Helen Armstrong


This paper begins by considering the nature of some of the stylised “evil” and “good” character types employed by J.R.R. Tolkien in his Middle-earth works, and their relationship both with folklore and with related character types appearing in the contemporary world (in Tolkien’s time and in our own). The paper then goes on to consider the role of women in Tolkien’s fictional world, with particular reference to their status as mothers (particularly as absent mothers), and as heroic figures, and looks at the victimisation of the woman/wife/mother in the Biblical tradition of the Book of Genesis, and its possible relation to Tolkien’s own situation. The paper then relates these areas, particularly the latter, to the underlying stress in all the Middle-earth writings between a longing for certainty and permanence, and the recognition that there is no certain path to these desirable states.