighth century a system known as vassalage rose out of the Carolingian Empire, which consisted of vassals, or "faithful men," who were tied by a sacred oath to a local lord or noble. This was instituted to organize regional districts by creating loyal men who were ultimately tied to the king. In 768, Charlemagne became the king of the Franks (a people who resided in modern day France and Germany) and created a very sucessful vassalage system known as the "missi dominici," or "agents of the Lord." The vassal would swear fealty, or loyalty and honor, to a man of higher status. In turn, the lord or noble would provide the vassal with what he needed. In J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy, the relationship that Frodo and Sam have to me clearly reflects the medieval feudalistic system of vassalage. Sam takes to his duty as Frodo's gardener with honor and a sense of privilege. Sam never has a problem with being "under" Frodo. In our modern society, we seem to be immersed in rugged individualism, whereas in Medieval Europe feudalism tied people together by necessity; and at times it created a strong sense of community. The Shire appears to reflect the typical social structure in the middle ages. Other political systems in Middle Earth like Rohan and Gondor to me represent the epitomy of feudalism.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Hobbit Feet

One of the most noticeable features of the Hobbits is their bare feet. I think Tolkien chose to do this as a way to show their innocence. We mentioned in class about how child-like the Hobbits are the lack of shoes remind me of how kids will tend to walk around without them as well. Does anyone have any other theories on why Tolkien chose to have the Hobbits not to wear shoes?

Lord of the Rhymes and Ballad of Bilbo Baggins

Here's a video of Leonard Nimoy that's just wierd.

Lord of the Rhymes is hilarious, but they also drop the "F"bomb... A LOT.


I've got a bit of a bone to pick with Tolkien...

He writes this beautiful, epic, amazingly intricate world full of detail and hidden treasures and past histories that the devoted reader can enjoy. He creates hundreds of characters, major and minor, each with their own personalities and quirks.

Then he gives the two villains of the books practically the same name! Argh!! I always have so much trouble keeping them apart.


Why couldn't it be Al and Zebadiah?

-Kelly Huber

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Maps for the trilogy

During a class it was mentioned that people have actually made maps for the setting of Tolkien’s work. After a quick search on Google for Lord of the Rings map I found two websites that have multiple maps. I am assuming that they are accurate, as I have not read the trilogy before. They are and I hope that they will help others in the class when they are reading to keep track of the different locations, as they will me, when I will eventually get lost.

Friday, January 18, 2008


I was thinking about the discussion about Gods in Lord of the Rings in class on Wednesday and came across the passage about Elbereth or Gilthoniel when Frodo encounters the high elves. If anyone out there has read The Silmarillion also by Tolkien, there is a mentioning that the world was created, more or less, by Gods, and that Elbereth is the star queen, or God. Just thought I would try to shed some light on the issue. I don't know if you would really consider them Gods though or if they would be more like demi-Gods...

Tolkien and Culture

In the third chapter of fellowship of the ring, Frodo and company first encounter the legendary Elves. I find it interesting that Gildor comments that Hobbits are dull folk, yet he began to take an interest once Frodo was able to speak their language. Could the Elves' perception of Hobbits be due to the strict isolationist society in which they live? It seems as though this first transaction between the two very different cultures and the process by which they relate to one another reflects Tolkien's desire to promote transcultural integration and harmony.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Race, Ecology, and Middle Earth

For anyone interested, I've posted a link to Niels Werber's article "Geo- and Biopolitics in Middle-Earth" under 'External Links' on our Blackboard site (I would have included a link here; however, access to the article via Project Muse requires that we go through an SIUE portal).

It's a thought-provoking article about racial and ecological discourse in Lord of the Rings in the context of mid-twentieth century Nazi rhetoric concerning race and environment.

Have a read through and share your thoughts once you get blogging!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Day 1 Welcome

Hello All!

Welcome to IS-399 "The Lord of the Rings and Medieval Heroic Poetry"

This Blog will be a forum for discussion of all things Tolkien for the class. Please feel free to continue class discussions on this Blog or start new discussions! Share your thoughts with the class and make your voice heard!