Middle-earth in The Lord of the Rings has ben described as a complex network of diverse cultures and traditions. The Dwarves prefer to live beneath their favorite mountains, while Elves can be found in the woods (if they want to be found). Men construct enormous cities of stone, whereas Hobbits are satisfied with their cozy hillside holes.
There is one irreconciliable difference between the real world and Tolkien’s fictional creation — Middle-earth was designed with the Medieval Era in mind. In other words, the denizens of Rohan, the Shire, Gondor, Rivendell, and Mordor don’t have access to the modern conveniences and luxuries we take for granted.
10 Most People Have Mundane Lives
The rolling green hills of the Shire are unquestionably gorgeous — an ideal holiday spot for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban chaos. Life in Middle-earth, however, isn’t as thrilling as it appears at first glance.
The inhabitants of Hobbiton are well-known gossips, the townsfolk of Bree are relatively unsophisticated, and the citizens of Gondor remain blissfully unconcerned with the world beyond the white walls of Minas Tirith. The peoples of Middle-earth are genuine, gracious, and hospitable, but living with them would get boring really fast.
9 Folk Medicine Has Serious Limitations
Although folk remedies like herbal tinctures and alchemical antidotes are not without their merits, they aren’t a fraction as effective as evidence-based medicine. There are no quick-fix drugs in Middle-earth, even something as simple as aspirin. More importantly, there are no vaccines to prevent pandemics like the Great Plague of TA 1635 from decimating.
Aragorn employs a plant called Athelas to treat Frodo’s Morgul-blade injury, but even this multipurpose herb has its limitations. Interestingly, the Elves are capable of healing both emotional and physical issues by channeling their fëa through the patient’s body.
8 Way Too Much Infighting Going On
Centuries of bloodshed and destruction have permanently scarred the once-beautiful world of Arda. Various Elven factions spend countless years at each other’s throats — false outrage, exaggerated claims, and unbridled vengeance ultimately lead to a complete breakdown of trust.
Having come to terms with their many mistakes, the Elves slowly trickle out of Middle-earth and sail to Aman. The race of Men fills the power vacuum and takes over the continent, creating more conflict than before. Middle-earth is constantly on the verge of war, making for a rather unpleasant living environment.
7 The Forests Are Incredibly Dangerous
Men and Dwarves have been deforesting Middle-earth for eons, leaving only a few areas untouched. Among them are Fangorn, Drúadan, Mirkwood, and the mysterious Old Forest. These forests appear innocuous, but they are nevertheless extremely risky to traverse, especially for unwary travelers.
The Ents of Fangorn are intrinsically nonviolent, but they will not tolerate unsheathed weapons inside their territory. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Mirkwood, which is packed to the rafters with bats and spiders.
6 Orcs Can Pop Out Of Nowhere
Although the vast majority of Middle-earth’s Orc population can be found in “evil” regions like Mordor and Isengard, their very presence disturbs the delicate balance of nature. These malignant creatures spread throughout the continent like a sentient cancer, leaving death and destruction in their wake.
Orc parties often attack without warning, and only the strongest warriors are capable of fighting back. Celebrían, Galadriel’s daughter and Elrond’s wife, is captured and tortured by the Orcs of the Misty Mountains. As long as the Orcs are around, nobody is truly safe in Middle-earth.
5 Creepy Creatures Stalk The Land
Considering Middle-earth’s checkered history, the existence of macabre entities like Ungoliant, Shelob, Smaug, Gollum, and the Balrog of Khazad-dûm doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. In any case, they largely disappear after Morgoth’s defeat during the War of Wrath in the First Age.
On the other hand, the darkest corners of Middle-earth are said to contain legions of foul beasts — “far, far below the deepest delving of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things.” Gandalf states that even Sauron is unaware of these creatures.
4 Traveling To Distant Locations Is A Pain In The Neck
The Fellowship of the Ring travels hundreds of miles from Rivendell to Lothlórien, splintering into three separate groups at the Falls of Rauros. Aragon, Legolas, and Gimli follow Pippin and Merry’s trail to Fangorn, where they reunite with Gandalf.
Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam embark on their arduous journey to the heart of Mordor. The trip takes six months from start to finish, mostly because there are no trains, cars, and planes in Middle-earth. The Eagles would have never agreed to bear the One Ring, leaving Frodo and Sam with no option but to walk all the way to Mt. Doom.
3 The Dark Lord’s Influence Corrupts The World
Dictators exist everywhere, including in the real world, but none of them are as threatening as the Dark Lord of Mordor. Middle-earth endures Sauron’s tyranny for thousands of years — countless lives and livelihoods are destroyed, altering the foundations of society.
Sauron’s sphere of influence eventually reaches the Shire, located on the opposite end of the continent from Mordor. On the plus side, Frodo and Sam are determined to complete their mission because they comprehend the consequences of their failure.
2 Humans Can’t Live In Hobbit-Holes
Hobbit-holes have been described as being synonymous with comfort. These holes are manually carved into hillsides and remodeled into homesteads according to their inhabitants’ preferences. Less privileged Hobbits live in tiny Hobbit-holes called Burrows, while the richest families can afford to build enormous “many-tunneled mansions” with multiple entrances, windows, and pantries.
Given that Hobbits are “between 3 and 4 feet tall” on average, their dwellings are significantly smaller than real-world houses. As wonderful as the idea sounds, humans wouldn’t really be comfortable living in Hobbit-holes.
1 No Electricity, Internet, Or Indoor Plumbing
The people of Middle-earth are generally content with their lot in life, but that’s only because they don’t know what they’re missing out on. While the magnificent city of Minas Tirith is clearly an architectural marvel, it lacks basic infrastructure like electricity and indoor plumbing.
The fastest telecommunications system in Middle-earth employs a series of mountaintop fireplaces that transmit only warning messages and S.O.S. signals. That said, the palantíri of Fëanor can be considered rudimentary examples of videoconferencing technology. Tolkien’s Middle-earth is undeniably delightful, but it shares very little in common with the real world.