Honors Program

University Honors, Honors in English

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Daniel Westover

Thesis Professor Department

Literature and Language

Thesis Reader(s)

Russell Brown, Michael Cody


J.R.R. Tolkien’s pioneering work of fantasy fiction, The Lord of the Rings, was written in a period of twelve years, starting in 1937 during WWII and ending in 1949 a few years after the war ended. However, Tolkien’s experience with war began in 1915, when he entered combat in WWI as a young second lieutenant. Understandably, Tolkien’s war experiences have led many fans and scholars to question to what extent the World Wars influenced his works. In response to these queries Tolkien adamantly denied any connection, stating in the forward to the second edition of LOTR that “The real war does not resemble the legendary war in its process or its conclusion.” Despite Tolkien’s flat denial of any connection between his personal war experiences and his fictional world, many critics have dedicated their studies to identifying concrete similarities that exist between LOTR and WWI. Yet, there exists a substantial and entirely ignored connection between Tolkien’s own wartime experience and his writings. More specifically, no significant study exists examining the connection between Tolkien’s depictions of medical treatments in LOTR and his own experiences with wartime medicine. These connections are particularly noteworthy because after the trauma of the Somme, Tolkien spent almost the entirety of the war as an invalid, in and out of war hospitals. Tolkien’s descriptions of medical remedies, which are richly detailed and significant to the plot, are therefore connected to his own experience. Examining each of these remedies within LOTR and linking them to medical practices used in WWI reveals previously unidentified points of correlation.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Withheld

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