I looked into this further. There is actually no English use of the word Master in relation to land ownership, nobility, Baby Yoda seagulls stop now Christmas shirt or royalty in the last couple of centuries. One that comes close is the term “young master” for the heir apparent to a lordship or other title. When the word is used in the English judicial system, it is a job title, with no implication of authority over people. In fact, as far as I can tell, there was no English use of the word “master” that reflects the conventions of English social hierarchy. Tolkien might well have chosen the word because, of all possible terms, it was the one most free of any associations or allegorical meaning at all. We also know he never imagined having an American audience it quite surprised him. So the American form of address, master in the slave slave-owner relationship was a concern that would not have entered Tolkien’s mind.If we go back earlier, we can find that the term “master of this house” was first brought into use around . Such a search makes it clear that a master much more often has control of a skill or talent master craftsman, a household, or a job or set of jobs than he has any authority over people.If we wish to compare the use of Master in
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England before or during Tolkien’s lifetime to Sam’s usage, and especially if Baby Yoda seagulls stop now Christmas shirt we want to consider that from the point of view of class conventions, it makes sense to look at how Tolkien himself would have viewed those class conventions.Tolkien’s own position as a professor at Oxford put him in complex and ambivalent relationship to the entire British class system. The upper class was built on land ownership, political power, military power, and, later, owns of means of production, or control of agencies of commerce. The educational institutions were outside this system, and in the early centuries, a competing source of ecclesiastical power and authority. Later, they continued to be a competing source of authority, the authority of intellectual knowledge, which was essential to the constant modernization of vehicles and methods of commerce, government, and war. Tolkien’s own position at Oxford may have suggested the term “master” to him in relation to the notion of a schoolmaster or housemaster. This, however, clearly has no bearing on Sam and Frodo, as there were no formal schools in the Shire.