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Tolkien and Shakespeare: Essays on Shared Themes and Language

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Tolkien and Shakespeare: Essays on Shared Themes and Language
Publication Information
AuthorJanet Brennan Croft (Editor)
PublisherMcFarland & Co Inc
ReleasedMarch 22, 2007

Tolkien and Shakespeare: Essays on Shared Themes and Language is a 2007 collection of essays dealing with literary comparisons between the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and Shakespeare.

From the Publisher

Tolkien and Shakespeare: one a prolific popular dramatist and poet of the Elizabethan era, the other a twentieth-century scholar of Old English and author of a considerably smaller body of work. Though unquestionably very different writers, the two have more in common than one might expect. These essays focus on the broad themes and motifs, which concerned both authors. They seek to uncover Shakespeare's influence on Tolkien through echoes of the playwright's themes and even word choices, discovering how Tolkien used, revised, updated, "corrected," and otherwise held an ongoing dialogue with Shakespeare's works. The depiction of Elves and the world of Faerie, and how humans interact with them, are some of the most obvious points of comparison and difference for the two writers. Both Tolkien and Shakespeare deeply explored the uses and abuses of power with princes, politics, war, and the lessons of history. Magic and prophecy were also of great concern to both authors, and the works of both are full of encounters with the other: masks and disguises, mirrors that hide and reveal, or seeing stones that show only part of the truth.


  • Introduction: Tolkien and Shakespeare: Influences, Echoes, Revisions (p. 1)
    • "Clashing Mythologies: The Elves of Shakespeare and Tolkien" (p. 9)
    • "'How Now, Spirit! Whither Wander You?' Diminution: The Shakespearean Misconception and the Tolkienian Ideal of Faërie" (p. 25)
    • "Just a Little Bit Fey: What's at the Bottom of The Lord of the Rings and A Midsummer Night's Dream?" (p. 42)
    • "'Perilously Fair': Titania, Galadriel, and the Fairy Queen of Medieval Romance " (p. 60)
    • "'We Few, We Happy Few': War and Glory in Henry V and The Lord of the Rings" (p. 81)
    • "The Person of a Prince: Echoes of Hamlet in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings" (p. 91)
    • "How 'All That Glisters Is Not Gold' Became 'All That Is Gold Does Not Glitter': Aragorn's Debt to Shakespeare" (p. 110)
    • "'The Shadow of Succession': Shakespeare, Tolkien, and the Conception of History" (p. 128)
    • "'The Rack of This Tough World': The Influence of King Lear on Lord of the Rings" (p. 137)
    • "Shakespearean Catharsis in the Fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien" (p. 158; by Anne C. Petty)
    • "Prospero's Books, Gandalf's Staff: The Ethics of Magic in Shakespeare and Tolkien" (p. 177)
    • "Merlin, Prospero, Saruman and Gandalf: Corrosive Uses of Power in Shakespeare and Tolkien" (p. 196)
    • "'Bid the Tree Unfix His Earthbound Root': Motifs from Macbeth in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings" (p. 215; by Janet Brennan Croft)
    • "Hidden in Plain View: Strategizing Unconventionality in Shakespeare's and Tolkien's Portraits of Women" (p. 229)
    • "Something Is Stirring in the East: Racial Identity, Confronting the 'Other,' and Miscegenation in Othello and The Lord of the Rings" (p. 251)
    • "Self-Cursed, Night-fearers, and Usurpers: Tolkien's Atani and Shakespeare's Men" (p. 267)
    • "Gollum and Caliban: Evolution and Design" (p. 281)
    • "Of Two Minds: Gollum and Othello" (p. 294)
  • About the Contributors (p. 313)
  • Index (p. 317)


  1. Tolkien and Shakespeare at (accessed 19 April 2011)