The comedy of manners satire that appears in the early pages and conclusion of The Hobbit gives way to a more serious satire in the penultimate chapter of The Lord of the Rings. “The Scouring of the Shire” is not allegorical, but Tolkien’s remarks on “applicability” facilitate critical analysis of the chapter’s satire. Well-known features of Nazism appear in the occupation of the Shire by “Ruffians,” men who tyrannize with egregious regimentation, enforce ever-expanding rules, and who regard the hobbits as belonging to an inferior race. The use of collaborators, threats, torture and killing of dissenters, and internment that recalls Nazi concentration camps—all done on a reduced scale—sustain an applicability to places occupied by Nazi Germany. The chapter ends not only with victory over and expulsion of the Nazi-like occupiers, but with a Shire restoration that evokes the norms on which the satire is grounded.

Available for download on Tuesday, October 15, 2019