J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is a monument to literary achievement; a world built so completely that other literature, both canonical and not, attempts in vain to match its grandeur. Likewise, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's body of philosophy is conspicuous not only for its thematic variation across books but also the profundity of its concepts. Given this, it is shocking then that the critical apparatuses of Deleuze and Guattari have not been used to explore Tolkien's novels, given the innate symmetry between the two bodies of work. While ample research has been carried out regarding each separately, there is no conjoined study between the two. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings provides ample ground for exploring numerous Deleuzoguattarian concepts including schizophrenia, desire-producing machines, the ritournelle, smooth and striated space, becoming, and the assemblage. This thesis illuminates the untouched relationship between the work of Tolkien and Deleuzoguattarian philosophy, particularly emphasizing how Sauron creates an assemblage - a working arrangement - from his desire, forming what I call the Sauron-assemblage. The Sauron-assemblage expands from a milieu— a center— constructed of Sauron, his territory of Mordor, and the One Ring which is both a piece of Sauron and a desiring-machine for the other characters of Lord of the Rings. As a Deleuzoguattarian desiring-machine, the One Ring creates in those who desire it a schizo-identity or becoming-Gollum, meaning they showcase characteristics similar to that of Gollum without ever fully being him: this becoming-Gollum is symptomatic of the schizophrenic desire the Ring instills in its subjects, causing characters to desire it for the object it is without a concept of lack or symbolism behind it, as Freud or Lacan might argue. The character Frodo Baggins is a central piece in the application of Deleuzoguattarian philosophy to Lord of the Rings, as he pursues a radius of becoming-Gollum, -Sauron, and -Nazgûl to become-nomad. This becoming-nomad of Frodo is both nomadism in a spatial sense by escaping the control and egmentation of space— striated space— and in a magical sense by escaping magical investment in space. To examine Frodo's nomadism, I invent and utilize the theory of spatiomagus, investigating how magic affects space in an isolated work of fantasy. Frodo's divine mission to destroy the Ring, and thus the Sauron-assemblage, enables him to cut through both normal and magical striation of space and become-nomad.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
English; Literary, Cultural and Textual Studies Track
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Leeds, Kieran, "The Assemblage of the Rings: Reading Lord of the Rings Through the Philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari" (2023). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 1604.