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Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: English Studies: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Glenn Davis

Second Advisor

Monica Pelaez

Third Advisor

Maureen O’Brien

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Tolkien, World War, World Wars, World War Two, injuries, injury, wound, disabilities, perceptions, ability, hobbit, Frodo, Boromir, Shire, Bree, disability studies, pride, small minded, isolationism, provincialism


This thesis analyzes perceptions of abilities in J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1954 novel, The Lord of the Rings and how his novel is written to comment on cultural ideas common in mid-twentieth century England. Tolkien focuses on challenging negative attitudes towards wounded soldiers returning from war and showing that injured individuals have abilities that might not initially be seen and their injuries should not be seen as inabilities. Through The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien also comments on small-minded attitudes, such as provincialism and isolation. This thesis argues that Tolkien uses provincial characters to demonstrate the dangers of small-mindedness and serve as an example to his readers, encouraging them realize the world is larger than they might assume and to explore the world so that they can grow as individuals. By challenging these cultural norms, Tolkien comments on cultural norms and negative attitudes common in the aftermath of the World Wars.