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Robin Anne Reid

Texas A&M University-Commerce

Mythology and History: A Stylistic Analysis of The Lord of the Rings

In their essay, Tom Shippeys J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century and a Look back at Tolkien Criticism since 1982, Michael D. C. Drout and Hilary Wynne argue that the biggest failing in Tolkien criticismis its lack of discussion of Tolkiens style, his sentence-level writing, his word choice and syntax (123). The irony of this situation lies in the context, in the extent to which formalist and aesthetic methodologies of literary criticism have given way in the last few decades to the perceived dominance of what Drout and Wynne call the methodology of political exegesis. Despite the downplaying of aesthetics in contemporary literary studies, modernist and post-modernist critics still tend to base their dismissal of Tolkiens work as unworthy of study on his supposedly poor writing (123). As Drout has argued in Tolkiens Prose Style and its Literary and Rhetorical Effects, the result of Tolkienists ignoring the question of style has had the unfortunate effect of ceding important ground to Tolkiens detractors, who, with simple, unanalyzed quotations, point to some word or turn of phrase and, in essence, sniff that such is not the stuff of good literature (137). The existing stylistic or applied linguistic scholarship on Tolkiens novel is limited, although there is a strong sub-eld of Tolkien linguists who study Tolkiens invented languages. Linguistic methodology covers a range of approaches, from intensely specialized philological work on the development of modern English from Old English, to a focus on the meanings of words (historical or contemporary). Most Tolkien linguists are primarily interested in the invented languages, but literature scholars with an interest in rhetoric, semiotics, or other linguistic theories and elds have published scholarship on Tolkiens style of writing, primarily but not exclusively on The Lord of the Rings. The stylistic scholarship consists primarily of monographs by Verlyn Flieger, Brian Rosebury, and Tom Shippey.1 A handful of articles have also been published, ranging from Burton Raffels dismissal of The Lord of the Rings as not being literature to the more useful linguistic work of Elizabeth Kirk and Drout on Tolkiens style that draw similar conclusions about

Style: Volume 43, No. 4, Winter 2009



Robin Anne Reid

what Drout calls the appropriateness, elegance, and power (124) of Tolkiens stylistic choices.2 One reason for the persistent stylistic gap in Tolkien scholarship may be found in the historical episode that Shippey describes in The Road to Middle-earth: the Lit and Lang battle that took place in American and British universities during the years between the two World Wars (6-8, 24-7). As faculty members in languages, Tolkien and Shippey participated in this conict but failed to shape the literature curriculum to include philology, or linguistics, whether historical or contemporary, and to institutionalize the language study of Anglo Saxon as part of the required curriculum. The curricular principle that won focuses literary studies on publications from Shakespeare forward, that is, texts produced in modern English. The Lit and Lang battle resulted in literature and literary study becoming a separate discipline from linguistics during much of the twentieth century. As a consequence, the majority of academics trained in literary study during most of the 20th century did not receive any training in linguistics. The decision not to teach any systemic methodology of analyzing style to those who would become professional literary critics has a direct bearing on the prevailing scholarly evaluation of Tolkiens work by most modernists and post-modernists. While claiming to analyze style, most seem to be instead responding to a type of subject matter or genre deemed by Modernism to be unworthy of serious literary treatment.3 Stylistics, the application of linguistic theories to literary texts, however, does exist as one approach among many in literary studies and has, in recent years, begun to grow, especially with the advent of computer programs to assist in data collection and analysis. The earliest and best-known argument for stylistics was made in 1986 by Roger Fowler who argues the need for literary scholars to draw upon linguistics for a systemic methodology and for theoretical support to avoid an assumption of the discipline of literature that has never been proven: that the language, the style of writing, used in those texts identied as literary by literature faculty is somehow special and bears no relation to ordinary language. Since linguistics as a discipline does not value any sub-set of a language, spoken or written, as more worthy of study than any other, stylistics as a method can be used to analyze any text, ction, non-ction, or poetic. Using the methodology to analyze the work of J. R. R. Tolkien is not only appropriate, given his own philological and linguistic background, but can also serve a dual purpose: rst, interpreting his text by a method seldom used, and, second, creating an argument for the existence of a range of aesthetic effects in the often-dismissed work.

A Stylistic Analysis of The Lord of the Rings 519 My focus in this essay is to analyze the style of three sections of The Lord of the Rings: a brief history covering centuries of legend and history, a moment of contemplation beside a sacred body of water, and a military charge. 4 These excerpts are starkly different in subject matter, narrative function, and tone. Nevertheless, my analysis reveals certain striking similarities in the grammar that shows how the discourses of mythology and history are blended in Middle-earth. Mythology and history are often constructed as discourses which exist in opposition to each other, but I argue that, in Tolkiens work, they are part of a complex continuum in the novel and unobtrusively connect the novel to The Silmarillion, a collection of myths and legends written well before the novel but published (in different editions/variants) only after Tolkiens death.5 My focus is on two of the few voices in the novel that can speak with authority of the mythological and historical periods from before the novels narrated events during the time at the end of the Third Age: Elronds and the narrative personas. The rst of my three passages comes from Book Two, Chapter II, The Council of Elrond, and is a two-paragraph excerpt from one of Elronds speeches (beginning In the North after the war, and ending when the world was young) (244). This excerpt comes from a long speech covering the history of the Rings of Power; the Last Alliance of Elves and Men; the aftermath of the Battle of Dagorlad, including Isildurs fall after claiming the One Ring; and the history of the kingdoms of Men, Arnor and Gondor, over the intervening centuries. During the course of this historical lecture, Elrond tells Frodo and the Council that his memory reaches back even to the Elder Days and that he has seen three ages (at least three millennia) pass in Middle-earth (242). The Lord of the Rings is set during the nal days of the Third Age and show the beginning of the Fourth Age of Middle-earth. Appendix A and B provide chronologies showing the depth of time that Elronds life and memory encompass. He shares this information with the members of the Council who have neither lived through nor heard stories about the earlier days and the events which have led to the problem that they now face. The second passage is a scene from Book Two, Chapter IV, Lothlrien, and consists of eight paragraphs (starting The Company, now went down the road and ending Sam was too deep in thought to answer) (333-4). This excerpt describes a quiet moment after the great trials and losses in Moria. Gandalf has fallen, and the Company must not stop until they can reach the woods of Lrien where there is some hope of safety. Gimli demands a moment to see the Mirrormere, however, and asks that Frodo accompany him. Aragorn agrees, and Sam follows them to the pool. This scene combines a lyrical and transcendent moment in which the characters seem


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to step outside of time as they look into a deep mountain pool in broad daylight to see a group of stars, Durins crown. Gimli shares a prophecy with them: The Crown of Durin will lie in the Mirrormere until Durin himself wakes (334). This scene, taking place in the present time of the novel, allows for a glimpse back into the First Age, the origin of the line of Dwarven Kings (Appendix A, 1079) when Durin the Deathless rst ruled. Little information is given in The Lord of the Rings about the Dwarves, so there is little existing scholarship, but this scene, easily overlooked, is a small, deep look at the mythological past of the Dwarves.6 The third passage is from Book Five, Chapter V, The Ride of the Rohirrim, and consists of the last four paragraphs of the chapter (starting from Then suddenly Merry felt it at last, and ending with the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible came even to the City) (837-8). This scene is the climax of the chapter and a pivotal episode in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Thoden refuses to give in to despair and leads the charge of the Rohirrim to the relief of Minas Tirith despite seeing that the odds are tremendously against them. In fact, Merry, whose point of view is adopted in the scenes with the Rohirrim, fears that despair will lead the King to turn back from his sworn defense of Gondor. Instead, Thoden chooses to set aside despair and ride to Gondors aid, and he transcends the present moment, becoming like a god of old, even as Orom the Great in the battle of the Valar when the world was young (838). The battles of the Valar with Morgoth took place in the First Age. In the rst excerpt, Elrond foregrounds his knowledge for the Council, the information serving an important expository function. The other two passages are related by the omniscient narrators voice which can take readers into the characters individual perspectives and, in effect, out of them again. The narrator does not choose to stop the action of the narrative to provide background on the creation and history of the Dwarves, such as it is, or to give information on the battle of the Valar. Gimlis dialogue in the second excerpt provides some information for Frodo and Sam, and for readers, that frames the experience, but Sam is unable to say what it is they have experienced; the event cannot be directly explained. In the nal excerpt, there is no mediating character. Even though the passage starts in Merrys point of view, it soon moves outside of him into the voice of the narrator, the only persona who knew of Orom the Hunter and could see and narrate Thodens and Snowmanes resemblance to the Valar in the youth of the world. The best methodology for analyzing these complex aesthetic effects is a linguistic one, a system outside literary studies that was created for close analytical work with texts.

A Stylistic Analysis of The Lord of the Rings 521 My methodology is drawn from M. A. K. Hallidays extensive work on functional grammar, which differs from traditional prescriptive grammar in that it is descriptive and it offers a much more complex schema to work with. This grammar employs a systemic model which can be used to analyze any text, on any level (word, phrase, and clause levels), and which generates quantitative data. The system uses a few traditional terms but relies primarily upon its own extensive terminology, especially for verbs (called processes) which are divided into six categories, three major and three minor. My analysis focuses primarily on the clause level: I consider Theme/ Subject relationships and the type of processes. While the categories seem clear-cut, in fact, many processes in English do not easily t into a single category, and, in a stylistic analysis, especially of a literary text, it is possible to argue accurately that a process functions in a specic clause in a way that ts more than one category at the same time. Stylistics generates quantitative data, but it is an interpretive, not a mechanical, process. My analysis focuses on the effect of marked patterns in my two chosen grammatical elements: Theme/Subject and processes. In linguistic terms, the normal or standard usage is called unmarked; it is the default. If a non-typical usage, called marked, occurs frequently, it may be signicant enough to consider further in an interpretive process. A Theme/Subject analysis focuses on the word groups at the beginning of clauses; the unmarked pattern in standard English is for the Subject to be the starting point of a clause, labeled as the Theme. When an element other than the Subject starts a clause, it is considered marked, and worth analyzing, especially if the element is more than a conjunction. A process analysis focuses on the categories of processes (verbs). What follows is the annotated text from my three excerpts, broken into clauses, with each clause (not each sentence) numbered. I break out both dependent and independent clauses for my data collection. Stylistic analysis on the sentence level is not usually done because the sentence is an artifact of writing (beginning with a capital letter, closed with an end punctuation mark) and can consist of a single exclamation or a dozen clauses (independent and dependent). The basic level for linguistic analysis is the clause, although it is possible to move below, to analyze words or phrases, and above, to analyze clause complexes and relationships between clauses. The annotation of the text reects my data analysis: The unmarked Themes which serve as the Grammatical Subjects are underlined. A THEME that is not a grammatical subject is indicated by capital letters. The Subjects which are marked (i.e. are not the Themes of their clauses) are indicated in bold.

Theme and Subject Analysis The Council of Elrond

Robin Anne Reid

IN THE NORTH AFTER THE WAR AND THE SLAUGHTER OF THE GLADDEN FIELDS the men of Westernesse were diminished, 2. AND their city of Annminas beside Lake Evendim fell into ruin; 3. AND the heirs of Valandil removed and dwelt at Fornost on the high North Downs, 4. AND that [Fornost on the high North Downs] now too is desolate. 5. Men call it [Fornost on the high North Downs] Deadmens Dike, 6. AND they fear to tread there. 7. FOR the folk of Arnor dwindled, 8. AND their foes devoured them, 9. AND their lordship passed, leaving only green mounds in the grassy hills. 10. IN THE SOUTH the realm of Gondor long endured; 11. AND FOR A WHILE its splendor grew, [its splendor] recalling somewhat of the might of Nmenor, ERE it [Nmenor] fell. 12. HIGH TOWERS that people built, 13. AND [they built] strong places, 14. AND [they built] havens of many ships; 15. AND the winged crown of the Kings of Men was held in awe by folk of many tongues. 16. Their chief city was Osgiliath, Citadel of the Stars, 17. THROUGH THE MIDST OF WHICH [Osgiliath] the River owed. 18. AND MINAS ITHIL they built, [Minas Ithil means the] Tower of the Rising Moon, [MINAS ITHIL was built by the Kings of Men] eastward upon a shoulder of the mountains of Shadow; 19. AND WESTWARD AT THE FEET OF THE WHITE MOUNTAINS Minas Anor they made, [Minas Anor means the] Tower of the Setting Sun. 20. THERE IN THE COURTS OF THE KING grew a white tree, [The white tree grew] from the seed of that tree which Isildur brought over the deep waters, 21. AND the seed of that tree before came from Eressa, 22. AND BEFORE THAT [the seed of that tree before came] out of the Uttermost West in the Day before days when the world was young.
1. Total Themes and Subjects: 28

Marked Unmarked

23 5

Although there are twenty-two independent clauses in this excerpt, there are six more unstated subjects/themes embedded in dependent clauses [indicated in the text above by being marked off by square brackets]. These unstated elements are included in my count. Of the twenty-eight clauses, ve are unmarked, meaning

A Stylistic Analysis of The Lord of the Rings 523 that the Theme and Subject are the same noun phrase. Of the twenty-three marked clauses, fourteen have primarily the conjunction and before the Subject. The use of a coordinating conjunction as a Theme is not particularly signicant in written English although this heavy usage of a coordinating conjunction and the resultant parallelism in multiple clauses, often grouped in one sentence, is a stylistic feature of this speech worth noting on its own. It is one often used by Tolkien. In this excerpt, Elrond is speaking of the fates of the two kingdoms established by Elendil and his sons after the Last Battle. In the North, Arnor diminished over time; in the South, Gondor ourished, and the strong parallelism of the sections can be easily seen in the clauses below. The dwindling of the Northern kingdom is described in clauses that diminish in length, whereas Gondor, where the White Tree grew, does not diminish. The length and structure of the clauses describing the White City is more complex. The parallelism in the last section of the excerpt concerning Gondor is less marked, and the clauses are longer, providing more information and emphasizing the more direct connection to Nmenor (the earliest kingdom of Men, given to several families who fought alongside the Elves against Morgoth).
AND their city of Annminas beside Lake Evendim fell into ruin; AND the heirs of Valandil removed and dwelt at Fornost on the high North Downs, AND that [Fornost on the high North Downs] now too is desolate. Men call it [Fornost on the high North Downs] Deadmens Dike, AND they fear to tread there. FOR the folk of Arnor dwindled, AND their foes devoured them, AND their lordship passed, leaving only green mounds in the grassy hills.

AND [they built] strong places, AND [they built] havens of many ships; AND the winged crown of the Kings of Men was held in awe by folk of many tongues. .... AND Minas Ithil they built, AND WESTWARD AT THE FEET OF THE WHITE MOUNTAINS Minas Anor they made, [Minas Anor means the] Tower of the Setting Sun. THERE IN THE COURTS OF THE KING grew a white tree, AND the seed of that tree before came from Eressa, AND before that [the seed of that tree before came] out of the Uttermost West in the Day before days when the world was young.


Robin Anne Reid

The list below identies the Marked Themes consisting of more than a conjunction plus their Subjects for each section, with clause numbers indicated on the left (reecting the numbering of the clauses in the annotated text).
Marked Themes 1. In the North after the war and the slaughter of the Gladden Fields 2. And 3. And 4. And 6. And 7. For 8. And 9. And 10. In the South 11. And for a while 12. High towers 13. And 14. And 15. And 17. Through the midst of which [Osgiliath] 18. And Minas Ithil 19. And westward at the feet of the White Mountains 20. There in the courts of the King 21. And 22 And before that Marked Subject the men of Westernesse their city of Annnimas beside Lake Evendim the heirs of Valandil that [Fornost on the high North Downs] they the folk or Arnor their foes their lordship the realm of Gondor its (the realm of Gondor) splendor that people [they built] [they build] the winged crown of the Kings of Men the River they they (the people of Gondor) a white tree the seed of that tree [the seed of that tree]

A number of the marked themes in Elronds speech emphasize geographical location (North/South, westward toward the feet of the White Mountains), as well as specic settings (Gladden Fields, High towers, court of the King). The marked subjects focus primarily on the refugees from Nmenor, the kingdoms of Gondor, but nally, at the end, upon the White Tree. Elrond is narrating events so lost in the past that most of the characters at the Council, other than Elves, might consider them myth or legend. He is speaking from memory and providing his interpretation of the histories of Arnor and Gondor, emphasizing the stronger tie the latter had with Nmenor in the presence of the White Tree which has a lineage that is rooted in the First Age. Lothlrien
1. 2. The Company now went down the road from the Gates. It [the road] was rough and broken, fading to a winding track between heather and whin that thrust amid the cracking stones.

A Stylistic Analysis of The Lord of the Rings 525

3. 4. 5. 6. 7. BUT STILL it could be seen THAT ONCE LONG AGO a great paven way had wound upwards from the lowlands of the Dwarf-kingdom. IN PLACES there were ruined works of stone beside the path, and mounds of green topped with slender birches, or r-trees sighing in the wind. An eastward bend led them hard by the sward of Mirrormere, AND there not far from the roadside stood a single column broken at the top.

8. That is Durins Stone! 9. CRIED Gimli.# 10. I cannot pass by without turning aside for a moment to look at the wonder of the dale. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. [You] Be swift then! Aragorn said, looking back towards the Gates. The Sun sinks early. The Orcs will not, maybe, come out till after dusk, BUT we must be far away before nightfall. The Moon is almost spent, AND it will be dark tonight. [You] Come with me, Frodo! CRIED the dwarf, springing from the road.# I would not have you go without seeing Kheled-zram. He ran down the long green slope. Frodo followed slowly, drawn by the still blue water in spite of hurt and weariness; Sam came up behind. BESIDE THE STANDING STONE Gimli halted and looked up. It [the standing stone] was cracked and weather-worn, AND the faint runes upon its side could not be read. This pillar marks the spot WHERE Durin rst looked in the Mirrormere, SAID the dwarf.# LET us look ourselves once, ere we go! They stooped over the dark water. AT FIRST they could see nothing. THEN SLOWLY they saw the forms of the encircling mountains mirrored in a profound blue, AND the peaks were like plumes of white ame above them; BEYOND [THE PEAKS] there was a space of sky. THERE LIKE JEWELS SUNK IN THE DEEP shone glinting stars, THOUGH sunlight was in the sky above. OF THEIR OWN STOOPING FORMS no shadow could be seen. O KHELED-ZRAM FAIR AND WONDERFUL! said Gimli.*# There lies the Crown of Durin

41. 42. 43.

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TILL he wakes. Farewell!* He bowed, and turned away, and hastened back up the greensward to the road again.

*An exclamation, or vocative, not a clause, but serving as the Theme for the sentence.
Total Themes and Subjects: 43 MARKED Narrator Dialogue UNMARKED Narrator Dialogue 13 5 9 11

*#Dialogue Tags/Exclamations 5 Marked Themes 3. But still 4. That once long ago 5. In places 7. And 15. But 17. And 24. Beside the standing stone 26. And 28. Where (pillar marks the spot) 32. At rst 34. And 33. Then slowly 35. Beyond [the peaks] 36. There like jewels sunk in the deep 37. Thought 38. Of their own stooping forms 39. O Kheled-zram fair and wonderful* 41. Till Marked Subjects it (dummy subject) a great paven way there (works of stone/mounds of green) there not far from the roadside we it (dummy subject) Gimli the faint runes Durin they the peaks they there (a space of sky) glinting stars sunlight no shadow Gimli (the speaker) he [Durin]

In the Mirrormere excerpt, 18, or 42%, of the Themes are marked. Four of the Themes which appear marked are not because they are dialogue tags; one is the exclamation, Farewell. Dialogue tags (said the dwarf, or cried Gimli) are clauses, but their informational function (identifying the speaker) is the most important function; dialogue tags are not meant to be noticed, so whether the speaker or the verb comes rst is not particularly signicant. Thus, they are excluded from my nal count.

A Stylistic Analysis of The Lord of the Rings 527 The marked, or non-standard, Themes and Subjects in the Mirrormere passage focus attention upon two aspects of the novel, both of which are similar to the marked Themes and Subjects in Elronds speech: rst, upon the long-distant past through references to time and place, an historic past when the Dwarven kingdom built and maintained roads and standing stones which have become ruins. The second element is the crown of Durin, an artifact seen in the vision that Gimli, Frodo, and Sam see in the deep waters of the pool. The Crown of Durin is a symbol for Dwarven rule, just as the White Tree of Gondor is for Men. The majority of marked Themes and Subject occur in the clauses which describe the vision: 32-39, clauses in which the complex syntax privilege the mountains, sky, and stars over the bodies present (of their own stooping forms no shadow could be seen). The characters who are present fail to make a mark upon the landscape; their reections do not mark the pool. The clause structure directs the readers focus, as well as the characters, to the mythological and historical past.
The Ride of the Rohirrim
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. THEN SUDDENLY Merry felt it at last, beyond doubt: a change. Wind was in his face! Light was glimmering. FAR, FAR AWAY, IN THE SOUTH the clouds could be dimly seen as remote grey shapes, rolling up, drifting: morning lay beyond them.

6. BUT AT THAT SAME MOMENT there was a ash, 7. AS IF lightning had sprung from the earth beneath the City. 8. FOR A SEARING SECOND it [the City] stood dazzling far off in black and white, its topmost tower like a glittering needle; 9. AND THEN AS the darkness closed again 10. there came rolling over the elds a great boom. 11. AT THE SOUND the bent shape of the king sprang suddenly erect. 12. TALL AND PROUD he seemed again; 13. AND RISING IN HIS STIRRUPS he cried in a loud voice, more clear than any there had heard a mortal man achieve before. 14. [You] Arise, arise, Riders of Thoden! 15. Fell deeds awake: re and slaughter! 16. spear shall be shaken, 17. shield [shall] be splintered, 18. A SWORD-DAY, A RED DAY, ere the sun rises! 19. [You] Ride now, ride now! 20. [You] Ride to Gondor! 20. WITH THAT he seized a great horn from Guthlf his banner-bearer, 21. AND he blew such a blast upon it [the horn]


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22. THAT it [the horn burst asunder. 23. AND STRAIGHTAWAY all the horns in the host were lifted up in music, 24. AND the blowing of the horns of Rohan in that hour was like a storm upon the plain and a thunder in the mountains. 25. [You] Ride now, ride now! [You] Ride to Gondor! 26. SUDDENLY the king cried to Snowmane 27. AND the horse sprang away. 28. BEHIND HIM his banner blew in the wind, white horse upon a eld of green, 29. BUT he outpaced it. 30. AFTER HIM thundered the knights of his house, 31. BUT he was ever before them. 32. omer rode there, the white horsetail on his helm oating in his speed, 33. AND the front of the rst ored roared like a breaker foaming to the shore, 34. BUT Thoden could not be overtaken. 35. FEY he seemed, 36. OR the battle-fury of his fathers ran like new re in his veins, 37. AND he was borne upon Snowmane like a god of old, 38. EVEN AS Orom the Great [was borne by his horse] in the battle of the Valar 39. WHEN the world was young. 40. His golden shield was uncovered, 41. AND LO! It [his golden shield] shone like an image of the Sun, 42. AND the grass amed into green about the white feet of his steed. 43. FOR morning came, 44. morning and a wind from the sea [came]; 45. AND darkness was removed, 46. AND the hosts of Mordor wailed, 47. AND terror took them, 48. AND they ed, 49. AND [they] died, 50. AND the hoofs of wrath rode over them. 51. AND THEN all the host of Rohan burst into song, 52. AND they [all the host of Rohan] sang 53. AS they [all the host of Rohan] slew, 54. FOR the joy of battle was on them, 55. AND the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible came even to the City. Total Themes and Subjects: 55 MARKED Narrator 41 Dialogue/Song 1 UNMARKED Narrator 7 Dialogue/Song 6

A Stylistic Analysis of The Lord of the Rings 529 In this excerpt, 42 (76%), of the Themes/Subjects are marked but to an entirely different effect than in the two previous excerpts. The nal two sentences of this excerpt, using the conjunctions to create a strong sense of parallelism, mirror to some extent the grammar in Elronds speech even though the focus is the charge of the Rohirrim. Each sentence is a clause complex consisting of multiple clauses (eight in the rst sentence, ve in the second), all but one beginning with a coordinating conjunction). Below is a list of the Marked Themes and Subjects in this passage:
Marked Themes: Marked Subjects 1. Then suddenly Merry 4. Far, far away in the South the clouds 6. But at that same moment there (a ash) 7. As if lightning 8. For a searing second it [the City] 9. And then as the darkness 11. At the sound the bent shape of the king 12. Tall and proud he [the king] 13. And rising in his stirrups he [the king] 17. [Song]: A sword-day, a red day the sun 20. With that he [the king] 21. And he [the king] 22. That it [the horn][ 23. And straightaway all the horns in the host 24. And the blowing of the horns of Rohan in that hour 26. Suddenly the king 28. Behind him his banner 29. But he 30. After him the knights of his house 33 And the front of the ored 34. But Thoden 35. Fey he [the king] 36. Or the battle-fury of his fathers 37. And he [the king] 38. Even as Orom the Great 39. When the world 41. And lo! it [his golden shield] 43 For morning 42. And the grass 44. And darkness 45. And the hosts of Mordor 46. And terror 47. And they [hosts of Mordor] 48. And [they] 49. And the hoofs of wrath 50. And then all the hosts of Rohan

51. And 52. As 53. For 54. And

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they [all the hosts of Rohan] they the joy of battle the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible

The marked Themes, except for the conjunctions, tend to focus either on the time of the narrated events or upon Thoden, with the exception of clause 38 (Orom the Great). The narrative necessity of showing a number of complicated actions all occurring more or less simultaneously is the reason for the number of Themes dealing with narrative time. More is happening simultaneously in this very compressed narrative movement than in the passage at Elronds Council and the Mirrormere. Merry, Thoden, and the Riders see the city as the wind clears, a wind which is bearing the ships taken by Aragorn to the city, while the Rohirrim see and hear the ash created by Gandalf confronting the Witch King at the broken gate. The Kings refusal to despair is followed by the description of the charge. The marked Themes and Subjects in this section tend to focus primarily upon the present moment rather than the historic or mythological past, which is conveyed in other elements of the clauses, and are thus unlike the marked Themes and Subjects of the rst two scenes. The nal two sentences of this excerpt, using the conjunctions to create a strong sense of parallism, mirrors to some extent the grammar in Elronds speech even though the focus is the charge of the Rohirrim. Each sentence is a clause complex consisting of multiple clauses (eight in the rst sentence, ve in the second), all but one beginning with a coordinating conjunction).
43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. For morning came, morning and a wind from the sea [came]; and darkness was removed, and the hosts of Mordor wailed, and terror took them, and they ed, and [they] died, and the hoofs of wrath rode over them. And then all the host of Rohan burst into song, and they sang as they slew, for the joy of battle was on them, and the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible came even to the City.

A Stylistic Analysis of The Lord of the Rings 531 The introductory clause (For morning came) is followed by a series of simple clauses (primarily subject followed by a verb), joined by coordinating conjunctions (nine ands, one for) and one subordinating conjunction. The majority of the rst thirty clauses focus on the King; this nal sentence shows the inuence of his transformation on his men, a transformation that is likened to the ride of Orom in the mythological past. Process Analysis There are three main categories of processes in Hallidays system: material, mental, and relational. There are three more minor categories of processes which exist, as Halliday says, on the boundaries of the major categories: behavioural, verbal, and existential.7 There is a minor and seventh sub-category, the meteorological, having to do with natural processes concerning weather: On this borderline between the existential and the material there is a special category of processes to do with the weather. Examples are such clauses as: its raining, the winds blowing, theres going to be a storm (143-44). My analysis of Tolkiens prose shows that his narrative persona tends to describe astronomical phenomenon in clauses that are structured in the same way as meteorological processes. The mythology of Middle-earth, including the stories about the creation of the stars and then the Two Trees, the story of how their light was destroyed by Morgoth and Ungoliant, and the subsequent creation of the Sun and Moon, provide symbolic elements to astronomical bodies whose light is associated with the good. The signicance of the meteorological processes can be understood when the clauses are recast as a mental process which would focus Agency upon a character perceiving the natural world: They saw the glinting stars shining like jewels sunk in the deep. The grammar in the original clause removes the Senser (they) to focus the readers attention on the Phenomenon, the stars, rst through a simile (There like jewels sunk in the deepglinting stars). There are other astronomical clauses in the two excerpts: The moon is almost spent, and it will be dark tonight; the peaks were like plumes of white ame above them; beyond [the peaks] there was a space of sky; though sunlight was in the sky above; darkness was removed; for morning came, morning and a wind from the sea; and one clause that operates both materially and meteorologically in the comparison of Thodens shield which shone like an image of the Sun. The data from my process analysis of the three excerpts is summarized below:

Material Behavioral Mental Verbal* Relational

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19 (63%)

2 (7%)

1 (4%)

8 (26%)



14 (32%)

11 (25%)

6 (13%)



31 (52%)

7 (12%)


*In this context, verbal refers to verbs of speaking, singing, etc. and includes dialogue tags as well as speech acts such as singing, wailing, etc..

The strong predominance of material processes (63%) in Elronds speech is the result of his focus on summarizing the past actions of the men of Westernesse; there are no reports of their speech, no omniscient narrative reporting of thoughts or emotions. This excerpt focuses upon the past, a history that is the foundation of the events in the present of The Lord of the Rings. However, this past is not accessible to the majority of characters, or rst time readers of the book, so it is framed as myth and legend and related by a gure of authority, who has information unknown to even Boromir and Aragorn, the descendents of the men of Westernesse. In the second passage, material processes are apparent in the description of the companys situation after the harrowing journey through the Mines of Moria, losing Gandalf to the Balrog. They come into daylight, weary and wounded, knowing that Orcs will be pursuing them, but they halt a moment for Gimli to visit Kheled-zram. He invites Frodo but not the others, although Sam follows them. The Mirrormere is a natural part of the landscape that reveals spiritual powers and depth, connecting the present of the narrative to the mythological part of the Dwarves, to Durins Crown. It is one of several natural locations that connect Frodo to the natural theology and the mythological past of Middle-earth. The excerpt is almost evenly divided between the narrators voice and character dialogue, with Gimli being the primary speaker. Thirty-two percent of the processes are material, describing events in the world, although there are some important mental and meteorological processes as well: 25% of the processes are mental, and 13% meteorological. The majority of

A Stylistic Analysis of The Lord of the Rings 533 clauses feature the Subject as the Theme which is the unmarked choice in English; the section (clauses 32-38) which breaks that pattern is noticeably also the one in which the most meteorological processes occur. Here, the characters look into the water to perceive a spiritual or mythological reality that has little do with the waking world; the meteorological processes blend the material and the spiritual realms through the imagery of the stars and light. The other processes in this section, which are primarily mental (seeing) and relational (to be verbs) or existential (such as there were), focus attention on elements of the natural world, revealed slowly as a natural world not completely in the present of the narrative. The characters see the mountains and the sky reected in the Mirrormere, but neither the sunlight of the day they walk in, nor their own images, are seen in the water. The reection of the stars is described in a clause with syntax marked by inversion: There like jewels in the deep shone glinting stars. The standard clause structure in English clauses is Subject/Verb/Object. The sentence above can be recast in the standard structure: Glinting stars shone like jewels in the deep. The standard structure would employ a material process: shone. The inversion creates an existential process and delays our understanding of what the grammatical subject and Actor/Agent of the clause is until the end: the stars. The excerpt on the Rohirrim is different in tone and function: It is, on the surface, a decisive action, a charge, which marks a climactic moment of eucatastrope when, beyond all hope and at the last moment, the Riders of the Mark come to Minas Tirith. Although it is oriented toward action, with 52% of clauses being material processes, there are important verbal and meteorological processes that add layers to the action, revealing mythological power. These processes occur most notably in the comparisons between the Rohirrim and the natural world, for example the horns like a storm upon the plain and a thunder in the mountains, the ored roared like a breaker foaming to the shore, the grass aming into green under Snowmanes feet, and the comparison of Thoden to Orom, the Huntsman of the Valar. The clauses in the section (35-42) are primarily relational, rather than material, although the majority of processes in the preceding clauses describing the horns blowing and the charge are material. The clauses also shift to a passive structure: he was borne upon Snowmane like a god of Old, / even as Orom the Great [was borne by his horse] in the battle of the Valar when the world was young (compared to He rode Snowmane like a god of Old, even as Orom the Great rode his horse in the battle of the Valar when the world was young). While the use of passive structure typically acts to remove or suppress Agency, in this case, the passive structure


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in combination with the simile seems to confer a greater sense of Agency upon Thoden; however, the Agency is spiritual rather than material. Another kind of inversion occurs in the rst part of this passage. The pronoun comes before the noun it references: Then suddenly, Merry felt it at last, beyond doubt: a change. Merry is the point-of-view character in this scene, but his perspective is soon left behind as the narrative perspective opens up, becoming more generalized through the use of a structure which suppresses the experiencer in favor of the experience. Sample clauses showing the opening up include: Wind was in his face, not He felt the wind in his face; Light was glimmering, not, he saw light glimmering; cloudscould be dimly seen, not, he could dimly see clouds; there was a ash; not, he saw a ash; there came rolling over the elds a great boom, not, he heard a great boom rolling over the elds. The natural elements and the sound of Grond are the Theme of these clauses, foregrounded by being placed in the typical Subject position, which results in the effect of them having agency in the existential processes. The double use of there as an empty subject contributes to suppressing Merrys perspective and keeping readers in suspense if they do not remember the events in the last chapter when the boom is rst described as the sound of Grond striking the gates of Minas Tirith. Conclusions My primary focus in my Theme and Subject and process analyses is to show how, in three brief excerpts of the novel, the discourses of mythology and history are constructed grammatically and are blended. With the exception of Elronds speech, the specic myths and histories referenced are not explained in the main narrative of the novel. Some information about the White Trees is given in Appendix A, I, 1049, 1060; some about Durin in Appendix A, III, 1071; and some about Araw/ Orom, on page 1051. However, that information is sketchy compared to the more fully developed materials in The Silmarillion. One result of my analysis is that it supports Verlyn Fliegers argument that while The Silmarillion can be fully understood without reference to The Lord of the Rings,the reverse is not the case (xxii). Understanding refers not only to the background or history of references in the novel but the extent to which Tolkien incorporated knowledge of the earlier material into The Lord of the Rings, in part through the voices of the Elves, particularly Elrond, and through the narrative persona which, although different in many ways from the narrative personae of The Silmarillion, was created by the same author and which partakes of the knowledge the author has of the extensive underpinnings of the myths and histories of Middle-earth. Further work on other passages and on excerpts from The Silmarillion needs to be done on the complex

A Stylistic Analysis of The Lord of the Rings 535 layering of myths and histories in the text, not only in the construction of the narrative voice and the framing elements, but in the oral transmission of the past in dialogue between characters. The Lord of the Rings is a complex text that operates on many discourse levels. When it was rst published, readers, critics, and scholars had no direct access to the rich materials that now make up Tolkiens Legendarium, but the novel hints at their existence in a myriad of ways, not only in the Prologue and Appendices, but in the extensive references made by multiple characters and the narrative persona throughout the main narrative. My analysis of how two voices which represent perspectives that know the mythological and historic past ages of Middle-earth in ways that the majority of characters do not know (and in ways that no rst time readers can know) supports arguments made by scholars that Tolkiens prose style has been neglected or dismissed unfairly, that the metaphysical elements of Tolkiens Legendarium are considerably deeper and richer than existing scholarship has yet considered. If critics can move away from the assumption that a Modernist aesthetic of a single, individualistic and original style is the only good style to acknowledge the value of what Elizabeth Kirk and Tom Shippey argue is an aesthetic choice to incorporate multiple styles and registers and languages, then the possibilities for further stylistic analysis increase.

The Inkling she claims to be more neglected by contemporary scholars than others, Flieger analyzes for revised sentence reading: In Splintered Light, Flieger draws on the linguistic theories of Own Bareld to analyze how Tolkien was affected by Barelds theory of semantic unity. Flieger analyzes how Tolkien was affected by his theory of semantic unity: According to Bareld, poetry, myth, and knowledge are conveyed through language. Language, especially complex and long words, embodies and combines mythology and metaphor rather than the literal and metaphorical meanings being articially separated. Drawing on Barelds work, Flieger does a semantic analysis of Tolkiens language, invented languages, and imagery of light and dark in The Silmarillion. Not as clearly linguistic in methodology, Brian Roseburys 1992 monograph, Tolkien: A Critical Assessment, still makes a strong argument for Tolkiens work to be analyzed both in terms of its aesthetics and its placement within Twentieth Century literary traditions. Much of Roseburys work is an extended analysis of multiple excerpts from the text. In both The Road to Middle-Earth and The Author of the Century, Tom Shippey incorporates philological and linguistic methodology, including a close reading of different registers in the Council of Elrond, an examination of the role speech plays in characterization, and an analysis of the Old English roots of Tolkiens names.


Robin Anne Reid

Shippeys linguistic approach is more philological than functional, and part of his argument criticizes the lack of knowledge of the history and development of the English language shown by critics who have negatively commented on Tolkiens style. The 1971 essay by Elizabeth Kirk, I Would Rather Have Written in Elvish: Language, Fiction, and The Lord of the Rings, makes a complex and linguistically oriented argument concerning the methods and purpose of Tolkiens style. A medievalist, Kirk argues against assuming that the Modernist aesthetic which evaluates highly individualistic and particular styles as good must be universally applied. The post-Romantic privileging of the concept of original, identifying as good the style which drags the reader out of his habitual derivative consciousness and makes him participate in a new one, sets apart literary style as that which is both different from and superior to the style/voices of ordinary men. Tolkien is striving for an entirely different effect, argues Kirk, in working to create a communal consciousness which he achieves by not only setting disparate styles and registers against each other, but by providing retellings of the same event in different styles, creating a style which Kirk claims is as different from the epic as it is from the novel (10). Kirks theory of Tolkiens use of counterpoint achieved by juxtaposing different styles and registers is supported by my analysis in this paper, in which the two excerpts under study have different tones, registers, and styles, especially in the narrative sections of the excerpts. Closest to my use of Hallidays grammar in this essay is Michael D. C. Drouts essay on a comparative analysis of stylistic choices, using functional grammar. The two passages Drout works with are owyns battle with the Nazgl and Denethors suicide. Drout analyzes parallels with the style of Shakespeares King Lear, using linguistic methodology to analyze the comparative aesthetics of the authors.

The majority of Tolkien scholarship published during the last fty years has been by medievalists, another inevitable outcome, since they, unlike specialists in other periods, receive training in Anglo Saxon and other languages and are familiar with the medieval texts that Tolkien drew on.

There are many editions of The Lord of the Rings available. For this essay, I am using the one-volume 50th anniversary edition published in 2004.

Tolkien wished to publish the collection of legends, myths, and histories covering the First and Second Ages of Middle-earth and sent a version to his publisher when a sequel to The Hobbit was requested. He was turned down, and he was unable to persuade Unwin and Allen or an American publisher to include The Silmarillion with The Lord of the Rings. The Appendices are a compromise (Letters, Letter #131 To Milton Waldman). Tolkien continued to work on the

A Stylistic Analysis of The Lord of the Rings 537 various versions until he died. His son, Christopher Tolkien, edited the materials to be published rst as The Silmarillion and then in The Book of Lost Tales and in various forms in the 12-volume History of Middle-Earth series. David A. Funks essay, Explorations into the Psyche of Dwarves, Mythlore 21 (1996): 330-33, analyzes Tolkiens characterization of Dwarves and their narrative and symbolic importance in the novel, supported by evidence from The Silmarillion. Neil S. Andersons essay, The Durable Durins, Amon Hen 126 (1994): 10-12, is historical in nature, focusing on dating the reigns of the six kings named Durin, arguing that each king ruled during a time of great catastrophe and change, primarily during the First and Second Ages. Paul Murphy, The Dwarves in the Fourth Age, Amon Hen 67 (1984): 7-8, argues the possibility that in the Fourth Age, the Dwarves did not die but withdrew into Khazad-dm; another by Alex Lewis, Were Dwarves Vegetarians?, Amon Hen 117: 25-27, speculates on the necessity for Dwarven vegetarianism while living in caverns, the choice being pragmatic rather than philosophical or moral. Helen Armstrongs And Have an Eye to That Dwarf, Amon Hen 145 (1997): 13-14, discusses the inuence of the Romano-British temple at Lydney Park (dedicated to the god Nodens, the subject of one of Tolkiens philological essays), on the entrance to Moria.

These examples are drawn from Halliday: Material: Happening (being created); Creating, Changing, Doing (to), Acting. Doing words, with Actor/Goal. Passive voice is signicant because movement of active Complement to passive Subject position. Mental: Seeing, Feeling, Thinking (think, know, feel, smell, hear, see, want, like, heat , pleas, disgust, admire, enjoy, fear, frighten). Relational: Having attribute; having identity, symbolizing. Typically realized by the verb be or some verb of the same class (seem, become, appear, sometimes have, own, possess). Behavioural: Behaving. Having attributes of both material and mental. A persons behaviour can be related to thought, emotion, other mental states. Verbal: Saying. All dialogue but also reported speech, also relating to speech acts (urge, explain, remind, challenge, beg, promise, grumble, report). Verbal processes are between relational and mental. Existential: Existing, Two main forms of realization: 1. There were ten of us in the party OR 2. Ten of us were in the party. (From: M. A. K. Halliday, An Introduction to Functional Grammar [Oxford: Oxford UP, 2004]).

Works Cited
Anderson, Neil. The Durable Durins. Amon Hen 126 (1994): 10-12. Print. Armstrong, Helen. And Have an Eye to that Dwarf. Amon Hen 145 (1997): 1314. Print.


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Drout, Michael D.C. Tolkiens Prose Style and its Literary and Rhetorical Effects. Tolkien Studies 1 (2004): 137-62. Print. Drout, Michael D.C., and Hilary Wynne. Tom Shippeys J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century and a Look Back at Tolkien Criticism Since 1982. Envoi 9.2 (Fall 2000): 101-67. Print. Flieger, Verlyn. Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkiens World, Rev. ed., Kent, OH: Kent State UP, 2002. Print. Fowler, Roger. Linguistic Criticism. Oxford: Oxford U P, 1996. Print. Funk, David. A. Explorations Into the Psyche of Dwarves. Mythlore 21 (1996) 330-33. Print. Halliday, M.A.K. An Introduction to Functional Grammar. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1994. Print. Kirk, Elizabeth D. I Would Have Rather Written in Elvish: Language, Fiction and The Lord of the Rings. Novel: A Forum on Fiction 5 (1971): 5-18. Print. Lewis, Alex. Were Dwarves Vegetarians? Amon Hen 117 (1992): 25-27. Print. Madsen, Catherine. Light from an Invisible Lamp: Natural Religion in The Lord of the Rings. Mythlore 53 (1988): 43-47. Print. Murphy, Paul. The Dwarves in the Fourth Age. Amon Hen 67 (1984): 7-8. Print. Shippey, Tom. J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century. New York: Houghton Mifin, 2000. Print. . The Road to Middle-Earth: How J. R. R. Tolkien Created a New Mythology, New York: Houghton Mifin, 2003. Print. Tolkien, J. R. R. The Lord of the Rings. New York: Houghton Mifin, 2004. Print. . The Silmarillion. Ed. Christopher Tolkien. New York: Houghton Mifin, 2004. Print. . The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien. Ed. Humphrey Carpenter. New York: Houghton Mifin, 1995. Print.