Why did J.R.R. Tolkien randomly capitalize various words throughout his books?
My husband asked me this question today and we were wondering if there's any rhyme or reason to Tolkien's capitalization process. These are examples taken from the LOTR trilogy and The Hobbit:
- And there upon that hill they looked east to the Shadow and west to the Twilight, and they plighted their troth and were glad. (ROTK)
- She shall not be the bridge of any Man less than the King of both Gondor and Arnor. To me then even our victory can bring only sorrow or parting -- but to you hope of joy for a while. Alas, my son! I fear that to Arwen the Doom of Man may seem hard at the ending. (ROTK)
- In the Wide World the Wood-elves lingered in the twilight of our Sun and Moon, but loved best the stars; and they wandered in the great forests that grew tall in lands that are now lost. (THE HOBBIT)
- It is fortunate that I could find it, for it is a healing plant that the Men of the West brought to Middle-earth. Athelas, they named it, and it grows now sparsely and only near places where they dwelt or camped of old; and it is not known in the North, except to some of those who wander in the Wild. (FOTR)
- "Nob, you woolly-pated ninny! he cried. "Can't you give old friends their names? You shouldn't go scaring me like that, with times as they are. Well, well! And where have you come from? I never expected to see any of you folk, and that's a fact: going off into the Wild with that Strider, and all those Black Men about." (ROTK)
- Yet hardy and full of wrath as he was, it is said that when he camed down from the Gate he looked grey in the face, as one who has felt great fear. (ROTK)
Are these kind of examples style choices? Did Tolkien give careful consideration to each word he used and how? Because I know Tolkien also developed his own Elvish languages, I wondered if perhaps he applied some of the rules from his Elvish languages to the way he wrote English. I feel confident in saying that I don't believe the random capitalizations are mistakes. And some of the words capitalized make total sense:
- the One Ring, the Eye
- the Nazgûl, the Mumakil
- Théoden, Éowyn, Éomer
- the Orcs, the Haradrim, the Elves, the Dúnedain, the Hobbits
Although "elves" and "hobbits" are not always capitalized in Tolkien's writing (This makes sense, as we don't capitalized "people" or "humans"; however, we do capitalize "American" or "British".).
Why did J.R.R. Tolkien randomly capitalize words?
I'm not asking this in English.se because I felt with the special languages associated with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, plus the existence of The Silmarillion (which I do not have access to), the answer might more easily be found at SFF.se.