‘Lay your head in my lap’: Homoerotic tension and possibility on Mordor’s border in The Lord of the Rings

— Olivia-Kate Burgham, independent scholar

Paper given 6 July 2022 at IMC 2022 Session 1133

Sam and Frodo’s relationship is characterized by increasing intimacy throughout The Lord of the Rings as evidenced by a series of carefully constructed exchanges and scenes. As their intimacy deepens, their relationship begins to transgress the heteronormative boundaries of homosocial relationships. The wearing away of boundaries in their relationship accelerates as they enter the liminal space of Mordor’s border. This paper argues that while the liminal space of the border acts as the stage for the possibility of homosexuality, only the annihilation of this possibility, caused by the disabling’ of Frodo’s mind and body, allows the author to resolve the relationship as queer. Their trespassing over geographic, romantic/​erotic and other borders are uneasy transgressions and the tension written into the text reflects an authorial ambivalence toward homoeroticism that can be further seen reflected in the infertility/​sterlity of both Mordor’s landscape and the presentation of queer relationships.

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date recorded 📅2022-01-24
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