Man (Middle-earth)

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In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fiction, such as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the terms Man and Men refer to humankind – in contrast to Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, and other humanoid races – and does not denote gender. Hobbits were a branch of the lineage of Men.[1][2][3]


The race of Men in Tolkien's fictional world is the second race of beings created by the One God, Ilúvatar. Because they awoke at the start of the Years of the Sun, while the Elves (the "Firstborn") had awoken at the start of the First Age during the Years of the Trees, they are called by the elves the Afterborn or the Atani in Quenya (one of the languages invented by Tolkien), literally meaning "Second People".

Like Elves, Men first awoke in the East of Middle-earth, spread all over the continent and developing a variety of cultures and ethnicities.

Men unlike Tolkien's elves are mortal. When Men die, they are released from Arda (Middle-earth) and depart to a world unknown even to the Valar (the gods).

Friendly races[edit]

Although all Men in Tolkien's legendarium are related to one another, there are many different groups with different cultures. The friendly races, on the side of the hobbits in The Lord of the Rings, include the [Dun]edain, the Rohirrim, and the men of Gondor. David Ibata, writing in The Chicago Tribune, notes that these all have fair skin, and they are mainly blond-haired and blue-eyed as well. Ibata suggests that having the "good guys" white and their opponents of other races, in both book and film, is uncomfortably close to racism.[4]


The most important group in the tales of the First Age were the Edain, a term the Elves use for those Men who fought with them in the First Age against Morgoth in Beleriand. The Dúnedain include Aragorn, one of the hobbit party in The Lord of the Rings; he becomes King of Gondor.


The pure Númenórean Men of Gondor mixed with other groups, such as the Northmen.

Among the Men of Gondor were non-Númenórean people from its provinces. Some of these had darker complexions, such as Forlong the Fat and the Men of Lossarnach.


Before the foundation there was already a sizeable Númenórean immigrant population living there. Before the arrival of the Dúnedain, Arnor was home to Middle Men of Edain stock, and the early colonists soon interbred with the indigenous population.

After the death of its tenth king, Arnor was shaken by civil war between his three sons. As a result, the kingdom was split into three successor states: Arthedain, Rhudaur, and Cardolan. These kingdoms eventually fell in wars with the Witch-king of Angmar, though the Dúnedain of the North survived as the Rangers. In time, one of their Chieftains, Aragorn II, restored Arnor and Gondor as the Reunited Kingdom.

Dunlendings and related folk[edit]

When Elendil founded the Kingdom of Arnor its borders were quickly extended towards the river Greyflood. Those who lived near the Rohirrim were later called Dunlendings, and their land Dunland. They had lived in the great woods that covered most of Eriador, and when the Númenóreans ravaged the forests for timber to build their ships in the Second Age, the Dúnedain of Númenor earned the hostility of the Dunlendings; the Dúnedain did not recognize them as kinsmen for their language was too different. The Dunlendings became enemies of Rohan when the people of Rohan moved into their territory. The Dunlendings served Saruman in the War of the Ring and fought against Rohan in the Battle of the Hornburg.

The Men of the Mountains, who were cursed by Isildur and became the Dead Men of Dunharrow, were related to the Dunlendings, as were the Men of Bree.


The Northmen were composed of two principal groups: Men who remained east of the Blue Mountains and resisted Morgoth and Sauron, and those of the Edain who did not sail to Númenor after the War of Wrath, but returned east of the Blue Mountains. The Northmen who dwelt in Greenwood the Great and other parts of Rhovanion were friendly to the Dúnedain, being related from afar, and many of them became subjects of Gondor at its height. The Men of Dale and Esgaroth were Northmen, as were the Woodmen of Mirkwood, and the Éothéod, who became the Rohirrim; the Beornings were likewise counted as Northmen.

Woses or Drúedain[edit]

Another group of Men were the [Wood]Woses. They were small and bent compared to other Men. The Elves called them Drúedain (from Drûg, their native name, plus Edain, men). At the end of the Third Age, a few Woses lived in the Drúadan forest of Gondor, led by Ghân-buri-Ghân.[5] They killed Orcs who strayed into their woods with poisoned arrows, but were hunted as beasts by the Rohirrim. In the War of the Ring, they helped the Rohirrim reach the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. After Sauron's downfall, King Aragorn granted the Drúadan forest to them in perpetuity.

According to critics such as Fleming Rutledge, Ghân-buri-Ghân is treated as a noble savage.[6][7]


Hobbits were strictly an offshoot of Men rather than a separate race. The origin of Hobbits is obscure; they first appeared in the records of other Men in the Third Age.


Two main races of human adversaries are presented in The Lord of the Rings, and they feature as such in the film The Two Towers. These are the Haradrim (Southrons) and the Easterlings.[4] David Ibata, writing in The Chicago Tribune, suggests that the film's director Peter Jackson may have embodied Tolkien's "racial view of the world".[4] Ibata notes too that in the film the Orcs, a supposedly non-human race, look much like "the worst depictions of the Japanese drawn by American and British illustrators during World War II."[4]

The scholar Margaret Sinex notes further that Tolkiens' construction of the Easterlings and Southrons draws on centuries of Christian tradition of creating an "imaginary Saracen".[8] Zakarya Anwar judges that while Tolkien himself was anti-racist, his fantasy writings can certainly be taken the wrong way.[9]

Other human adversaries include the Black Númenóreans, good men gone wrong;[10] and the Corsairs of Umbar, defeated rebels of Gondor.[11]


East and south of Umbar lived the Haradrim, the Southrons or Men of the South, hostile to Gondor. They used great elephants or mûmakil in war. Tolkien describes them as "swart" (dark-skinned).[8] Peter Jackson clothes them in long red robes and turbans, and has them riding their elephants, giving them the look in Ibata's opinion of "North African or Middle Eastern tribesmen".[4] Ibata notes that The Two Towers film companion book, The Lord of the Rings: Creatures, describes them as "exotic outlanders" inspired by "12th century Saracen warriors".[4]


The Men who lived in Rhûn, the vast eastern region of Middle-earth, were called the Easterlings; they fought in the armies of Morgoth and Sauron. Tolkien describes them as "slant-eyed".[8] In Peter Jackson's film of The Two Towers, the Easterling soldiers are covered in armour, revealing only their "coal-black eyes"[4] through their helmet's eye-slits.[4] Ibata comments that they look Asian, their headgear recalling both Samurai helmets and conical "Coolie" hats.[4]

Notable Men[edit]

First Age[edit]

Second Age[edit]

Third Age[edit]

Fourth Age[edit]


  1. ^ Tolkien: The Fellowship of the Ring. Prologue.
  2. ^ Tolkien: Guide to the Names of the Lord of the Rings, "The Firstborn".
  3. ^ Carpenter: The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, #131.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ibata, David (12 January 2003). "'Lord' of racism? Critics view trilogy as discriminatory". The Chicago Tribune.
  5. ^ Smith, Mark Eddy (2002). Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues. Intervarsity Press. p. 108. ISBN 0-8308-2312-3. Ghan-Buri-Ghan
  6. ^ Rutledge, Fleming (2004). The Battle for Middle-earth: Tolkien's Divine Design in The Lord of the Rings. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 286. ISBN 978-0-8028-2497-4.
  7. ^ Stanton, Michael N. (2002). Hobbits, Elves, and Wizards: Exploring the Wonders and Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings". Palgrave Macmillan. p. 79. ISBN 978-1-4039-6025-2.
  8. ^ a b c Sinex, Margaret (January 2010). ""Monsterized Saracens," Tolkien's Haradrim, and Other Medieval "Fantasy Products"". Tolkien Studies. 7 (1): 175–176. doi:10.1353/tks.0.0067.
  9. ^ Anwar, Zakarya (June 2009). "An evaluation of a post-colonial critique of Tolkien". Diffusion. 2 (1): 1–9.
  10. ^ Hammond and Scull, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 283–284.
  11. ^ Day, David (2015). A Dictionary of Tolkien: A-Z. Octopus. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-7537-2855-0.

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