Cultural Values in The Left Hand of Darkness, The Fellowship of the Ring, and Dune

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Shaping of Cultural Values Through Environment in The Left Hand of Darkness, The Fellowship of the Ring, and Dune

Ursuala K. LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness was written after J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring and Frank Herbert's Dune. One of the most interesting comparisons between the three novels is how the authors treat the issue of cross-cultural misunderstandings. All three works contain many incidents where people of one race or planet encounter people of a different race or from a different planet. Tolkien treats this issue in a 'specisitc' or physiological manner. The cultural misunderstandings and clashes that arise in The Fellowship of the Ring are due to the differing physiology of the
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They largely dismiss the rest of the goings on of Middle-Earth as not hobbit business. This often leads to misunderstanding and suspicion of others. Sandyman goes on to say "He's [Bilbo] often away from home. And look at the outlandish folk that visit him: dwarves coming at night, and that old wandering conjour, Gandalf, and all. You can say what you like, Gaffer, but Bag End's a queer place, and its folk are queerer (Tolkien 24). Later, a hobbit comments "If only that dratted wizard would leave young Frodo alone, perhaps he'll settle down and grow some hobbit sense" (Tolkien 40). It is clear that many of the hobbits distrust Gandalf simply because he is not a hobbit with typical hobbit business. These same misconceptions and misunderstandings based on physiology are apparent throughout Tolkien's trilogy. The distrust between dwarves and elves, the tension between elves and men, and the reluctance of the ents to get involved with non-ent business are a few examples. Many of these misconceptions and misunderstandings are overcome to defeat the forces of evil, however, the physiological differences among characters are one major roadblock towards the unity of good in the trilogy.

Herbert takes a different approach to cultural misunderstands in Dune. The cultural misconceptions and misunderstands in his world are due not to physiology, but environment. The environments of the different planets imprint different

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