Tolkien’s orphaned heroes

— Deidre Dawson, independent scholar

Paper given 6 July 2022 at IMC 2022 Session 1133

Tolkien spent much of his youth as an orphan, having lost both parents by the age of 12, and this experience left an indelible mark on his life and work. It is hardly surprising, then, that the legendarium includes several characters who have lost one or both parents and who are consequently raised by others. In The Lord of the Rings, these orphaned and fostered characters, in particular Frodo, Aragorn, and Éowyn, take on heroic tasks. However, not all of the orphaned and fostered characters in Tolkien’s legendarium are destined to achieve heroic deeds that help liberate their people. My paper will draw on examples of fostering and adoption in classical myths and legends, but also on contemporary adoption studies.

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date recorded 📅2022-01-24
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