So we’ve heard all about Tolkien’s works. We’ve heard of his multitudes of elves, dwarves, dragons and hobbits, but there are precious few people who actually fully understand what his works stood for. Even today, the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings have become a worldwide phenomenon but most of those who saw them probably know very little about the background of the story and what J.R.R. Tolkien really wanted to impart to his readers both young and old.
Lord of the Rings was meant to teach society about the dangers of absolute power. This fact is often lost upon the multitudes that have seen the movie as they are more often expecting a simple fantasy story that has little to do with real life and has more to do with slaying monsters and saving kingdoms. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings almost have little to do with common fantasy stories as even Tolkien himself has stated that his stories were “Fairy Stories” (how humans interact with fairies and vice versa) rather than “Fairy Tales” (which is more about humans solving their problems with magic).
The Key theme of The Hobbit is that to find one’s destiny, one must first step beyond their known boundaries. After all, there is more knowledge and adventure to be had in seeing things for yourself rather than simply reading them from a book.
Lord of the Rings on the other hand focuses more on the idea of “Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely”. While Sauron’s Ring does in fact have magical properties that muddle the mind of those who wear it, for some of its wearers, it was more than just a mere trinket. There were those who, due to the power it gave them, forgot themselves, their loved ones and their beliefs. In the end, they gave themselves up willingly just because of the power it promised.
Over the years, Tolkien has been the recipient of much criticism. He, along with his mythos of Lord of the Rings, has even been accused of unoriginality of all things by those who have not been paying attention to his work since it is a good guess that they know nothing of the books and have seen only the movies. He and his works have also been accused of being escapist and unrealistic and often easily placed among children’s stories despite the mature themes of his works.
Well, to answer these criticisms, let’s begin with the simple fact that Tolkien wrote the Hobbit along with the Lord of the Rings books long before other fantasy-oriented franchises like Dungeons & Dragons and Warhammer came into being. Seeing that the movies by Peter Jackson have been made long after the success of various Dungeons & Dragons films and Harry Potter, some people tend to think that Lord of the Rings has just copied of the previous two with some Christian allegory mixed in. Secondly, the books touch on very mature themes such as politics and social issues all the while making use of fantastical creatures and characters to represent both the good and bad portions of society without having to mention any of the said portions by name so as to avoid awkward situations. The Lord of the Rings was meant to teach people about the dangers of being corrupted by absolute and power and is most definitely not a story meant for children.