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The Breaking of the Fellowship 4: It's broken. Now what, and why?

CuriousG
Half-elven


Dec 18 2010, 7:20pm

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The Breaking of the Fellowship 4: It's broken. Now what, and why? Can't Post

Tolkien didn't do an effective job at keeping us in suspense in this chapter since the title gives it all away. From a bigger perspective on the plot, however, this chapter sets an unusual course. Typical quest stories and movies have a motley crew assembled from disparate origins. The group is colorful because they're all so different and have nothing in common, and that leads to friction and at least one obligatory fist fight. Then a few people die along the way, and the rest become this wonderful team that pulls together in spite of their differences, and they make it to the and as a group and accomplish their brave deed. This formula works: mild variations of it pack the theaters and sell books. I do like Harry Potter, but do we ever doubt in Book 1 that Harry, Ron, and Hermione will be together and alive until Book 7?

So who is this upstart British guy to mess with the canon? He stays true to the part about people dying along the way--we're soon to lose our second of the Nine Walkers. If people don't die in adventures, we don't take the danger seriously and would yawn at the next Orc attack.

Where Tolkien really messes up is having his group splinter and not reassemble until after the quest is achieved. That's not the rule to follow! They're supposed to get near the objective, all come at it from different angles, then reunite unexpectedly at the last minute to flip the switch and save the world. Tolkien just plain ruins that formula by having the group split up early (Book 2 of 6) and follow full-fledged plots of their own, and they stay separated until after the climax. Highly unusual, and also unusual is that all the people who try to clone Tolkien haven't attempted to clone his plot skeleton too.

So this chapter betrays yet again the unique approach Tolkien takes toward the story. The group will not go to Mordor nor reassemble at the Cracks of Doom; what breaks remains broken. The Fellowship dissolves in panic when Frodo is missing and Boromir looks guilty. As Darkstone noted earlier, it's possible the Ring was behind the temporary insanity of this previously cool-headed group when they run in all directions shouting for Frodo. No one thinks to stay behind and guard their camp or wait for Frodo if he somehow shows up. And though they conclude that Frodo is likely trying to go to Mordor alone, they don't seem to realize he's going to need his gear at the camp to go there. It's one thing for silly hobbits to act in a panic, but the Elf and Dwarf do too. Sam is the first to come to his senses and figure out that someone should have stayed at Parth Galen.

Tolkien could have stuck to the formula and had the Company go to Mordor in parts: Frodo and Sam in the lead, pursued by the rest in one or two groups. The quest groups would get separated and have their own adventures, but they all steer toward Mount Doom. It could have been interesting. Breaking up the group allows for more character development, which is what we see in the rest of the trilogy. Merry, Pippin, Gimli, and Legolas haven't presented much depth of character until this point, but now they can. Tolkien's theme that everyone has a role to play in history could still be fulfilled. Maybe it's Merry that kills Shelob and Gimli that carries Frodo up the last slope of Mount Doom.

But Tolkien probably had two reasons for the breakup. First, I suspect he was so fond of and fascinated by Middle-earth that he wanted to find a way to show more of it to readers. So off we go to Fangorn, Edoras, Helm's Deep, Isengard, and ultimately Minas Tirith. There is certainly no sense of "we've seen this before" in any of the locales that we pass through. His creativity always remains several steps ahead of the reader.

The second reason for splintering the Fellowship in different directions is that JRR is as attached to the greater epic story as he is to the story of the Ring, or I would even say more so. From Gandalf's stories in Bag End, to the Council of Elrond, to Frodo's visions in the Mirror of Galadriel and at Amon Hen: this is a story about the world, not just about a hobbit and his magic ring. I even picked up on that in grade school and was disappointed that the remaining two-thirds of the trilogy wasn't all about Frodo. I kept thinking these other "digressions" would soon end and lead everyone back to the foot of Mount Doom, even if it required them jumping into a magic portal in Orthanc to wind up at Cirith Ungol. While I enjoyed the chapters that follow this one, I thought Frodo was very sadly neglected by the narrative, and just how much was I supposed to care about a bunch of horses when the hero had the fate of the world in his pocket and was off in the land of fire?

Alright, so now I'm older and can carry more than one plot thread in my head while reading, and I appreciate all the chapters that follow. Some questions for you:

1. On first read, were you in suspense about what Frodo would do, or did it seem he had only one choice to make?
2. Did you think the rest of the Company would follow Frodo, especially Merry and Pippin?
3. Frodo left without telling anyone in the Company about Boromir. Did you think Boromir would be able to conceal his guilty behavior?
4. Considering Boromir's behavior, Frodo's drawn-out decision, and Sam's hasty decision (to jump in a river when he can't swim)--what does this chapter say about free will and self-control?
5. Maybe I haven't seen enough movies or read enough books. Do you know of any other story similar to this one, where the plot is split into several strong, divergent lines that don't reassemble until after the climax? (I am counting the Ring's destruction as the climax, even though there were significant events after that.)
6. If you were a tree, what kind would you be? (Just kidding.)

Happy holidays, everyone!


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Dec 19 2010, 1:21am

Post #2 of 17 (767 views)
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A few answers [In reply to] Can't Post

Good posts and discussion this week for a difficult chapter.
Not Tolkien but Harry Potter, but I was a bit surprised to see Ron surivive actually, I had him down for death in the 7nt book. I just thought that one of the 3 would die and that Ron was the natural candidate for it! I also thought Hagrid would get it too, but I never seriously thought that Harry would.
Tolkien does do things differently. He write 4 supurb books whilst not been a professional Author for a start! He's literature is in a style all of it's own and he does start his great quest tale with a birthday party. You tell me of any other authors that do that!
I do think that I would like to have seen a bit more of Middle-Earth. And possibly in different times as well. We do hear about some parts in great detail, but there are great swaithes of the ME map that are scarcely covered. The Grey Mountains, large parts of Eariodor, Wastelands, (apart from Waste!) the East, it couldn't have been all bad could it. But sadly that is only in Fanfiction.


PhantomS
Rohan


Dec 19 2010, 12:42pm

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we want more [In reply to] Can't Post


I do think that I would like to have seen a bit more of Middle-Earth. And possibly in different times as well. We do hear about some parts in great detail, but there are great swaithes of the ME map that are scarcely covered. The Grey Mountains, large parts of Eariodor, Wastelands, (apart from Waste!) the East, it couldn't have been all bad could it. But sadly that is only in Fanfiction.

He deliberately 'kills' many places we don't see, such as much of Eriador and the Brown Lands, while placing immovable evils in some others (the old Arnorian capitals with Trolls and such, Orcs of Gundabad, the cold-drakes of the Grey Mountains, etc) or makes the populace so hostile no one will go there. We don't even get to see the Havens in great detail, or the ancient Haven of Pelargir (or Dol Amroth!) which is older than Minas Tirith. Tolkien conveniently has Aragorn go and wreck the Haven of the Corsairs so no one has to go there, and has Frodo and Sam glimpse the fields of Nurnen from afar.

One would have to say he purposely left things out i\to keep them scary as well ; the less we know about the Haradrim and Easterlings the more intimidating they are.



Curious
Half-elven


Dec 20 2010, 4:48pm

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It's a war story. [In reply to] Can't Post

I can think of at least two examples of stories where "the plot is split into several strong, divergent lines that don't reassemble until after the climax." They are both historical novels set during war. Tolstoy's War and Peace is set during the Napoleonic Wars, and Herman Wouk's two-part epic Winds of War / War and Remembrance is set during World War II.

I can also think of a historical novel that is set during the time of the Gospels, and happens in and around the story of the Gospels -- Ben Hur. It reminds me of LotR because the audience is expected to be aware of the Gospel story and its importance even as Ben-Hur is having his adventures. Similarly, at this point LotR breaks into two different kinds of tales: the fast-paced action adventure on the west side of the Anduin, and the more spiritual mission on the east side of the Anduin.


(This post was edited by Curious on Dec 20 2010, 4:50pm)


sador
Half-elven


Dec 20 2010, 5:22pm

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Answers [In reply to] Can't Post

1. On first read, were you in suspense about what Frodo would do, or did it seem he had only one choice to make?
It seems that Sam knew his master well. I don't think I would question Sam, especially after he was backed up by Aragorn - not on a first read!

2. Did you think the rest of the Company would follow Frodo, especially Merry and Pippin?

Well, as a Bakshi-firster, I can't really answer most of your questions. But I think the breaking of the Fellowship when Boromir returns with his news quite effectively draws a line between Frodo and Sam and the rest.

3. Frodo left without telling anyone in the Company about Boromir. Did you think Boromir would be able to conceal his guilty behavior?
Well, in the first drafts Tolkien thought he could.


4. Considering Boromir's behavior, Frodo's drawn-out decision, and Sam's hasty decision (to jump in a river when he can't swim)--what does this chapter say about free will and self-control?
An interesting question, and too abstract for me. I might return to it later - but not now.


5. Maybe I haven't seen enough movies or read enough books. Do you know of any other story similar to this one, where the plot is split into several strong, divergent lines that don't reassemble until after the climax? (I am counting the Ring's destruction as the climax, even though there were significant events after that.)
Middlemarch by George Eliott; Thackeray's Vanity Fair, although the two heroines meet several times in between; several of Dickens' stories - Our Mutual Friend is a striking example, but the several lines never really were assembled together. Perhaps this was a part of the genre of Victorian serial novels?
War and Peace, which Curious mentioned, is another good example.

6. If you were a tree, what kind would you be? (Just kidding.)

Okay, so I won't answer. But thank you for leading us!

"Welcome, and well met!" - Gloin.

The weekly discussion of The Lord of the Rings is back! Please join us in the Reading Room.

"Lying by omission seems to happen a lot in this trilogy."
- Milady.



CuriousG
Half-elven


Dec 21 2010, 1:29am

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A nice dichotomy: action vs a spiritual quest [In reply to] Can't Post

the fast-paced action adventure on the west side of the Anduin, and the more spiritual mission on the east side of the Anduin.

With my usual penchant for missing the obvious, I would never think to sum up the story from here so concisely, or to provide this contrast, but it works extremely well. Thanks!


beren_boy
Registered User

Dec 23 2010, 6:07am

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By the Numbers... [In reply to] Can't Post

(noting that the first time I read the books I was 11 years old... and I'm trying to remember back to my impressions then)...

1. I wasn't so surprised by Frodo's decision to go to Mordor... after all, everything is building towards it... but I was surprised by his decision to go alone I think... Also, the first time I read it I think I was kind of shocked, because I had no idea how these two kind of useless Hobbits were going to make it on their own. I was more in suspense about how on Earth they were going to deal with the Quest once it was just Sam and Frodo.

2. I didn't think Merry and Pippin would follow Frodo, as they were already in captivity when any such decision could be made. I was surprised that at least Aragorn did not go after Frodo... but at the same time I was pleased when they decided to chase Merry and Pippin.
That was my reaction as an 11 year old reader... now (some many years later) I like how this works for several reasons. Firstly, it adds a lot more tension to story. If Aragorn were to chase Frodo, he would undoubtedly catch up fairly quickly and then story would turn into him hand holding Frodo through the rest of the Quest. As a character Aragorn has been set up as too good a woodsman for there to be any problems along the way until they actually try to get INTO Mordor. If he had gone with them Tolkien would have needed to have found another way to remove him from the Quest in order to add some peril into the journey.
Second, by letting Frodo go Aragorn is showing his faith in the "Higher Power" and also in his belief in Frodo's own strength.
Lastly, I just like the fact that he is prepared to chase down a band of Orcs to rescue his friends! Its badass! ;)

3. I don't think that Boromir really wanted to conceal his behaviour. He was too honourable for that, and the scene in the forest after Frodo escapes from him (done really well in the film too) shows that he regreted his actions and knew them to be foolish. I think even if he had not been mortally wounded, he would have come clean to Aragorn.

4. Considering free-will... I think with Boromir it shows that in proximity to great temptation, most will be greatly tempted. Boromir knows what he is doing but his free will is removed by greed. Once the temptation is removed he regains his free will, this can be seen in his sacrifice to try and save the Hobbits, and his admission to Aragorn. I think Tolkien is making the point that, although we all like to think that we always have free will over everything, for most there is a point at which we lose it when the temptation is too great. Gandalf and Galadriel will not take the Ring because they fear they will lose their free will. Boromir is less strong, and looses his free will just by the temptation of being strong enough to take it by force.
As for Frodo's drawn out decision, is this about free will? Frodo is constrained to go to Mordor, and here he has realised the only way. If he were do just do what he wanted, he would give the Ring to someone else and go back to the Shire. Frodo's problem here is less about exercising free will, and more about accepting what fate has chosen for him.
Sam actually seems to be the only person who exercises complete free will here. He's choosing to go with Frodo because he loves him, and for no other reason. He could stay behind if he wanted to, he's putting himself in danger only because he wants to.

5. I don't really know any others like this. But it kind of puts me in mind of something like the Norse myths, where there are lots of different actors and narratives that are all ultimately part of a larger whole. Since Tolkien was a scholar of these kinds of things, might he have been inspired by that?

6. An Ent.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Dec 23 2010, 3:22pm

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Reflections on answers; what is free will? [In reply to] Can't Post

Welcome to the Reading Room, beren-boy, and always feel free to go beyond the questions asked if you'd like to add anything of your own. And thank you to Hamfast Gamgee--this was a difficult chapter to generate much discussion from. I probably should have limited myself to two posts since I was definitely trawling for something to come up with over four. But everyone's comments have been thought-provoking, nevertheless, so I appreciate you all helping me out with the scanty material. The only part of this chapter that I reread is Frodo on Amon Hen: that part is fascinating. Sometimes I go back to read about Boromir too. The rest of the chapter moves the story on, but isn't as compelling or meaty as other parts of the book.

Anyway, I read the books at age 11 also, and was captivated by the magic and battles. I still enjoy them as much as before, but it's fun now to dig deeper and try to fathom what Tolkien's values and intentions were and how they influenced his writing.

I would say that Frodo also had the choice to go to Minas Tirith as the rest of the Company was urging him. It offered a safe haven, and they were alone in the wilderness and hunted by Orcs, so a safe haven had strong appeal. They could rationalize that it was across the Anduin from Mordor and would still enable them to complete the quest while being a resting place like Rivendell and Lorien. They couldn't have known that once Denethor learned of the Ring, he would very likely take possession of it himself and ruin everything, as Gandalf told Denethor himself.

Still, as you say, and as Sam suspected, Frodo knew the best course was to go to Mordor without further delay. Boromir's behavior had the salutary effect of convincing Frodo to not go to Minas Tirith even without knowing about Denethor. In an unintended way, one could say that Boromir's treachery saved the quest.

Free will is a strong thread in the trilogy that frequently raises its head. Frodo had no free will in the Shire to throw the Ring in his fireplace. That early sign of the Ring's power really scared me, in fact. But in the Council of Elrond, Frodo had the free will to take on the quest to destroy the Ring. I'm not sure how that was possible, frankly, or why Gandalf thought it possible. Gandalf saw that Frodo couldn't throw the Ring in the fireplace. How in the world did he think he could throw it in the Cracks of Doom? I'd conclude that Gandalf put a great store in free will, and that it could be beaten in some contexts but not in others. And he had the foresight to know that even if Frodo couldn't destroy the Ring at the very end, maybe something else would happen of which he couldn't see the specifics.

Boromir's free will was gradually eroded by the Ring, but he did regain it, and without any wizardry. I too believe, or mostly believe, that once he broke the Ring's curse on him, it would remain broken. Free will was back to stay.

There's a tendency, I think, to associate free will with calculated, rational thought, which is what Frodo displayed once he resolved to go to Mordor on his own. That was why I threw Sam in the mix. His actions were spontaneous, and jumping in a river when you can't swim is completely foolish. I'd conclude that free will isn't always "noble" or "wise," but it has a mighty power of its own, and it was one of the things that sustained Sam and Frodo as their journey into the desert of Mordor beat them down. I think free will is an assertion of the self and one's spirit over your circumstances. The more you rely on it in small situations, the more you can rely it in more challenging ones. Those are the messages that it seems Tolkien was trying to communicate.


a.s.
Valinor


Dec 26 2010, 5:53am

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free will [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry, I have been away quite awhile and am just dipping my feet in the conversations. And of course I come upon a discussion of Frodo and free will.

Angelic



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I'd conclude that free will isn't always "noble" or "wise," but it has a mighty power of its own, and it was one of the things that sustained Sam and Frodo as their journey into the desert of Mordor beat them down. I think free will is an assertion of the self and one's spirit over your circumstances. The more you rely on it in small situations, the more you can rely it in more challenging ones. Those are the messages that it seems Tolkien was trying to communicate.




I believe Tolkien thought of "free will" as a gift from the Creator to created beings: the ability to choose to do good or evil.

Something prevents Frodo from using his Eru-granted free will to choose to throw the Ring in the fire at Bag End. Call it succumbing to the temptation of the Ring. Call it addiction.

Nevertheless, no matter why he can't throw it in the fire, no matter what is compulsing him to put it back in his pocket time and time again, he has not lost his free will. He is simply unable to exercise it to choose what he knows he should choose, at that moment.



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Gandalf saw that Frodo couldn't throw the Ring in the fireplace. How in the world did he think he could throw it in the Cracks of Doom? I'd conclude that Gandalf put a great store in free will, and that it could be beaten in some contexts but not in others. And he had the foresight to know that even if Frodo couldn't destroy the Ring at the very end, maybe something else would happen of which he couldn't see the specifics.




Oh, I think Gandalf knew very well that Frodo would be unable to throw the Ring in the Fire at Mt. Doom. It's what makes him so incredibly sad, sending Frodo on this journey. I don't think he's relying on Frodo exercising his free will at the ultimate moment. I think he simply acknowledges that Frodo's mission is to take the Ring there. He is relying on faith that, while he (Gandalf) can't know every reason for everything that happens in ME, he can recognize the hand of Eru in certain matters. Or what's an Istar for?

a.s.

"an seileachan"



CuriousG
Half-elven


Dec 26 2010, 12:49pm

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Free will, faith, politics, and clemency; and Orcs! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for your reply (and welcome back!). We seem in agreement that Gandalf exhibited a belief in both free will and Fate (Eru), and I don't think they're contradictory by nature and can be complementary instead.

You end with the Istari. What is your take on Saruman? His political ambition overrides his original divine mission. Why does he abandon his faith in Eru ultimately setting things right? He exercises his own free will in attempting to set up himself as an equal and rival to Sauron. Was he doomed from the start in this path because he abandoned his faith in Eru? Or was it more down-to-earth, as he explained to Gandalf, that the power of the Eldar and the Dunedain to keep Sauron at bay was failing, and he was right about that. He saw himself as the new political force that would be the only real challenge to Sauron. And though I don't sympathize with Saruman, it was probably true that he could succeed if he'd gotten his grubby hands on the Ring. Free will without faith: is this Tolkien's recipe for downfall?

Bilbo's pity of Gollum ("ruling the fate of many," as we know) was free will in action. Free will and its consequences aren't perfect: Gollum ate Woodmen's infants and alerted Sauron to the Ring and set up the Shelob ambush: the list is long. At the end, sparing Gollum's life, which Frodo did also, saved the world, but there was a heavy price to pay for all this clemency (including Frodo's finger and the lasting wound from it).

Could free will have acted in some better way, where no one got hurt? It's hard for me to think of examples from Tolkien. In the Sil, the Noldor are given free will to depart, and warned of the consequences. There follows much suffering and heroism, but in the end it all comes to naught, including the recapture of the Silmarils. Would it have been better to forbid the Noldor's exodus and bottle them up in Valinor? The Valar could have dealt with Morgoth later, as they ultimately did. Then there would have been no Kinslaying, or Helcaraxe, and maybe no ruin of Doriath.

It's no accident that the good, minority faction in Numenor are "the Faithful." Or that Morgoth and Sauron are always bent on enslavement and mind control, erasing free will. Even the Elves who escaped from Morgoth had lost their free will and many later returned to him. Morgoth's biggest corruption--Orcs--intrigue me a lot. As corrupted and enslaved Avari, we don't see a single instance of an Orc renouncing their violent and hateful ways and trying to return to "Elvishness" the way Gollum almost did before the Shelob betrayal. Is free will, that gift from Eru, something that can be annihilated by lesser malevolent beings?

I find that last part disturbing in my own life since I'm stubborn and a maverick, and happy that way. The thought of being permanently brainwashed and losing my free will would be a spear all the way to my core. I'd like to think that independent volition will eventually reassert itself, and I suspect Tolkien is in the same philosophical camp. Except that his Orcs never regain it, nor most of Morgoth's captive Eldar. Is freedom of thought and feeling NOT part of the Flame Imperishable?


Curious
Half-elven


Dec 26 2010, 12:57pm

Post #11 of 17 (684 views)
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Free will is all about acceptance. [In reply to] Can't Post

At least, that seems to me to be true in Tolkien's Secondary World.

You said: "Frodo's problem here is less about exercising free will, and more about accepting what fate has chosen for him." I would say that in Tolkien's world the characters cannot change fate, but they can change their own role in the drama by accepting or rejecting the role assigned to them.

I'll give you two examples from Tolkien's writings. First, in The Silmarillion Feanor refuses to turn over the Silmarils so that they can be used to heal the Two Trees. As it happens, at that moment the Silmarils had already been stolen and Feanor could not have turned them over, but he did not know that. Had he made a different choice the Two Trees still would have died, but he might have saved his own soul.

In a letter, Tolkien speculated about what would have happened if Gollum had repented. He imagines Gollum jumping into the fire with the Ring in order to save Frodo, rather than falling in an attempt to reclaim the Ring. Again, history would not have changed significantly, but Gollum's soul would have been saved.

When Aragorn tells Gandalf about Boromir's fate, Gollum says he is glad that Boromir was saved at the end. Saved? Didn't Boromir die? Yes, but his soul was saved, and that was more important than his life.

So it seems likely to me that Frodo was fated to end up at Mount Doom one way or another. Indeed, Frodo comes to believe that himself, which is a large part of the reason he takes Gollum as his guide and willingly walks into Gollum's trap. But Frodo's willingness and acceptance makes all the difference for Frodo himself. Gollum shows us what happens when a character makes the wrong choices; he still ends up at Mount Doom despite all of his attempts to avoid that fate, but along the way he loses his soul.


Curious
Half-elven


Dec 26 2010, 2:28pm

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Free will cannot overcome all obstacles. [In reply to] Can't Post

I have the free will to choose to defy gravity, but when I attempt to exercise that choice, chances are gravity will win. Similarly, free will was not going to give Frodo the strength to throw the Ring into the Fire.

Various signs and portents and hunches indicated that Frodo had been chosen to take the Ring to Mount Doom. That was the conclusion of the Council of Elrond, based less on logic or deduction than on feelings or intuition. But Frodo still could have refused the mission.

I believe that one way or another Frodo was fated to arrive at Mount Doom, just as Gollum was, and if Frodo had refused the mission somehow he would have found himself there anyway, much as Gollum did despite all of his resistance to that fate. Frodo was not fated to throw the Ring in Mount Doom, but the Ring was fated to fall.


Curious
Half-elven


Dec 26 2010, 2:29pm

Post #13 of 17 (669 views)
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I agree. [In reply to] Can't Post

 


a.s.
Valinor


Dec 26 2010, 2:53pm

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**a.s. preserves this header for posterity :-) // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

"an seileachan"



Curious
Half-elven


Dec 26 2010, 2:55pm

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Did Saruman ever have faith in Eru setting things right? [In reply to] Can't Post

In Unfinished Tales Tolkien says that Saruman volunteered for the mission, while Gandalf essentially had to be drafted, because he did not think it was possible. I think Saruman fundamentally misunderstood the mission, and his role in it, from the beginning. That doesn't mean he was bad from the beginning, but he had too much faith in his own abilities, and not enough faith in Eru. Maybe Gandalf understood the role of the hobbits because he played a similar role himself -- someone chosen for an impossible mission not because he was up to the task but because he was humble and faithful and willing to serve as Eru's instrument even though he had no clue how Eru would make things right.

It's unclear whether Gollum really ate the Woodsmen's infants. That's a rumor; we don't know if it is true.

The orcs were a problem for Tolkien. In Morgoth's Ring there are writings where he considered explaining away the orcs as beasts without souls rather than corrupted men or elves. He never came up with a satisfactory solution, and in LotR he finessed the problem by (a) leaving them to the merciless and mysterious huorns at Helm's Deep, (b) having them kill themselves in droves after Sauron's fall, and (c) skipping over the clean-up between Sauron's fall and Frodo and Sam awakening many days later, so that it isn't clear whether the orcs continued to kill themselves, whether they all ran away and Aragorn let them (seems unlikely), or whether there was a genocidal slaughter involved (i.e., the role the huorns played at Helm's Deep).

Maybe he should have resorted to the favorite soulless villain of our times: zombies. Every generation has its own favorite soulless villains in escapist fantasies. The problem is that those who cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality too often treat their very human enemies as soulless villains.

There was a time when Western heroes slaughtered Indians without guilt or where Cold War heroes slaughtered Communists without guilt. As the world gets smaller, it gets harder to pick human villains. Monsters perform a vital role, but they must be distinguished from humans. Zombies are great, but it is just a matter of time before someone writes a story from the point of view of the sympathetic zombie.


a.s.
Valinor


Dec 26 2010, 3:15pm

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Free will without faith [In reply to] Can't Post


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Free will without faith: is this Tolkien's recipe for downfall?




No, IMHO. Using one's free will to choose evil is Tolkien's recipe for downfall. Using a free will to attempt to thwart the Will of Eru, that is the downfall of angels and men and any created being.



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Could free will have acted in some better way, where no one got hurt?




I think we are not using the same definition of free will.

However, I am late to this discussion and missing some of the subtleties of previous parts of it. I am going to appear flippant when I'm not. My only real point is that one cannot "lose" one's free will, it's an innate part of one's being. One can at any time be constrained from using free will to choose wisely, and in fact, this is Sauron's great evil. He uses his own powerful will to force others to bend to his, and this makes it impossible for Frodo (and Gollum) to choose to "give up" the Ring. Really, Bilbo is the only exception to this, and he required all the assistance of Gandalf, and perhaps the inattention of Sauron at that moment.

One can be unable to use free will to choose well (torture, mental instability, Sophie's choice), but one cannot lose free will in total, not if it's a granted gift of Eru.

The eternal LOTR question: how are free will and fate entwined in the unfolding of The Music? What is Fate anyway, if not the Will of Eru, who exists outside of time and knows how it all ends up?

Don't get me started on the orcs.

Cool

a.s.

"an seileachan"



Curious
Half-elven


Dec 26 2010, 4:04pm

Post #17 of 17 (852 views)
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