As the human race enters the 21st Century, we constantly strive towards the goal of equality for all, despite such factors as race, skin colour, religion, wealth or geographical location. However, these factors throughout the last two millenium have helped us shape the structure of society to the extent that we now think of and classify people in terms of lower, middle and upper class. This weekend, the Hall of Fire crew are discussing if and to what extent racial stereotypes and class structure existed in Tolkien’s Middle-earth.
Tolkien’s work has also come under some criticism in recent times due to the pre-construed ideas about certain cultural issues which have changed radically since the time it was written, for example the lack of empowerment women have in Middle-earth. Similarly, notions of what is more acceptable in relation to race and class have also changed since the 1950s and this becomes evident when reading through Tolkien’s literature and coming across some concepts which may be dubbed antiquated in today’s society.
For example, during the thousands of years of history of Middle-earth, it is the “swarthy” men of the East and west who remain the bad guys who more easily fall under the sway of Sauron. Clearly, being swarthy, short and squinty-eyed isn’t a mark of beauty, either. Sauron, meanwhile, is said to have jet-black skin.
And what about class status? Is Aragorn is the right heir to the throne of Kings, because the author seems to hold to class, or caste, beliefs? Then there is Samwise (half-wise in Old English), who remains firm in his belief that his lot in life is to serve others.
This weekend, we hope you come visit one of our two discussion times to debate this fantastic topic (thought up by HoF staffers Frode and Saint) which is open to many an interpratation.
Apr 13 & 14: LotR, Stereotypes & Racial Class
Apr 20 & 21: The Two Towers – The Motion Picture
Apr 20 & 21: Literary Merits of LotR
#thehalloffire on theonering.net server; come to theonering.nets chat room Barliman’s and then type /join #thehalloffire .
Saturday Chat: 5:30 pm ET (17:30) [also 11:30 pm (23:30) CET and 7:30 am Sunday (07:30) AET]
Sunday Chat: 7:00 pm (19:00) CET [also 1:00 pm (13:00) ET and 4:00 am (04:00) Monday morning AET]
ET = Eastern Time, USAs East Coast
CET = Central European Time, Central Europe
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