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

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

  Main Index   Search Posts   Who's Online   Log in
The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Those under-sharing First Agers
First page Previous page 1 2 3 Next page Last page  View All

Darkstone
Immortal


May 24 2017, 6:40pm

Post #51 of 63 (1599 views)
Shortcut
Who knows what lurks in the hearts of the Dunedain? [In reply to] Can't Post

It's established rather early on that hobbits aren't exactly reliable judges of Big People:

'Yes,' said Frodo, `it was Strider that saved us. Yet I was afraid of him at first. Sam never quite trusted him. I think, not at any rate until we met Glorfindel.'
Gandalf smiled. `I have heard all about Sam,' he said. 'He has no more doubts now.'
'I am glad,' said Frodo. 'For I have become very fond of Strider. Well, "fond" is not the right word. I mean he is dear to me; though he is strange, and grim at times. In fact, he reminds me often of you. I didn't know that any of the Big People were like that. I thought, well, that they were just big, and rather stupid: kind and stupid like Butterbur; or stupid and wicked like Bill Ferny. But then we don't know much about Men in the Shire, except perhaps the Breelanders.'
`You don't know much even about them, if you think old Barliman is stupid,' said Gandalf. 'He is wise enough on his own ground. He thinks less than he talks, and slower; yet he can see through a brick wall in time (as they say in Bree).'

-Many Meetings

I'm reminded of the C.S. Forester's Hornblower series. It's mostly written from the point of view of Horatio Hornblower, who is full of self-doubt, and often berates himself for cowardice, stupidity, dishonesty, disloyalty, and a myriad of other faults. Yet those times when we see him from the POV of his crew, his superiors, his loved ones, and others, he is seen as inspiring, intelligent, courageous, loyal, kind, etc. (Basically Faramir of the Royal Navy.)

Then there’s Edwin Arlington Robinson’s “Richard Cory” (1897):

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich, yes, richer than a king,
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.


Indeed, Aragorn could have been full of fear and self-doubt, but the hobbits (and thus the book readers) would never know it.

******************************************

Once Radagast dreamt he was a moth, a moth flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Radagast. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakably Radagast. But he didn't know if he was Radagast who had dreamt he was a moth, or a moth dreaming he was Radagast. Between Radagast and a moth there must be some distinction! But really, there isn't, because he's actually Aiwendil dreaming he's both Radagast *and* a moth!
-From Radagasti: The Moth Dream


noWizardme
Valinor


May 24 2017, 8:50pm

Post #52 of 63 (1586 views)
Shortcut
Tangents - some of the best things.... // [In reply to] Can't Post

"When I have nothing to do I just google 'tangents' - and I'm off"
Bill Bailey (though quoted from memory, which may be unwise)

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm

(This post was edited by noWizardme on May 24 2017, 8:57pm)


FarFromHome
Valinor


May 24 2017, 9:18pm

Post #53 of 63 (1594 views)
Shortcut
Talk about under-sharing! [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Indeed, Aragorn could have been full of fear and self-doubt, but the hobbits (and thus the book readers) would never know it.

Yep, I think that's the trick Tolkien plays in giving Aragorn a medieval-style heroic "surface", while hinting here and there that there's a more modern, psychologically complex character underneath. The hobbits'-eye view shows us the confident hero, yet we occasionally get to see things through their eyes that they themselves don't really understand - from his "queer laugh" when admits that he hoped the hobbits would "take to me for my own sake", to his anxiety while he waits for Arwen to arrive in Minas Tirith, puzzling Frodo because Aragorn never actually admits what they're waiting for!

Aragorn's reluctance to talk about the love of his life certainly is a problem when he has no way of explaining to Eowyn that he's not available, except with some riddling words about his heart dwelling in Rivendell. That's one time that his friends do see his emotion, but even then “only those who knew him well and were near to him saw the pain that he bore.” So his mask slips now and then, and even the hobbits notice his "strange eager face" as he tells them the story of Beren and Lúthien, but mostly he keeps him medieval game face on.






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



noWizardme
Valinor


May 25 2017, 9:48am

Post #54 of 63 (1575 views)
Shortcut
Aragorn is presented as a mystery [In reply to] Can't Post

Yep, I think that's the trick Tolkien plays in giving Aragorn a medieval-style heroic "surface", while hinting here and there that there's a more modern, psychologically complex character underneath.


I think that's a really good point - Aragorn is 'in role' as a king-hero, and so there's the loneliness of command and a show to keep up for his followers. Tolkien avoids Aragorn becoming just a bundle of quirks or a kingly and heroic tropes, but only if you look closely.

Further, Tolkien has good plot reasons to keep Aragorn a character of secrets. We start with Strider, some kind of friend of Gandalf's with the skills to guide the hobbits out of Bree. We get the surprise that Strider is actually the rightful King of Gondor and Arnor, if he can place his claim. Then, later there is the surprise (to many first-time readers and to the characters) of Arwen turning up as Aragorn's long-betrothed bride. The impression I get is of Aragorn seems realistic enough - a person who might naturally be reserved, but has certainly learned the political and practical benefits of caution with his secrets. For example, one could imagine that Aragorn doesn't only keep quiet about Arwen for personal reasons; he has political ones too. Consider Boromir's reaction to the idea they will go to Lorien, or Eomer's initial reaction to the news that this is where they have been. It might be perfectly understandable if Aragorn doesn't want the whole of Rohan and Gondor to know that if they help Aragorn they might get 'an elvish sorceress' as their queen.

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


May 25 2017, 2:23pm

Post #55 of 63 (1557 views)
Shortcut
If there is one thing wrong with book-Aragorn... [In reply to] Can't Post

...it's that he's a mite too perfect. Aragorn is the Superman of Middle-earth. He has no flaws to speak of except for a little self-doubt which just provides him with enough modesty to keep him from becoming insufferable. He is the Ideal Man of his day: Wise, brilliant generous,, caring, not overly handsome, and a prince in exile destined to be High King. Even when Aragorn fails, it inevitably turns out for the best.

Make no mistake, I love Aragorn as a character, but he isn't interesting in the sense of having an internal conflict to overcome, even when he is faced with the question of how to treat with defeated enemies. Gimli at least has to battle his ancestral animosity towards Elves; and Boromir fails spectacularly only to ultimately redeem himself at great sacrifice.

"He who lies artistically, treads closer to the truth than ever he knows." -- Favorite proverb of the wizard Ningauble of the Seven Eyes

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on May 25 2017, 2:36pm)


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 25 2017, 9:19pm

Post #56 of 63 (1524 views)
Shortcut
That might have been where Tolkien went right with Gandalf (vs Aragorn) [In reply to] Can't Post

who is often snapping at the hobbits and showing little fits of anger/impatience. No one is harmed by it, and while I wouldn't want to be in-story and have Gandalf badgering me, I see most characters brush it off. So, Gandalf is not the perfect person, and you can expect some bite from him. I think he's a beloved character to most readers for being well-rounded that way.

By contrast, I really like Elrond, but imagine substituting him for Gandalf throughout the entire LOTR: always wise, polite, kind. He might get a little dull. But Gandalf keeps you on your toes and brings energy to any scene he's in.


squire
Half-elven


May 25 2017, 9:49pm

Post #57 of 63 (1532 views)
Shortcut
The old 'flaw vs feature' question: Aragorn's "Perfection" [In reply to] Can't Post

Different readers want different things from their characters. As you say, you "love Aragorn as a character" but he "isn't interesting in the sense of having an internal conflict to overcome".

I also love him as a character, but it's because his internal conflict (when and how to break away from Gandalf and take command of the War) is an understated and minor part of his emergence and rise to greatness from the mistrustworthy Strider to the King of the West Returned. I see him as, quite simply, the necessary heroic anchor of the half of the book that isn't about the hobbits and the Ring. What's interesting to me, as a romantic rather than a realist, is that such a perfect character could even be sustained and made lovable in such a complex and generically out-of-water book.

But as you say, many people disagree and think book-Aragorn is in the wrong, having broken the most fundamental rule of what readers surely must want in a fictional character - and thus he has been corrected by movie-Aragorn, with his perfect right-from-screenwriting-101 "character arc".



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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


noWizardme
Valinor


May 28 2017, 11:35am

Post #58 of 63 (1479 views)
Shortcut
Flaws - another modern literary trend? [In reply to] Can't Post

Does the Room think that its a modern trend for storytellers/audiences to assume that a character without some kind of flaw is too good to be true?

If so, Aragorn's 'flawlessness' might be part of "the trick Tolkien plays in giving Aragorn a medieval-style heroic "surface", while hinting here and there that there's a more modern, psychologically complex character underneath." (FarFromHome, earlier in this thread)

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


May 28 2017, 3:59pm

Post #59 of 63 (1460 views)
Shortcut
Flawed Heroes [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Does the Room think that its a modern trend for storytellers/audiences to assume that a character without some kind of flaw is too good to be true?


To some extend, though many legendary and mythic heroes had their flaws if we look at them closely, many of them being tragic flaws. Thor was dumber than his hammer. Lancelot couldn't stay away from his best friend's wife. Many, many legendary figures suffered from hubris and reaped the consequences.

"He who lies artistically, treads closer to the truth than ever he knows." -- Favorite proverb of the wizard Ningauble of the Seven Eyes


FarFromHome
Valinor


May 29 2017, 9:23am

Post #60 of 63 (1404 views)
Shortcut
How perfect is Aragorn? [In reply to] Can't Post

I think there are two issues in your question. First, should a hero be perfect? And second, how perfect is Aragorn anyway?

Aragorn seems to me to reflect lots of fairytale and adventure-story tropes - he's a humble youth (check) who turns out to have royal blood (check) and an heirloom sword (check), he aspires to a highborn lady's hand (check) and has to win it through brave deeds (check), he gathers a band of like-minded adventurers around him (check), and after winning against all odds (check) he lives happily ever after (check). There are bits of King Arthur, Robin Hood, Jack in the Beanstalk, and many other tales in there. As such I think he's the perfect avatar for the mythic power of Middle-earth itself. We don't see his doubts and fears because we only see his fairytale-hero side, as he performs with panache the kinds of deeds that we admire. He's James Bond, Batman and Luke Skywalker. What's not to like?

But as far as Aragorn goes, I don't think the "parfit gentil knight" is the whole story. Despite us seeing him almost entirely through the eyes of the admiring and (let's face it) none-too-clued-in hobbits, we do get constant little hints that Aragorn isn't always the storybook hero he seems. He doubts his abilities, he doubts what his mission should be, he confesses to Galadriel that his true goal isn't a crown but the hand of a lady ("the only treasure I seek") and gives this away subconsciously to the hobbits when they notice his strange expression as he tells them the story of Beren and Lúthien, the story he's trying to follow for himself. I really like the way Tolkien gives so many subtle hints to what's going on inside Aragorn while seeming to show us only his heroic exterior. Even if we don't get all the hints at first (and since the key to many of them is hidden in the Appendices, that's highly likely), I think they affect us (and the hobbits) in our understanding of Aragorn, and make him a much deeper character than the pure action hero that he seems on the surface. The Appendices confirm this too, as we lose the hobbit perspective and finally get to see into Aragorn's heart, into his naive pride at finding out his lineage, his despair when he realizes he's fallen for a lady who's seriously out of his league, and then his determination to succeed once he realizes that she loves him back.

The films, of course, take a different approach, and by bringing the Appendix material into the main story show us things that the book story keeps offstage. I can well understand why the film writers decided not to go with the fairytale trope of "winning the hand of the lady", considering that Arwen is (at 3000 years old) presumably over the age of consent, and there is no sympathy today for submissive females (I wonder whether Tolkien himself could have got away with it if he hadn't kept Arwen so carefully under wraps - he didn't go that route with Lúthien, who openly disobeyed her father). Movie-Aragorn therefore has no motivation to gain his kingdom for love, as he does in the book. He only has his sense of duty, to help destroy the Ring that his ancestor unleashed on the world by his decision to keep it. The test of Aragorn, then, becomes resisting the temptation of the Ring, and since we are no longer restricted to the hobbits'-eye view we get to see his fear of this weakness as he confesses it privately to Arwen. Linked to this, in movie terms, is his need to resist Elrond's urging to use the Sword of Elendil to assert his claim to power. As far as I can see, these are the only elements of "weakness" in movie-Aragorn's character. He doesn't show any weakness in public - in fact with Eomer, for example, he's more confident and in control than book-Aragorn, who starts out giving his name as Strider, and then when challenged that "that is no name for a Man", goes full-on royal prerogative with his list of hereditary titles. You have to admit it certainly works with Eomer though!

So is Aragorn too perfect? Not for me, because in both book and movie I think he has depths that make it clear that he's not just a straightforward fantasy hero. It's just that it's easier to see the depths in the movie, both because of the added scenes with confidants (Arwen, Elrond, Gandalf), and also because any good actor is going to make the audience see the depth of character that you have to read between the lines to appreciate in the book. He still comes across as an admirable, fantasy hero though, I find, despite his privately-confessed weaknesses. in fact I think you can see the influence of LotR in the evolution of other fantasy film heroes - Batman, James Bond etc. - who tend to show their conflicted emotions much more than they used to do. I guess we still like heroes who are practically perfect in every way, but you need a sense that it doesn't come too easily. It's often said that true courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to do what you must despite being afraid. In the book, Frodo embodies this fully, while Aragorn plays the foil, the hero who seems not to be afraid. In the films Aragorn too is shown facing his fears, at least in the first movie. But as Frodo's real test begins when he meets Gollum in TTT, Aragorn has passed his own test and has moved on to be the more the confident hero of the book, allowing his side of the story to play once again as a contrast to Frodo's more personal and conflicted journey.

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



(This post was edited by FarFromHome on May 29 2017, 9:24am)


noWizardme
Valinor


May 29 2017, 12:04pm

Post #61 of 63 (1381 views)
Shortcut
Bravo - I think my only reply to this post can be to admire it! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


noWizardme
Valinor


May 29 2017, 12:29pm

Post #62 of 63 (1384 views)
Shortcut
various flaws [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree - a lot of plots are fuelled by deep character flaws - one kind of tragedy being where an otherwise admirable character is forced by their flaw towards their doom, despite opportunities to pull back:


Quote
Macbeth is flawed by his ambition... it’s that flaw which forces him to take the inevitable steps towards his own doom. You see? ...Tragedy in dramatic terms is inevitable, pre-ordained. Look, now, even without ever having heard the story of Macbeth you wanted to shout out, to warn him and prevent him going on, didn’t you? But you wouldn’t have been able to stop him would you?... what I mean is that your warning would have been ignored. He’s warned in the play. But he can’t go back. He still treads the path to doom. ...You see he goes blindly on and on and with every step he’s spinning one more piece of thread which will eventually make up the network of his own tragedy.

Educating Rita, a play by Willy Russell


Or, flaws can be played for comedy (your example of the strong but dim Thor, who can be played for comedy as when he gets forced into drag for some reason).

I suppose I was also thinking of the kinds of minor 'flaws' which writer are sometimes advised to use to make a character who is a paragon seem a bit more 'relatable'. The flaws seem a bit tacked-on, the storyteller not having thought of something interesting that can feel truly part of the character. Movie-Eowyn, who is a terrible cook, is an example of doing this badly (I think). her 'flaw' seems like a quick joke, or a somewhat apologetic tick-the-box exercise. Book-Eowyn has a far more interesting 'flaw' and one that is part of her character - she's left in charge of the home front as a shrewd assessment of her worth, but she cannot see that it's a statement of her high worth and abilities.

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 30 2017, 12:15pm

Post #63 of 63 (1357 views)
Shortcut
Flawed flaws [In reply to] Can't Post

I think that's the modern expectation in readers and movie/TV viewers, that an important character has to have at least one deep inner flaw, maybe several. And sometimes it is so superficially tacked on, usually in a book or movie that is poorly written otherwise, that it makes me angry, like I'm supposed to just swallow it whole and then relate to the hero because they're human like me, but instead I want to throw my popcorn in disgust at how cheap and manipulative it is. But my opinion doesn't matter; that's the norm.

Being no literary historian, I would still guess that Victorian heroes were more flawless than 20th century ones, or their flaws were less central and less important. And vaulting back to Greek tales, the gods themselves had flaws, but it seemed like you were supposed to overlook them and not examine them or look for their resolution.

"Hera is always so jealous about Zeus's infidelity--how do you suppose she resolves that? Does she spend time talking about her feelings with wise Athena?" See, I don't think the stories are told with that reader reaction in mind. Instead a flaw is more like a signal of an upcoming plot point, as in, "There's Zeus dallying with another princess. I wonder how Hera will get her revenge when she finds out?"

First page Previous page 1 2 3 Next page Last page  View All
 
 

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

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

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

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