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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
prophecy, providence and pforesight


Nov 22 2012, 6:22pm

Views: 2254
prophecy, providence and pforesight [In reply to] Can't Post

First of all, thank you, sador, for all of your work and wonderful insights! They are always a pleasure to read and ponder.

Now, for a few thoughts...

"Ere long now," Gandalf was saying, "The Forest will grow somewhat more wholesome. The North will be freed from that horror for many long years, I hope. Yet I wish he were banished from the world!"
"It would be well indeed," said Elrond; "but I fear that will not come about in this age of the world, or for many after."

Foresight is tricky -- in LOTR, Galadriel tells Frodo that the Mirror:

"shows many things, not all have yet come to pass. Some never come to be, unless those that behold the visions turn aside from their path to prevent them."

The ability to see into the future is described not as something that most definitely will happen; we must interpret the vision. Galadriel continues:


"The Mirror is a dangerous guide of deeds. ... Seeing is both good and perilous."

In fact, I wonder if the gift of foresight is sometimes the gift of the "worst case scenario," i.e., "this is what will probably happen if we sit back and do nothing." Other times it is a positive, a goal to which we must strive. Figuring out which one that is and how to do it is the curse of free will. It's like knowing the answer to a math problem, but still being asked to show how we arrived at it.

Perhaps visions of the future emphasize change, and those of us who witness the vision are charged with interpretation and then action. Especially if that view of the future is unsavoury does it prompt certain knowledgable characters to action. Here I cite your other example of prophecy: all the visions of the King returning to the Mountains are positive: the dragon is defeated, rivers of gold flow to Lake-town, yet no one is out actively looking for Thorin et al.

So, in The Hobbit, Elrond's "foresight" sounds more like "concern"; the Necromancer will remain in Middle-earth causing trouble for many years to come. Comparing that to the second quote and I believe, sador, that you are right -- the discussion in Of the Rings of Power... sounds more like true prophesying.

Fulfilling a prophecy seems to always follow a certain pattern: the subject is made aware of the prophecy and then the following dilemma ensues -- what to do? Free will v. providence/fate is paramount. When has a prophecy ever not been fulfilled? When in a story has a character either done something or done nothing and yet the prophecy comes to pass? I admit to asking questions off the top of my head; perhaps if I think a bit more, I will come up with one or two.

Subject User Time
The Last Stage, part V - Prophecies and Providence sador Send a private message to sador Nov 20 2012, 7:33pm
    The Necromancer Hamfast Gamgee Send a private message to Hamfast Gamgee Nov 20 2012, 11:26pm
        In The Hobbit alone, you are right. sador Send a private message to sador Nov 22 2012, 3:53pm
            The name of the Necromancer FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Nov 24 2012, 5:43pm
                But I thought sador Send a private message to sador Nov 25 2012, 9:11am
                    That's the odd thing. FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Nov 25 2012, 10:52am
    prophecy, providence and pforesight telain Send a private message to telain Nov 22 2012, 6:22pm
        True or false viviosns? sador Send a private message to sador Nov 23 2012, 10:48am
    Both no and yes... FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Nov 24 2012, 5:13pm
        Thank you! sador Send a private message to sador Nov 25 2012, 9:52am
            Thank you for the excellent summary FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Nov 25 2012, 3:53pm
    Gandalf had a lotta splainin' to do! squire Send a private message to squire Dec 1 2012, 8:11pm
        The Hobbit a train wreck as a prequel to Lotr????????????? Hamfast Gamgee Send a private message to Hamfast Gamgee Dec 4 2012, 12:21am
    Thanks for a wonderful post! Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Dec 3 2012, 9:15pm


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