Many aspects of Tolkien's Middle-earth have been the attention of scholarly interest since the boom of 'Tolkien studies' but an area that seems to be lacking in criticism, but is certainly full of detail and character in Tolkien's books, is architecture. This essay explores how important the creation of buildings and living spaces in Middle-earth is to the underlying messages of the tale and how the architecture of Middle-earth impacts the reader's journey.

This essay starts as we the reader does - in a hole - and explores the way that architecture is used to help explain hobbits, show their character and the growing map of the Shire. Architecture is also shown to be a technique used by Tolkien as a way of reorienting the reader between the real and the imaginary. Architecture is then used as a comparative point between the men of Rohan and those of Gondor, showing their cultural preoccupations and the significances of these. Finally, this essay wanders through the unusual architecture of the elves, specifically in Lothlorien, demonstrating that despite West Minster Abbey's impressive design, it is the home of Lady Galadriel which is the truest embodiment of Gothic principles, and why this relationship between elves and trees holds a particular significance for Tolkien.


This article originally appeared as a final dissertation piece from the English and Related Literature department at the University of York.



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