Tolkien's Two Faces of War: Paradox and Parallel Structure in The Lord of the Rings and "The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth"
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J.R.R. Tolkien once referred to The Lord of the Rings as a "rather bitter, and very terrifying romance." This paper examines the paradoxical representation of Tolkien's war--one which is at once bitter and romantic--in The Lord of the Rings and the dramatic dialogue, "The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son." Structural comparison of the works suggests that Tídwald and Torhthelm, the two voices in opposition throughout "The Homecoming," in some sense continue their unending debate on the nature of war in Books III-VI of The Lord of the Rings. The structures of these works, defined by contrasting visions of war, reflect Tolkien's ongoing struggle to square the two incompatible strands. The tension between these two views of war is a crucial ingredient to Tolkien's work--and a struggle never tidily resolved.