The LoTR Project

A friend of mine just alerted me to the existence of the LoTR Project, a spectacularly nerdy site that catalogues Tolkien´s world in fantastic detail – including a timeline of major events right the way from the Years of the Trees to the Fourth Age, an interactive map showing the journeys of the Fellowship during LoTR – and best of all, the mother of all Middle Earth family trees. Check it out here.

(One tiny quibble – I can´t find Andreth on the tree. Am I looking in the wrong place, or is she missing? I know she only appears in HoME, but a bunch of characters from the HoME version of the “Fall of Gondolin” make it in – as do characters created specifically for the movies or for games, so she definitely deserves to be included).

The site also includes a number of interesting statistical analyses of aspects of Middle Earth. These include – you´ve guessed it – a breakdown of characters according to gender! Turns out Tolkien´s works are just as much of a sausage-fest as we´d all suspected – 81% of named characters are male, compared with 19% who are female. The Valar and Maiar are at the top of the tree when it comes to equal representation, while the hobbits are doing best when it comes to the races of Middle-Earth. Dwarves are hopelessly underperforming, with just the one named woman (Dís, mother of Fili and Kili, and apparently noteworthy only for that fact).

See the full chart here.

(On a side note, this got me thinking – are there any characters in Tolkien whose gender is not explicitly stated? I can´t think of any. Even monsters such as Balrogs, dragons and giant arachnids have an ascribed gender, and (with the exception of Ungoliant, Shelob and Thuringwethil) they too are usually males. Come to think of it, even the mysterious anthropomorphic fox at the beginning of FoTR is male, as is Old Man Willow (unless Bombadil is talking bollocks, which I suspect he does quite often). How about the Watcher in the Water? The Barrow-wights? Are some of the Orcs we meet actually female? Hmm).

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2 thoughts on “The LoTR Project

  1. […] Smithsonian simply stated that in Tolkien’s works are 81% male, others called Middle-earth a sausage-fest. However, these huge amounts data are still valid for research and they may provide new insights we […]

  2. Lintamande says:

    Apologize for commenting very late, but Elemmírë of the Vanyar is of ambiguous gender. Thank you for this blog! It’s very thoughtful and thought provoking, and your knowledge of the legendarium is impressive.

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