Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

English Language, Literature, and Creative Writing

First Advisor

Matheson, Suzanne

Keywords

Britian, England, Fantasy, National Identity, Tolkien

Rights

CC BY-NC ND 4.0

Abstract

This thesis examines the complex representation of walking in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. In his 1951 letter to his close associate Milton Waldman, Tolkien lamented the lack of a specifically English (as opposed to British) myth, and expressed his desire to create a mythology that he could dedicate to England. Tolkien’s novels, which are primarily structured around hobbits undertaking quests on foot, are an attempt to create this mythology. Through representing walking in all of its diversity, Tolkien engages with the politics and philosophy associated with the pedestrian mode. The genre of fantasy and Tolkien’s goal of creating a myth for England are closely tied to concepts that Tolkien calls “escape” and “recovery.” As in fantasy, walking involves a removal, or escape, from society in order to recover a truth. This study explores the interplay between the genre of fantasy and various modes of walking, and concludes with the assertion that the intersection between the two provides a space for Tolkien to create a mythology for the English.

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