Is “the Lord of the Rings” a fairytale? This is a question that most of us might ask themselves. With “Olrik’s epical laws,” and the “model of actants” as sources, I will try to look at the connection between these models and the trilogy of Tolkien.
The entire story of “the Lord of the Rings” starts with the birthday party for Bilbo. He then gives his ring to Frodo, which makes Bilbo the giver, the one who really starts the entire adventure off. Olrik’s first law says that a fairytale should have a soft beginning, and LOTR follows. The beginning shows us the peaceful world of the Hobits, and gives us a smoother chance to get to know the characters.
The object in this story is, without a doubt, the ring of Sauron. The giver, Bilbo, hands it over to his nephew Frodo, which makes Frodo the receiver. The ring has been shifting owner ever since Isildur took it from Sauron’s finger. It went from Isildur to Gollum. From Gollum to Bilbo, and eventually from Bilbo to Frodo, always trying to flee from its wearer, to return to its real master.
The hero in a fairytale most often has helpers to aid him in achieving what he wants. In LOTR there is a socalled “Fellowship of the Ring.” It consists of Frodo, Gandalf the Grey, Aragorn, Boromir, Gimli, Legolas, Sam, Merry and Pippin. Many of these characters represent a whole people. For example Gimli represents the dwarves, and Legolas the elves. Although Frodo is supposed to be the main character, there is also a constant focus on the others. So Tolkien doesn’t quite follow Olrik’s third law on this one, which says that the focus should be around one character. After the brothership is splitted at the end of the first book, we get a divided action. We follow Frodo and Sam as they venture deeper and deeper into Mordor, and the rest of the gang while fighting against the armys of Sarumann and eventually Sauron. The fellowship also gets help from other creatures, like the living trees called “Ents” and some giant eagles.
Helpers can also be objects. Tolkien has included a lot of objects with supernatural powers in his story, and each object is also connected with a person. For example the sword named “Sting,” which is connected with Frodo. Sting’s special ability is to warn Frodo when there are orcs nearby, by turning blue. Another example is Narsil, the sword that Aragorn inherits from Isildur. Narsil is known for having the ability to defeat the evil Sauron. The light of Eärendil, which Galadriel gives to Frodo, has the ability to glow in the dark, and it scares off the giant spider, Shelob. Last but not least we have the ring. We mainly connect the ring with Sauron, because it was he who made it. When other people than Sauron wears it, they turn invisible, but the ring, in turn, corrupts the mind of the bearer and makes him evil, deceitful and completely obesessed with the ring.
Olrik’s fourth law says that there never should be more than two persons in a scene and if there is a third one or more, he or they must be mute. Tolkien is quite faithful to this. There are most often many people in a scene, but they are not talking. When Gandalf tries to remove Sarumann from Theoden’s mind, there are many people present, but the focus is on Gandalf and Theoden/Sarumann. There are also many scenes between Frodo and Sam on their way to Mordor. They have Gollum guiding them, but he hardly speaks. He mostly talks to himself. A law closely related to situations like these, is the sixth law of Olrik, which says that when to characters appear at the same time, they are, in many stories, emphasized as quite different. They are contrasts to eachother. An example of this is Sarumann and Gandalf. They may appear as similar, as they both are wizards and have the same garment, but their way of thinking is pretty unlike. While Gandalf tries to defeat Sauron, Sarumann means that the returning of the evil is inevitable and that they all should bow for it. Another example is Frodo and Gollum. While Frodo wants to destroy the ring, Gollum wants to have it back, so he tries to kill both Frodo and Sam. Pippin and Merry are in LOTR like twins. They appear as one, behave in the same way, and are subordinate characters. This is also the content of Olrik’s seventh law.
On their adventure to destroy the ring, the fellowship meets several obstacles or opponents. The main opponent in LOTR is of course Sauron, because it’s his return they are all trying to prevent. In the beginning of the trilogy, the biggest threats are the nazgüls, who tries to retrieve the ring from the hobits. Later also Sarumann turns over to the evil side, and sends armies after the fellowship. In the last book however, the threat is coming more and more from inside. Frodo is gradually turning over to the ring, and he becomes truly obessed with it in the end, and can’t trow it into the fires of Mount Doom.