J.R.R. TOLKIEN HIMSELF COMMENTED IN HIS LETTERS AND INTERVIEWS on the similarity his invented race of Dwarves had, in his view, with the Jews: “I do think of the ‘Dwarves’ like Jews: at once native and alien in their habitations” and “[t]he Dwarves of course are quite obviously—couldn’t you say that in many ways they remind you of the Jews? Their words are Semitic, obviously, constructed to be Semitic […]” (Letters 229; Interview). In this article, I explore this similarity between Dwarves and Jews (or, more accurately, cultural assumptions about “Jewishness”) in Tolkien’s depiction of the Dwarves in his 1937 book The Hobbit, and how that portrayal shifts in his later work. I argue that “Dwarvishness” in The Hobbit involved several traits, recognizably drawn from antisemitic stereotypes, that, according to the narrator, exclude the Dwarves from the heroic ethos that is the hallmark of the book’s value system. Tolkien’s later recognition of this, perhaps, caused him to sharply alter his presentation of Dwarves in The Lord of the Rings, published in 1954-55, and to continue this revision in his later unpublished works.
Here is a really excellent essay that talks about Tolkien and antisemitism in the Hobbit as well as a few of his other earlier works about Middle Earth.
I’ve posted it before, but I’ll continue to post it every time the conversation gets brought up.
Also check the bibliography on this paper because it will lead you not to just to more essays on Tolkien and antisemitism but will also discuss issues of racism in his work as well.
You know you’re dying to check this out, ya nerds.