Property Law in the Lord of the Rings:

Canadian law student Jacob Kaufman has posted this interesting article about property law in the Lord of the Rings. I actually once created a handout for my Property class on how LOTR is really about the different modes of property acquisition. Sadly, literary critics have neglected this crucial aspect of Tolkien's masterpiece for too long. Fortunately, property professors and students in at least two countries have begun to fill the gap in the scholarly literature. Below the fold is my handout. You will never see the Ring the same way again. It turns out that property law is even more important in Tolkien's work than in Jane Austen's.


UPDATE: In addition to the primary property dispute over the ownership of the Ring, there are several other conflicts over property in the Lord of the Rings, such as the claim of Rohan's neighbors that the Riders wrongfully disposessed them of their land, the conflicting claims to ownership of Moria as between the Dwarves and the Balrog, and Aragorn's claims to inherit the lands and other property of his ancestor Isildur. The chapter on "The Scouring of the Shire" with its scathing portrayal of Saruman's "Gatherers and Sharers" and Saruman's nationalization of industry is a thinly veiled attack on socialism. None of this is to say that Tolkien was some kind of libertarian. He hated modern industry and capitalism. But he did have a conservative traditionalist's attachment to private property, and it comes through in the book at many points.