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Old 05-03-2005, 01:47 PM   #1
tar-ancalime
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Ring graduate school

Someone sent this to me via email several years ago, when I was starting graduate school. Now that I'm FINISHING , I thought I'd share it with you. Unfortunately I don't know who originally wrote this--if anyone does, please post or PM me and I'll edit this post to give credit to the author.

Quote:
The Lord of the Rings: an allegory of the PhD?

The story starts with Frodo: a young hobbit, quite bright, a bit dissatisfied with what he's learnt so far and with his mates back home, who just seem to want to get jobs and settle down and drink beer. He's also very much in awe of his tutor and mentor, the very senior professor Gandalf, so when Gandalf suggests he take on a short project for him (carrying the Ring to Rivendell), he agrees.

After Frodo has completed his first project, Gandalf (along with head of department Elrond) proposes that the work should be extended. He assembles a large research group, including visiting students Gimli and Legolas, the foreign postdoc Boromir,and several of Frodo's own friends from his undergraduate days. Frodo agrees to tackle this larger project, though he has mixed feelings about it. ("'I will take the Ring', he says, 'although I do not know the way.'")

Very rapidly, things go wrong. First, Gandalf disappears and has no more interaction with Frodo until everything is over. (Frodo assumes his supervisor is dead: in fact, he's simply found a more interesting topic and is working on that instead.) At his first international conference in Lorien, Frodo is cross-examined terrifyingly by Galadriel, and betrayed by Boromir, who is anxious to get the credit for the work himself.

Frodo cuts himself off from the rest of his team: from now on, he will only discuss his work with Sam, an old friend who doesn't really understand what it's all about,
but in any case is prepared to give Frodo credit for being rather cleverer than he is. Then he sets out towards Mordor. The last and darkest period of Frodo's journey clearly represents the writing-up stage, as he struggles towards Mount Doom (submission), finding his burden growing heavier and heavier yet more and
more a part of himself; more and more terrified of failure; plagued by the figure of Gollum, the student who carried the Ring before him but never wrote up and still hangs around as a burnt-out, jealous shadow; talking less and less even to Sam.

When he submits the Ring to the fire, it is in desperate confusion rather than with confidence, and for a while the world seems empty. Eventually it is over: the Ring is gone, everyone congratulates him, and for a few days he can convince himself that his troubles are over. But there is one more obstacle to overcome: months later, back in the Shire, he must confront the external examiner Saruman, an old enemy of Gandalf, who seeks to humiliate and destroy his rival's protege. With the help of his friends and colleagues, Frodo passes through this ordeal, but discovers at the end that victory has no value left for him. While his friends return to settling
down and finding jobs and starting families, Frodo remains in limbo; finally, along
with Gandalf, Elrond and many others, he joins the brain drain across the Western ocean to the new land beyond.
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Old 05-03-2005, 01:56 PM   #2
Rumil
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Uncannily true!

could this be an allegory of JRRT's own writing-up blues?

I guess he probably preferred writing Middle Earth-related material rather than the dreaded thesis. Certainly toast-making, re-organising one's stuff and even daytime TV have a strange attraction at that stage of the game.

By the way, does anyone know what Tolkien's thesis was about? (And how long after the deadline he submitted?)
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Old 05-03-2005, 11:36 PM   #3
tar-ancalime
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Certainly toast-making, re-organising one's stuff and even daytime TV have a strange attraction at that stage of the game.
It's true--ashamed as I am to admit it, I wrote much of my rough draft with the trashiest of trashy daytime TV on in the background. Perhaps this is the hidden meaning of the Bombadil/Old Forest chapters--the necessity of digression.

Having just tossed the Ring into the fire (only a week past deadline), I'm eagerly looking forward to the Fourth Age. Sadly, it seems thus far to be devoid of Viggo Mortensen....
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Old 05-19-2005, 03:40 PM   #4
Holbytlass
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Very interesting. I hope that you do not remain in limbo.
Hmmm...LOTR and trashy t.v. But who would be voted out first?
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Old 12-07-2005, 09:55 AM   #5
The Squatter of Amon Rdh
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Pipe The awful truth

Difficult though it may be to believe, Tolkien never wrote a PhD thesis. Like his inaugural lecture, his doctorates came at the end of his academic career. I think that we must consider another, slightly odder, possibility.

This theory is approaching the issue from the wrong side. Clearly the current PhD system has been remade as an allegory of Tolkien's novel, probably by faculties made up of those starry-eyed readers from the 1960s. It's probably part of a dark conspiracy to keep Beowulf on the undergraduate English syllabus.
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Old 12-07-2005, 10:24 AM   #6
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Quote:
It's probably part of a dark conspiracy to keep Beowulf on the undergraduate English syllabus.
THAT'S IT!!!
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Old 12-16-2005, 05:10 PM   #7
Captain Grishnahk
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The Eye

*steps in shaking*
"Am i doing anything wrong by posting here!?"
*quickly leaves after saying that he enjoyed reading the paragraphs above*
"AHH!! Someone's bound to PM telling me that i did somthing wrong! NO! NO!"
*exits*
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