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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Tolkien's universe as solid and consistent/inconsistent, and his writing process
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ElendilTheShort
Gondor


Apr 3 2013, 11:14am

Post #26 of 57 (496 views)
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This is what they neglected in the movies [In reply to] Can't Post

to the point the One Ring was excessively active in itself in trying to corrupt. It's presence and influence were overwhelmingly represented, as shown in Council of Elrond scene when everyone is arguing and seen in the reflection of the One Ring immolating. This representation of it's corrupting influence was frequently to the detriment of how some characters were portrayed.


noWizardme
Grey Havens


Apr 3 2013, 12:33pm

Post #27 of 57 (482 views)
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Back to devices and themes! (and a note about chucking Isildur in the lava) [In reply to] Can't Post

I think this leads us back to themes and devices. If you see the Ring as a device, its fun to infer from the story how it works. Theories have to cope with the different effects it has on different people, as per comments here, but there could be a perfectly satisfactory theory (or many of them) covering all that. Or you could infer that Tolkien had a theory about how the Ring worked, but it wasn't a very good one because you see inconsistencies.

I found Squire's post interesting because it suggested to me that there's an alternative way of thinking about this, as themes rather than as devices. And perhaps that is more in line with Tolkien's Modus Operandi.

My attempt at a themic view is as follows:
How are we to counter our evil enemy? We have a duty to overcome him if we can, but if we use his methods, then we become corrupt ourselves, to our own peril and the further peril of the world. This then gives us the options and non-options which Elrond sets out in the Council of Elrond
  • Can't dump it in the sea, or somewhere else it might not be found for a long time (because "a long time" is not forever)
  • Can't duck the issue by taking it to Valinor
  • Can't wield it, because it is corrupting
  • Can't keep it safe, because the temptation to wield it will be too great
  • Must therefore try to destroy it, with the twist that the mission should be trusted to seemingly the meekest and weakest characters, as they are most immune to the Ring's evil force. And as a side-effect they are less dangerous to everyone else if corrupted by the Ring
Thus ruling out the easy plot-spoiling options, and patching in earlier things about invisibility, Tolkien's got an intriguing moral and practical dilemma to set the adventure in motion; he may not have felt it necessary to figure out Ring mechanics any further. We can if we please, of course, but if the themic view is right, theories of Ring mechanics may not tell us anything about Tolkien's thought.

I need to finish this quickly, so will beg forgiveness for not finding and quoting the relevant passage. But - my memory of Elrond's account of his attempt to persuade Isildur to destroy the Ring doesn't specify that discussion took place within chucking range of the lava. In fact, I had assumed that there was a debate over the bodies of Elendil and Gil-galad on the battlefield. In that case, forcing Isildur to destroy the Ring might have taken a pitched battle, rather than a quick murderous shove.

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


CuriousG
Valinor


Apr 3 2013, 1:20pm

Post #28 of 57 (461 views)
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Thematic rings [In reply to] Can't Post

I think you're right to say that the Ring was more about big issues like existential evil rather than if it turned you into a fire hydrant if you touched it (Bored of the Rings, anyone?). Though it's fun debating its mechanics all the same. And for an author who obsessed over the correct phases of the moon in his stories, he might have very well worked out a scheme for the Ring's mechanics as well.

To go further with the theme of it all, the Three (of which Cirdan and Elrond had two) were not about violence and dominion but peaceful preservation of good things, so they couldn't be used to fight the One. Yes, Elrond and Cirdan had just fought a war to defeat Sauron, but he was evil. Would they take the Ring by force from Isildur? They tried persuasion and that didn't work, and that's where they stopped because they didn't dominate him and didn't try to.

Galadriel said to Frodo that it would be a fitting tribute to the Ring's history of evil if she had taken it by force or fear from her guest. And Bilbo was spared its worst effects by beginning his ownership with pity instead of treachery and murder like Gollum. Evil never dies, so maybe the theme here is that if E&C did throw Isildur into the lava or at least cut the Ring off his finger, even by destroying the Ring, they would have done evil themselves, and it might linger on in them.


elaen32
Gondor

Apr 3 2013, 1:32pm

Post #29 of 57 (455 views)
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Very true.. [In reply to] Can't Post

although there is a theme throughout that Men are more adversely affected than Hobbits, Elves or Dwarves. Aragorn is a Dunedain, so would be expected to resist the Ring's effect better (although then again, Isildur did not). I think that the idea of Denethor and Boromir having character flaws, which the Ring exaggerates, is probably correct. Then what, we can ask, was Isildur's character flaw? Well, he had just seen his Father die, his Brother having been killed earlier. He states" I will have this as weregild for my father and brother" or words to that effect. By the time he may have calmed down from the emotional shocks of his bereavement, he was probably already ensnared by the Ring.
In the movies, for a general audience, the power of the Ring to corrupt had to be very much exaggerated in order to demonstrate the jeopardy that the whole of ME was in. For this reason, I think that the screenwriters felt that they had to change some aspects eg Faramir. However, for all the statements in FOTR that the Ring was causing dissent within the Fellowship (Gandalf and Galadriel both say this at different times), this dissent was not really shown in the films, except as regards Boromir.

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


CuriousG
Valinor


Apr 3 2013, 3:19pm

Post #30 of 57 (448 views)
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I think the Ring plays on character's strengths as much as their flaws [In reply to] Can't Post

Galadriel and Gandalf both said its attraction to them was to do good, which is what they wanted to do, and those are their strengths. Isildur took it as a sentimental memory of his father and brother, and I don't see that as a flaw. When it tempted Faramir, I think it went for his virtue too. I think the Ring is clever enough to exploit and corrupt whatever it can that will help it conquer its host.


elostirion74
Rohan

Apr 3 2013, 3:21pm

Post #31 of 57 (450 views)
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internal coherence [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for your response and your questions. I'm not entirely sure how or whether my viewpoint has evolved over time, since our memory tends to be tricky and there's a tendency to re-interpret one's memories of things to make them fit with one's current understanding/perspective.

But leaving that aside, as far as I'm aware of I've never been puzzled by Faramir's decision not to take the Ring. The various discussions I've followed about the nature of the Ring have probably contributed to a stronger awareness or scrutiny of the differences between the characters, what their strengths and weaknesses are and how the same strengths and weaknesses affect their relation to The Ring. It seems easier now compared to say 10 years ago to understand why and how for instance Denethor would be more susceptible to the corruption of the Ring than Gandalf or Elrond's words about Tom Bombadil's relation to The Ring or the inherent weaknesses in Smeagol that lend him more susceptible to the corruption of The Ring. My understanding of why Faramir rejects The Ring is an opinion I think I've held for a long time, even before the films were released.

I find that it's fairly clear that Faramir doesn't share his father's intellectual vanity and also understands that he shouldn't overestimate his own abilities and therefore keep away from The Ring - I think he uses the phrase "There are some dangers from which a man must flee" .Since he is so respectful of Gandalf, I don't find it unlikely that he has picked up on some of Gandalf's general advices or benefitted from his learning.

I agree that Faramir appearing to provide the hobbits with rest and shelter seems like a plot device. I also agree that his way of expressing himself is a bit grand and bombastic at times - "not would I pick it up if I found it by the wayside". But the rest of his general reasoning when rejecting the Ring is a different matter and seems to me to connect naturally with what we learn about The Ring in other parts of the story and his speeches about his own convictions, which are so different from those of his brother as well as his father. And Faramir is not the only person who is not particularly affected by The Ring, see Elizabeth's post in other parts of the thread.

As far as Cirdan and Elrond's actions at the end of the Second Age, I find it more natural to look at the specific characterization of Elrond and Cirdan instead of generalizing about their behaviour based on the behaviour of some of the Noldor from the First Age - you find different attitudes between different Elves (Thranduil's motivations differs from those of Elrond for instance). Likewise their actions must be judged by what is written about their actions in other parts of LoTR and in other stories outside LoTR as well as remarks made about the nature of the Ring. It's Elrond and Cirdan's actions that need to be coherent throughout Tolkien's works and Tolkien's writing about how the power of the Ring "operates". You could always find arguments in favour of having them murder Isildur or taking the Ring by force, but when they depend on utilizing a logic which is foreign to the general moral of Tolkien's work, I find that they are not particularly relevant when arguing that this or that is an instance of a convenient plot device or weak internal coherence on Tolkien's part.

I think it's interesting to discuss and look closer at these things and it's useful to play the Devil's advocate; it helps and deepens understanding. In some cases I find that it reveals inconsistencies and plot devices in the book, but in central questions like discussions about the nature of the power of The Ring I usually find that closer scrutiny tends to show the strength of the internal coherence in Tolkien's work rather than the opposite.


Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 3 2013, 3:29pm

Post #32 of 57 (437 views)
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I don't see it as an exposure issue for Faramir [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
...in the same way that Sam, Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli weren't affected (all of whom traveled with the Ring for months, having much more exposure than Faramir).

The Ring worked on aspects of inner character. Boromir and Denethor had character flaws that it could exploit. Isildur was stronger than they were, but maybe not entirely immune. Sam wasn't even seriously tempted until he had actually worn it for some while, and even then he was able to reject it. Why should we regard Faramir's resistance as anomalous?




I guess what always struck me is that having been raised with the same traditions and priorities as Boromir, Faramir would be in a much more vulnerable position to intellectually desire the Ring, different in that respect than the other members of the Fellowship. Their knowledge of the Ring is either from Elrond / Gandalf's perspective or (probably in Legolas' case) cultural knowledge, none of which would inspire them to desire the Ring. Faramir though, like Boromir, has been raised to consider it a weapon of power, and shares his brother's love of Minas Tirith as well as his loyalty towards the Steward. So the distance he shows towards it has always made me wonder why his perspective is so different than everyone close to him.

So I don't consider proximity or exposure to be the driving force of temptation - knowledge however, I think would be.

That being said, I find Faramir's character fascinating, and one of my favorites. That aside he springs to my mind when we discuss devices and plot points.

Hell hath no fury like a Dragon who is missing a cup.


Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 3 2013, 3:45pm

Post #33 of 57 (441 views)
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Elrond or Cirdan's choices [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I would not claim that Elrond or Cirdan definitely "knew" anything, as no one but Sauron did when it came to the One Ring.




I expanded the logic of the earlier statement about their ethics to see if there was a more philosophical meaning at its end. Of course it may, and as it is read, did, come down to the individual choices of Good People - but at the end of a massive seven year campaign, after all the loss and devastation, it seems that as warriors it is a bit anomalous that in the end they did not achieve a complete victory by the (perhaps) loss of one more life among so many, to secure the future. And immediate proximity to the lava is but a film device - but of course they were certainly close enough that if the Ring were taken by one of them it could shortly be disposed of.

I do not assert that either one of them SHOULD have done this - it simply arises, as does Faramir for me - as parts of the story that strike me as a tad out of kilter, or as a plot point that could potentially negate the rest of the tale if it did not go a certain way. In which case the ethical point stands, that the Elves made a choice to wager the fate of ME against their individual scruples. I imply no criticism here, BTW, of the choices or of the characters - merely an analytical point about how that choice pushes the story forward in the context of literary devices.

Hell hath no fury like a Dragon who is missing a cup.


Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 3 2013, 4:32pm

Post #34 of 57 (436 views)
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You make excellent points Elostirion [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Thanks for your response and your questions. I'm not entirely sure how or whether my viewpoint has evolved over time, since our memory tends to be tricky and there's a tendency to re-interpret one's memories of things to make them fit with one's current understanding/perspective. That is true for me as well! And in addition I make sure these days to check myself - because some things I am sure were Film are text, and vice-versa at times! And one's interpretations over the years can sometimes eclipse the actual text as written.

But leaving that aside, as far as I'm aware of I've never been puzzled by Faramir's decision not to take the Ring. The various discussions I've followed about the nature of the Ring have probably contributed to a stronger awareness or scrutiny of the differences between the characters, what their strengths and weaknesses are and how the same strengths and weaknesses affect their relation to The Ring. It seems easier now compared to say 10 years ago to understand why and how for instance Denethor would be more susceptible to the corruption of the Ring than Gandalf or Elrond's words about Tom Bombadil's relation to The Ring or the inherent weaknesses in Smeagol that lend him more susceptible to the corruption of The Ring. My understanding of why Faramir rejects The Ring is an opinion I think I've held for a long time, even before the films were released.
That's why I put the question out - because it has almost always stood out for me (say at about read 2 or 3). Indeed it has always been the character of Denethor that made me second-guess Faramir. But as you say below.....

I find that it's fairly clear that Faramir doesn't share his father's intellectual vanity and also understands that he shouldn't overestimate his own abilities and therefore keep away from The Ring - I think he uses the phrase "There are some dangers from which a man must flee" .Since he is so respectful of Gandalf, I don't find it unlikely that he has picked up on some of Gandalf's general advices or benefitted from his learning. So here may be a key, perhaps, to Faramir's choice and take on the Ring, if indeed he chose to internalize Gandalf's opinions over his father's and brother's.

I agree that Faramir appearing to provide the hobbits with rest and shelter seems like a plot device. I also agree that his way of expressing himself is a bit grand and bombastic at times - "not would I pick it up if I found it by the wayside". But the rest of his general reasoning when rejecting the Ring is a different matter and seems to me to connect naturally with what we learn about The Ring in other parts of the story and his speeches about his own convictions, which are so different from those of his brother as well as his father. And Faramir is not the only person who is not particularly affected by The Ring, see Elizabeth's post in other parts of the thread. True, and his intellectualism (evidenced by his language) is why I have always felt he would have been motivated to try to use the Ring. As I point out in response to Elizabeth, I don't feel that sheer physical proximity with the Ring would be enough to compel (ie: the other members of the Fellowship) - but that intellectual knowledge of the Ring might.

As far as Cirdan and Elrond's actions at the end of the Second Age, I find it more natural to look at the specific characterization of Elrond and Cirdan instead of generalizing about their behaviour based on the behaviour of some of the Noldor from the First Age - you find different attitudes between different Elves (Thranduil's motivations differs from those of Elrond for instance). Likewise their actions must be judged by what is written about their actions in other parts of LoTR and in other stories outside LoTR as well as remarks made about the nature of the Ring. It's Elrond and Cirdan's actions that need to be coherent throughout Tolkien's works and Tolkien's writing about how the power of the Ring "operates". You could always find arguments in favour of having them murder Isildur or taking the Ring by force, but when they depend on utilizing a logic which is foreign to the general moral of Tolkien's work, I find that they are not particularly relevant when arguing that this or that is an instance of a convenient plot device or weak internal coherence on Tolkien's part.
I guess I don't see Elrond and Cirdan's decisions affected by the Ring at all; I was regarding their choice as commanders in the position to make a final victory after a bitter and long campaign. I WILL point out that I rather enjoy having the dichotomy here - of Elrond in Council, telling the tale, (and seen in Film) of perhaps being AWARE of that choice - but not making it. And what NOT making that choice implies for ME.
I think it's interesting to discuss and look closer at these things and it's useful to play the Devil's advocate; it helps and deepens understanding. In some cases I find that it reveals inconsistencies and plot devices in the book, but in central questions like discussions about the nature of the power of The Ring I usually find that closer scrutiny tends to show the strength of the internal coherence in Tolkien's work rather than the opposite. I completely agree here. From the post where I pointed out these two points, I certainly feel that these are very subtle and highly debatable points - and many readers will completely disagree with my feelings, which is part of individual interpretations (and the fun of TORn). I will also point out that these aren't STRONG feelings on my part for any negative impact on the story. In proportion to other works especially of fantasy, JRRT's internal logic and thematic consistency is one of the reason's the works stand so coherently today. So these sort of dissections rise out of intimate knowledge and love of the text. I would never change a thing! (Not even the thinking fox, which many seem to mind - I love the fox, and have worked him into all my gaming tales over the years.)


Hell hath no fury like a Dragon who is missing a cup.


Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 3 2013, 4:54pm

Post #35 of 57 (428 views)
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You are right - I remember the writers discussing Faramir [In reply to] Can't Post

And that suddenly bringing the jeopardy and danger of the Ring to a screeching halt at Faramir's feet would be 'death' of the plot on film - different than wandering on the book, so yes it was a text vs visual interpretation change.

Hell hath no fury like a Dragon who is missing a cup.


ElendilTheShort
Gondor


Apr 3 2013, 7:29pm

Post #36 of 57 (430 views)
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I think it is important to note that if we are talking about plot devices and themes [In reply to] Can't Post

a meek and less powerful person was not chosen by the accumulated wisdom of the Council of Elrond, to try and destroy the One Ring. The person in question volunteered. The Council was at a loss for a solution until Frodo said he would take it. This shows the importance of free will. The ensuing flood of Hobbit volunteers shows the importantance of friendship and love over power. Both of these are central to the story.


(This post was edited by ElendilTheShort on Apr 3 2013, 7:30pm)


Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 3 2013, 8:34pm

Post #37 of 57 (402 views)
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Very true... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
a meek and less powerful person was not chosen by the accumulated wisdom of the Council of Elrond, to try and destroy the One Ring. The person in question volunteered. The Council was at a loss for a solution until Frodo said he would take it. This shows the importance of free will. The ensuing flood of Hobbit volunteers shows the importantance of friendship and love over power. Both of these are central to the story.




...And central to Tolkien's everyman hero. The hand of the Wise was in the background, in Gandalf's wisdom in trusting the Ring's trip to Bree and beyond to Frodo. But indeed Frodo chose the path to destroy the Ring himself. Potentially the only character there who could unite all the diverse members of the Fellowship. And how great a role those Hobbit volunteers all play! One of the central thematic points indeed.

Hell hath no fury like a Dragon who is missing a cup.


elaen32
Gondor

Apr 3 2013, 8:53pm

Post #38 of 57 (406 views)
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Although, I am not sure how much was known of the Ring in Gondor [In reply to] Can't Post

in the Third Age. In the book, when Faramir has his dream which prompts Boromir to go to Rivendell, they are puzzling over the meaning of "Isildur's Bane". Although they seem to be aware of the Ring as a part of ancient history, they don't seem to be aware of it in connection with Isildur. At the Council of Elrond, after hearing the story of how the Ring survived, Boromir says something along the lines of "If any such tale ever came to the South of this, it has passed out of memory" (sorry, haven't got book to hand) to which Aragorn replies something along the lines that it has always been known in the North because Valandil became King after the Gladden Fields massacre, from which only one person escaped with the news of what had happened. So I am not sure how much Denethor et al would have considered the Ring in, to them, the present day. They would have known of it from history lessons etc, but how much more they knew is unclear

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


CuriousG
Valinor


Apr 3 2013, 9:12pm

Post #39 of 57 (401 views)
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A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little [hobbit] minds [In reply to] Can't Post

When you speak of love, friendship, and free will, I think the hobbits are utterly consistent in portraying those themes from beginning to end.

When other inconsistencies come up, they may in fact be consistent for another reason. We had a discussion awhile back about why Sting didn't always glow when Orcs were near, or if Sam's Elven rope would always obey his will. The question everyone had was why didn't something *always* work. One ultimate answer came from Tolkien's preference for "enchantment" over "magic," the latter being more controlling and industrial. The former is more natural and variable, so the sun doesn't always shine, and it doesn't rain everyday either. For that reason, Sting wasn't always going to glow, which is consistent with Tolkien's position on enchantment but inconsistent to a reader who doesn't know all the background in his thinking.


elostirion74
Rohan

Apr 3 2013, 9:16pm

Post #40 of 57 (389 views)
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stylistic variety [In reply to] Can't Post

While your argument about Tolkien being too fond of the "vapid dialogue of the hobbits" to let all of it go sounds like a very plausible explanation for the uneven tone and style in Book 1, I'm not too sure that it's more plausible than other explanations. It seems natural to me that the style should change according to the context the hobbits are in (who they are dealing with and the atmosphere of the different locales) and the story of Book 1 moves in and out of homely and not so homely locations. The Shire folk are often both jolly and simple and consequently there should be more of the typical hobbity humour. When they are dealing with the Elves, the tone changes, as it should, since the Elves are so different from the hobbits and it's the first taste of an experience of the world beyond the Shire. In Crickhollow there's a return to the homely feel again and an all-hobbit setting and consequently the hobbits behave and speak differently.. Style and tone simply changes with context..


Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 3 2013, 9:22pm

Post #41 of 57 (395 views)
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You are correct Elaen [In reply to] Can't Post

I read the Council through again. I think that the knowledge of what the Ring could DO (or what Men thought it could do for them) was known, and that is what Boromir looks forward to when trying to persuade the Council (and later Frodo) to let him use it as a weapon. But as you say quite correctly the fate of Isildur and potentially the Ring was more widely known in the North because of the escape of Ohtar. (Your paraphrase is quite right!) Of course what Denethor knew (right or wrong) in total is a bit of a mystery, between researching histories and using the Palantir.

Hell hath no fury like a Dragon who is missing a cup.


noWizardme
Grey Havens


Apr 4 2013, 9:03am

Post #42 of 57 (381 views)
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Do you mean that some inconsistencies might be deliberate? [In reply to] Can't Post

Do you mean that inconsistencies might be deliberate? We (or possibly just I) tend to take the position that inconsistencies are either:
  1. Not really inconsistencies: further deduction and inference (or failing that, research or even fan fiction) will reveal how what seems inconsistent is really consistent after all (And that thinking these things through can be enjoyable and interesting, especially in like-minded company, or;
  2. Inconsistencies are minor blemishes on the story - probably JRRT and his editors would have addressed them if they had found them (as a lot of other ideas were rejected in draft as not working).

I wonder whether you are suggesting that JRRT might have been quite content to leave some known inconsistencies in place? For example, the unreliability of magic or enchantment was a point he wanted to make, or was at least completely content to leave in his story.

It would seem to open up very interesting lines of discussion:
  1. Is Tolkien up to something deliberate here - e.g. too much effort to impose order, consistency and your own will on the world is a risky thing.
  2. To what extent is it reasonable or helpful to require storytellers to be consistent?


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


CuriousG
Valinor


Apr 4 2013, 3:44pm

Post #43 of 57 (370 views)
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Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

I think we're not supposed to fully understand magic and predict what it will do at all times because it stops seeming magical.

Weaver also made this great point in discussing Ch 5 of the Sil recently:

"On the other hand, an author can get too carried away by trying to connect all the dots between past and future, and the story becomes an explanation and not a story, if I can put it that way (“cough” Star Wars prequels). Does Tolkien manage to avoid this trap, for you? Any comments on the way Tolkien weaves the Sil into LOTR and LOTR into the Sil?"


noWizardme
Grey Havens


Apr 4 2013, 5:09pm

Post #44 of 57 (363 views)
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Does it depend where you've "shelved" Tolkien, mentally? [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien is usually found shelved with or near other works of fantasy, science fiction and related genres. Some science fiction authors take a lot of trouble to explain how their devices work (though others do not, of course). Some of Tolkien's audience - perhaps a lot of it but not I'm sure all - likes Science Fiction. Or other entertainments (detective fiction, say) where it is part of the game between storyteller and audience that there is an explanation for things, which the reader might figure out. Perhaps that gives Tolkien an audience which likes to figure things out.

If Tolkien had lived much earlier, we'd now find him shelved with the myths, legends and traditional story forms that he drew from. Incredible, inexplicable things can happen in those stories, and no-one minds. I think - this forum attracts plenty of people knowledgeable enough to put me right if that is untrue!


Should those thoughts be a factor when thinking about Tolkien's consistency or lack thereof, do you think?

The 2013 Read-through of the Silmarillion is a fine thing, and anyone enjoying this thread should certainly click along to that discussion too

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


CuriousG
Valinor


Apr 4 2013, 5:40pm

Post #45 of 57 (356 views)
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Good observation [In reply to] Can't Post

I didn't think about that, but yes, we do categorize things whether we're aware of it or not. There are mythic stories that don't even pretend to be consistent either in character traits or plot elements or many other things. It does no good to pick on them.

With world-building in either sci-fi or fantasy, I think readers have a higher standard and want things to work consistently. Frodo can't have wings in Ch 3 and not in Ch 10 if I'm going to take the book seriously. And he can't be a murderous villain in Ch 4 and a pacifist in Ch 5 with any credibility. But I don't equate constancy with consistency. What if the Ring tempted everyone, all the time? Wouldn't that get tedious? "Oh," cried Merry, "now the Ring is tempting me to kill you all and become king of Arnor. And it was only an hour ago that we subdued Pippin for the same delusion, and yesterday it was Sam." It would be a monotone story. Hence variations can and should exist without undermining a work's sense of consistency, from my point of view.


ElendilTheShort
Gondor


Apr 4 2013, 7:28pm

Post #46 of 57 (347 views)
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I do not see thing temptation of the Ring as inconsistent at all, if that is what you are saying. [In reply to] Can't Post

The Ring during LOTR was consistent and its only fluctuations were gradual ones as it (un)naturally waxed as Sauron gradually rebuilt his power over years, and as the Ring got closer to the place of its making during the quest.

All things being equal it holds the same degree of danger for each individual, it is the ambition of the individuals that differ and that is why the Ring appears to react differently. As an aside this is what the movie makers failed to recognise in dealing with Faramir and even Aragorns moment at the Seat of Seeing just before sending off Frodo (unless that was a similar theatrical device to Thorin grumbling at Bilbo just before giving him a bro hug) is a reflection of how they saw the Ring working which differs to the book.

When considering the Ring and the course of its history we also need to consider the influence of providence.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Apr 5 2013, 1:01pm

Post #47 of 57 (345 views)
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Thoughts about Faramir [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree that there is an underlying consistency in the actions of the Ring, as you say. It reflects levels of ambition, yes, but perhaps also other character traits such as humility, kindness, self-control - rather like the "four cardinal virtues", perhaps:
  • Prudence - ability to judge between actions with regard to appropriate actions at a given time
  • Justice - the perpetual and constant will of rendering to each one his right
  • Temperance or Restraint - practicing self-control, abstention, and moderation; tempering the appetition
  • Fortitude or Courage - forbearance, endurance, and ability to confront fear, uncertainty and intimidation
These are central virtues in Tolkien's Catholic faith, although according to Wikipedia they have their roots in Classical Antiquity. Frodo is certainly a very good example of the virtues, but after reading all of this thread, I'm wondering if Faramir isn't the actual embodiment of them. I have an idea that, far from being an exception to the rule of the Ring's behaviour, he's the example of exactly what is required to resist it. Of course, he never has it offered or even shown to him (but that's all part of his "prudence" and "restraint", in telling Frodo not to show it to him or even to speak more about it). He also embodies the difference between true "fortitude" and mere "prowess" which is really what sets him apart from his brother.

As for movie-Faramir, he's given flaws that make him more human but also more vulnerable to the Ring, so I don't think as far as that goes the Ring's effect is so different (although I agree that the movie treatment of the Ring's effects is much less subtle than the book overall). Where the movie really opens a can of worms, for me, is when Faramir desires the Ring so he can give it to someone else. I don't think anyone in Tolkien's universe is ever tempted to take the Ring in order to give it away. Its power is in tricking your mind into believing that your own selfish ambitions are actually for the best, and therefore that you are justified in taking it using it yourself. Movie-Faramir seems to be suffering more from bad judgement than true ambition! (I don't think Aragorn is tempted at Amon Hen in the movie, it's just that he suddenly understands that Frodo now fears that he is, and that Frodo can't afford to trust him any more.)

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



Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 5 2013, 4:26pm

Post #48 of 57 (323 views)
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JRRT's enigmas may be devices, or they may point to something else [In reply to] Can't Post


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I agree that there is an underlying consistency in the actions of the Ring, as you say. It reflects levels of ambition, yes, but perhaps also other character traits such as humility, kindness, self-control - rather like the "four cardinal virtues", perhaps:
  • Prudence - ability to judge between actions with regard to appropriate actions at a given time
  • Justice - the perpetual and constant will of rendering to each one his right
  • Temperance or Restraint - practicing self-control, abstention, and moderation; tempering the appetition
  • Fortitude or Courage - forbearance, endurance, and ability to confront fear, uncertainty and intimidation
These are central virtues in Tolkien's Catholic faith, although according to Wikipedia they have their roots in Classical Antiquity. Frodo is certainly a very good example of the virtues, but after reading all of this thread, I'm wondering if Faramir isn't the actual embodiment of them. I have an idea that, far from being an exception to the rule of the Ring's behaviour, he's the example of exactly what is required to resist it. Of course, he never has it offered or even shown to him (but that's all part of his "prudence" and "restraint", in telling Frodo not to show it to him or even to speak more about it). He also embodies the difference between true "fortitude" and mere "prowess" which is really what sets him apart from his brother.

As for movie-Faramir, he's given flaws that make him more human but also more vulnerable to the Ring, so I don't think as far as that goes the Ring's effect is so different (although I agree that the movie treatment of the Ring's effects is much less subtle than the book overall). Where the movie really opens a can of worms, for me, is when Faramir desires the Ring so he can give it to someone else. I don't think anyone in Tolkien's universe is ever tempted to take the Ring in order to give it away. Its power is in tricking your mind into believing that your own selfish ambitions are actually for the best, and therefore that you are justified in taking it using it yourself. Movie-Faramir seems to be suffering more from bad judgement than true ambition! (I don't think Aragorn is tempted at Amon Hen in the movie, it's just that he suddenly understands that Frodo now fears that he is, and that Frodo can't afford to trust him any more.)______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ I very much like the analysis of character virtues as you have laid out above. Having read more of JRRT's own thoughts on Faramir in Letters I do think that he had an emotional investment in making a statement with Faramir's attitude towards the Ring. I think overall Aragorn is JRRT's ME alter ego, but having felt connected enough to the character to given his own recurring dream to Faramir, I think you have a point here - that as an exception to the rule he can be said to exemplify the moral code (as valued by JRRT) needed to oppose the corruption of power. Its a rather spontaneous creation - as Faramir did not exist up until as JRRT says (paraphrasing) he 'walked out of the forest of Ithilien' as a needed counter to Boromir - who existed brotherless (and thus without counterbalance among Minas Tirith Men) for a much longer duration, and as a voice of lore and history that JRRT felt was needed for Frodo at that point. And Film Faramir is certainly used as a device - detrimental perhaps to the inherently moral voice as written, but ultimately triumphing in virtue. Necessary for the visual story I think, and I do enjoy Film Faramir because we SEE his thoughts more. If anything the text enigma strikes one because we get a lot of exposition and conclusion from Faramir in text but less internal clarity than we get with others. Indeed his intellect as a son of Denethor and who honors his City and his people so much is what I felt could have made him vulnerable to the Ring. I never thought of the Film deviation - taking the Ring for someone else - and how that relates to the Faramir of text. Presumably it would be playing on the idea that Faramir would pay even with his life (and the Ring) for Denethor's regard; but then chooses the moral course and sacrifices his own goal.


Hell hath no fury like a Dragon who is missing a cup.


CuriousG
Valinor


Apr 5 2013, 4:42pm

Post #49 of 57 (315 views)
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Well... [In reply to] Can't Post

I know the Rdg Room isn't the place to criticize the movies, but under the umbrella of how does Tolkien keep his stories consistent, I think book Faramir was crucial. He was Numenor as it used to be, the best of what that civilization achieved. Aragorn was a rustic Dunedan, but Faramir was a polished one. He tied together the threads of Elendil's friendship with Gil-Galad which made the Last Alliance possible, and showed the other side of Gondor which Boromir did not, and while a great military leader he felt ambivalence to war.

He gives a sense of the higher cultural heights that Arnor and Gondor flourished at, and what Aragorn would restore. None of that worked with the movie version for me, though I don't fault the movies for being inconsistent. I just think his character isn't one to mess with since he ties together a lot of Tolkien's themes, even more than I can write about (since I''m presently sitting in a meeting at work pretending to be taking notes for the committee). :)


Brethil
Half-elven


Apr 5 2013, 4:55pm

Post #50 of 57 (334 views)
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(*wink*) Excellent committee notes CG....! ;-) [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I know the Rdg Room isn't the place to criticize the movies, but under the umbrella of how does Tolkien keep his stories consistent, I think book Faramir was crucial. He was Numenor as it used to be, the best of what that civilization achieved. Aragorn was a rustic Dunedan, but Faramir was a polished one. He tied together the threads of Elendil's friendship with Gil-Galad which made the Last Alliance possible, and showed the other side of Gondor which Boromir did not, and while a great military leader he felt ambivalence to war.

He gives a sense of the higher cultural heights that Arnor and Gondor flourished at, and what Aragorn would restore. None of that worked with the movie version for me, though I don't fault the movies for being inconsistent. I just think his character isn't one to mess with since he ties together a lot of Tolkien's themes, even more than I can write about (since I''m presently sitting in a meeting at work pretending to be taking notes for the committee). :)





Reading other people's hightly intelligent takes on text Faramir makes me feel a bit rustic...Crazy

I always got a sense of his 'far off' air of Numenor; and his depth as a military leader...so I don't know why then he remains so enigmatic to me after all these years and reads (I must be well over 50x) - as I have posted before perhaps that's why I do like him - he feels a bit distant and mysterious to me - but I don't know why I don't "get" him as clearly as you do. That's why I raised him as a bit of a device when the topic arose. Maybe with all these ideas in mind I need to reread the whole of Faramir's part again (including keeping JRRTs words in mind. Scratching head in puzzlement....)

Hell hath no fury like a Dragon who is missing a cup.

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