Title

Theology of wetlands: Tolkien and beowulf on marshes and their monsters

Document Type

Article

Publisher

Routledge

School

School of Communications and Arts

RAS ID

20120

Comments

Originally published as: Giblett, R. (2015). Theology of wetlands: Tolkien and beowulf on marshes and their monsters in Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism, 19(2), 132-143. Available here.

Abstract

Wetlands get bad press in Tolkien’s work, partly because of the precursors he is drawing on; partly because of his personal experience of the wet wasteland of mud and slime on the western front in World War I, the prototype for the Dead Marshes in The Lord of the Rings; and partly because of his Christian beliefs about wetlands theologized and moralized as places of evil and monsters. In this paper, I read and critique the portrayal of wetlands in Tolkien’s work and argue that his Christian reading of them did not embrace Genesis 1:1–2 in which God created the world as wetland. Rather, he emphasizes the wetland as a place created after the fall to which evil monsters are condemned. I suggest that this pejorative Christian view of wetlands is largely responsible for the destruction of wetlands in the west for the past millennium.

DOI

10.1080/14688417.2015.1019910