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The best essay you'll read about The Lord of the Rings around

You've got to check out Molly Ostertag's "Queer readings of The Lord of the Rings are not accidents"

Still film image from lord of the Rings featuring Frodo and Sam
Image credit: New Line Cinema

I love reading essays about things I know well, because there's always more that you can learn. There are details you missed, there are different perspectives on the material, and it's a wonderful feeling to go back to a familiar well and drink completely different water. This is why I'm such a big fan of cartoonist and writer Molly Ostertag's Polygon essay "Queer readings of The Lord of the Rings are not accidents."

In this essay, Ostertag shares not only her own experience with loving The Lord of the Rings trilogy as a young queer reader, but also provides historical context for queer readings of Sam and Frodo's relationship. To do so, she uses illustration featuring central Sam and Frodo passages to showcase what she sees in the text, and she weaves her insightful readings of the text with information about Tolkein's historical queer contemporaries and Tolkein (and his friends)'s letters in order to reframe the books and their inter-text legends, and place them in queer history.

Ostertag makes a compelling argument for queer readings of the central relationship of The Lord of the Rings, but more than that, she enriches our understanding of the trilogy with her insights and research. While I also read Lord of the Rings as a young queer reader, I never picked up what she did, nor did I have the historical knowledge to contextualize it. Having read Ostertag's essay, I find my understanding of the text deeper.

And that's why Molly Ostertag's essay "Queer readings of The Lord of the Rings are not accidents" is essential reading for all Lord of the Rings fans.


Whether you're Shirefolk, Elven, Dwarven, or something else, there's a good reason to love Lord of the Rings. We do! With that in mind, we have a dragon's horde of goodies for you from a Lord of the Rings reading guide, a Lord of the Rings watch guide, details on the upcoming animated film Lord of the Rings: The War of Rohirrim, a full the Lord of the Rings reunion panel you can watch, how the OG Hobbit actors stay in touch every day on a groupchat, and the true message of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, according to Gimli himself - John Rhys-Davies.

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