We do need to talk about Tolkien’s racism and classism, but we also need to talk about how, in the world of Tolkien, compassion is the most powerful force. It isn’t sword skill or stealth that saves the day. It’s just that Frodo took pity on a creature who he understood was a victim. He could never have predicated that was what happened, but his kindness was still the thing that resulted in the ring being destroyed.
In Tolkien’s extended works you can see how he started reevaluating his choice of certain tropes, and his adherence to his ethos of compassion even more. From references to how the Easterlings and Southrons were oppressed rather than evil, to actually considering redeeming the orcs.
Tolkein was very old fashioned, but I like to think that if he had lived longer, he would have lived up to his own core values of kindness.
with all due respect drunkenmistrel
Tolkien wasn’t racist; keep his name out of your damn mouth
Tolkien was not maliciously racist, but he certainly had certain unconcious racist tendencies due to his British upbringing. Such as leaning on a “Hordes from the Orient” trope for his villains, and using “Mongoloid” as a way of describing orcs. But again, I don’t think this is because he hated certain peoples, I think it was just because he lived in a time period less sensitive to that kind of stuff. And in the latter notes of his worldbuilding you can see him becoming less Eurocentric, less black-and-white, and yet also far more compassionate as well.
I actually have a couple of problems with that; firstly was it really a trope when Tolkien wrote it? Lots of things we might consider a trope today are things he came up with. Secondly fighting hordes of villains in the ‘orient’ isn’t really that far-fetched or sinister in the context of Tolkien considering that is what the British Military was heavily involved in as he grew up (see Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, as well as the self-proclaimed Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmad)