Disavowal and Pleasure: John Ronald Tolkien’s Notion of Machiavellianism in The Lord of the Rings

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Nibras H. Khalif, Asst. Prof. Amal N. Frak (PHD)


Machiavellianism is considered to be a political doctrine that is amoral and is coincided with villainy and corruption. Machiavelli’s principles are received as realities that govern the political life rather than the private one. Thus, people did not perceive the psychological dimension of the concept which aroused the curiosity about the Machiavellian behavior of certain ordinary individuals who have nothing to do with policy. Therefore, the English writer John Ronald Reuel Tolkien in his high fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955) grasped Machiavellianism from its psychological depth. This study aims at showing the dualistic sides of Machiavellianism throughout analyzing the psychology of Tolkien’s good as well as evil characters. It also tries to reveal the extent to which Tolkien’s characters stand for Machiavelli’s principles. In order to achieve the intended objectives, Psychoanalysis theory was used which is the most appropriate choice for indulging deep in the psyche of the Machiavellian characters who are the most difficult to interpret. Furthermore, the specific concepts being involved in this study are Disavowal and pleasure principle which are more prevailing than others and which have a direct connection with examining the degree of Machiavellianism and its direction. The results showed out that Machiavellianism, as it is depicted by Tolkien in his novel, is a psychological status that exists in everybody’s psyche with its two forms which are good and evil. The triumph of one over the other depends on one’s will and inclinations.  

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