Lord of the Rings: Borrowed Mythology?

Created by: guest     Modified by: normannewburn

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Subjects: Sci-fi, Anthropology, Literature, English, Mythology

For students of 7th to graduate grade.

Examine the relationships between world mythology (especially Celtic, Norse and Biblical) and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  J.R.R. Tolkein studied mythology and world languages extesively.  Many of his characters, themes and plots parallel established mythological traditions.  

Some similarities are:

   The internal human struggle between good and evil from many   different traditions
The Ring
   Andvari's ring (Volsung Saga)   

   Sigmund (Volsung Saga)

   Sigurd (Volsung Saga)

Aragorn's sword, Anduril 
   Gram (Volsung Saga)

   Grani (Volsung Saga)

Tolkien once described The Lord of the Rings to his friend, the     English Jesuit Father Robert Murray, as "a fundamentally religious and Catholic work, unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision."

Interestingly, The Ring trilogy of operas, Der Ring des Nibelungen, is based on the Volsung Saga.  It includes Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" and other important pieces.  

Other pre-Christian mythological references can be seen:

    * a "Green Man" (Tom Bombadil)
    * wise men (the White Council, especially the Istari or Wizards)
    * shapechangers (Beorn)
    * undead spirits or ghosts (Barrow-wights, Oathbreakers)
    * sentient non-humans (Dwarves, Elves, Hobbits and Ents)

Extension Activity:
Compare TLOTR Trilogy to other, modern trilogies, i.e. Indiana Jones, STAR WARS, TAKEN, Close Encounters, etc.
1. Students will identify silimar mythological elements as found in TLOTR Trilogy to one of the modern ones.
2. Students will complete a character plot diagram chart for each episode of each trilogy (3 x 3 = 9 charts) showing the character transformation within each episode and throughout the entire saga, OR they may construct particular categories to analyze (i.e. weapons, locales, social status, etc.).
3. Students will select one character to research the mythological comparisons (i.e. Frodo to Job as mentioned above).
4. Students will identify spedific video clips OR pictures and produce a Power Point presentation in any compare & contrast graphic organizer format(i.e. a Venn-Diagram).  As in with any research, a Works Cited page must be completed for images/video clips of the movies.
5. Students may present to the class.