The Mythology of Middle Earth: Tolkien’s Genius

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J.R.R. Tolkien’s desire to create a mythology for Middle Earth led him to draw inspiration from the mythologies of the world he was raised in. This assembly of various parts from earlier myths and works formed the basis of what is known as The Silmarillion. The creation story as outlined by the story of Ilúvatar draws its origins from the creation story of both Catholic and Pagan lore. Here, Tolkien’s own personal beliefs draw him to lead the fate of Eä down a path reminiscent of the biblical lore. Also, the narrative structure of The Silmarillion hearkens back to the old myths and tales of Gilgamesh and Beowulf. Tolkien’s desire to build a realistic mythology drew him towards analyzing and understanding what made those tales endure and be accepted as a part of the mythology of Britain. A close analysis of The Silmarillion will help illuminate these ideas. J.R.R. Tolkien has made no mystery of his religious upbringing. As a child, his mother converted him to Roman Catholicism, and shortly died thereafter. His understanding of her death through a Catholic scope influenced him greatly throughout his life. The Catholic ideology runs deep in the minds of those that believe in it, and influences their behavior later in life, and this effect occurred in Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. Ainulindalë, The Silmarillion’s creation story, is his unconscious repetition of his beliefs. The opening paragraph of Ainulindalë recites the very early moments: “There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Ilúvatar ; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought, and they were with him before aught else was made. And he spoke to them, propounding them to themes of music; and they sang before him and he was glad.” (... ... middle of paper ... ...ect our perception of it. Tolkien’s impressive understanding of the many factors that lend themselves to a rich mythology and folklore led The Silmarillion to be arguably his most creative and impressive work. He labored over it until his death, wanting to get the stories just right in the way that truly represented the Middle Earth that existed inside Tolkien’s mind. He died before he had a chance to complete it, but thankfully his son Christopher, carried his father’s legacy and picked up right where John Ronald Reuel left off, as if he was still the master of his craft in his afterlife. Works Cited Tolkien, J.R.R. The Silmarillion. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001. Fisher, Jason. “From Mythopoeia to Mythography: Tolkien, Lönnrot, and Jerome.” In Allan Turner, ed., The Silmarillion: Thirty Years On. Zürich: Walking Tree Publishers, 2007.

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