J.R.R. Tolkien’s Early Years – The Lord of the Rings Backed with Cornerstones

J.R.R. Tolkien's early years




Everyone with even a slight interest in the man behind The Lord of the Rings knows J.R.R. Tolkien became, and remained, a devout Catholic all his life. Don and Author, J.R.R. Tolkien’s early years provide hints as to why he took this scholarly and literary path in life. As to his success in these pursuits, little need be said.

The third book I’ve picked up, to learn more about this great Christian Author, is Humphrey Carpenter’s biography on J.R.R. Tolkien. More questions arose in my mind about the literary giant’s parents, and how their behaviors and decisions influenced J.R.R. Tolkien for the long term. I will detail the most obvious influences, as much for my benefit, as for any young person who has yet to learn about the Most Influential Fantasy Author of this age.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Early Years – Why Hobbits Enjoy English Countrysides




Soon after young J.R.R. Tolkien turned four-years-old, his father passed away from rheumatic fever. Therefore, his mother, Mabel Tolkien, was forced to take charge for her two sons, Ronald (as J.R.R. Tolkien was then called) and Hilary. After many months of staying with her family, Mabel finally found an affordable spot in Sarhole, the English countryside.

Author Humphrey Carpenter emphasized the strong impact this move made on J.R.R. Tolkien and his imagination. He went on to describe how young Tolkien and his younger brother would trespass on their neighbors properties, including local farms. Memories from these times must have influenced J.R.R. Tolkien in writing The Fellowship of the Ring. Or, at the very least, it influenced the film makers. Merely consider how Merry Brandybuck and Pippin Took joined Frodo and Sam, as they travelled to Rivendell, from the following quote:

An old farmer who once chased Ronald for picking mushrooms was given the nickname ‘the Black Ogre’ by the boys.
~ Humphrey Carpenter, as found in J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Early Years – How Middle Earth’s Languages Were Born




Ever since Mabel first began to teach her sons, Ronald showed an enthusiastic interest in linguistics. Enthusiasm, and to emphasize an obvious point, GREAT aptitude. Word meanings, as well as word sounds, fascinated Ronald. And he brought this fascination with him to King Edward’s School, where he added on to his Latin, French, and English language skills.

To connect this with The Lord of the Rings requires no effort at all. Everyone who has read the books, and/or seen Peter Jackson’s movies, knows about the Elvish language. The language that J.R.R. Tolkien created himself. And, as I recently learned in my studies about the man, the Elvish language was only one of many. One of 14, was it? I will find out for certain later.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Early Years –  Why The Lord of the Rings Contains Many Christian Values




In my last article about The Lord of the Rings, many readers made the assumption that I assumed Tolkien’s great work lacked in Christian principle and meaning. This is false, for I have read and heard the Holy Bible many times, and I have a fair understanding about what the Christian values are (though, Christian values in regards to Catholicism, and all the meaning behind it, I am completely ignorant of). And, having read both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, I can see where the values and principles apply.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s early years ended up containing much family drama, especially in regards to religion and death. Mabel Tolkien and her sister, May Incledon, both decided to become Catholic and receive instruction, around the time Ronald entered his school years. The predominantly Baptist Tolkien relations, and Mabel’s Unitarian father, were outraged. And much funding that Mabel relied on was suddenly cut.

Suffering both from financial hardships and diabetes, Mabel crossed over to be at peace with Our Father in Heaven in year 1904. She left Ronald and Hilary orphaned at the tender ages of 12 and 10. Thus, her passing solidified J.R.R. Tolkien’s love for linguistics and Catholicism, and his love for her and all she did for her children.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Early Years – In Summary




I pray that I have done J.R.R. Tolkien justice, based on what I have written so far. I intend to learn a great man’s mind, and attempt to share what I learn with my peers. My apologies for upsetting many readers with my previous article. It surely was close-minded and presumptive.

Humphrey Carpenter has so far written plainly and comprehensively on J.R.R. Tolkien’s early years, and I can’t wait to read more! I see where humanity’s fallen nature affected the Tolkien family, but what more can we expect from people who walked the earth? I shall not cast the first stone, for I am not without sin.

Title picture as seen in Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring, found at Movie Screencaps.com.



Origins Behind Tolkien’s Fantasy Lay Within Myth and an Avid Imagination

origins behind tolkien's fantasy




Please forgive me for the last anecdotal article, as some Facebook Group individual has labeled it. And, allow me to mention some very enlightening information, provided to me from a different Facebook Group individual. An individual with far more advanced research on my blog’s present topic.

The material comes straight from J.R.R. Tolkien. Though the Inkling author wrote this material for over half-a-century, he never finished it. However, thanks to his son, Christopher Tolkien, we can read some about Tolkien’s symbolism as found in his posthumously published work, The Silmarillion.

Origins Behind Tolkien’s Fantasy: What I Expected




What I expected, really, is irrelevant. For, it merely seemed like an extensively thought-out history of a boy’s imagined fairy-land and people. And, it is. But there is so much more!

Contained within The Silmarillion‘s preface, a letter from J.R.R. Tolkien to Milton Waldman in 1951, there exist the admitted origins behind Tolkien’s Fantasy. And they are not what the average run-of-the-mill Christian is led to believe. Below, I provided two quotes that indicate something surprising about J.R.R. Tolkien and his lifelong work. Something he would later regret, and come to change.

Origins Behind Tolkien’s Fantasy:  Written to Trick and Mislead



On the side of mere narrative device, this is, of course, meant to provide beings of the same order of beauty, power, and majesty as the ‘gods’ of higher mythology, which can yet be accepted – well, shall we say baldly, by a mind that believes in the Blessed Trinity.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion

Does this written sentence sound devious to anyone other than me? If objects like romanced monsters, like Frankenstein’s monster, were looked down upon as poor literature, then writing about mythological gods definitely would have been considered in a poor light. Did J.R.R. Tolkien understand this when it came to publishing his childhood fantasies?

As far as I have heard, people throughout all the Christian first-world countries began to neglect their Christian backgrounds after the World Wars, especially WWII. And, if people neglected their upbringing in Christian beliefs, then Faith in “the Blessed Trinity” would diminish also. Though I will refrain from discussing it here, I have read some into J.R.R. Tolkien’s love and religious life. How much emotional trauma did he endure to suffer in the trials of his Faith? To seemingly merely appease the Christians in his life?

Origins Behind Tolkien’s Fantasy:  Something Like Sacrilege in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Letter



Of course there was and is all the Arthurian world, but powerful as it is, it is imperfectly naturalized, associated with the soil of Britain but not with English; and does not replace what I felt to be missing. For one thing its ‘faerie’ is too lavish, and fantastical, incoherent and repetitive. For another and more important thing: it is involved in, and explicitly contains the Christian religion.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion

The writer goes on to speak about how modern authors, in writing about allegory and mythology, should avoid ‘real’ modern-day symbology. He even explicitly emphasized to refrain from referring to the Christian religion. Though, pre-Christian, pagan day symbology was perfectly acceptable. Consequentially he used much Norse mythology, linguistic inspiration, and more content from age-old religions.

Outrageous! To thus criticize those who openly share their faith through their writing seems morally wrong to me. And, since Tolkien’s good friend, C.S. Lewis, wrote about what a popular YouTube video called his Jesus Lion in Narnia, then the rift between the most beloved Inkling members is perfectly understood! Whoa, there, calm down, Mary. Tolkien had his fallacies just like everyone else.

Origins Behind Tolkien’s Fantasy:  The Summarization




So, in reading the preface to The Silmarillion, I have learned that J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t base everything in Middle Earth on the Faith and Belief in Christianity. While he may have sought to include more on One True God and His righteousness into his fantasy in later years, the origins behind Tolkien’s fantasy lay in paganism.

Conclusively – oh! One thing more! According to Tolkien in his note to his friend, the Elves more closely resembled the angels. Not necessarily the angels as heard about in the Holy Bible, but angels of Tolkien’s variety. And if Gandalf was an “incarnate angel,” then he served the mythological gods, and not the “‘real’ world” Christian God.

Please don’t come away from this blog post with the impression that our beloved J.R.R. Tolkien now exists in the underworld. I believe he’s finally at peace with our Lord and Savior in Heaven, but it proves an excellent point: We see what we want to see.

Tolkien’s genius still fools some of us simpletons, especially me! But, then again, was God working through Tolkien, to speak to an ever-growing Atheist world about the beauty in the Christian walk? It is said J.R.R. Tolkien believed it to be so, and he proudly carried the torch onward in later years.

Title picture as seen in Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring, found at Movie Screencaps.com.



* A large Thank You belongs to those who are continuing to teach me on Tolkien’s inspirations. And I, as the writer, beg for the reader’s patience as I learn about Tolkien’s great worth as both a Christian and an Author.

Symbolism Behind Gandalf: The Debate About Wizards and Angels

Symbolism behind Gandalf

Symbolism Behind Gandalf: The Background




English 101, a requirement for this particular religious university. An attractive female professor taught the class, barely older than her students, and a complete fantasy nerd. What does she give for her students to research and debate about? Either The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, asking which contains stronger meaning and symbolism.

Students were required to make a five minute speech about their chosen topic, and answer any questions which their fellow students had about their speech.

Symbolism Behind Gandalf: The Set-Up




First day of speech and debate, and a teenager, as sweet and shy as she was tall and lanky, took stage. She influenced nobody. Her audience, whether action-driven The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) fans or geeky, wanna-be-a-wizard Harry Potter fans, already had their minds set. And she was too hesitant and receding to sway anyone.

What did she argue? According to her research, and according to her religious parents and teachers from her high school years, LOTR far outdid Harry Potter in everything good and right. The Boy Who Lived dealt in nothing good, for it developed from Wicca.

Symbolism Behind Gandalf: The Question




I could hardly stomach her judgment on Harry Potter. To say something to bring her down felt like a necessity, not a personal inclination. So, being the even-more hesitant and shy Harry Potter nerd, I posed her the one question that I could think of as a flaw in her argument:

“If anything with wizards and magic is so distasteful and disreputed, then why did J.R.R. Tolkien include wizards in his Middle Earth?” The hesitance in my voice didn’t match the swelling anger in my heart, and I waited with bated breath.

Symbolism Behind Gandalf: The Answer




Miss Tall and Lanky seemed afraid when I raised my hand. But, when she heard my question, some confidence filled her person. Effusing sweetness and gentleness, she answered:

“J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t write in the wizards to represent magic and witchcraft. The wizards actually symbolized God’s angels. Does that make sense?”

Symbolism Behind Gandalf: The Reality




At the time, I merely mumbled in agreeable understanding, seething in my heart at having failed to defend Harry Potter. But now, having finished the Harry Potter series, and having set it aside for several years, my interest in the Inklings  and their works piqued. C.S. Lewis might have started me in studying theology, but J.R.R. Tolkien and his symbolism now appears in a new light to me.

Miss Tall and Lanky had argued a beautifully true and honest point, regarding J.R.R. Tolkien and his use of symbolism. Her faith at that age allowed her to see it, whereas at that age I was still lost and unable to see. But, please don’t just take my word for it. Let’s look at how Gandalf spoke and behaved within the first two chapters in The Fellowship of the Ring.

 Symbolism Behind Gandalf: The Strong, Yet Subtle, Meaning




Take the small speech from Gandalf, as he tried to comfort Frodo about holding the One Ring. It’s meaning struck me as plainly as a child throwing her toy at me. But J.R.R. Tolkien explained it in better words in The Fellowship of the Ring:

‘Behind that there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker. I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought.’

Gandalf spoke the above words to Frodo, as Frodo lamented over having hold on the most dangerous thing imaginable. The indication of a stronger, more powerful force is now clear to me, as it had been clear to the other student all those years ago. And its subtlety, based on the alludence to naming the good force, more clearly indicates something real in J.R.R. Tolkien’s world, such as his belief in the holiness in Christ Jesus and His power over all things.

Symbolism Behind Gandalf: The Final Conclusion




Gandalf seemed to represent God’s angels in other ways in these first chapters of The Fellowship of the Ring.  His watching over Frodo’s well-being represents guardianship. His roaming Middle Earth to help find answers to present oddities much represented to me how God’s angels roam the earth to help humanity fight the evil forces. And more examples will appear later in the series showing the symbolism behind Gandalf.

Ultimately, the other student was mostly right in her argument, at least in regards to the symbolism in The Lord of the Rings. Seeing as she had never read Harry Potter, she remained in the dark to that series’s great qualities. But, as my readers and I go through J.R.R. Tolkien’s most popular series, I hope to be able to learn and share more about the hidden meaning behind the text.

Title picture as seen in Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring, found at Movie Screencaps.com.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbits Resembled Men in Decades Past

Tolkien's Hobbits resembled men in decades past




Some will probably roll their eyes at this title. After huffing in annoyance, they will say, “J.R.R. Tolkien incorporated men as men in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Hobbits are part of the fantasy.” This is how it seems to them. Those of us who have dwelled a bit longer in Tolkien’s Middle Earth see things differently. For, we see how Tolkien’s Hobbits resembled men in decades past.

But, don’t take my word for it. Take a look at what the author had to say about the matter himself:

It is plain indeed that in spite of later estrangement Hobbits are relatives of ours: far nearer to us than Elves, or even than Dwarves. Of old they spoke the languages of Men, after their own fashion, and liked and disliked much the same things as Men did. But what exactly our relationship is can no longer be discovered.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

How Tolkien’s Hobbits Resembled Men in Decades Past – Prologue




The above quote came from the second page in The Fellowship of the Ring. Now, I could relist all the characteristics Tolkien used to describe the Hobbits, comparing them to mankind’s characteristics. However, that seems redundant. So, I will settle with brief descriptions and outlines from the prologue and first chapter.

Without farmers, mankind would cease to exist. Farmers work hard, love to see things grow, and are skilled with farming equipment. Traveling back through time would reveal how vital growing grains, vegetables, fruits, and animals were to everyone who wished to get by in relative comfort. The average modern American man forgets the farmer’s vitality.  However, Tolkien did not, as can be seen in his garden-loving Hobbits.



Other ways in which Tolkien’s Hobbits resembled men in decades past exist in the various Hobbit races. Though America is quickly turning into the biggest melting pot imaginable, where children are born with fair eastern skin tones and flaming red hair, it did not begin this way. Most of mankind’s recorded history reported various races and cultures amongst the earth’s populations, other than Adam and Eve. Hobbits are the same.

As for the story regarding how Bilbo Baggins acquired the One Ring and all his fame and fortune, that is for another tale. We will explore with Tolkien’s Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit in another series. For a quick reminder, merely pick up The Fellowship of the Ring and read the last part in the prologue!

How Tolkien’s Hobbits Resembled Men in Decades Past – Chapter One: A Long-Expected Party




J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbits resembled men in decades past (and, to be completely honest, even more so in modern men) in their less desirable qualities, as well. And, when I say less desirable qualities, I mean the sinful nature common to all mankind. For even the Hobbits had some less than admirable characteristics.

Reading through the first chapter brings a certain Hobbit name forefront to the mind when thinking about lesser qualities: The name is Sackville-Bagginses. When Bilbo Baggins told stories about these disliked relatives, there always seemed to exist a strong aura of greed, theft, selfishness, hatred, and discontent. Much like past and current men and women throughout the world.



Oh? Might someone disagree with me about having disagreeable qualities in his or her nature? To each his own faith and religion. As for me, I shall adhere to the belief that everyone will die for their sins, but Christ can save us all if we only believe.

There also existed in the Hobbits a strong sense of xenophobia (i.e. the fear of strangers). Throughout the years, the Hobbits withdrew, slowly but surely, from the Middle Earth’s Men, Elves, Dwarves, and other creatures. They even grew suspicious, doubtful, and presumptuous toward their own Hobbit races. Why did the Sackville-Bagginses distrust and dislike the Brandybucks? I have no clue, other than their being distrustful and dislikable themselves.

How Tolkien’s Hobbits Resembled Men in Decades Past – To Be Continued…




This short article is by no means a comprehensive look at how J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbits resembled men in decades past! As the story continues, I along with fellow fans and readers will learn to see how the Hobbits exhibit mannerisms and qualities, both loveable and dislikeable, similar to humans. However, to see the similarities properly, one might need a PalantÍr Stone or the Mirror of Galadriel.

Please continue with me as I move forward through The Lord of the Rings trilogy once more! I shall do my best to read other interpretations and gather all the cohesive thoughts on the beloved books. If you think I’m too off point, please tell me your thoughts in the comments below!