The Lord of the Rings is one of my favorite book series of all time.
I know you know what it is, so I’m not going to waste your time explaining anything about what happens in the novels or why you should go read them.
What I want to talk about is how Tolkien hit upon some pretty incredible metaphors in the trilogy that no one ever seems to talk about, even though they reveal a ton about our society and the way we interact on a day to day basis.
Criticism of Corporate Interests and Power
Although most people never talk about it, Tolkien presents a strong criticism of corporate interests in the Lord of the Ring series.
Before you scream BS and point out that there aren’t any corporations within the book, think again.
Tied in with this idea is the technophobic nature of the book. If you look carefully, you’ll find that all of the forces of good, from teh Hobbits to the Elves to the humans, live very simple lives, and most have few luxuries and don’t do any mass production.
Mass production only occurs by the forces of evil, for instance with the manufacturing of orc armies, which are sent out into the world to destroy within it. This can easily be seen as a criticism of mass industrialism and the rise of monolithic power structures that control the creation and distribution of goods.
Even though it isn’t “corporate” those power structures are singular organizations, especially in The Two Towers and The Return of the King.
To deepen the parallel, these forces are obsessed with the acquisition of the ring, which represents corporate greed and an obsession with our own, often singular aim: money.
The Corrupting Nature of Greed
This also brings us to the other main metaphor that no one talks about, which is the corrupting power of greed.
The ring is possessive. It is addictive, and throughout the story whoever comes in closest contact to it is corrupted by it. That’s because the ring represents not just power itself but also the acquisition of power, aka: greed.
Whereas many novels point out the corrupting nature of power, far fewer link that corruption to the motivation behind power, which is the greed that drives us to achieve it!
If you’ve read these books and didn’t get a sense of these metaphors within them, I encourage you to re-read them. Check out the following links to get access to the novels:
- Order the complete trilogy special edition.
- The Fellowship of the Ring mp3 download
- The Two Towers mp3 download
- The Return of the King mp3 download
Note that while some aspects of these criticisms are present in the movies, you can’t get the full meaning of Tolkien’s works on the big screen alone, so definitely check out the books or audio books to read it first hand and see for yourself!
There’s also a great Youtube video on the allegorical nature of the novels, so you might want to check that out below as well!