Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/11540
The theme of friendship in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings
There are numerous interesting factors to be explored in J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings. One of these interesting factors is the theme of friendship, which is an important underlying theme throughout the books. In order to explore the theme, it is vital to examine what characteristics different friendships have in common in Tolkien’s books. Tolkien himself seems to have valued friendship very highly, and there are certain elements which he seems to have emphasised as important factors in such relationships throughout his life. Thus by comparing Tolkien’s own views regarding friendship to the relationships in the books these factors are revealed.
All of Tolkien’s friendships in The Lord of the Rings are grounded in honesty, loyalty and mutual respect, but are also quite diverse and complicated. Therefore it is important to consider how these friendships relate to male-bonding and homoeroticism, master-servant relationships and the shared quest. Firstly, Tolkien’s past seems to have influenced the friendships in his books, as there are definitely some similarities between relationships and incidents in Tolkien’s life, and certain scenarios in the books. Secondly, as critics have sometimes been apt to interpret relationships in The Lord of the Rings in homoerotic ways, it is interesting to examine their arguments and the possible explanations for intimate behaviour, made by other critics. Thirdly, some master-servant relationships in the books are extraordinary and involve friendship based on loyalty and mutual respect. Finally, there are examples of relationships in the books, such as Gimli and Legolas’ relationship, that seem to fit almost perfectly to C.S. Lewis’ description of friendship in The Four Loves, as the members become friends through their shared quest.
All the main friendships in the books, no matter how diverse and complicated they are, share the fact that they are based on love, loyalty and mutual respect. Therefore the theme of friendship in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is quite interesting to explore in relation to these elements.