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Swords, Rings, and The Lord Of The Rings

[Paragraph about seminal importance of The Lord of the Rings goes here. Write it yourself. You know the drill.]

[Snip this paragraph too. It’s some crap about examining TLOTR in light of Freudian theory. Let’s cut to the juicy stuff.]

The major sexual symbols of fantasy are the sword and the ring, the sword as phallic symbol and ring as vaginal symbol. In most pot-boiler fantasy the sword as phallic symbol is ubiquitous. In TLOTR the big deal are rings which makes TLOTR a natural for a feminist Freudian analysis.

Let’s dispose of the sword first. Aragorn bears the sword that is broken and will be remade. In other words he is impotent in both senses of the word and becomes potent in both ways.

Now about those rings. The dwarves and men got theirs from Sauron. The elves made their own. It follows, since the rings are extreme female realia, that they were made with the essence of the feminine principle. Since Sauron invested much of “his” power in “his” ring it follows that the source of Sauron’s power is the feminine principle.

At this point the casual reader (Can anyone possibly be taking this seriously) may object that Sauron was male and was referred to thoughout by the masculine gender. As to that one might argue that the essential feature of Sauron’s evil was the appropriation of the female essence by the male. (Save this theory – we’ll need it later.)

More to the point, one has to respect the conventions of the work. It is well known and quite obvious that the whole is a homoerotic orgy. There are few females in it; the only human female of note is a pseudo-male warrior princess. The others are elves or hobbits. It seems fairly clear that the hobbits represent normal humanity (with normal heterosexuality) caught up in a fantasy of homoerotic power struggles. Thus it is not really germane that Sauron is “male”. Everyone in this work is “male”. Sauron, whatever his nominal gender, is imbued with the feminine essence. He is the quintessential “Dark Queen”.

What about the elves? They made rings also, albeit with instruction from Sauron. It seems clear that the elves are androgynous hermaphrodite figures. They sing and they dance and they fuck not. The elves could make magic rings and enchanted swords because, as hermaphrodites, they were imbued with both male and female essences.

Note that Aragorn, that man of uncertain potency, could only make it with an elf in “her” feminine aspect. A truly human woman would have been too much for the newly reforged sword. (Has anyone remarked on the symbolism of tempering a sword by plunging into meat – shades of taking the boy down to the cathouse for his first time.)

Note also that the hermaphroditic elves dwell in both worlds. Much is made of this. In other words they perceive both the male world and the female world. The Istari and Sauron also so dwell. They, however, are homosexual queens rather than hermaphrodites. Sauron has wallowed in the feminine essence and has become completely evil thereby. Gandalf takes another path; he purges his sexuality in an ecstatic near death religious experience and becomes purified whereas Saruman embraces the feminine and becomes corrupt. (Embracing the feminine in this work is almost always metaphoric – one wonders if Sam ever recognized what was going on.)

One of the marks of the magic of the various rings was that they gave the wearer access to “the other world”, i.e., they endowed the wearer with direct experience of the feminine. Putting on a ring is, one sees naturally, a metaphor for sexual congress. These are, however, homosexual rings; in homosexual congress the parties take on both the masculine and feminine roles.

Galadriel is an interesting figure. She, and here the pronoun is appropriate, is neither Madonna nor Whore. There are no whores in this saga; indeed there is no explicit sex. Everything is cast in fogs of sublimated sexuality. There are no Madonnas either. Motherhood is kept discretely off stage. This is, afterall, a nightmare of unfocused teenage male adolescence. Galadriel is essence of virgin female; fascinating in her unrealized female power, too dangerous to be approached sexually, “the girl next door” cubed. Perhaps she represents unattainable heterosexual redemption in the sexually confused homoerotic landscape.

There are symbols here to numerous to mention, e.g., Rivendell as the ultimate tree house, and orcs as the neighbouring street gang.

There are no entwives. That is the message of the work.

[Snip pretentious closing paragraphs.]

This page was last updated January 29,1998.