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A discussion of "Law and Arda" by Douglas Kane
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Brethil
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 2:04am

Post #26 of 101 (513 views)
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You make a lot of sense when you are tired Telain... [In reply to] Can't Post


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Tolkien's world is actually much simpler than ours in some ways, as evil is almost definable, and those that are good and have been corrupted are also easy to identify. This is really kind of an essential distillation: is it part of the appeal of JRRT's world for us? I think it is for me! I love this point. You should always post when you are tired. Wink

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Brethil
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 2:09am

Post #27 of 101 (524 views)
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The end of Saruman [In reply to] Can't Post


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Depending on the day of the week that you ask me and what I've seen on the news, I am either for or against capital punishment. I could put in writing "I want that @^#&!! to burn!" and another day write, "Well, let him rot in jail with the .00000001% chance that he'll redeem himself." By comparison, I don't think that everything Tolkien wrote in a letter should be taken as canon, so I probably overreacted in my hasty reply from work. He was clearly following a train of thought and writing in a certain context. I think context equally applies to his famous quote about LOTR being "a fundamentally religious and Catholic work"--he said that to a priest, right? In college, I would say mild, gentle things in letters to my grandmother that of course were contradicted in letters to my friends. We all tailor messages to an audience.
Going back to our discussion of Tolkien and the Law, what I would distill in general from his sentiments is that he felt that Good should fight against Evil, and given a divine moral imperative, that meant what Good did in that fight was legally permissible. Hence there are no antiwar activists outside Minas Tirith waving a red flag of Sauron chanting, "Better red than dead." And while Frodo is a noble peace activist, Merry bluntly tells him he's not going to save the Shire that way. Was it legally right to kill the ruffians? Are they persons, as Wiz asks? They fall between the cracks, it seems. But hobbits are clearly persons and Frodo forbids killing any of them, and it seems that no one else has an appetite to kill them either despite their treason. There also seems no desire to kill Lotho, but the hobbits are tempted to kill Saruman--is he a person, according to Shire laws? I don't think so, therefore they see it as permissible. And I think he'd forfeited his rights to being a legal person within the context of the story and the Valar, hence there was no forgiveness for him from that wind from Manwe that blew him the wrong way.




Love all this - but that last sentence especially CG. The real Court of Last Appeal, and damnation past all worldly ends, having forfeited the right of Mercy. A powerful image!

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 2:18am

Post #28 of 101 (519 views)
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I really like that question, Brethil--what about hobbit laws? And death penalties? [In reply to] Can't Post

And therefore the inverse: is NOT destroying such a threat 'wrong'?
I think Tolkien would agree with the statement that "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." The whole mission of the Istari is to motivate good people to do something about Sauron, which implies the Valar don't trust the people of MEarth to do the right thing to get rid of evil on their own. While the Valar don't wipe out Sauron himself for fear that the tumult would be ruinous to MEarth, I think the moral foundation of Arda is that everyone must oppose evil and not expect the Higher Powers to do all the work. That principle is embodied by the hobbits, who are weaker than any race, but of course carry within them the seed of courage and strength to heroically combat evil.

And hobbits are moral people, aren't they? Their only need for police is for their boundaries. What does that say about hobbits? Do they have laws? They must, if they have lawyers and legal requirements for inheritance, but do people ever break them? If you don't have police, my guess is no. Frodo notes indignantly that Gollum couldn't be a hobbit because he'd meant to cheat Bilbo in the riddle game, and hobbits don't cheat. They also NEVER kill other hobbits. The worst that happens are acts of mischief, such as children stealing fruit from orchards, which is hardly a society-shattering crime. (Think of the source of Sam's attitude when confronting Faramir in Ithilien.)

What does it say about the Shire living in a state of blissful near-anarchy, versus Gondor and Rohan which clearly do have laws and kings/stewards to enforce them with the death penalty?
Lorien seems to have laws too, at least about outsiders. The Ents, however, don't seem to have any laws. Their reaction to Saruman is more about emotions, revenge, and self-preservation than a legal consideration of "he trespassed and violated our property." Or maybe the Entmoot did decide the latter legal point; I'm not sure. And of course Sauron has laws, which is odd for someone so immoral, but not odd for a tyrant--they love using laws for oppression. Do other races oppress with their laws?



Brethil
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 2:51am

Post #29 of 101 (512 views)
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Some new points... [In reply to] Can't Post


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(Some of what you bring up CG I had never thought of! Thank you!) In the Matter of Undue Influence: So this juror lets Gandalf off the hook. Your vote is counted!

That's my take on Dwarves: they take the law seriously, which is why they can be very vindictive when they're wronged. It's not just the personal betrayal, it's the breach of contract that upsets them. Given how much Dwarves depend on commerce for their livelihood, I would say that laws matter to them more than to any other race. Thus to answer your question, I think the contract is executable.
I like this point you raise about Dwarves and commerce, and how contracts and business agreements figure much more prominently in their lives. For example in the Dwarven heyday its described that they never have to grow a single ear of their own corn because their entire fortunes are built upon their crafting, and the trade with other People's of ME. (And so was the dragon, har har.) WinkOuch. Very nice there.
3. Is maintaining the legal fiction of Bilbo as an (non-gifted) amateur needed to advance the story and Bilbo's arc, or is it more of a plot-driven point?
I like your question, but am I permitted to answer yes and yes? If yes and no is Elven, what's Yes and Yes...? Sounds like a Manwe special. I think it was primarily to show that Bilbo remained inept at anything other than being a pampered aristocrat, and that for the Took in him to take over, it was going to happen gradually, not dramatically. But his purse snatching turned into a great part of the story that I believe is a favorite for most readers, and not a lot had been happening plot-wise for awhile, so that encounter livened up the story. And of course led to things like Sting and Glamdring, and we got to see how clever Gandalf is. But there was also some good character development involved: Bilbo trying to prove himself as a burglar, the Dwarves loyally coming to save him, and Thorin standing out as the most sensible of all of them by being cautious. I like this point - if you read it superficially it doesn't seem that way - but caution is the correct word. And as Expedition Leader its really the right choice. Then there was Bilbo showing his loyalty by going Took (LOL!!!!!!More Circus Acts? The Lunging Tooks?) and grabbing a troll's leg (unfortunately a failure), then the Baggins in him cowering where he fell while his friends were going to be eaten. All of that milked from one failed attempt at snatching a purse! Yet odd as it is, since I have no sympathy for the trolls, it does seem like Bilbo was stealing from them, and unlike Smaug's treasure, Bilbo and the Dwarves had no claim on what the trolls had, even though they were thieves too. So the Baggins is guilty in this case. Yes, as Doug points out in Law and Arda the purpose here was not high-minded, to return stolen property or to right a wrong! Bit of Hobbit bravado (Hobbado?)

4. Based on the revised version of Riddles, where do you stand here, in the moral, legal and/or psychological implications of Bilbo keeping the Ring? Theft, necessity or the hand of Fate?

Well, the Valar ("Authorities") ruled that Gollum was bound by his promise in the riddle game, and it only came dimly to Bilbo that the Ring belonged to Gollum, in fact, only when Gollum was prepared to murder him. So if you accidentally find something that could be anyone's, and later realize who the owner is only when the owner is going to eat you, I think there is legal justification for running away and using that object to save your life. But if you want to stick to the law, Bilbo should have thrown the Ring back to Gollum once he was clear of him, or even once he was outside. He knew he had stolen property, and he hadn't been hired to steal from Gollum. There is a legal paradox at work in The Hobbit. Bilbo wants to become a burglar in a noble way by stealing from a criminal dragon, but burglary is not noble, and practicing it along the way, such as stealing from Gollum, doesn't improve Bilbo's character. So it's significant when he begins to repudiate the burglar role by giving up the (stolen) Arkenstone, not to its owner, of course, but with the hope that it would go back to its owner by averting a war. Paradox indeed! Good word here. His whole 'thief' arc is a bit of a paradox isn't?
And though the pity of Bilbo ruled the fate of many, it's no excuse for stealing the Ring. It's a big question...as you say, once Bilbo was aware that the item belonged to Gollum and perhaps the moral thing to do was return it when he was free of danger. Of course, that would have proved disastrous overall very likely...so the temptation of the Ring (clearly why Bilbo doesn't do the right thing) ultimately leads to its destruction. Another unintended good achieved by evil? Interesting that the right thing to do and what saves the world in this instance are two different things...

I have no ambivalence about this one: Smaug stole from the Dwarves, and they were entitled to get their property back. Bilbo thought that taking the cup made him a burglar, and I suppose it did since he was taking something from its possessor, but it feels pretty neutral, and was just a little thrill to him. Taking the Arkenstone was different. He knew it legally belonged to Thorin, he knew how much Thorin wanted it, and most tellingly, he felt guilty about keeping it. So Bilbo stole from his employer, which made him a bad burglar. Bad Burglar Bilbo.. has a nice ring to it! I have a lot of conflict about that whole Arkenstone business. not sure if I understand my entire thoughts, but I know that it feels 'wrong'.

6. The Will.
I personally don't read much into this except that hobbits were ridiculous sticklers for detail (another example was their obsession over family trees). The part about red ink stands out to me as something that isn't as common as blue or black ink, and somehow it invokes a greater sense of absurd ceremony to have the witnesses employ it, along with seven witnesses being overkill. But when hobbits go to extremes, they're just absurd, and no one gets hurt. (*Points at Denethor.*)
Nice...point! Wink

7.
Clemency: each event has a significant story consequence - except for the case of Grima and Theoden. With the idea that in JRRT's world legal fictions create meaning, why might choosing this legally unprecedented act of mercy for Grima, especially after his numerous dark deeds, be so morally (or psychologically) important for Theoden?
Tolkien likes his characters to keep the high ground and show clemency (*cough* except Thingol), and specifically for Theoden, it seems to me that his story unfolds in a way that shows him clearing away all petty concerns so that he can die in peace. He's aware of that himself and hints at it a few times. The Theoden/Grima mercy parallels the higher level Gandalf/Saruman mercy, and each of the bad guys comes close to repenting, then stick to their evil ways. It seems to me that there may be written laws in Rohan that Theoden could follow, but both he and Gandalf are following Valar or Iluvatar laws (ditto Frodo/Gollum) in showing mercy, so the higher set of laws trumps the lower. I would also say that all this mercy does have generally good consequences. Frodo would not permit Saruman to be killed, so Grima did it, eliminating a spirit of malice from the world who could clearly still do harm. The pity of Theoden ruled the fate of the hobbits and whoever else Saruman would have tormented. Wow, I never connected those dots! So the moral needs of Théoden, as you say, pay off in other ways...to Esquire Merry's people. Nice.

8. Marriage: So what do you think JRRT is saying about marriage in a morality vs. law context, by using a lack of formal legal structure in his literary depiction of a highly legalized real-world state; perhaps in both an idealized and real-world sense?
I'm a little puzzled that someone who believes that marriage is forever with no possibility for divorce doesn't believe in having a great big, formal ceremony to cement a marriage. But I think that Tolkien, who so often stressed that what was natural was best, was showing that mating for life (which plenty of intelligent animals do) was natural and didn't need a ceremony. It was willed by Eru, and that was that.
I think that's what he may be saying here, that the sacredness of the bond itself trumps earthly law, which is why there is no ceremony - and no easy severing.

This was a lot of fun, Breth, and you clearly toiled over it more than a Dwarf over a labor of love. Thanks so much for creating this discussion! Thanks for your thoughts! And of course to Doug for sharing his work!


Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 3:01am

Post #30 of 101 (513 views)
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Nice succinct comparison, Telain [In reply to] Can't Post

And I love Law and Arda!!

TH is a children's book, so (to me) the legality is there in some ways as a conduit and as comedy. LoTR is an epic, so the legality is a juxtaposition of RW and Higher Morality/Higher Ground issues. The SIl is a collection of archival notes, papers, legends, stories, etc., so the legality there is very tenuous and very much in favour of how the Higher Powers (Valar) understand what is morally good (or bad). Almost "the making of morality".
I agree that the legality in The Hobbit is intended for levity, whereas the other books are more serious in tone and have a more serious examination of legality and right/wrong. It almost seems in The Sil that everyone (except Melkor) is still learning the finer points between right and wrong as they go along, which is not too surprising in a world that's just been born and among races just born.

I get that sense in LOTR, when Gandalf says things like "The Elves may fear the Dark Lord, and they may fly before him, but never again will they listen to him or serve him." It's as if they've grown up as a race from the First and Second Ages and have matured in their understanding in the Third Age. Likewise, it took the Valar literally ages to figure out Melkor, the extent of his evil, and how to deal with it. Whether intended or not, maybe Tolkien's message is that figuring out morality and the legal system spawned by it takes a lot of time and plenty of trial and error. I consider that a real-world experience as well.

Well, I'm off to steal stuff to sell on craiglist. Oops, did I put that in writing? I will blame the glamorization of burglary in The Hobbit at my trial. Wouldn't it be cool to screen the entire 3 movies as defense at my trial? And if my jury was packed with women, and they swooned over the Dwarves, well, I ain't gonna worry about no guilty verdict.


Elizabeth
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 7:12am

Post #31 of 101 (530 views)
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Ask the U. S. Supreme Court... [In reply to] Can't Post

...which has held that corporations are "persons" entitled to many protections and guarantees in US law.. Wikipedia has an interesting discussion on this issue here.








noWizardme
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 8:40am

Post #32 of 101 (543 views)
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letter 183 considered and rebutted, "just wars" etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

I re-read it yesterday and concluded that Tolkien was being more logical than reasonable as he works up to the idea of Aragorn's orc mercenary force. Logical because he is advancing linearly down a chain of reasoning. Not reasonable in that he's following just that single line, not seeing it as part of a wider picture.

His argument goes that, if one side is Right and one side is Wrong, then that principle should hold consistently. The Right side might do wrong actions (and conversely the Wrong side might do right actions) but the actions can be right or wrong independently of the rightness or wrongness of the cause.

That kind of sentence makes my head spin, and I feel I need an example. I'll take CuriousG's one of the Souring of the Shire (thanks CG!)

For sake of the argument that follows, please accept that Frodo and Co. are Right in their cause to liberate the Shire from the ruffians who have taken it over, and to restore the customary liberties and freedoms of the shire folk. Correspondingly, the ruffians and their leaders (Lotho, ultimately Saruman) were Wrong to take over the Shire and subvert it.

As the story pans out, Frodo makes every effort to achieve this morally (e.g. minimizing the number of deaths, refusing to succumb to revenge). But let's do a series of thought experiments in which things instead get nastier and nastier:
  1. The ruffians (actually, anyone over hobbit height found in the Shire that day, too few questions asked sadly) are all hacked to pieces
  2. As (1) but additionally there are acts of revenge on hobbits who are taken to have collaborated
  3. As (2) with additional carpetbagging, opportunistic score-settling, looting, etc
  4. Frodo et al. hire an army of their own ruffians (it would seem there were plenty for hire around Bree), and invade with all-out war, followed by (3)
  5. Frodo uses a weapon he found in Mordor (or Pippin uses one he found at Orthanc) . The entire Shire is reduced to a smoking, radioactive and uninhabitable crater.

Real history offers plenty of parallels for 1-4!
In the early examples, I'd probably agree with letter 183 - in (1) we can continue to think its Right to liberate the Shire from the ruffians who have taken it over, and to restore the customary liberties and freedoms of the shire folk, without it being inconsistent to think that summary extra-judicial killings are wrong. That is, it doesn't follow that the ruffians were Right to take over the Shire and Frodo et al. have now become Wrong to want it back.

As we mount through 2-5, more and more of the spirit of Frodo's cause gets lost. If Frodo went for 5, he might find Wormtongue or Saruman a useful servant to argue that he had indeed "liberated the Shire from the ruffians who have taken it over, and restored the customary liberties and freedoms of the shire folk". Destroying something to "save" it is the kind of thing that Gimli rebuts when he says to Saruman "the words of wizards stand on their heads..." Similarly (4) is politically foolish - plenty of examples from history show that mercenaries are easier to hire than to get rid of: Lotho as nominal leader but actually as prisoner would most likely be replaced by Frodo in much the same position.

Tolkien's Orc armies of the West idea from #183 is too extreme an example to back his position - perhaps meaning to give an extreme example to show how independent rightness of cause is from rightness of action, he instead deflates his own argument with what looks like a reducto ab adsurdum attack. It gets even more chilling when he argues that the West (in his tale) is on the side of God, and that anything in God's cause is justified. That way lies the argument of the suicide bomber, among others. Fortunately, as several of us have commented, it seems at odds with much else that he wrote.

What Tolkien is missing in letter 183 is the principle of proportionality. This idea, which Frodo exemplifies so well in Tolkien's story, is that one should do the minimum of the nasty stuff. Not only is the nasty stuff wrong in itself (independent of whether the cause it is done for is Right or Wrong) but, we see elsewhere in Tolkien's writings, the nasty stuff and the quick if short-term results it seems to offer, are frightfully addictive. That's what goes wrong with Saruman, as has already been commented. To offer a counter-letter, 131 (Also appears in some editions of the Sil):



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"...frightful evil can and does arise from an apparently good root: the desire to benefit the world and others - speedily and according to the benefactor's own plans - is a recurrent motive."



Or, if you like, NK Jemisin's The Killing Moon (which is a very good fantasy story, BTW):


Quote

"[His teachers had told him that] Those who consort with the corrupt eventually become corrupt themselves....One's sense of what was normal, acceptable, became distorted by proximity to wrongness; entire nations had succumbed this way...

NK Jemisin




Bringing this back towards points of ethics and law, proportionality is one of the principles in the theory of a "Just War". A handy BBC page on the topic tells me that a just war has 6 principles:


Quote
  • The war must be for a just cause.
  • The war must be lawfully declared by a lawful authority.
  • The intention behind the war must be good.
  • All other ways of resolving the problem should have been tried first.
  • There must be a reasonable chance of success.
  • The means used must be in proportion to the end that the war seeks to achieve.

...

A war that starts as a Just War may stop being a Just War if the means used to wage it are inappropriate.
  • Innocent people and non-combatants should not be harmed.
  • Only appropriate force should be used.
    • This applies to both the sort of force, and how much force is used.
  • Internationally agreed conventions regulating war must be obeyed.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/.../war/just/what.shtml


A longer (very good) article on Just War from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy points out that it tends to be a theory used in wars between societies seeing themselves as more or less equal. It's less likely to be used if, on the basis of religious, political, racial or other differences the other side can be seen as not being persons (and so anything may be done to them). The article also points out various objections to the theory and alternative points of view.

Topical stuff once more since 9/11, sadly.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 8:46am

Post #33 of 101 (506 views)
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"It comes in pints" T-shirt [In reply to] Can't Post

Sounds all too likely as a wheeze of the Hobbiton Brewery Marketing department. I'm imagining Rosie with such a T-shirt on her...er.. very feminine figure. Any double-meaning is of course in the eye of the beholder.Wink

Ow, why did Sam slap my head just then?

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 10:02am

Post #34 of 101 (597 views)
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the only good orc is a dead orc? [In reply to] Can't Post

I see the orcs as something of a moral problem. On the one hand, Tolkien seems to want them as the evil killing machines that therefore it's OK for his heroes to kill in battle. (I'm thinking back here to a conversation some of us had as part of the Sil Chapter 2 discussion, when it unexpectedly took a turn into whether there were any lady-orcs etc.). On the other hand when we hear orc-conversation in LOTR, it's all too human-sounding.

I think it's probably true that real personhood requires moral sense as well as intelligence. We restrict the rights and freedoms of children (below certain ages that cannot commit theft, or cannot vote or marry) because the law regards people under a certain age as lacking the moral sense for these actions to have their adult significance. Similarly, what do we do with someone who has committed atrocious murders, sees nothing wrong with what they did and expresses the hope that they will soon have an opportunity to do more of the same? It's not important how articulately or intelligently they express their view - their messed-up moral sense is what justifies action to protect the rest of society from them. Some times and places exact a death penalty, most societies see the need to protect others from this murder to outweigh his or her right to freedom, if not to continued life. So, whether they are held in a building labeled "Prison" or one labeled "Hospital", they are likely to be confined securely and permanently, unless there seems good reason to think they've ceased to be murderous.

I'm mentioning that because I can't quite decide whether the orcs are irredeemably a race of raving psychopathic murderers, or whether it is their culture rather then their very nature which the Enemy has perverted. If the latter, orcs are capable of learning to behave better, and so would potentially be redeemable.

Real-life comparisons are depressing - in many times in history one group has been all too willing expediently to label another as incapable of any moral sense and so sub-human and so exempt from the need for moral treatment or protection by law. For example -"The only good Indian is a dead Indian." (Philip Sheridan, attrib)

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 11:15am

Post #35 of 101 (502 views)
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Law in Rohan and Gondor - Lets either Court-Marshal Eowyn, or award her the order of Maria Theresa!! [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd certainly like to add my thanks to Douglas Kane for sharing his paper and so allowing this discussion of his work. Among many things I enjoyed in the Law and Arda paper is the section pp10-11 comparing and contrasting Theoden's treatment of Hama and Grima, with Aragorn's treatment of Beregond.

To recap -
Hama uses his own judgment to allowing Gandalf to keep his staff when visiting the bewitched (or poisoned?) King Theoden. This is a technical breach of his orders, though use of his staff helps Gandalf to heal Theoden (or whatever it is he does). Furthermore, Hama is sent to release Eomer, and is perhaps over-zealous in returning Eomer his sword. Certainly, Theoden is surprised to see Eomer released and armed, offering up a sword when reachers for his sword and realises its missing.. Theoden checks that his royal authority is not being flouted, but does not see any need to discipline someone who broke his orders for a good reason. Loyalty and good intention seem more important than obedience to formal orders. Theoden is even, as the article points out, willing to grant Grima Wormtongue a chance to redeem himself by riding to battle with his king. Hama dies at Helms Deep, and his body is mutilated by Saruman's forces - and it's clear from Theoden's talk at the parley of Orthanc that this insult to a brave and loyal Thane is not something he's going to overlook.

Beregond leaves his post during the siege of Minas Tirith in order to try and save Faramir from being burned to death by the insane Denethor. "He ended up committing a number of crimes in his haste to save Faramir" as Douglas Kane puts it. Aragorn's judgment of Beregond later is a careful balance between the letter of the law (which requires Beregond to be banished for his acts) and the spirit of the law and a sense of justice and mercy (Beregond's "banishment" is to be a promotion to Captain Faramir and Eowyn's guard in Ithilien - a reward which also happens to meet the needs of the law).

In addition to the common thread of mercy, which Douglas Kane picks out, I see a contrast between a more rule-driven Gondorian law versus a more what did-you-mean-by-it? Rohan law.

Meanwhile, no one considers court-marshaling Eowyn, though they all know she deserted her post (she was explicitly left in charge of Theoden's defences while he rode to war, but turns up disguised on the battlefield, having git there with the connivance of a number of brother officers). Moreover, Aragorn specifically reminded her at the time that neither he nor she can do as they wish when they have their duties to do. Are we not a cross at all? Perhaps, based on her good intentions, she did no wrong in the eyes of opinion in Rohan (I imagine it would be different if she had left her post in cowardice to run away) . Besides, of course, she's the hero of the battle, and that probably means that if "why weren't you at your post" comes up, everyone just changes the subj...

..to the order of Maria Theresa:

Quote
It was specifically given for "successful military acts of essential impact to a campaign that were undertaken on [the officer's] own initiative, and might have been omitted by an honorable officer without reproach." This gave rise to a popular myth that it was awarded for (successfully) acting against an explicit order. It is considered to be the highest honor for a soldier in the Austrian armed services.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_Order_of_Maria_Theresa


I read about this in an entertaining article by consultant Gerald Weinberg, who uses the order of Maria Theresa as a starting point for some interesting thoughts about beneficial rule breaking. He concludes


Quote
When Jefferson was drafting the United States Constitution, he naturally wrote an article concerning amendments. But when asked to write something granting the people the right to throw out the Constitution entirely and start afresh, Jefferson refused. He argued—correctly, I think—that the people had such a right whether or not it was written in the Constitution. It was a right superseding any government and any written rules of government. It was, in effect, a tautology, for without the consent of the governed, there is no government. A shadow, perhaps, but no government.

The same is true in any modern bureaucracy.Rules are not made to be broken, but neither are they made to be not broken. Rules are made so that the organization operates more effectively. The rule above all other rules is "Do what is necessary to operate effectively." You ultimately get punished for not operating effectively, but not for breaking the rules.

http://secretsofconsulting.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/order-of-maria-theresa.html


Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 12:19pm

Post #36 of 101 (506 views)
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Brian Eno, Chekhov and Rambo go to the movies [In reply to] Can't Post

I guess that part of what we're debating is, in fact, this:

Quote
It's interesting to note that neither the proposed world nor the value system [we see when watching a movie] needs to be 'realistic' for us to be interested, just as a chess game doesn't have to represent a realistic military conflict. We are interested in our own grasp of those processes. We want to know the rules, and we want to rehearse our ability to extrapolate from them.

When Chekhov wrote his stories, what was revolutionary about them was his reluctance to imply a moral judgement of his characters. He portrayed a world not of free will -where people are 'good' or 'bad' because they want to be - but a world where people are more or less the results of their environment: where their choices are limited, a repertoire of possibilities derived from the grammar of their upbringing and circumstances. In this world, we try to cope with people by being sympathetic to their plight. If they hurt us, we do not call them 'evil' but instead we see them as victims too. In fact we do not believe in 'evil' as an intrinsic quality that they might have.

The Rambo series represents a different kind of story. In these films the world is clearly divided into 'good guys' and 'bad guys'. There is a life-or-death struggle, where there is no time for fine judgements or discussions of how things got that way. Just as the existence of evil is a given thing so is the duty to fight it. In a Rambo film, people 'are what they are'. They are not emergent, changing, complex or fluctuating. There is no point in trying to delve into their motives, since these are obvious: they are us and therefore good, or they are possessed of the devil and want to eradicate us. It is fashionable to regard these films as stupid, but don't they in fact depict some kind of real crisis? There could, surely, be times when we are required to act with such blunt distinctions, times when it is 'them' or 'us'. And how would we do that? Maybe Rambo knows how, where Chekhov wouldn't.

Brian Eno - A Year with Swollen Appendices

What do you think? I seem to be taking a Chekhovian line in this discussion, but "don't push me" Smile

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Brethil
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 3:01pm

Post #37 of 101 (524 views)
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Orcs as 'persons' - excellent points on a debatable topic [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I see the orcs as something of a moral problem. On the one hand, Tolkien seems to want them as the evil killing machines that therefore it's OK for his heroes to kill in battle. (I'm thinking back here to a conversation some of us had as part of the Sil Chapter 2 discussion, when it unexpectedly took a turn into whether there were any lady-orcs etc.). On the other hand when we hear orc-conversation in LOTR, it's all too human-sounding. Very true. Which is why I thought Telain had a great point about the ceaseless 'self-defense' position...because as you say below....
I think it's probably true that real personhood requires moral sense as well as intelligence. And JRRT's Orcs seem to have some sort of moral code - just not one we can live with! Certainly they have intelligence, even the planning type. There's that passage where Shagrat (I think) is talking about wanting to just find a little backwater to hide in, away from the Eye and the fuss...it's not the quiet life we would enjoy certainly, but that he gave them a desire to live a quieter life and long for something different really 'humanizes' them .... and when Fingolfin finally falls - the Orcs don't boast about that fight. It's touching somehow. So he did not make them 'inhuman'. They are close enough to us to make it debatable. We restrict the rights and freedoms of children (below certain ages that cannot commit theft, or cannot vote or marry) because the law regards people under a certain age as lacking the moral sense for these actions to have their adult significance. Similarly, what do we do with someone who has committed atrocious murders, sees nothing wrong with what they did and expresses the hope that they will soon have an opportunity to do more of the same? It's not important how articulately or intelligently they express their view - their messed-up moral sense is what justifies action to protect the rest of society from them. Some times and places exact a death penalty, most societies see the need to protect others from this murder to outweigh his or her right to freedom, if not to continued life. So, whether they are held in a building labeled "Prison" or one labeled "Hospital", they are likely to be confined securely and permanently, unless there seems good reason to think they've ceased to be murderous. There's the rub: the question of redeemability. Would Orcs ever cease being murderous, to be safely part of or to be safe near Elf or Human or Dwarf societies? And from a Law sense, how do you apply rights to the Orcs while protecting the populace that originates the local Law?
I'm mentioning that because I can't quite decide whether the orcs are irredeemably a race of raving psychopathic murderers, or whether it is their culture rather then their very nature which the Enemy has perverted. If the latter, orcs are capable of learning to behave better, and so would potentially be redeemable. Real-life comparisons are depressing - in many times in history one group has been all too willing expediently to label another as incapable of any moral sense and so sub-human and so exempt from the need for moral treatment or protection by law. For example -"The only good Indian is a dead Indian." (Philip Sheridan, attrib) It is an open question for me still Furuncurunir. We did discuss it a while ago, and while I think its clear Orcs were created from Elves, the question remains as to their ability to be anything but what they currently were in JRRT's world. As Telain pointed out last night, making an excellent point when tired, perhaps part of what draws us into the conflict of ME is that its mandates are so clear! There are good and bad lines drawn along (quite visible) species lines and the worries we have (the serial killer looking "just like the rest of us") about how to judge our fellows is clarified in that equation.


Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Brethil
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 3:29pm

Post #38 of 101 (485 views)
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Law as an opression...continuum? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
And therefore the inverse: is NOT destroying such a threat 'wrong'?
I think Tolkien would agree with the statement that "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." The whole mission of the Istari is to motivate good people to do something about Sauron, which implies the Valar don't trust the people of MEarth to do the right thing to get rid of evil on their own. While the Valar don't wipe out Sauron himself for fear that the tumult would be ruinous to MEarth, I think the moral foundation of Arda is that everyone must oppose evil and not expect the Higher Powers to do all the work. That principle is embodied by the hobbits, who are weaker than any race, but of course carry within them the seed of courage and strength to heroically combat evil. This brings to my mind the question of the Company and the Trolls. (Granted, before I get started, I know I am back-dating deep philosophy onto TH where initially I know it wasn't primarily woven in; although the mores of JRRT of course are.) If one encounter a trio of Trolls, for example, near a Hobbit or Human settlement, and one knows of their taste for sentient meals, is there an unlawfulness in allowing them to persist? Especially if by doing so people (grouping the races) one knows perhaps will be devoured? So although Bilbo trying to nick the Purse gets the ball rolling, I wonder if as a writer JRRT simply could not have the Company move on and leave those highly dangerous Trolls alive.

And hobbits are moral people, aren't they? Their only need for police is for their boundaries. What does that say about hobbits? Do they have laws? They must, if they have lawyers and legal requirements for inheritance, but do people ever break them? If you don't have police, my guess is no. Frodo notes indignantly that Gollum couldn't be a hobbit because he'd meant to cheat Bilbo in the riddle game, and hobbits don't cheat. They also NEVER kill other hobbits. The worst that happens are acts of mischief, such as children stealing fruit from orchards, which is hardly a society-shattering crime. (Think of the source of Sam's attitude when confronting Faramir in Ithilien.)
Hobbits seem highly moral, with a community (?) sense of morality? The Police in Hobbit lands seem more around to keep the fabric of life orderly and neat...

What does it say about the Shire living in a state of blissful near-anarchy, versus Gondor and Rohan which clearly do have laws and kings/stewards to enforce them with the death penalty? Lorien seems to have laws too, at least about outsiders. The Ents, however, don't seem to have any laws. Their reaction to Saruman is more about emotions, revenge, and self-preservation than a legal consideration of "he trespassed and violated our property." Or maybe the Entmoot did decide the latter legal point; I'm not sure. And of course Sauron has laws, which is odd for someone so immoral, but not odd for a tyrant--they love using laws for oppression. Do other races oppress with their laws?
This is a fantastic question. Gondor does seem more 'book law' certainly than other cultures...do we see an evolution of Law corresponding with the closeness of the more elemental (ie spirit) parts of the ME legendarium? The Elves and Ents, close to spirit realms and older, have hardly any formality and its rather 'elemental' law. Dwarves (very far from Spirit planes) are highly legalistic and contractual sort of folk. As Numenor evolves Men seem to get more 'bookish' about Law. And then the Hobbits, rather earthy folk, sort of have Law just to keep everything tidy in the garden.... I like your point about Sauron's lawfulness - same analogy maybe? That he has drifted so far from the native rights and elements of Arda (in so many ways) that his take on Law reflects his insatiable need for Control? And thus becomes oppression. I honestly don't know if other races oppress with law...though I have to say as an individual ruler Denethor seems to be moving that way perhaps?


Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Brethil
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 3:42pm

Post #39 of 101 (489 views)
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I find the exceptions interesting [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
...which has held that corporations are "persons" entitled to many protections and guarantees in US law.. Wikipedia has an interesting discussion on this issue




Like the exclusion of the Fifth Amendment, having that apply only to distinct individuals and not to a legal 'person' in the corporate sense. (So our favorite dummy corporation, Noruas, loses its protection against self-incrimination...!) Thanks for the link Elizabeth!

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Brethil
Half-elven


May 29 2013, 3:51pm

Post #40 of 101 (479 views)
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Youv'e gone and got Sam all muttery now... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Sounds all too likely as a wheeze of the Hobbiton Brewery Marketing department. I'm imagining Rosie with such a T-shirt on her...er.. very feminine figure. Any double meaning is of course in the eye of the beholder.Wink

Ow, why did Sam slap my head just then?




I like your points above about just wars...very often the sticking point seems to be dehumanizing the enemy. Sadly I think in actual cases of combat I think its the only way violence on a mass scale CAN be waged (maybe 'sadly' is the wrong assessment...maybe its better that it isn't easy or right-feeling!)

(And I suggest you DON'T look at Rosie in that t-shirt at all, or Sam will have a fit. He does carry gardening tools you know.)

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


elaen32
Gondor


May 29 2013, 10:25pm

Post #41 of 101 (460 views)
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Late to the party and lots to catch up on! [In reply to] Can't Post

Firstly, thanks to Doug/Voronwe for a really interesting article and for letting us discuss it here. And secondly, thank you Brethil for organising all of this

In Reply To

1) Gandalf certainly wields influence here, but I don't believe that it is "undue". I think that Gandalf basically tapped into a deeper part of Bilbo's nature and brought this to the fore. I believe Bilbo made the decision of his free will and initially (ie before joining the Company and then before getting too far from the Shire) he had "plenty of chances to turn back, only he didn't"
2) Like other opinions here, mine is that Smaug is acting as both devil's advocate and devil here. The contract merely states that Bilbo will take delivery of 1/14th of the treasure. This is not the same as it being delivered to the door of BagEnd. How he uses his share is up to him. He could go and blow it all in the casinos of Lake Town, er, except Smaug has burnt it down! As you state, Smaug is acting like a barrister in order to get his audience (in this case Bilbo) to see things in a specific way. I imagine that Tolkien based this aspect of Smaug on some RL lawyers he had met along the way!
3) I'm a little disturbed about the concept of person and non-person being discussed here, since this has been used to justify atrocities so many times throughout history, both ancient and modern (think the Nazi holocaust, ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Rwanda, a little further back, the murder of indiginous people's both in America and by European imperialists in their respective territories) So this is quite a dangerous concept. However, there is also the counter argument of when is it right to do something "a bit wrong" in order to avoid a much greater wrong? In the Trollshaws, Bilbo is trying out his skills (or lack of them) ? to prepare him for bigger things in the future? And the trolls are fair game because they are evil, stupid and have stolen what they have anyway? In taking the Ring from Gollum, I see this as a non-theft, at least in intent, by Bilbo, although as was posted before, he could have thrown the ring back at Gollum after escaping, although I doubt Gollum would have left it at that. However, this is the Ring we are talking about here- a "non person" certainly, but something which seems to have a certain sentience of its own. The ring would probably not have seen the light of day and got back to Sauron if left with Gollum in his cave for aeons. But, the fact that Bilbo arrived, unexpectedly, a being not of the caverns under the mountains and likely, therefore, to remove the ring from its isolation, changed this. So, is the ring here acting on Bilbo's free will as well? re Bilbo taking the cup- a) he didn't enter Erebor illegally and b) he was taking the cup back to its rightful owner. But the Arkenstone was another matter, in that he intended keeping it from its rightful owner (Thorin). The fact that he then tried to remedy this by handing it over to Bard was well intentioned but possibly misguided from the point of view of atoning for his crime of theft 4) I like Telain's (was it?) comment about the significance of the red ink! The hobbits seem to have very set ideas about the proper way of doing things, with fairly strict societal rules of social etiquette (eg with regards to table manners, greeting and parting, speeches at parties, referring to hobbits such as a "gross of hobbits" being offensive) It therefore is in keeping with this, that so many signatures are required. I suppose that Bilbo's was a slightly irregular situation, being a wealthy bachelor, with no clear heir (no blood nephew etc)- Frodo was a distant cousin, as were the SBs. he also had loads of Took relatives who could have staked a claim, so it was important for things to be as clear and unambiguous as possible, so as to protect Frodo's position. However, I think the fussiness of this probably is quite in keeping with British Victorian era society Well, that's it for tonight- will have a think about the rest of the paper...




"Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold"


telain
Rohan

May 29 2013, 10:39pm

Post #42 of 101 (464 views)
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you are too kind! [In reply to] Can't Post

I do think that while sometimes we like subtleties and nuance, we also like certainty -- especially in life or death situations and with potentially troublesome concepts like "good and evil" floating about. We want to know who is bad and whether that is a permanent condition and how extreme (are we talking just "nick a talking purse" bad or full on "will destroy all light and life and everything associated with it" evil), because at the end of the day we want to be able to relax by the fire with a glass of (insert favourite beverage) and a clear conscience.

Being able to identify those true baddies means that we can be assured that when we do what we have to do with them, we are guilt-free.

And I agree with you about Middle-earth; it would be nice to know that doing "this" or not doing "that" are clearly good things that seem to contribute to the overall goodness of the world and Middle-earth does allow for that wonderful idealistic romanticism.


telain
Rohan

May 29 2013, 10:53pm

Post #43 of 101 (462 views)
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Telain, acting sub-counsel for the defence of Bilbo Baggins, Esq. [In reply to] Can't Post

To sum, I took this idea:

Quote
I think Gandalf used trickery at most but not mind control on Bilbo, and Bilbo was never under any duress, so I think Bilbo was responsible for his decisions.


and...


Quote
And though the pity of Bilbo ruled the fate of many, it's no excuse for stealing the Ring.


But, did the Ring use trickery? I think it did and Bilbo is absolved of the crime. The Ring was tired of watching Gollum hunt and eat nasty orcses and raw and wriggling fishes and needed someone who would take him places. Besides, the Ring really wasn't Gollum's and Gollum did murder Deagol to obtain it in the first place. Those facts -- the Ring's trickery and Gollum's previous crime -- added to the self-defence argument and I think Bilbo is in the clear.

Of course some of those facts did not really come out until later, but I think they may still be admissible during the appeals.



telain
Rohan

May 29 2013, 11:53pm

Post #44 of 101 (464 views)
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a thought about proportion... and orcs...prop-orcs-tion? [In reply to] Can't Post

Interesting post! I am curious about discussions regarding justifications for war and the means used in such conflict. I would have to read the aforementioned letter, but your post inspired a few musings...

I would think that not only should the action be in proportion to what the ends that the war seeks to achieve, but also in proportion to what the enemy can dole out. Not that it may be necessary, but there must come a time when the destructive capacity of the enemy combatants dictate what means are possible.

I the case for the war against Sauron, it actually doesn't take much (a couple of Hobbits on a mission!) but one could see that if evil should prevail, the consequences would be so dire as to justify some fairly extreme measures.

The orc question perplexes me not because I don't see Frodo or Aragorn enlisting them (which, actually I don't see them doing, but whatever...) but I don't see the orcs joining their side. What would be the draw? All I see is Hobbit lunch and Edain dinner. And ruffians? Orcs seem more likely to be attracted to their destructiveness first and then eat them later. They are enslaved to Sauron and/or Saruman -- and though we have discussed orcs at length in other threads, I'm not sure we've ever declared that any of them are redeemable. As discussed in this thread elsewhere, bad is bad; good can be corrupted and returned to some state of grace, but I don't think bad things can be coerced or enlisted to fight on the side of good.

This does not mean that bad things don't accidentally do good things in Middle-earth. For all Morgoth's evil, Arda (according to Eru, anyway) will be better for it.

I think movie Gimli would take issue with one of the points in the BBC article, namely "There must be a reasonable chance of success." Wink


telain
Rohan

May 30 2013, 12:00am

Post #45 of 101 (457 views)
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Well, Hobbiton is a "small" town! [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh, I do apologise. To everyone. Apparently working in the garden results in horrible puns and other wordplay.

But that does characterize small towns, doesn't it? Knowing everyone's business (not puns). My parents live in a rather miniscule hamlet and my does the gossip fly!

The ridiculous (to us) number of signatures also speaks to me of officiousness and bureaucracy, which also I think Tolkien meant for us to equate in some ways with Hobbit society (perhaps because it also typified aspects of British society as well.)


telain
Rohan

May 30 2013, 12:11am

Post #46 of 101 (453 views)
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Funny thing is... [In reply to] Can't Post

I didn't catch the connection to Douglas' article title right away. I showed it to my husband and he immediately started humming (actually da-da-dumming) the Law and Order theme song. Ah, 'tis a strange and wondrous household...


Quote
Whether intended or not, maybe Tolkien's message is that figuring out morality and the legal system spawned by it takes a lot of time and plenty of trial and error.


"Trial" and error! Nice.

But I think that is an important thing to consider and to remember when we turn our discussions back to the Sil chapters. It is easy for us to say "Can't they see Melkor is evil?" Well, no, they can't. We can, because in the blending of RW and ME we have had many Ages to figure these things out (and we are still figuring out their subtleties...)

But, wait! Does this mean I have to start giving Thingol a break? (I hope not... Too much fun to be had there...)


Brethil
Half-elven


May 30 2013, 3:19am

Post #47 of 101 (451 views)
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Greetings Elaen! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Firstly, thanks to Doug/Voronwe for a really interesting article and for letting us discuss it here. Many thanks!And secondly, thank you Brethil for organising all of this (You are very welcome! Its been a pleasure!)

In Reply To

1) Gandalf certainly wields influence here, but I don't believe that it is "undue". I think that Gandalf basically tapped into a deeper part of Bilbo's nature and brought this to the fore. I believe Bilbo made the decision of his free will and initially (ie before joining the Company and then before getting too far from the Shire) he had "plenty of chances to turn back, only he didn't" Ah yes that bold streak...'Took' over... (ouch. Terrible.)
2) Like other opinions here, mine is that Smaug is acting as both devil's advocate and devil here. The contract merely states that Bilbo will take delivery of 1/14th of the treasure. This is not the same as it being delivered to the door of BagEnd. How he uses his share is up to him. He could go and blow it all in the casinos of Lake Town, er, except Smaug has burnt it down! As you state, Smaug is acting like a barrister in order to get his audience (in this case Bilbo) to see things in a specific way. I imagine that Tolkien based this aspect of Smaug on some RL lawyers he had met along the way! Interesting and amusing idea, of JRRT describing some lawyers met along the way...I get that sort of vibe from Smaug, which is why I called him barrister, and I like that he is intelligent enough to play on that bit of doubt in Bilbo's mind...can the Dwarves be trusted? Am I really part of the Company?

In taking the Ring from Gollum, I see this as a non-theft, at least in intent, by Bilbo, although as was posted before, he could have thrown the ring back at Gollum after escaping, although I doubt Gollum would have left it at that. However, this is the Ring we are talking about here- a "non person" certainly, but something which seems to have a certain sentience of its own. The ring would probably not have seen the light of day and got back to Sauron if left with Gollum in his cave for aeons. But, the fact that Bilbo arrived, unexpectedly, a being not of the caverns under the mountains and likely, therefore, to remove the ring from its isolation, changed this. So, is the ring here acting on Bilbo's free will as well? I absolutely *love* this point, and had not considered it before. The Ring is perhaps not a person, but it has its own level of sentience, even though its silent. So perhaps the Undue Influence can be leveled here?! In an insidious way, and quite above the law, the Ring uses silent action on the spirit to dominate the will, a distinct advantage, as verbal and intellectual arguments can be countered but the Ring's way of working is so invisible it can't be countered. Or tried! Really fabulous point here Elaen!

re Bilbo taking the cup- a) he didn't enter Erebor illegally and b) he was taking the cup back to its rightful owner. But the Arkenstone was another matter, in that he intended keeping it from its rightful owner (Thorin). The fact that he then tried to remedy this by handing it over to Bard was well intentioned but possibly misguided from the point of view of atoning for his crime of theft I agree with the idea of the cup as Recovery I think...and that Arkenstone bit is dicey, isn't it? That Bilbo's conscience is stronger than the pull of the Arkenstone says volumes about him I think. (I completely understand the squickiness of the nonhuman argument, noted your excellent comments, and as its tangential I think we can move off it - that's for another discussion perhaps! Or not....)

4) I like Telain's (was it?) comment about the significance of the red ink! The hobbits seem to have very set ideas about the proper way of doing things, with fairly strict societal rules of social etiquette (eg with regards to table manners, greeting and parting, speeches at parties, referring to hobbits such as a "gross of hobbits" being offensive) It therefore is in keeping with this, that so many signatures are required. I suppose that Bilbo's was a slightly irregular situation, being a wealthy bachelor, with no clear heir (no blood nephew etc)- Frodo was a distant cousin, as were the SBs. he also had loads of Took relatives who could have staked a claim, so it was important for things to be as clear and unambiguous as possible, so as to protect Frodo's position. However, I think the fussiness of this probably is quite in keeping with British Victorian era society Well, that's it for tonight- will have a think about the rest of the paper... I love the Drawing Room fussiness of the Hobbits - like Bilbo's special 'money lending' pose and voice...really even as a young bachelor, after returning from the Quest he was always going to be the Odd Uncle, no matter how Hobbity he behaved afterwards.



Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Brethil
Half-elven


May 30 2013, 3:25am

Post #48 of 101 (446 views)
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Would this be a pro-bono defense...? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
To sum, I took this idea:

Quote
I think Gandalf used trickery at most but not mind control on Bilbo, and Bilbo was never under any duress, so I think Bilbo was responsible for his decisions.


Quote
And though the pity of Bilbo ruled the fate of many, it's no excuse for stealing the Ring.


But, did the Ring use trickery? I think it did and Bilbo is absolved of the crime. The Ring was tired of watching Gollum hunt and eat nasty orcses and raw and wriggling fishes and needed someone who would take him places. Besides, the Ring really wasn't Gollum's and Gollum did murder Deagol to obtain it in the first place. Those facts -- the Ring's trickery and Gollum's previous crime -- added to the self-defence argument and I think Bilbo is in the clear. Ahh, I must bring up Elaen's excellent point, about the Ring having sentience and (to Bilbo) inexplicable and imperceptible powers. So indeed - there may be an element of Undue Influence / Good Old Fashioned Trickery here. I think you two are on the same path, and maybe can co-author the Brief....

Of course some of those facts did not really come out until later, but I think they may still be admissible during the appeals. How true...we have the luck in getting the whole story don't we?


Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Brethil
Half-elven


May 30 2013, 3:34am

Post #49 of 101 (443 views)
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Gondor vs Rohan law [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In addition to the common thread of mercy, which Douglas Kane picks out, I see a contrast between a more rule-driven Gondorian law versus a more what did-you-mean-by-it? Rohan law. I like this point Furuncurunir...as you say, no one court-marshals Eowyn for her valor, although it was technically desertion of her assigned post. The law of Rohan more rustic, maybe, more driven by emotion, than Minas Tirith? The mercy extended to Beregond is definitely more of a 'kingly' decision and seems to be much more formal than the acceptance of Eowyn's actions. Nice point here that I hadn't seen...thanks!

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Elizabeth
Half-elven


May 30 2013, 7:21am

Post #50 of 101 (484 views)
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Letter 183 [In reply to] Can't Post

...was discussed in detail as part of our discussion of all published Tolkien letters, in 2005-6. Specifically, in these threads:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

The letter is in response to a review by W. H. Auden, and includes extensive quotes both from Auden's review and Tolkien's response. It's hard to fully appreciate what Tolkien is saying without a view of both sides of the conversation.







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