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Elise McKenna

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2-5-2022 2:30 PM

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In The Silmarillion, Tolkien used conventions of horror within the setting of Arda. To begin with, the entire world, which is monstrous, is in upheaval with mountains being raised and valley being delved, lanterns of light created, and huge beings walking the land. Then, these landscapes are torn down, the lights are smashed and go out, and new creatures of horror prowl the world. The differences between the portrayals of monstrosity on a grand scale border the grotesque and the sublime. Monstrous beings, Valar and Maiar, command the elements of earth, air, fire, water. They have pre-ordained roles that are very similar to ancient monsters. These titans work and play on an enormous scale and what they do affects the very foundation of the earth. Upheavals in the land, movement of islands like a child’s boat on a pond, and the very lights in the heavens are woven into the fabric of the world. The awesome power shown on a large scale is mirrored on a smaller scale, and no less horrific. Balrogs, dragons, werewolves, vampire bats, shapeshifters, and a giant spider live in this land. Even landscapes are dangerously horrific and cause madness. Fear, horror, and the supernatural are all elements of dark fantasies and Tolkien’s The Silmarillion delves into that darkness, which may surprise most readers of The Hobbit. A look at these conventions within The Silmarillion is the focus of this article.

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Host: Marc DiPaolo

Tech Mod: Alicia Fox Lenz

Elise McKenna is a Course Director in the Creative Writing Department at Full Sail University. She earned her Master’s at University of Central Florida and is pursuing a PhD in Tolkien studies. She has been studying Tolkien for over thirty years and has presented and guest lectured on the Professor and his Legendarium, Harry Potter, and H. P. Lovecraft at conferences all over the United States, England, Australia, and New Zealand.

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Feb 5th, 2:30 PM

"Shivering Trees": Horror Monstrosity in Selected Stories from Tolkien’s The Silmarillion

In The Silmarillion, Tolkien used conventions of horror within the setting of Arda. To begin with, the entire world, which is monstrous, is in upheaval with mountains being raised and valley being delved, lanterns of light created, and huge beings walking the land. Then, these landscapes are torn down, the lights are smashed and go out, and new creatures of horror prowl the world. The differences between the portrayals of monstrosity on a grand scale border the grotesque and the sublime. Monstrous beings, Valar and Maiar, command the elements of earth, air, fire, water. They have pre-ordained roles that are very similar to ancient monsters. These titans work and play on an enormous scale and what they do affects the very foundation of the earth. Upheavals in the land, movement of islands like a child’s boat on a pond, and the very lights in the heavens are woven into the fabric of the world. The awesome power shown on a large scale is mirrored on a smaller scale, and no less horrific. Balrogs, dragons, werewolves, vampire bats, shapeshifters, and a giant spider live in this land. Even landscapes are dangerously horrific and cause madness. Fear, horror, and the supernatural are all elements of dark fantasies and Tolkien’s The Silmarillion delves into that darkness, which may surprise most readers of The Hobbit. A look at these conventions within The Silmarillion is the focus of this article.

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