Our Sponsor Sideshow Collectibles Send us News
Lord of the Rings Tolkien
Search Tolkien
Lord of The RingsTheOneRing.net - Forged By And For Fans Of JRR Tolkien
Lord of The Rings Serving Middle-Earth Since The First Age

Lord of the Rings Movie News - J.R.R. Tolkien
Do you enjoy the 100% volunteer, not for profit services of TheOneRing.net?
Consider a donation!

  Main Index   Search Posts   Who's Online   Log in
The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Priest, Prophet, and King
First page Previous page 1 2 Next page Last page  View All

CelebornReturns
Registered User

Jul 23 2010, 8:43pm

Post #1 of 33 (834 views)
Shortcut
Priest, Prophet, and King Can't Post

          I had always taken the Frodo/Sam storyline to be very Christological, but had always been bothered by that same reading applied when to other characters. In my mind, that office could not be represented by several characters. It only recently occured to me that traditionally there are 3 'offices' applied to Christ, (foreshadowed in the Ark of the Covenant which contained the miraculous manna, pieces of the Commandments, and kingly staff) Priest, Prophet, and King.

I did not read the book again, but in watching the film it occured to me how much Frodo represents the office of Priest- he is mediating for everyone else in ME- he is also the one self-sacrificing (Priest is the one who offers the sacrifice while also being a kind of sacrifice). Interestingly, his is the storyline is bound to the Lembas as well.

Gandalf clearly is the "Old Testament" figure in this story, being prophet, and is the one who knows everything from the past, and sets pieces in play according to his wisdom and foresight (I think this is demonstrated in Gandalf's early decisions concerning the Ring). Anyhow, he also becomes a figure of self-sacrifice; but interestingly we get a glimpse of his glorified self as well.

Aragorn is obviously the figure of the King. Like Christ, he appears as lowly and also rejected (although, with a different dimension here). Then he is hailed after the destruction of evil. We get to see his triumphant return when the world is being made over for good; of which, the White City is a minor symbol perhaps of the Heavenly Jersusalem.

Now clearly, none of these relationships works perfectly, and I don't think they are supposed to as an allagory would be much more confined. Nevertheless, their presence each relays things about Christ which could scarcely be done in an individual character. It makes me think of the end of John's Gospel where it says, "if one were to write everything about Him, I suppose the world could not hold all the books required... (paraphrase)." Therefore, Tolkien instead investigates aspects of Christ's unique position through three very drammatic characters and situations in a way not otherwise possible. I have only written a tiny bit concerning the symbolism these roles take on in this story, and mention it mainly as perhaps a germ of an idea upon which one could explore.


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 24 2010, 11:17am

Post #2 of 33 (490 views)
Shortcut
I agree that Frodo, Gandalf, and Aragorn [In reply to] Can't Post

exemplify Christ-like qualities, although none of them is Christ or an allegory for Christ, the way Aslan is in C.S. Lewis's Narnia tales. Since I am not Roman Catholic, I had not heard the phrase Priest, Prophet, King before. I've done some Googling, and I agree that it fits Frodo, Gandalf, and Aragorn, respectively, especially since the term Priest is meant to be associated with Jesus's offering of himself as a sacrifice to God. The term refers not to any office in a religious organization but to martyrdom and self-sacrifice, which surely describes Frodo.

It appears the phrase is associated with Roman Catholic baptism, and therefore describes not just three of Jesus's offices but also the responsibilities all members of the church share with Jesus. In fact, the Roman Catholic Encyclopedia indicates that Jesus has a fourth office, Judge, which he does not share with members of his church. So the phrase Priest, Prophet, and King is really more associated with those who are baptized in the Roman Catholic Church than with Jesus himself. Similarly, Frodo, Gandalf, and Aragorn exhibit Christlike qualities but are not, themselves, intended to be mistaken for Christ.

The similarities between Tolkien's characters and Christ do go beyond the normal qualities all of his followers might share. Gandalf is not just any prophet, but an angelic figure, actually an immortal who has voluntarily bound himself to a human body with human limitations, much as Jesus himself did. And Gandalf dies and is resurrected, just as Jesus died and was resurrected. But again, there are differences as well which make clear that Gandalf is not the Son of God, but simply someone who exemplifies Christlike qualities.

Aragorn is not just any human placed in a position to govern, but the True Universal King, exactly forty generations removed from Elendil, the last Universal King, just as Jesus was forty generations removed from King David, and was his true heir. Aragorn's passage through the Paths of the Dead reminds me of Jesus's Harrowing of Hell, in which Jesus is supposed to have descended into Hell to deliver worthy spirits who awaited his coming. Yet there are, again, enough differences that Aragorn should not be mistaken for Christ himself.

Finally, Frodo's sacrifice resembles Jesus' in that the fate of the world is at stake, and Frodo's self-sacrifice leads to the Dark Lord's fall. Yet once again there are differences. Frodo's success is limited by his human inability to actually throw the Ring in the Fire. If not for Gollum's intervention, Frodo might have failed. And in the end, Frodo's success is temporary. The Shadow will reform.

So yes, I agree that Frodo, Gandalf, and Aragorn exemplify the Christlike qualities of Priest, Prophet, and King to a remarkable extent, far beyond what we would find in an ordinary life, although still not to the extent of Christ himself. We have discussed the Christlike qualities of these characters before, but again I was not aware of the significance of the phrase Priest, Prophet, and King. I'm sure Tolkien was aware of that phrase and its significance, and it may well have affected his thinking. Thank you for bringing it to our attention!


squire
Valinor


Jul 25 2010, 12:55am

Post #3 of 33 (461 views)
Shortcut
Do now thy office! [In reply to] Can't Post

As Curious said, you bring to light a very interesting and compelling Catholic tradition by which to interpret the roles played in The Lord of the Rings by Frodo, Aragorn, and Gandalf. What came to my mind was the commonplace notion that these "offices" have long been regarded in another more secular tradition as "archetypes" - story roles that are so basic to dramatic narrative that they recur throughout human literature.

What ties the two together, for me, is that Tolkien regarded storytelling on a mythological scale - his favorite kind of storytelling - as a kind of recreation of the original creation, with the human storyteller who makes up his secondary-world taking the place of the divine agent in the primary-world. Thus it's not so much that Frodo, Gandalf and Aragorn are playing out Christ's various offices, as that both Christ and those lesser characters are playing out offices (or acting as archetypes) that are indispensable to any truly meaningful story about the human condition. Not that Tolkien regarded his story as equivalent to the Gospels - far from it! The difference between primary world and secondary was as important as the similarity. As he put it:
The Gospels contain a fairy-story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories. They contain many marvels - peculiarly artistic, beautiful, and moving: "mythical" in their perfect, self-contained significance; and among the marvels is the greatest and most complete conceivable eucatastrophe [unexpected happy ending]. But this story has entered History and the primary world; the desire and aspiration of sub-creation has been raised to the fulfillment of Creation...this story is supreme; and it is true. Art has been verified. (J.R.R. Tolkien, "On Fairy-stories")






squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


CelebornReturns
Registered User

Jul 25 2010, 9:19pm

Post #4 of 33 (450 views)
Shortcut
Slight Distinction [In reply to] Can't Post

My "discovery" of this point (or supposition) was an essential reinterpretation of LOTR, and I think squire hit on that point somewhat. I used to think of this story as a mythical/folk tale with some Catholic intimations: Frodo had a Christ like Journey, Galadriel had some Marian overtones etc. In other words, I used my analytical skills born of English courses to draw 1:1 relationships-- even if I felt they were loose intimations and not allegorical lines throughout-- in the frame of a story. After taking such a long break (4 years) and returning, I saw the scope of the entire story not in terms of allegorical story lines- but a kind of totality. I have heard it said that Tolkien's sum total of characters add up to one full character- I guess that is to say, in some ways he has such extremes in terms of goodness, brokenness, and badness, that they all add up to a normal person's life experience. So, watching LOTR with fresh eyes, I did not see a mythic story with intimations, nor a direct allegory, but saw a enormous canvas of Catholic thought that created a total view of spiritual life (or more like spiritual warfare) in the immense struggle against evil. So, whether or not Tolkien set out specifically to create Priest, Prophet, King with Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn, I do not know. But it did seem obvious to me that this wasn't simply a folk tale that happened to have Catholic ideas, but rather that the Universe of Catholic thought permeates and directs the essential ideas which support a beautiful story of self-sacrifice for the sake of good. I have heard that one of the reasons why saints are canonized by the Church is not simply to say "here is a person in heaven-" since many more are doubtlessly in heaven- but because the conformity of their lives with Christ's life leads one to find Christ when examining their individual lives. My point is, seeing Frodo I saw a Priest, seeing Gandalf I saw Prophet, seeing Aragorn I saw King. While they are not allegorical representations of Christ, they are images of Him insofar as they represent/depict offices of His-- I would add, remarkably so. I think Curious is right to point out that these offices are also held by all the baptized, yet I would also say, those offices are only important because they are united to Christ. So, studying the life of a great saint will lead one to find Christ but ultimately the important point isn't that they suffered and offered their life, but that they did it in Him. Sorry if that sounds too much like a sermon. I am just trying to illustrate my point! This is really one aspect of the totality that I was trying to discuss. Seeing the self-sacrifical nature of the ride of the Rohirrim, Eowyn's triumph, Sauron's tactics of despair and deception... etc. all of it was of the same cloth.


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 26 2010, 2:38pm

Post #5 of 33 (338 views)
Shortcut
While Tolkien was obviously influenced [In reply to] Can't Post

by non-Christian mythological sources, particularly from northern Europe, I'm not a big fan of one-size-fits-all archetypes. There are specific non-Christian myths from which Tolkien seems to have drawn inspiration -- the Norse sagas, Beowulf and other Anglo-Saxon stories, and the Finnish Kalavela come to mind, just as he drew inspiration from the Gospel and other Christian sources. I also think he drew inspiration from the history of Europe, including classical history of Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

But one of the difficulties Tolkien faced was resolving contradictions between those sources. The "noble northern spirit" Tolkien loved was not always compatible with Roman Catholic orthodoxy. The end of the world contemplated in Norse Mythology is very different from the end of the world contemplated in Christian sources. The Silmarillion and even The Hobbit seem more non-Christian than LotR -- Bilbo bears more resemblance to Beowulf's thief than to Christ.

While we should not ignore non-Christian influences on LotR, I don't think we should underplay the Roman Catholic influences Tolkien was, in his letters, so eager to embrace. These are not mere archetypes found in any myth, but specifically Christian archetypes found in the Christian Gospels and interpretations of the Gospels. The parallels are too close to be generalized to all myths, in my humble opinion. Again, I'm talking specifically about LotR, which to my mind is much more influenced by Christianity than The Sil or The Hobbit.


CuriousG
Valinor


Jul 26 2010, 5:05pm

Post #6 of 33 (387 views)
Shortcut
A note about self-sacrifice or not: Gandalf [In reply to] Can't Post

I appreciate all the points you make and am not nit-picking--except with the movies (which I enjoyed). In Tolkien's books, Gandalf showed no intention of sacrificing himself in Moria. He was out to win. And when he broke the bridge and the balrog fell into the abyss, he turned his back in the assumption he had won. The whip grabbing him and dragging him down caught him by surprise. Though Aragorn warned him against going to Moria, Gandalf had faced many perils before and survived (including a previous trip into Moria and also vising Dol Guldur in disguise).

In the movies, he willingly let go of the edge of the bridge as he was being dragged down, and in the director commentary, that sacrifice was deliberate. Okay, so they're Peter Jackson's movies. But Tolkien didn't write it that way, and I can't think of any other time that Gandalf pursued the route of deliberately sacrificing himself for anything. Bold and daring to take risks, and fiercely committed to helping others, yes, but not choosing self-sacrifice as Frodo did, who at the end tells Sam that he had saved the Shire, but not for himself, hence sacrificing his home and happiness there to preserve it for others.

And yeah, Galadriel has often struck me as a Virgin Mary figure (without the virginity) the way she looms over the story's characters. Varda has an even stronger resemblance to Mary: the elves call out to her instead of Manwe (the acknowledged chief Vala closest to Iluvatar's mind), and her name is so sacred and pure that uttering it harms and dismays evil beings.


CelebornReturns
Registered User

Jul 26 2010, 8:18pm

Post #7 of 33 (359 views)
Shortcut
Intentions [In reply to] Can't Post

You bring up an interesting point, and it made me ponder about the nature of a self-sacrificing acts.

I would argue that it would not be a virtue for Gandalf to needlessly let go of the bridge as Jackson has it - thus abandoning everyone else. In Tolkien's story, Gandalf wanted to avoid the Balrog to begin with, so why would he chase it after having cleared the path? But at any rate, as you point out, Tolkien writes it in such a way that Gandalf 'gives everything he's got' and eventually uses up the sum of his forces thus meriting I suppose his new 'glorified' form.

Therese of Lisieux argues that if a missionary is killed going over to a new country, the death should merit the crown of martyrdom because the entire life has been given to Christ and the knowledge of danger was implied. I think she even means if the person dies on the trip from illnesses. Her point is, the intention is already made, so the when/how doesn't really matter. She also explains to her distressed sister who 'does not desire martyrdom' that despite her (sisters) feelings- they both knows that she would actually submit to martyrdom- and thus merit an even higher reward than someone who had the grace of joyfully desiring martrydom. There are also white martyrs who never shed blood, but merit for having offered their lives to God nonetheless.

My point is, unlike Saruman, Gandalf fought for the cause and put himself in danger. The Riders of Rohan knew their lives were likely to be 'thrown away' in Pellanor fields and especially at the Black Gate, but they chose to fight- not for themselves, but for the good of others. ("Your men will follow you to whatever end." / "Death!") Above all, I think the fellowship had this charge and knew what dangers they faced. In the end, I think a self-sacrificial act doesn't need be carried out in such a way that the death is an outright offering (as in the case of Maximillion Kolbe who offered his place in a death camp to save a father with children). Rather, fighting and being 'out to win' as you put it, is I think- the right disposition. That someone is killed in battle who had fought hard doesn't rob them of their self-sacrifice. On the contrary, I don't want to fight with someone who has a death wish! Because that is really suicide, which is not good at all!

True, Frodo knew more fully that his life wasn't going to be spared and continued on anyhow... but that is why I think he most fully fulfills the role of priest.


squire
Valinor


Jul 26 2010, 9:53pm

Post #8 of 33 (549 views)
Shortcut
"they chose to fight - not for themselves, but for the good of others" [In reply to] Can't Post

As far as I can make out, the riders of Rohan fight for their personal honor, as expressed through oaths of service they have made to their lords - their lords to their King - and their King to his ally the realm of Gondor. I don't think "choice" enters into any aspect of these warriors' code.

Tolkien was especially interested in the idea of sacrifice for what is right, not for the sake of others. My impression of the New Line film is that the writers felt that was too alien a concept for their intended audience, and so they changed the emphasis to that of "friendship" or, drawing on the first film's title, "fellowship". Note I am saying emphasis - Tolkien knew all about the power of friendship! - but I think he thought that dedication to a higher cause was far more important as a reason for action.

Sam's conflict in the pass of Cirith Ungol, whether to guard Frodo's corpse or take the Ring to the Fire, is a good example of this. As the narrator says, the latter course is "altogether against the grain of his nature" yet he tries to do it anyway, because it is the right thing to do. The title of the chapter names him "Master Samwise" to reflect the idea that for the first time he is his own master, not Frodo's servant, and as master he has inherited the power of Frodo's pledge to bear the Ring into Mordor. Being a master is different from being a servant, but neither role is about "friendship". Sam's love for Frodo is undoubted, but Sam himself tries not to acknowledge that part of his relationship to Frodo, since it conflicts with his self-image. The film does not really present any of this scene as it was written, because it is so alien to the film's thematic agenda.

I note that you use quotes from the film to make some of your points. Nothing terribly wrong with that if the quotes are identified as such, and if they reproduce Tolkien's writing. But there are many places in the film where the screenwriters deviate from Tolkien's books, on purpose or not. I think it's more convincing, especially when discussing such things as Tolkien's interest in projecting Catholic theology into his story, to use his own words and not Phillipa Boyens's, Fran Walsh's, or Peter Jackson's.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Lord of Magic
Bree

Jul 29 2010, 2:33am

Post #9 of 33 (311 views)
Shortcut
Galadriel was supposed to be the representation of Mary, [In reply to] Can't Post

wasn't she? She came back to Middle-Earth with the Noldi but never took the Oath of Fëanor...and actually, I think the virgin title could be applied to Gandalf. I don't think pro-creation was on the Maia's minds when they came, or when they left ;)

Former Duke of Stardock, Overseer of the Paraphysical Army of Tokidoki, High Mage in Service to King Lyam conDoin I of Rillanon, The Absolute Lord, Ruler, and Sovereign of all Tokidoki.

The White Dragon and Arnölé, The Lord of All Magic


squire
Valinor


Jul 29 2010, 3:08am

Post #10 of 33 (347 views)
Shortcut
Gandalf - the "Elf with da Wand" - may have been a virgin, but... [In reply to] Can't Post

I have proposed that Saruman (aka "Sharku" = Senior Dude) fell from grace, probably as often as possible.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 29 2010, 2:49pm

Post #11 of 33 (292 views)
Shortcut
Unless you believe [In reply to] Can't Post

that Tolkien acted as censor as well as translator, and altered history of Middle-earth accordingly, that strikes me as unlikely.

As you know, I've suggested the other extreme, that extramarital sex violates the natural laws in Middle-earth as of the Third Age. For me, Tolkien's suggestion in Morgoth's Ring that even the half-orcs were the product of marriage clinched it. The only flaw in the theory is the attempted rape in Children of Hurin -- but it was attempted, not successful, so maybe the natural laws of Middle-earth prevented it from going any further. It's the same kind of natural law that binds people to their oaths, even beyond death.

Saruman might, however, have felt lust, as Morgoth apparently did for Luthien. Perhaps Saruman lusted for Galadriel, and her preference for Gandalf was part of what drove him mad. But I think Saruman's lust for the Ring was far greater than his lust for any woman. Maybe that's why the Ring held such power -- lots of frustrated lust around, ready to be channeled into ambition for power.


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 29 2010, 2:59pm

Post #12 of 33 (360 views)
Shortcut
In a letter Tolkien embraced the comparison [In reply to] Can't Post

between Galadriel and Mary, Mother of God, but also said it was not in his conscious mind when he wrote LotR. So if Mary influenced the portrayal of Galadriel, it was because Mary was Tolkien's own personal archetype of virtuous beauty.

After publication of LotR, Tolkien rewrote Galadriel's history to make her more virtuous, and less of a rebel against the Valar. But that wasn't her history when Tolkien wrote LotR. At that point she was one of the chief rebels in The Silmarillion, although not a kinslayer. She had refused amnesty to remain in Middle-earth, and unlike the other High Elves had no assurance that she could sail west if the Ring was unmade.

Thus Galadriel's farewell song when Frodo leaves Lothlorien translates as follows:

'Alas! Like gold fall [the] leaves in-[the]-wind, long-years numberless as the winds of trees! [The] long-years [have] passed like swift draughts [of] the miruvórë in lofty halls beyond [the] West, beneath [the] blue vaults [of] Varda wherein [the] stars glimmer in-[the]-song [of] her voice holy and noble. Who now will refill [the] cup for-me? For now [the] Queen [of] Stars [the] Kindler [has] uplifted her two-hands from Everwhite like the clouds, and [the] shadow down-licked all paths; and darkness out [of the] grey-country lies on [the] foaming-waves between us two, and mist covers [the] jewels of Calacirya for-ever. Now lost Valinor, lost [for these] from [the] East! Farewell! Maybe thou will find Valimar. Maybe [even] thou will find [it]. Farewell!'

This implies that Galadriel may not be permitted to return to Valinor, although she foresees that perhaps Frodo will find it.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jul 29 2010, 4:13pm

Post #13 of 33 (387 views)
Shortcut
You only have to believe [In reply to] Can't Post

that his fictional "sources" censored Middle-earth history - which is not so unlikely, considering the way history has always been written.

I don't think it's any physical "laws of Middle-earth" that prevent extramarital sex, but something more like a moral law or taboo on the part of the "sources", against including the sordid in their great high history, that prevents us hearing about it. As you say, lust at least is not absent from the story. I think there are a number of episodes, in fact, where the story hints at extramarital sexual activity yet keeps it "unmentionable" - Celebrian's "torment", the breeding of orcs and men, Beren and Luthien's first meeting. (Of course, marital sex isn't actually mentioned either - we just know it must have happened because children are produced!)

I think you may be right, though, that too much emphasis on sexual lust would undermine the impact of the lust for power that is the real focus of LotR. It works the other way too - the transcendent sense of wonder and joy that is the result of the heroes' story would also lose some of its impact if the story was also concerned with the joys of sexual love. It's not for nothing that Catholic monks, priests and nuns, in their desire to reach religious transcendence, take a vow of chastity and renounce all sexual activity. You only have to look at Bernini's famous statue of St Theresa's ecstasy to see that the same emotions underlie them both.

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



(This post was edited by FarFromHome on Jul 29 2010, 4:15pm)


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 29 2010, 4:45pm

Post #14 of 33 (491 views)
Shortcut
How has history always been written? [In reply to] Can't Post

It is often written to fit an agenda, but that doesn't mean they ignore, or can ignore, divorces, annulments, extramarital affairs and illegitimate children. Look at the history of the Borgias or Henry VIII, for example. How could you write those histories without mentioning the Pope's mistress and children or the King's multiple wives?

If we were just talking about the text of LotR, I could see how the hobbits might leave out a great deal. But the appendices are another matter, and I'm not sure it would be possible to rewrite history to that extent.

As I noted, in Morgoth's Ring Tolkien says that the breeding of orcs and men is not extramarital, or at least not rape, as many readers assume. That's what really got me thinking along these lines. Well, that and the way Tolkien's most evil villains choose to force marriage on the women they desire rather than rape them.

As for Beren and Luthien, they may have married each other before seeking Thingol's blessing. As Thingol well knew from his own marriage, public marriage ceremonies were not necessary among the elves. Or they may have refrained until they obtained Thingol's blessing. Either way, it wouldn't be extramarital sex, or (considering the customs of the elves) even premarital sex. If there was sex, they were married. And they didn't cheat.

Celebrian's torment, like the breeding of the half-orcs, is often assumed to involve rape, but consider how hard it would be to rape Galadriel's daughter and Arwen's mother. I certainly don't see a bunch of orcs doing it.


CuriousG
Valinor


Jul 29 2010, 6:10pm

Post #15 of 33 (316 views)
Shortcut
Love as a "distraction" from the story; Celebrian [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
I think you may be right, though, that too much emphasis on sexual lust would undermine the impact of the lust for power that is the real focus of LotR.


In discussing once feminist ire over the complete absence of women from the Fellowship, one issue someone raised with me is that if there were women along, even as protected companions and not as Amazon warriors, the inevitable love issues arising in the long trek would distract from the main story line.

Arwen: "I think Aragorn loves me, but I'm not sure."
Boromir: "But I love you too, Arwen."
Arwen: "Boromir, that incident between us behind the trees in Lorien didn't count. I was vulnerable from grief over Gandalf. And you lust for me like you do the Ring. You lust for everything."
Then Aragorn overhears this and flies into a jealous rage.

Not that JRR would have written anything that tacky, but still, love and lust along the way would have been distracting, so there was also no stopping in taverns with wenches to tempt the lusty, lonely men (which would have been truer to the Medieval setting). Instead, JRR waits until the story starts to build toward a climax before we get Eowyn's unrequited love, and then Faramir's courtship of her, and Sam/Rosie, etc. (And as we know, without the appendices, we see almost nothing of Aragorn and Arwen together.)

But Curious: I'm not sure what you mean about it being impossible for orcs to rape Celebrian. They had no difficulty capturing and imprisoning her, and she didn't break free early with her own powers to escape their torments, whatever they were. She doesn't seem to command the powers of Galadriel. And the torments were traumatic enough for her to leave behind her family and seek recuperation in Aman. I've always inferred rape was one of them, but of course it's inconclusive.


Elizabeth
Valinor


Jul 29 2010, 6:38pm

Post #16 of 33 (328 views)
Shortcut
Consummation = marriage. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
As for Beren and Luthien, they may have married each other before seeking Thingol's blessing. As Thingol well knew from his own marriage, public marriage ceremonies were not necessary among the elves.


Some versions of the account of their meeting pretty clearly indicate that they had sex. Quoting from "Laws and Customs of the Eldar" (Morgoth's Ring):


Quote
It was the act of bodily union that achieved marriage, and after which the indissoluble bond was complete. In happy days and times of peace it was held ungracious and contemptuous of kin to forego the ceremonies, but it was at all times lawful for any of the Eldar, both being unwed, to marry thus free of consent one to another without ceremony or witness (save blessings exchanged and the naming of the Name); and the union so joined was alike indissoluble. In days of old, in times of trouble, in flight and exile and wandering, such marriages were often made.

Presumably this would be the case even for a mixed marriage such as B&L.






Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'

(This post was edited by Elizabeth on Jul 29 2010, 6:39pm)


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 29 2010, 7:06pm

Post #17 of 33 (305 views)
Shortcut
Thanks. [In reply to] Can't Post

That was what I had in mind.

Although I can see why Thingol might feel insulted, as well as concerned, if he thought that the mixed marriage had already been consumated without consultation. Of course, he was in a mixed marriage of his own, but parents are notorious for setting double standards.


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 29 2010, 7:26pm

Post #18 of 33 (312 views)
Shortcut
As to Celebrian, [In reply to] Can't Post

as you say, it's inconclusive. I was just putting the thought out there that Celebrian isn't exactly helpless, or shouldn't be. She may not have one of the Three, but I don't see why she wouldn't be a powerful Elven Queen in her own right.

Actually, I also find it implausible that orcs, without aid, captured her -- so perhaps they had aid, or perhaps they managed to do the implausible.

There is love along the way in LotR. There's Sam and Rosie, Aragorn and Arwen, and Faramir and Eowyn. Faramir and Eowyn get a good deal of stage time; the others do not.

There's also platonic love between the various members of the Fellowship. Romantic interests might interfere with that theme, as well. I'm not suggesting that Frodo and Sam were romantic with each other; I'm suggesting that if either of them had a romantic interest along on the trip, we might not see their relationship develop to such an intimate level.

Yes, lust for power is an important theme in LotR, but so is love between friends under extreme conditions.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jul 29 2010, 9:45pm

Post #19 of 33 (293 views)
Shortcut
If it's so hard [In reply to] Can't Post

to rape Celebrian, how is it possible to torment her? Either she's vulnerable, or she isn't.

As for Beren and Luthien, you could certainly argue that for Elves consummation is equivalent to marriage - but then you have to account for the way the lay of Beren and Luthien describes their first meeting, in subtle and non-sexual terms that could still be interpreted sexually. That's what I mean about the style of writing the history - not that things are being omitted, but that they're being expressed in oblique and subtle ways. The same goes for the breeding of half-orcs; the account says that the humans are debased until they are prepared to breed with orcs - but if that's not technically rape it's still pretty bad. I'd say that "forcing marriage" is a euphemism for a kind of rape, since it's the forced possession of the female over the long term. This is not marriage as a partnership, but marriage as sexual servitude.

When I mentioned the writing of history, I wasn't thinking of modern history (or any history after, say, the Renaissance, when multiple accounts would always be available). I was thinking of the early histories such as those of the Venerable Bede, that come closer to what we'd call hagiography today. Or Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain, with its highly-coloured and magic-tinged version of British history that includes King Arthur among the historical kings. The Lord of the Rings is presented as core account by the hobbits, with added material from later redactions in Gondor. It's likely to be a selective history, and in the early medieval style - and if the taste of that (imaginary) time preferred to avoid mention of anything sexual that would lower the tone, and to use euphemisms or hints instead, then the result would be something like what we get in LotR. (Actually, I think Tolkien disliked the lowering of the tone that he saw in all the shenanigans in Arthurian romance, for example - starting with Arthur's conception - and with many of the Celtic myths that also involve adultery, rape or deception. And his taste became the taste of his "chroniclers".)

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



Curious
Half-elven


Jul 29 2010, 10:07pm

Post #20 of 33 (279 views)
Shortcut
Yes, I already conceded [In reply to] Can't Post

that I have a hard time imagining mere orcs capturing and tormenting Celebrian. But even if she was vulnerable, we still don't know the nature of her torment.

You can treat forced marriage as a euphemism for rape if you like, but Tolkien never calls it that, and the men who force the marriages appear to be monogamous and faithful, so they don't really follow the pattern of rape.

You also must be leaving out Greek and Roman histories, many of which take what we would consider a modern attitude towards history, staying away from unreliable legends and hagiography. And the appendices to LotR do not, to me, read like unreliable legends. But of course if you choose to treat them as unreliable, then you can make up whatever you want about the "real" story of Middle-earth.

Unfortunately, that is not the story Tolkien tells. I prefer to accept Tolkien's secondary world as he constructed it, and not to imagine that he or his fictional sources altered another secondary world which is closer to our own.

After all, once you disbelieve what Tolkien tells us about sex, why not disbelieve other variances from the Primary World, such as magic? How believable is that? Why is magic any more believable than a world in which monogamy is not just the social norm, but required by natural law?


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jul 30 2010, 1:48pm

Post #21 of 33 (274 views)
Shortcut
Tolkien also never says [In reply to] Can't Post

that the winds are controlled by Higher Powers, does he?


Quote
You can treat forced marriage as a euphemism for rape if you like, but Tolkien never calls it that...


Tolkien leaves many things open to interpretation, and somehow with his open-ended depiction of his world invites every reader to see beyond what's on the page. You and I, I think, are at opposite ends of that spectrum - you interested in the religious subtext, and I in the psychological subtext of the story. The interesting thing, for me, is that such a wide spectrum of interpretations can arise in the minds of readers - no interpretation being accepted by every reader, of course, once we start comparing ideas, but all making sense to the individual whose interpretation it is, and finding support in hints and details that others don't necessarily accept.


In Reply To
After all, once you disbelieve what Tolkien tells us about sex, why not disbelieve other variances from the Primary World, such as magic? How believable is that? Why is magic any more believable than a world in which monogamy is not just the social norm, but required by natural law?


Well first of all, it's not that I disbelieve what's said so much as that I think there are things left unsaid - just as there are things potentially left unsaid about the powers behind the winds (to repeat my earlier example).

Secondly, in fact I don't believe in the magic as such - I just believe that the people whose story this is believe in magic, and I believe along with them while I'm inside their "secondary world". For them, our world is magical - as it still is, in a different way, even now, when we allow ourselves to wonder at the beauty and power of the universe. The viewpoint of Middle-earth is a different way of experiencing that magic, as something real and concrete, rather than as something separate and metaphorical. Tolkien creates a prescientific, mystical world where metaphor and reality are still one and the same.

But the magic doesn't contradict the natural laws of our world - it's just a different way of experiencing them. Enforced monogamy is not a natural law of our world, and I really don't see any grounds for assuming that it's one in Middle-earth either.

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



Curious
Half-elven


Jul 30 2010, 2:29pm

Post #22 of 33 (271 views)
Shortcut
Could you believe [In reply to] Can't Post

that the people whose story this is believe in monogamy?

I agree that Tolkien never says the winds are controlled by Higher Powers. But there is evidence for such a conclusion. He does say there are Higher Powers. In The Silmarillion he says they are capable of controlling the winds. And in LotR he carefully coordinates the wind directions with every twist and turn in the plot. But yes, the reader must decide for himself whether this indisputable evidence adds up to a very disputable conclusion.

Similarly, the reader must decide for himself whether the appendices, which never hint at extramarital sex, are a fraud, heavily censored by prudish historians. But the only evidence that they are a fraud is the fact that such a story is implausible in the Primary World. I don't think there's any reason to hold Tolkien's Secondary World to the standards of our Primary World, or any evidence that Tolkien intended us to do so.

On the contrary, Tolkien often pointed out the contrasts between his Secondary World and the Primary World, and his preference for his Secondary World. Since Tolkien indisputably believed in monogamy, and probably held other Roman Catholic opinions about sex, I find it highly plausible that his Secondary World was uniformly monogamous, as strange as that might seem in the Primary World. That conclusion is disputable, but the evidence that supports it is not.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jul 30 2010, 7:09pm

Post #23 of 33 (243 views)
Shortcut
Yes, that works [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Could you believe that the people whose story this is believe in monogamy?


That's essentially what I was trying to say - that the people who wrote the account could be thought of as having a taboo against imagining the "sordid" side of sexual behaviour, and depicted human nature accordingly.

I never mentioned "fraud", that's entirely your own interpretation. I'm not even suggesting deliberate censorship - just a different convention than our current one. Heck, even in the 19th century you'd be hard pressed to find a mention of sex in a novel - it took me ages when I was younger to figure out what some of the minor characters in Jane Austen novels had been up to that put them in such bad grace!

Tongue

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



Lord of Magic
Bree

Jul 31 2010, 1:25am

Post #24 of 33 (258 views)
Shortcut
What about [In reply to] Can't Post

Eöl and Aredhel? He could be said to have forced her into 'marriage' if you want to call it that


Quote
It is not said that Aredhel was wholly unwilling, nor that her life in Nan Elmoth was hateful to her for many years.

Sounds as if Aredhel was unwilling for some part and especially when she and Maeglin escaped together. I think there are moral laws in Middle-earth, but they're probably akin to people having sex with animals....extremely taboo and in mostly unsavory. But if you have two species that are so alike, ie elves and men, then it seems natural. On the other hand, orcs would have a natural sex drive to reproduce. Sexual drive is a powerful force....it changes what animals and people normally do.

Former Duke of Stardock, Overseer of the Paraphysical Army of Tokidoki, High Mage in Service to King Lyam conDoin I of Rillanon, The Absolute Lord, Ruler, and Sovereign of all Tokidoki.

The White Dragon and Arnölé, The Lord of All Magic


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 31 2010, 6:50am

Post #25 of 33 (245 views)
Shortcut
Yes, that was a forced marriage. [In reply to] Can't Post

It's about as close as anyone gets to rape in Middle-earth, but if Aredhel had remained wholly unwilling, I'm not sure Eöl could have raped her. And Eöl did remain faithful and monogamous.

First page Previous page 1 2 Next page Last page  View All
 
 

Search for (options) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.3

home | advertising | contact us | back to top | search news | join list | Content Rating

This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law. Design and original photography however are copyright © 1999-2012 TheOneRing.net. Binary hosting provided by Nexcess.net

Do not follow this link, or your host will be blocked from this site. This is a spider trap.