“The Antithesis of the Traditional Elf:” Deconstructing Racial Representations in Dungeons and Dragons and R. A. Salvatore’s The Legend of Drizzt
This thesis examines the implications of subverting the appearance, characteristics, and morality of the fantasy race of the elves. This attempt at subversion exposes the limitations and liberations that some races have, particularly their ability to transcend their expected racial identity to establish a personal identity. Our long historical fascination with elves establishes them as a means to understand issues of particular times in the Anglo-Saxon culture, the Renaissance, Victorian England, and Tolkien. Dungeon and Dragons’ introduction of the drow in a popular game allows for exploration of how people understand these different races and what racial expectations linger in the cultural imagination. Comparing the traditional surface elves to the drow and Drizzt Do’Urden to Artemis Entreri in R. A. Salvatore’s The Legend of Drizzt series further allows an exploration of how we think about race and the limitations or freedoms we permit to different creatures. Scholars have examined the cultural and historical significance of the elves, explored how D&D works and reinforces cultural thinking about race, and have begun to examine Salvatore’s elves, but no in-depth work has yet been done on racial representations in these works. This thesis will help to fill this current research gap and further the conversation on racial representations in fantasy literature and popular culture.
elves, Dungeons and Dragons, R.A. Salvatore, Drizzt, race, fantasy literature, racisim
Master of Arts (M.A.)