The industrial revolution was a time of dramatic change, from hand tools and handmade items, to products which were mass produced by machinery. This revolution, which took place predominately in England, changed the world forever. Machines took over many jobs and created a fast paced industry and society at the time. The rise of industry led to the destruction of many forests and beautiful places, to feed the increasing demand of fuel to run the machinery in this modern age. The effects of England’s industrial revolution can be seen through the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings. The rise of evil power in the story also leads to the rise in industry and destruction and shows how industrialism is the purest form of evil. Industrialism is shown in The Lord of the Rings through the destruction of forests, the mass production from evil forces and the scouring of the Shire.

In The Lord of the Rings, the rise of industry becomes a threat to the ecology of Middle Earth. The main portrayal of the powers of evil and their industrialism is the destruction of the environment, where the trees must give way to industry. Throughout the story, the deeds of Saruman and his orcs diminish the forests surrounding Orthanc to supply fuel for the furnaces in the caverns of Isengard. The mass destruction caused by Saruman is evident when Treebeard states “he and his foul folk are making havoc now. Down on the borders they are felling trees – good trees. Some of the trees they just cut down and leave to rot – orc-mischief that; but most are hewn up and carried off to feed the fires of Orthanc. There is always a smoke rising from Isengard these days” (IV, 85). Ever since Saruman succumbed to the evil will of Sauron, he has been hewing down the forests around Isengard to create an industry of his own. In the caverns of Isengard, Saruman is breeding an army of Uruk-Hai orc soldiers.

Treebeard is a character who is most affected by this action of industrialization. The Ents, who are giant, treelike people, act as shepherds of the forests and whose purpose is to protect these areas of Middle Earth. His residence in Fangorn Forest lies on the border of Isengard where Saruman is constantly destroying the trees. Treebeard’s strong hate for the destruction of these trees is shown when he tells Merry and Pippin “many of those trees were my friends, creatures I have known from nut and acorn; many had voices of their own that are lost forever now. And there are wastes of stump and bramble where once there were singing groves” (IV, 85). The trees in The Lord of the Rings are treated almost as human beings and were believed to be ‘alive’, as they were able to move and speak to one another, while also representing wisdom. By having the trees of Middle Earth possess these human-like qualities, it makes it even more emotional and mournful when they are destroyed. The trees destroyed for the uses of evil, help to create the mass production of armour and weaponry for the orcs who are also being massively produced in the burning caverns of Mordor and Isengard.

Unlike the evil forces of Middle Earth, the free races take pride in the beauty of their world, and each race values the earth in different ways. Sauron and Saruman are the head forces of evil, who breed mass armies of orcs and other fell beasts in the caverns of their dark lands. Like the mass industries of the industrial revolution, Sauron and Saruman create in mass production instead of with care and quality. In the furnaces underneath Isengard, Saruman has created a new species of orcs called the Uruk-Hai. He breeds these orcs constantly, producing some ten thousand to march against the people of Rohan at Helm’s Deep. The Uruk-Hai at the Battle of Helm’s Deep were so many, that the battle grounds were described as “boiling and crawling with black shapes, some squat and broad, some tall and grim, with high helms and sable shields. Hundreds and hundreds were pouring over the Dike and through the breach” (IV, 163).

The thousands of Uruk-Hai soldiers are all the same, and armed and shielded with the armour that was also mass produced at Isengard. As opposed to the Elves or Men of Middle Earth, the orcs take no pride in their armour or weaponry, for their only purpose in life is to go to battle and kill. Since the orcs and Uruk-Hai are so many, their armour and arms must also be made in mass quantities. The roaring furnaces of Isengard are used to produce the weaponry of the enemy. No beauty or care is put into the making of these weapons because as long as it will slay their enemy, the orcs take no heed to beauty or quality. Tolkien is therefore suggesting that the uprising of industrialism brought the world in which he lived to a state of mass production with lack of beauty. Behind all of these productions is the corrupted wizard Saruman. His personality is revealed by Treebeard as he says Saruman “has a mind of metal and wheels; and he does not care for growing things, except as far as they serve him for the moment” (IV, 84). Saruman’s industrial mind and mass production of orcs and weapons leads to his uprising of evil power. Industrialism can be seen easily from the war front, but it also reaches to the free lands beyond.

Industrialism can also be seen when the quest for the Ring was completed, and the four Hobbits returned to their homeland, the Shire. As they made their way closer to home, they realized that even in the far lands away from Mordor and from war, the enemy had not been idle. While the Hobbits were on their quest, the rural paradise and peaceful lands of the Shire had been badly affected by Saruman’s industrialization. This is a heartbreaking realization for Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin, but after fighting in the War of the Ring, the hobbits decide to fight for the freedom of their people one last time. When they come to the meeting of their fellow hobbits, Farmer Cotton explains to Sam that “since Sharkey came they don’t grind no more corn at all. They’re always a-hammering and a-letting out smoke and a stench, and there isn’t no peace even at night in Hobbiton. And they pour out filth a purpose; they’ve fouled all the lower Water and it’s getting down into the Brandywine. If they want to make the Shire into a desert, they’re going the right way about it” (VI, 354).

The Hobbits were a very rural race of beings that farmed their lands and were at one with their surroundings. With the rise of Saruman’s evil in the Shire, the Hobbit’s old ways of doing things were replaced with industry. As industry began to rise, so did the pollution from the constant burning of fuels to feed the machines, turning the Hobbiton sky black with smoke. The unappealing environment that had been created by Saruman is evident when Tolkien describes the Shire and how “there seemed an unusual amount of burning going on, and smoke rose from many points round about” (VI, 337). This suggests that industrialization cannot be contained as it affects other areas that welcome it or not. This new setting that is introduced is a very unusual environment for the Hobbits, for their simple and peaceful lifestyles have been taken away from them to produce products for a higher power. Since the Hobbits love the outdoors and their green pastures and fields, it is very devastating for Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin to witness their home looking this way, and as they walk on, they realize that “many of the houses that they had known were missing. Some seemed to have been burned down. The pleasant row of old Hobbit- holes in the band on the north side of the Pool were deserted and their little gardens that used to run down bright to the water’s edge were rank with weed. Worse, there was a while line of the ugly new houses all along Pool Side. An avenue of trees had stood there. They were all gone. And looking with dismay up the road towards Bag End they saw a tall chimney of brick in the distance it was pouring out black smoke into the evening air” (VI, 342).

The words Tolkien uses to describe industrialization, such as rank, ugly, dismay, and black smoke are all proof that industry is an evil entity in the author’s mind. The Hobbit’s dreams of what the Shire looked like before are now shattered, and the bitterness of reality had set in, realizing just how far evil can spread, even in the most peaceful places of the world. Beautiful Hobbit-holes were dug up to create a mass production of unappealing Shirriff-houses and gates, consisting of only a small portion of the devastation that the Shire had to face. It is only until the evil powers in the Shire are overthrown, that the lands can be re-sewn, and homes rebuilt, washing away the corruption of industry that had stained the lands of the Shire over the past year.

Though industry has helped evolve the world that exists today, there are many drawbacks to the industrial revolution as well. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the negative aspect of industrialism is shown throughout the story especially through the rise of forestry, the mass production of evil forces and through the scouring of the Shire. These points in the story can be paralleled to England’s own industrial revolution and times of war, which heavily affected J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing. It is evident that Tolkien uses industrialization to represent evil in his story, suggesting also that is has no redeeming qualities. In the end, the industrialization that is being presented throughout the story is ultimately overthrown and the free peoples of Middle Earth, after years of recovery, are able to return to their peaceful lives once more.

by Daughter_of_Kings

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