Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

Multidisciplinary Studies - Individualized Option, M.A.


English Department


Mark K. Fulk, Ph.D.

First Reader

Mark K. Fulk, Ph.D.

Second Reader

Angela B. Fulk, Ph.D.


Ecofeminist fiction merges the principles of ecological and feminist fiction, not only linking the oppression of women and the natural world by patriarchal cultures, but furthering the notion that the future survival of the planet and of humanity can only be accomplished through remedying the inequitable and oppressive treatment of both. Although not all ecofeminist fiction directly advocates for this philosophy, the most effective tales are those which ultimately culminate in establishing within the reader an undeniable connection between humans and the natural world, as well as an understanding of the need for balance between the feminine and masculine aspects of the self.

Utilizing research in the fields of ecofeminist study and criticism, and through the analysis of the primary texts, this thesis will examine the ecofeminist aspects present within J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. By exploring the role of women and the natural world within this epic fantasy series, I will determine whether or not their association (or lack thereof), as well as their (potential) divergence from their subordinate positions within the patriarchal social structure common to medieval fantasy literature, either advances or undermines an ecofeminist agenda. I argue that, although nature and the feminine are initially restricted to conventional roles within the historical framework of the novels, it is precisely owing to this allocation that any deviation from the prescribed characterizations allows for a more meaningful narrative arc and prompts readers to question the very foundation of humanity’s hierarchal norms.