Walking in Legends - A Comparative Analysis: The Parallels between The Lord of the Rings and Medieval Welsh and Irish Literature
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Tolkien has argued, rather vehemently, that there is nothing Celtic about his Middle-earth. And yet, there are many who consider the Celtic elements in The Lord of the Rings as self-evident. I have devoted this thesis to answer the questions how this can be, and whether there are Celtic elements in the The Lord of the Rings or not. I have delved into Tolkien’s trilogy and The Silmarillion, the book of Middle-earth’s mythology, as well as several key pieces of medieval Welsh and Irish literature. I have found that it is quite likely that the conflicting opinions can be explained by the evolution of the term “Celtic”: in Tolkien’s day, it simply did not have the clear, historical connotations it has today, and was rather tied to the Romantic movement. As such, Tolkien’s rejection of “Celtic” was a rejection of the Romantic Celt, not of medieval Irish and Welsh literature. This modern reflection of the medieval Celts is still firmly rooted in the public mind. Some parts of The Lord of the Rings might be connected to what the Romantic movement has declared that “Celtic” means, which explains why so many see the Celtic side of Tolkien’s work as a given. I have found a great many parallels between these Celtic corpora and Tolkien’s work – more than I could fit into one thesis. As such I deem it safe to say that there are, without a doubt, Celtic elements in The Lord of the Rings.