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The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - Barron's Booknotes
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1. How does Tolkien develop his theme of the nature
of heroism? Give examples.

2. Discuss elements of elitism in Tolkien's books.
Explain why some people criticize this elitism,
while others defend it. Be sure to include examples
of what some readers see as Tolkien's male, upper-
class prejudices.

3. The Shire, Rivendell, and Lorien all represent
various aspects of Tolkien's ideal society. Compare
and contrast these different societies. Which would
you prefer to live in? Why?

4. Discuss Tolkien's concept of the relationship
between free will and destiny. Relate it to
philosophical and theological debates about this
question. Do you think man has free will?

5. Examine the relationship among loyalty to an
individual, loyalty to a small group, and loyalty to
all of mankind in Tolkien's books. Especially
examine instances where loyalties conflict. How do
the characters resolve their dilemmas? What
implications can you draw about Tolkien's beliefs
from these instances?

6. Make a list of the qualities associated with the
forces of good in The Lord of the Rings and those
associated with the forces of evil. Discuss any
interesting patterns that emerge. For instance, do
good and evil form a mirror image of each other?
How do these qualities relate to Tolkien's themes?

7. Discuss the relationship between man and
nature expressed in Tolkien's books. Mention
characters that Tolkien uses to represent nature.

8. Look at how Tolkien developed the Everyman
theme in his books. Compare Tolkien's hobbits with
the characters who appear to function as Everyman
in other novels.

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The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - Barron's Booknotes

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