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In 1937, J.R .R Tolkien started out writing a fantasy novel titled The Hobbit which eventually developed into a larger work, The Lord of the Rings. This precise novel had personal, historical and literary inspiration behind it. The paper, therefore, dissects the feasible influences on the novel.
According to Carpenter, Humphrey (2014), J. R. R Tolkien's The Lord of Rings was influenced by his historical, personal life. Just as many writers do, Tolkien wanted to write a novel that could wipe his tears and reduce the pain he acquired when he was only twelve years old. At that tender age, Tolkien misplaced his mother making him a total orphan. This unfortunate flip of events forced Tolkien to stay with a Catholic priest, Father Murray, who could not handle Tolkien's social life with ease as his parents would. Four years later, at 16, Tolkien fell in love with a lady who was three years older. In spite of the deep love with Edith Bratt, Tolkien had to wait until he was 21 years old to get engaged. Unfortunately, Edith fell in love with another man and got married just before Tolkien could make a proposal. This bitter personal experience influenced the characters developed in the novel and the general love stories brought out by Tolkien.
Historically, the First World War greatly contributed to the writing of the novel, The Lord of rings. After the depression of losing Edith, the love of his life, Tolkien decided to go into the Western Front and fight alongside his friends. Just two years later, 1918, Tolkien had lost all his close friends save for one courtesy of the great Somme offensive. The Great War had an enormous influence on the artistry work of Tolkien since the war encourages him to write an epic, ‘The Silmarillion' which acted as the roots of the Lord of Rings stem. The story of Silmarillion therefore makes the Lord of rings not to be just a story but a real world epic with the history of the entire world and the people (Carpenter, Humphrey 2014).
Literary speaking, the success of The Hobbit influenced the writing of the Lord of the Rings. It was after the success of the Hobbit that Allen and Unwin encouraged J.R.R. Tolkien to write a sequel. In the novel of the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien was inspired to write about changing circumstances and the triumph of good over evil.
Tolkien’s love for the Weish language also acted as an influence in the novel. In his novel, The Lords of the Rings, Tolkien uses names of persons and places which were mainly composed of patterns deliberately modeled on Weish to interest the readers. Besides, Tolkien had an interest in philosophy and religion. In as much as he did not explicitly include religion or cult in writing, the themes, cosmology and the moral philosophy as used in The Lord of Rings vividly brings out the Catholic worldview.
Tolkien's childhood life equally had an influence on the writing of the novel. In the novel, some locations and characters were inspired by his stay in Birmingham and Edgbaston Reservoir. Besides, the Shire and the nearby locations as used in the novel are based on the countryside around college of Stonyhurst where J.R.R. Tolkien often stayed.
Another literary piece of work that influenced the novel was the tragic story of the hero Kullervo from Finnish mythology. In this story, Kullervo is exiled after the murders someone in a fit of rage and obliviously commits incest with his sister, an event which later makes both of them commit suicide for fear of curse by the community. According to the authors, the story was a great inspiration to Tolkien since the Finnish mythology remains unknown outside Finland which gives it an exotic appeal. Tolkien equally loved the sound, and the complexity of the Finnish Language used.
Finally, Tolkien’s hobby of inventing language played a big role in having him write the novel, The Lord of the Rings. As a teenager, Tolkien came up with words such as Nevbosh and Naffran which he planned to used to entice the readers. Many years later, Tolkien realized that he could not have the imagery language operate in isolation hence he came up with the imagery characters to speak the language. Before long, Tolkien was able to tie the imagery threads together into a single legendarium.
In conclusion, The Lord of the Rings was inspired by the personal life of Tolkien, the literature that had been published before he started professional writing and the historical events such as the Great War or the First World War.
Carpenter, Humphrey. JRR Tolkien: a biography. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.
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