What "marks" the places in Lord of the Rings?
What kinds of symbolic stories might we tell about the place(s) or space(s) depicted above? How might the stories be "maps" or "tours", as de Certeau puts it?
Notice the various places depicted in the Lord of the Rings movies (see here for more images):
- Hobbiton - where hobbits live. What are we supposed to believe about the inhabitants of Hobbiton? They are like children - small, living in small places. They are close to nature - the houses look like they grew right out of the ground. They are so close to the earth, they don't even have to wear shoes.
- Mordor - where the evil lord Sauron lives. It is truly "where evil dwells", and has all the visual markers of this - fire, huge dark mountains. Everything is at the level of the "sublime", as Edmund Burke called it.
- Lothlorien - home of the elves. Natural forest-glade, ancient, as befits figures who are immortal.
- Fangorn Forest - a different kind of forest from Lothlorien. Dark and foreboding.
- Moria - the realm of the dwarves. Ancient, again (isn't everything in the Lord of the Rings ancient?) Dark, monochromatic. Tough people live there. Also small people (like the hobbits), but we can't imagine the dwarves living in Hobbiton, nor the hobbits living in Moria.
- Edoras - a mediaeval-looking town of humans. This is not a place close to nature (like Hobbiton), nor is it ancient (like Lothlorien). It looks like it had a beginning, and could have an end.
The places tell us something about the kinds of people who live there. To some extent, they are interchangeable with the people. Witness how "out of place" Gimli the dwarf is when he is away from the mines. He is at home in the mines, and we can imagine their construction coming from folks like his.
Here's something to mull over - given what we've said, what kind of people would you think live at Hogwarts, the school in the Harry Potter movies?