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A discussion of "Law and Arda" by Douglas Kane

Brethil
Half-elven


May 28 2013, 1:36pm


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A discussion of "Law and Arda" by Douglas Kane Can't Post

Some discussion points I thought were interesting from the fascinating Law and Arda article from Tolkien Studies (Volume 9) that Douglas Kane, our own Voronwe the Faithful, kindly made available to us! Angelic

Feel free to address as many or as few points as you have ideas about...and as always in the RR, bring up any thoughts or questions you have too! Enjoy all! Can't wait to hear your thoughts!


** Order in the Court! Let us gaze at the Wizard in the dock: a question of "Undue Influence." Is it a charge that can be levelled at Gandalf, for his leading role in giving Bilbo "a little nudge out of the door..."? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Undue_influence
The article above provides the legal definition of 'undue influence'. Do you feel that Gandalf can defend against the charge? Does his stature in relation to Bilbo make him more likely to have undue influence? We can consider two things: Bilbo's own indecisiveness in the matter - "Bilbo’s attempt to retreat into a modern, business-like air is defeated by the Dwarf song "Far Over Misty Mountains Cold," which evokes the ancient world and awakens in Bilbo’s heart "the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and magic." (Shippey 73) - as well as his emotional state as described above. Yet also taking into account his own independent inclination to proceed, do you feel his free will was, or may have been, violated?


** JRRT uses Smaug as the voice of legalistic reason to shake Bilbo's resolve, by cunningly asking him: "But what about delivery? What about cartage? What about armed guards and tolls?" (H, xii, 192). As Douglas Kane demonstrates in Law and Arda, the viability of the Contract rests on its executability by both parties. So let's discuss the point raised by Smaug the Barrister: the carting of the 1/14th share - is it a contract breaker? Is the letter of the Contract fulfilled without taking into consideration the return journey, and does 'delivery' simply mean the handing over the Reward? Is Thorin or his representative legally or ethically responsible for the Burglar's management of the Reward once it is provided to Bilbo?


** Douglas Kane sums up Bilbo's choice in the Trollshaw, where he has taken the step in deciding to live up to the title of "Burglar." In Letter #163 JRRT says; "Anyway I myself saw the value of Hobbits, in putting earth under the feet of 'romance', and in providing subjects for 'ennoblement' and heroes more praiseworthy than the professionals..." Let us discuss the role of the Talking Purse: to set the charming scene for Dwarves-in-sacks, or to maintain Bilbo's status as a non-professional burglar/adventurer? Is maintaining the legal fiction of Bilbo as an (non-gifted) amateur needed to advance the story and Bilbo's arc, or is it more of a plot-driven point?


** As Douglas Kane points out, the event in which Bilbo finds the Ring is of enormous and apparently fateful importance, to Bilbo and to Middle Earth. "Although Bilbo found the Ring as opposed to taking it from Gollum by force or stealth, once he learned for certain that it was property belonging to Gollum he would be duty-bound by law to return it to him; failing to do so was as much a theft as if he had taken it by force. On the other hand, one defense that a person accused of a crime can assert is the defense of necessity, and it seems likely that Bilbo could have successfully claimed that it was necessary that he keep the Ring in order to avoid getting throttled and eaten. Moreover, he did not use more force than was necessary, since he used the Ring to escape Gollum by leaping over him instead of his original inclination of 'stabbing the foul thing, putting its eyes out, killing it' [H, v, 81](Kane, L and A)." A turning point in his career. Based on the revised version of Riddles, where do you stand here, in the moral, legal and/or psychological implications of Bilbo keeping the Ring? Theft, necessity or the hand of Fate?


** Burglary or Recovery: whose cup is it anyway? Since the Dwarves have possession of the Key, (a legitimate means of entry, and the Key being undisputed legal property of Thorin) does that legally and ethically sanctify their entry into the Mountain? Taking the Cup: does or does it not make Bilbo a burglar? And how does it compare with Bilbo removing the Arkenstone?


** After Bilbo's departure form the Shire, Frodo faces conflict and "legal folderol", as Douglas Kane quite properly calls it, surrounding the Will, with its seven signatures in red ink; in Hobbiton, apparently it takes a village to sign a will! What does this particular legal fiction say about Hobbit (and possibly in JRRT's mind idealized, countrified, pre-industrial English) society?


** The crucial distinctions of morality over law. In the examples Douglas Kane gives us in Law and Arda, circumstances in which JRRT highlighted morality over law (Frodo allowing Gollum to swear fealty on the Ring; Finrod's oath; the sanctioned Death of Miriel resulting in the birth of the children of Indis; Theoden sparing Grima) each event has a significant story consequence - except for the case of Grima and Theoden. With the idea that in JRRT's world legal fictions create meaning, why might choosing this legally unprecedented act of mercy for Grima, especially after his numerous dark deeds, be so morally (or psychologically) important for Theoden?


** Tolkien experienced deep love in his life, yet through the legendarium shows the reader that he is well aware of strife and unhappiness in marriage (though he did not believe in divorce) and what its grave consequences can be. As Douglas Kane notes: "There is no provision made for Elvish divorce, but Tolkien notes in "The Laws and Customs of the Eldar" that no ceremony was necessary for marriage; a couple was automatically married when they consummated their relationship [Morgoth 211-211].(Kane, L and A) ." No option for divorce is available to star-crossed Numenoreans Aldarion and Erendis either; but then likewise no legal ceremony seems to have taken place. So what do you think JRRT is saying about marriage in a morality vs. law context, by using a lack of formal legal structure in his literary depiction of a highly legalized real-world state; perhaps in both an idealized and real-world sense?

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

(This post was edited by entmaiden on May 28 2013, 2:44pm)

Subject User Time
A discussion of "Law and Arda" by Douglas Kane Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 28 2013, 1:36pm
    Persons in Middle-earth noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme May 28 2013, 5:09pm
        very interesting telain Send a private message to telain May 28 2013, 5:38pm
            Some more interesting ethics... Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 28 2013, 7:07pm
                Disturbingly ruthless CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG May 28 2013, 7:30pm
                    Saruman and Orcs Otaku-sempai Send a private message to Otaku-sempai May 28 2013, 7:42pm
                    I think the issue must be intent Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 28 2013, 10:02pm
                Letter 183 is an eye-opener then noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme May 28 2013, 7:46pm
                    Yes, that's what is puzzling CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG May 28 2013, 8:07pm
                        That's not what Tolkien actually said Voronwë_the_Faithful Send a private message to Voronwë_the_Faithful May 28 2013, 10:10pm
                            Would Orcs be evil...in a war machine sense? Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 28 2013, 10:49pm
                                There's context and then there's canon, I suppose CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG May 29 2013, 1:59am
                                    The end of Saruman Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 29 2013, 2:09am
                                the only good orc is a dead orc? noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme May 29 2013, 10:02am
                                    Brian Eno, Chekhov and Rambo go to the movies noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme May 29 2013, 12:19pm
                                    Orcs as 'persons' - excellent points on a debatable topic Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 29 2013, 3:01pm
                            letter 183 considered and rebutted, "just wars" etc. noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme May 29 2013, 8:40am
                                a thought about proportion... and orcs...prop-orcs-tion? telain Send a private message to telain May 29 2013, 11:53pm
                                Letter 183 Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth May 30 2013, 7:21am
                                    Thanks for finding those earlier discussions, Elizabeth! noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme May 30 2013, 11:29am
                                        A discussion quite all its own... Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 30 2013, 1:45pm
                                            I think it's doing just fine as a subthread! noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme May 30 2013, 3:20pm
                                                This is a splendid take on accountability Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 30 2013, 3:28pm
                                                    which leads us back into legal fictions... noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme May 30 2013, 5:23pm
                                                        Spectrum of thoughts and law formulation Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 30 2013, 5:49pm
                                                            five, two or zero? noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme May 30 2013, 8:32pm
                I really like that question, Brethil--what about hobbit laws? And death penalties? CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG May 29 2013, 2:18am
                    Law as an opression...continuum? Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 29 2013, 3:29pm
            Wonder if we can see ME as a continual state of war? Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 28 2013, 11:22pm
        Legal 'personhood' in ME.... Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 28 2013, 6:33pm
            Miruvor slammers....never again...// noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme May 28 2013, 6:44pm
            Ask the U. S. Supreme Court... Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth May 29 2013, 7:12am
                I find the exceptions interesting Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 29 2013, 3:42pm
        That's a really fascinating question, Wiz. CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG May 29 2013, 1:37am
    Law and Arda: M-eU (Middle-earth Unit) telain Send a private message to telain May 28 2013, 5:32pm
        Great post, telain. I guess I owe you a beer at the Green Dragon for cross- posting noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme May 28 2013, 6:38pm
            It comes in pints!?! telain Send a private message to telain May 29 2013, 12:39am
                The ideal Hobbit T-shirt? Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 29 2013, 12:45am
                    "It comes in pints" T-shirt noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme May 29 2013, 8:46am
                        Youv'e gone and got Sam all muttery now... Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 29 2013, 3:51pm
        So many questions back Telain! Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 28 2013, 7:27pm
            questions! questions that don't have answers! telain Send a private message to telain May 29 2013, 1:01am
                You make a lot of sense when you are tired Telain... Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 29 2013, 2:04am
                    you are too kind! telain Send a private message to telain May 29 2013, 10:39pm
                Nice succinct comparison, Telain CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG May 29 2013, 3:01am
                    Funny thing is... telain Send a private message to telain May 30 2013, 12:11am
        Finally have time to ponder all your points Telain... Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 28 2013, 11:31pm
            Well, Hobbiton is a "small" town! telain Send a private message to telain May 30 2013, 12:00am
    Criminal minds think alike CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG May 29 2013, 1:19am
        Oops, forgot the obvious: Thank you too for sharing your work, Mr Kane!! // CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG May 29 2013, 1:43am
        Some new points... Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 29 2013, 2:51am
        Telain, acting sub-counsel for the defence of Bilbo Baggins, Esq. telain Send a private message to telain May 29 2013, 10:53pm
            Would this be a pro-bono defense...? Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 30 2013, 3:25am
    Law in Rohan and Gondor - Lets either Court-Marshal Eowyn, or award her the order of Maria Theresa!! noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme May 29 2013, 11:15am
        Gondor vs Rohan law Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 30 2013, 3:34am
    Late to the party and lots to catch up on! elaen32 Send a private message to elaen32 May 29 2013, 10:25pm
        Greetings Elaen! Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 30 2013, 3:19am
    Also late, but a few thoughts. Elwen Send a private message to Elwen May 31 2013, 2:23pm
        Thoughts back Elwen ;-) Brethil Send a private message to Brethil May 31 2013, 3:27pm
        Quick point on executions CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG May 31 2013, 10:01pm
            That was the one I thought of too.// Elwen Send a private message to Elwen May 31 2013, 11:15pm
        Bilbo and the Ring Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Jun 1 2013, 6:37pm
            I guess Deagol has the least guilt... Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jun 1 2013, 9:36pm
                I don't think that Sméagol's community knew he was a murderer... noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Jun 2 2013, 7:56am
                    I think deagol was Smeagols brother Yngwulff Send a private message to Yngwulff Jun 2 2013, 8:02am
                        I think cousin too Yngwulff Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jun 2 2013, 5:01pm
                            I wonder if close familial ties helped Smeagol hide his crime CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jun 3 2013, 9:07pm
                                I can see it playing that way CG... Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jun 3 2013, 10:07pm
                    You are probably quite right Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jun 2 2013, 4:58pm
                        "Spiral of Delinquency" = Indie band I was in during college noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Jun 2 2013, 6:06pm
                Good to see you too, Brethil! :) Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Jun 2 2013, 6:09pm
                    Banishment Yngwulff Send a private message to Yngwulff Jun 3 2013, 2:31am
                        Banishment Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Jun 3 2013, 2:30pm
                            I agree here about the reasons Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jun 3 2013, 2:41pm
                                Yeah, I don't know. Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Jun 3 2013, 5:36pm
                    I am hexed by Gollum CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jun 3 2013, 9:44pm
                        I see a parallel in Ardamire's point Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jun 3 2013, 10:19pm
                        Isildur Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Jun 4 2013, 5:30pm
                            The self-defense idea Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jun 4 2013, 5:44pm
                                One solution Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Jun 4 2013, 5:47pm
                    What is theft? Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth Jun 3 2013, 10:46pm
                        Last Bleak House East of the Sea. Darkstone Send a private message to Darkstone Jun 4 2013, 5:06am
                            Sauron taught Celebrimbor imin Send a private message to imin Jun 4 2013, 8:42am
                                Yes, I think the Ring is undeniably Sauron's CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jun 4 2013, 11:43am
                                    So then... Darkstone Send a private message to Darkstone Jun 4 2013, 1:02pm
                                        Well kinda imin Send a private message to imin Jun 4 2013, 1:23pm
                                            Noruas Inc. Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jun 5 2013, 12:23pm
                                        Does an art teacher... Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth Jun 4 2013, 6:10pm
                                            Well Darkstone Send a private message to Darkstone Jun 4 2013, 7:53pm
                            War booty or weregild, some interesting Law points Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jun 4 2013, 2:57pm
                                That's a fascinating passage, Breth CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jun 4 2013, 3:48pm
                                    I see it as a weapon as well Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jun 4 2013, 5:39pm
                        I read the other post. Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Jun 4 2013, 5:37pm
                            A semi-relevant tale: Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth Jun 4 2013, 6:17pm
                                Weird. Ardamírë Send a private message to Ardamírë Jun 4 2013, 6:28pm
                                Wow....! Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jun 4 2013, 7:38pm
        Bilbo knew. Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth Jun 3 2013, 10:28pm
    An apology... sador Send a private message to sador Jun 3 2013, 7:28am
        Good to hear from you Sador! Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jun 3 2013, 1:59pm
    International law? CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jun 5 2013, 3:34pm
        NICE set of inquiries CG! Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jun 5 2013, 4:19pm

 
 
 

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