Homework Help

How does Tolkien use songs (language, poetic devices) in The Hobbit and The Lord of...

user profile pic

Susan Woodward | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted February 24, 2008 at 11:30 AM via web

dislike 1 like

How does Tolkien use songs (language, poetic devices) in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to characterize the singers?

4 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 1, 2010 at 7:20 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

I think that the songs are a chief characteristic of all these works. I also think that it is important to remember the massive influence of Norse and Anglo-Saxon Mythology on Tolkien, and thus these songs are an attempt to re-write or re-create similar songs of pageant to commemorate the exploits of heroes or capture some of the beauty and movement of oral poetry (which of course texts such as Beowulf were long before they were written down). Linking songs to characterisation is something I had not considered and something I will look out for when I re-read these books.

user profile pic

Susan Woodward | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted June 1, 2010 at 8:37 AM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

I think that the songs are a chief characteristic of all these works. I also think that it is important to remember the massive influence of Norse and Anglo-Saxon Mythology on Tolkien, and thus these songs are an attempt to re-write or re-create similar songs of pageant to commemorate the exploits of heroes or capture some of the beauty and movement of oral poetry (which of course texts such as Beowulf were long before they were written down). Linking songs to characterisation is something I had not considered and something I will look out for when I re-read these books.

  Just some clues: Pay attention to the pitch of repeating vowel sounds (assonance) as well as the resonance of repeating consonant sounds (both in alliteration and in consonance).  Also, word length adds to characterization.

user profile pic

litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 5, 2011 at 1:32 PM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

Tolkein's songs are beautiful.  My favorite one is the one used to describe Aragorn.  Not all who wander are lost!  This song describes Aragorn perfectly.  Aragorn is constantly underestimated.  He seems gruff and dark (he doesn't glitter) but he is a diamond in the rough.  He proves his worth and takes his place as king more out of duty than desire.  This song characterizes him as strong, humble, determined and powerful.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
user profile pic

Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 30, 2012 at 3:12 AM (Answer #5)

dislike 0 like

Many times the songs also provide valuable background information to the reader; for example, inThe Hobbitwhen the dwarves sing of the Lonely Mountain, Tolkien utilizes the song to build background, especially for Thorin, that explains the dwarves' motivation. 

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes