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How Icelandic Norse Mythology Influenced J. R. R. Tolkien

The famed author of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and other subsequent books about the exact same fantasy world, J. R. R. Tolkien, was quite influenced by Iceland. Aspects of the landscape, the language, folk tales, and Norse mythology were influential in shaping the famous fantasy world of Middle Earth. Tolkien had an Icelandic nanny from the West Fjords who lived with the author and his loved ones in the early 1930s in Oxford, England. It was through the nanny that the author ended up being additional familiarized with Icelandic folk tales and mythology and had the chance to practice Icelandic. The author started writing The Hobbit during this time.


Heavily influenced by Norse mythology, Tolkien had actually been a reader of the Icelandic legends since youth. In the Völsunga saga– the text that also motivated Richard Wagner’s opera, Der Ring des Nibelungen– an all-powerful ring and a broken sword that is reforged are both highlights of the story, similar crucial elements in Tolkien’s stories.

Norse Swords

Rings and swords are both very prevalent in the Prose and Poetic Edda. The most magical rings were the Ring of Odin and the Rings of the Niflungs, both forged by dwarves. The rings were typically utilized as a metaphor for power in Norse poems. To own rings was to have power and to share a ring is to share a property with somebody– a belief that is carried into present day weddingm. All popular swords in Norse mythology have names which tell about their history, really similar to the swords coming from a number of the primary characters of Middle Earth.


Other parts of Tolkien’s universe, the elves, and dwarves especially, were based mostly on the Norse mythological sources, the Poetic and the Prose Edda. Tolkien’s Gandalf is especially similar to the Norse god Odin, who is referred to as having a long white beard, wide teemed hat, staff, and cape. Similar to Odin, Gandalf spreads out wisdom, truth, and knowledge.


The geography of Middle Earth, the fantasy world in which the stories occur, considerably look like aspects of location in Norse mythology. The name itself is substantial; in Norse mythology, ‘Midgard’ is among 3 worlds that compose the universe where people, dwarves, elves, and giants live. Another place in Tolkien’s universe that shares elements to Norse mythological locations is Valinor. In Norse mythology, Asgard is the home of the Gods and the highest world, located above Midgard as a place of peace and joy, really comparable to how Valinor is an explained.

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