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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Interracial Marriages

Laineth
Lorien

Jun 20 2018, 5:03pm

Post #1 of 24 (4600 views)
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Interracial Marriages Can't Post

Hi everyone! I was just browsing the web earlier and stumbled on a post where the blogger was confused and didn't understand why the female is always 'higher class' than the male. Not only that, but Middle-earth's history is fundamentally shaped by them and most of them are explicitly stated to be divine order.

The majority of these relationships are female elves and male humans: Lúthien/Beren, Idril/Tuor, Nimloth/Dior, Finduilas/Túrin, Mithrellas/Imrazôr, Arwen/Aragorn

We also have a female maia and a male elf: Melian/Thingol. There is only one case of a male elf and a female human: Aegnor/Andreth. Unlike the other relationships, this one is hidden away in an obscure text and has no effect on the plot.

The answer seems obvious to me, but maybe it's just me? Maybe it's just my experiences as an American? Because it's a really strong metaphor for white/black interracial relationships.

Warning: mentions of assault, rape, and murder.


Quote


Quote
One chief among the trespasses (occasionally real, but usually imagined) was any claim of sexual contact between black men and white women. The trope of the hypersexual and lascivious black male, especially vis-a-vis the inviolable chastity of white women, was and remains one of the most durable tropes of white supremacy.
According to the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), nearly 25% of lynching victims were accused of sexual assault. Nearly 30% were accused of murder.
“The mob wanted the lynching to carry a significance that transcended the specific act of punishment,” wrote the historian Howard Smead in Blood Justice: The Lynching of Mack Charles Parker. The mob “turned the act into a symbolic rite in which the black victim became the representative of his race and, as such, was being disciplined for more than a single crime … The deadly act was [a] warning [to] the black population not to challenge the supremacy of the white race.”

https://www.theguardian.com/...h-montgomery-alabama


Quote
An example of these laws in action occurred on March 22, 1901, when a white woman and a black man were arrested in Atlanta, Georgia, and accused of walking and talking together on Whitehall Street. In a news article entitled, “Color Line Was Ignored,” The Atlanta Constitution newspaper reported that Mrs. James Charles, “a handsomely dressed white woman of prepossessing appearance,” and C.W. King, “a Negro cook,” were arrested after Officer J.T. Shepard reported having seen the two talk to each other and then “walk side by side for several minutes.”
Mrs. Charles gave a statement after her arrest, not challenging the law itself, but fervently denying the accusation. She insisted she had exchanged no words with Mr. King, and merely smiled as she passed him dancing on the street:
"As I paused to listen to the music I noticed a negro man, the one arrested with me, dancing on the sidewalk. I smiled at his antics and was about to pass on when a policeman touched me on the arm and said he wanted to talk to me. I stopped and he asked why I talked to a negro. I denied having spoken to any negro. I told him I was a southern born woman, and his insinuations were an insult."
Mr. King also denied having spoken to Mrs. Charles; he said he never knew there was a white woman near him.
No further reporting on the arrests was published, and it is not clear whether they were convicted and fined when tried the next afternoon.

https://racialinjustice.eji.org/timeline/1900s/

Thoughts?


(This post was edited by entmaiden on Jun 20 2018, 10:30pm)


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 20 2018, 10:19pm

Post #2 of 24 (4525 views)
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"Maybe it's just my experience as an American?" [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien surely was at least slightly aware of the racist systems then in place in the southern United States (but not only there), but he doesn't mention it in any published text that I'm aware of. However, he does note the racial situation in South Africa in a letter to his son Christopher. You might refine your study by considering British legal and cultural expectations (at home and across the Empire) and not limiting your approach to just marriages between two racial groups but rather to all miscegenation.

As for the idea that the relationship of Aegnor and Andreth is more "obscure" than that of Mithrellas and Imrazôr or even Finduilas and Túrin, remember that Tolkien seems to have wanted the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" published as part of The Silmarillion.

(Sober discussion of such serious topics as race, murder, and rape have a long history in this forum, so while your warning is appreciated, know that your content is, in my opinion, entirely fine--but I'm not in charge. Politics, however, or at least current and recent political events, are now verboten, a point that participants in this discussion should bear in mind.)

Treason doth neuer prosper? What's the Reason?
for if it prosper none dare call it treason.


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entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 20 2018, 10:32pm

Post #3 of 24 (4515 views)
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In addition to the "no politics" rule, [In reply to] Can't Post

your first quote violated US copyright rules, and I removed it. If you want to summarize as a reply to your first post, that is fine. But quoting so many paragraphs, even with attribution, is outside the boundaries of fair use.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jun 21 2018, 11:22am

Post #4 of 24 (4495 views)
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Not the only explanation, I think [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think myself that interracial (in the contemporary sense) marriages are the only or obvious metaphor. I do see it's a possible one, but I would like to suggest some alternatives.

I notice that - with the exception of Eowyn - Tolkien's female characters are often rather remote and on pedestals. I think that may be to do with the fictional traditions in which he was working - the princess as prize to be won etc. Eowyn, incidentally could be proffered as an example of the male marrying down (she teases Faramir about this in their courtship scene). But then one could quibble - he's a Man and she's also a Man (to use Tolkien's term for that 'race').

I also wonder whether Tolkien isn't using the 19th Century Romantic movement idea of The Eternal Feminine, one aspect of which is that women are 'often depicted as angelic, responsible for drawing men upward on a moral and spiritual path' (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_feminine )

Then there's a tempting biographical angle - Tolkien's story of Beren and Luthien has some roots in his own romance with his wife Edith. Folks here who know all about Tolkien's biography can probably say whether Edith was 'higher class' than JRRT in the terms of their time. Or maybe he just liked to imagine for his heroes the wonderful sort of wife that he felt he'd been lucky enough to find himself.


Tolkien's use of the word 'races' for elves, men, dwarves etc. doesn't, I think ma exactly onto contemporary use of the word 'races' in real life - Tolkiens 'races' seem to me to be more like species or subspecies (I once jokingly observed that humans, elves and Maia had the properties of being a ring species, which would be quite appropriate in a silly way: I do of course realise that Tolkien was writing fantasy and that explanations from genetics and biology work only by co-incidence). So you could argue that the nearest real-life equivalent to elf-Man couplings would be sapiens-neanderthal couplings which plausibly happened when these subspecies co-existed (e.g. see https://www.theguardian.com/...ver-200000-years-ago ).

~~~~~~
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


Petty Dwarf
Bree


Jun 21 2018, 7:46pm

Post #5 of 24 (4466 views)
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It seems to me... [In reply to] Can't Post

...that the reason the men in Tolkien always "marry up" is really about his feelings for his wife, Edith, and what he went through to win her.

"No words were laid on stream or stone
When Durin woke and walked alone."


Laineth
Lorien

Jun 21 2018, 10:50pm

Post #6 of 24 (4448 views)
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Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

I wasn't doing a study about Tolkien, I was trying to explain my own personal history with the subject to start discussion. I certainly want to study more British history, and not just because of Tolkien!

But even if the Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth was part of the Silm (and I wish it were!) that relationship would still not play any role is shaping Middle-earth's history.

(thanks, but I err on the safe side because of my own past experiences online with triggers.)


Laineth
Lorien

Jun 21 2018, 11:10pm

Post #7 of 24 (4450 views)
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Fair use [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
your first quote violated US copyright rules, and I removed it. If you want to summarize as a reply to your first post, that is fine. But quoting so many paragraphs, even with attribution, is outside the boundaries of fair use.


I of course want to follow TORn policy and will happily do so, but with all respect, I did not violate the US Fair Use law.

1) Purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes

I am not making any money and I am using the quoted part for an informal and noncommercial discussion about how it relates to a different subject - thus transformative.

2) Nature of the copyrighted work

It's a history article and not a work of fiction, and the copyright holders put the full article up online and included a 'click here for printer friendly version' button. They want it shown around.

3) Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole

I only quoted about a third of the text, leaving out many significant passages; and used none of the images included in the original article. Also, The US Fair Use law does not set a specific amount on quantity.

4) Effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

I have not harmed the copyright holders in any way. They put the entire article up on the web with a button for printing it.

Sincerely, Laineth


Laineth
Lorien

Jun 21 2018, 11:22pm

Post #8 of 24 (4451 views)
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Tolkien's Femals [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I notice that - with the exception of Eowyn - Tolkien's female characters are often rather remote and on pedestals. I think that may be to do with the fictional traditions in which he was working - the princess as prize to be won etc. Eowyn, incidentally could be proffered as an example of the male marrying down (she teases Faramir about this in their courtship scene). But then one could quibble - he's a Man and she's also a Man (to use Tolkien's term for that 'race').

I also wonder whether Tolkien isn't using the 19th Century Romantic movement idea of The Eternal Feminine, one aspect of which is that women are 'often depicted as angelic, responsible for drawing men upward on a moral and spiritual path' (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_feminine )


I understand how people can get this perception from LotR, but I don't see how it holds up to the full legendarium - Galadriel is no innocent, which she acknowledges when Frodo tempts her with the Ring. Also, Miriel and Aredhel make some pretty big mistakes (I'm not shading them, I love them). For the female humans, Andreth and Erendis immediately come to mind.


Quote
Tolkien's use of the word 'races' for elves, men, dwarves etc. doesn't, I think ma exactly onto contemporary use of the word 'races' in real life - Tolkiens 'races' seem to me to be more like species or subspecies (I once jokingly observed that humans, elves and Maia had the properties of being a ring species, which would be quite appropriate in a silly way: I do of course realise that Tolkien was writing fantasy and that explanations from genetics and biology work only by co-incidence). So you could argue that the nearest real-life equivalent to elf-Man couplings would be sapiens-neanderthal couplings which plausibly happened when these subspecies co-existed (e.g. see https://www.theguardian.com/...ver-200000-years-ago ).


Oh, I definitely wasn't trying to say it is exactly the same scientifically; but a strong metaphor that fits well.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jun 22 2018, 9:59am

Post #9 of 24 (4420 views)
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Remoteness [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

nowiz:
I notice that - with the exception of Eowyn - Tolkien's female characters are often rather remote and on pedestals. I think that may be to do with the fictional traditions in which he was working - the princess as prize to be won etc. Eowyn, incidentally could be proffered as an example of the male marrying down (she teases Faramir about this in their courtship scene). But then one could quibble - he's a Man and she's also a Man (to use Tolkien's term for that 'race').

I also wonder whether Tolkien isn't using the 19th Century Romantic movement idea of The Eternal Feminine, one aspect of which is that women are 'often depicted as angelic, responsible for drawing men upward on a moral and spiritual path' (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_feminine )

Laineth in reply:
I understand how people can get this perception from LotR, but I don't see how it holds up to the full legendarium - Galadriel is no innocent, which she acknowledges when Frodo tempts her with the Ring. Also, Miriel and Aredhel make some pretty big mistakes (I'm not shading them, I love them). For the female humans, Andreth and Erendis immediately come to mind.


I didn't mean that Tolkien's female characters are idealised in some thoughtless way, or that they never do anything interesting (though I do see how I could have given that impression). But I don't think that I get to know most of them all that well. Eowyn is one great exception - Andreth is another (I'd forgotten about her - thanks for raising her!).

It's probably worth saying that it's a general problem for me reading the Silmarillion - Feanor flares into life for me as a fully realised character, and Beren and Luthien and Hurin & his family. But mostly the writing stays well back from the characters, as far as I can see: for example we are told that Aredhel insists on going travelling and then dumps her escort, but I feel left left to guess what emotional drivers make her do these things. Of course other readers might fill in the gaps more satisfactorily, or might not get frustraetd eth way I do when I feel I can't see the characters emotions and states of mind, just their actions. So remoteness may be in the eye of the beholder (or even, I'm showing that I'm not very good at interpreting character in these stories, though I don't think the problem is just down to me).

I think that his ability to write Eowyns and Andreths shows that it wasn't that Tolkien couldn't imaginatively inhabit a female character in detail - clearly he could. I think that the style in which the Silmarillion was written keeps us back from the characters, and when we come to LOTR the larger female roles are not Men (capital M for Men the race, rather than men for males). So that complicates things - are we seeing males reacting to high-status females, or are we seeing me reacting to creatures that are strange and different to female Men?

As an example - I think Frodo's reaction to first Goldberry and then Arwen is immediately one of being the presence of great physical beauty. I don't read his reaction as being primarily erotic - it reads to me that he's responding more with an aesthetic sense or with awe: these creatures might in other circumstances be regarded as goddesses.

So - working slowly round to how I see this as relevant to your OP ;) - I wonder whether Men marrying elves need not be seen as a metaphor for human race A marrying allegedly superior human race B: it might be a metaphor of the human and the superhuman.

~~~~~~
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


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Jun 22 2018, 10:06am

Post #10 of 24 (4418 views)
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We've got more information [In reply to] Can't Post

in the Terms of Service about how we approach 'fair use' on the discussion boards. You'll find the TOS in the Wecome section - it's worth having a quick read.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


(This post was edited by Ataahua on Jun 22 2018, 10:09am)


Laineth
Lorien

Jun 27 2018, 4:27am

Post #11 of 24 (4338 views)
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I understand [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I didn't mean that Tolkien's female characters are idealised in some thoughtless way, or that they never do anything interesting (though I do see how I could have given that impression). But I don't think that I get to know most of them all that well. Eowyn is one great exception - Andreth is another (I'd forgotten about her - thanks for raising her!).

It's probably worth saying that it's a general problem for me reading the Silmarillion - Feanor flares into life for me as a fully realised character, and Beren and Luthien and Hurin & his family. But mostly the writing stays well back from the characters, as far as I can see: for example we are told that Aredhel insists on going travelling and then dumps her escort, but I feel left left to guess what emotional drivers make her do these things. Of course other readers might fill in the gaps more satisfactorily, or might not get frustraetd eth way I do when I feel I can't see the characters emotions and states of mind, just their actions. So remoteness may be in the eye of the beholder (or even, I'm showing that I'm not very good at interpreting character in these stories, though I don't think the problem is just down to me).

I think that his ability to write Eowyns and Andreths shows that it wasn't that Tolkien couldn't imaginatively inhabit a female character in detail - clearly he could. I think that the style in which the Silmarillion was written keeps us back from the characters, and when we come to LOTR the larger female roles are not Men (capital M for Men the race, rather than men for males). So that complicates things - are we seeing males reacting to high-status females, or are we seeing me reacting to creatures that are strange and different to female Men?

As an example - I think Frodo's reaction to first Goldberry and then Arwen is immediately one of being the presence of great physical beauty. I don't read his reaction as being primarily erotic - it reads to me that he's responding more with an aesthetic sense or with awe: these creatures might in other circumstances be regarded as goddesses.

So - working slowly round to how I see this as relevant to your OP ;) - I wonder whether Men marrying elves need not be seen as a metaphor for human race A marrying allegedly superior human race B: it might be a metaphor of the human and the superhuman.


The problem with the Silm (and to a lesser extent LotR) is definitely not just you. The writing style isn't that of a 'regular' novel, but that of a medieval epic - I've seen it compared to the Bible and the Eddas often in reviews. I've known many people who just can't get into the LotR books because of the writing style, and this issue with the Silm sees pretty well known to me (at least with the Tolkien fans I've met in real life). Personally it doesn't bother me, but it's also not my favorite writing style.

I agree that the other races differ from humans in some large ways, but that also goes for the males of those races.

I haven't read Tom and Goldberry's part for a while, but Arwen is one of my favorite characters. I agree there is nothing erotic in Frodo's description, but he also picks up on much more than just her physical beauty:


Quote
In the middle of the table, against the woven cloths upon the wall, there was a chair under a canopy, and there sat a lady fair to look upon, and so like was she in form of womanhood to Elrond that Frodo guessed that she was one of his close kindred. Young she was and yet not so. The braids of her dark hair were touched by no frost; her white arms and clear face were flawless and smooth, and the light of stars was in her bright eyes, grey as a cloudless night; yet queenly she looked, and thought and knowledge were in her glance, as of one who has known many things the years bring. Above her brow her head was covered with a cap of silver lace netted with small gems, glittering white; but her soft grey raiment had no ornament save a girdle of leaves wrought in silver. - Many Meetings


Frodo sees not just her beauty, but also the elven-light in her eyes. She is regal, knowledgable, and wise. It is implied she has a more serious personality – Glorfindel is described as having a face “full of joy,” and Sam says some elves are as “merry as children.” Arwen is also unpretentious, being simply dressed. She is, in short, “queenly” - the queen to Aragorn's king.

Back to my OP, I wouldn't call superhuman/human a metaphor - the legendarium makes that pretty clear. It also, of course, has the internal theme of 'the Gift of Men' and 'immortality' at the center of it. My point is that all of the internal implications and the other possible external metaphors have nothing to do with gender. The points made by Tolkien internally do not change if we do a gender flip.

Except that is not what is written. Without fail, every interracial relationship that Middle-earth's history is fundamentally shaped by and explicitly stated to be divine order is higher female/lower male. This leaves the question of why? What is the point or metaphor being made by this?

Our real world racism's narrative was always centered on white women being defiled and destroyed by black men. Lincoln's pro-slavery opponents spread pamphlets declaring that Lincoln was also in favor of and trying to promote miscegenation. He wasn't - and he had gone on record saying he wasn't in in 1858 - but it almost cost him the 1864 election. And it wasn't just Lincoln who faced this - this was the number one claim made to discredit and condemn any politician who was anti-slavery.

So here we have Tolkien's works turning racism/white supremecy's narrative around on it's head by stating multiple times that interracial marriage is really divine order, and a powerful force for good.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jun 27 2018, 9:09am

Post #12 of 24 (4326 views)
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Certainly nothing I've written contradicts your points that... [In reply to] Can't Post

Certainly nothing I've written contradicts your points that:


In Reply To
Except that is not what is written. Without fail, every interracial relationship that Middle-earth's history is fundamentally shaped by and explicitly stated to be divine order is higher female/lower male. This leaves the question of why? What is the point or metaphor being made by this?

Our real world racism's narrative was always centered on white women being defiled and destroyed by black men. Lincoln's pro-slavery opponents spread pamphlets declaring that Lincoln was also in favor of and trying to promote miscegenation. He wasn't - and he had gone on record saying he wasn't in in 1858 - but it almost cost him the 1864 election. And it wasn't just Lincoln who faced this - this was the number one claim made to discredit and condemn any politician who was anti-slavery.


My point (when I realise it after all my rambling about!) was more that 'interracial' marriages in Middle-earth don't immediately make me, personally, think of the problems faced by people wanting to undertake an interracial relationship in real life. I think the reason that this parallel doesn't jump to *my* mind immediately is that I imagine a much bigger gulf between elves and Men than I observe or believe to be the case between people of different races in real life. So it just doesn't seem to be the same thing to me and I tend to think of other parallels instead (some of which I've suggested). I hope it's clear that I don't think my thought processes or opinions are the only valid ones, and that saying 'that's not the first parallel I see myself' is very different to saying 'you're wrong'!

When you say:


In Reply To
So here we have Tolkien's works turning racism/white supremecy's narrative around on it's head by stating multiple times that interracial marriage is really divine order, and a powerful force for good.


I wonder whether you're asserting allegory? I mean whether you think that Tolkien wrote these elf-Man marriages as a conscious, deliberate commentary upon the issues of interracial marriages in real life?

That to me would be allegory as different from Tolkien's term 'applicability' where a reader might see this parallel, but without it being one that the author clearly intended. (I'm using the terms as Tolkien does in his Foreword to 2e LOTR, if anyone wants to read more about the distinction as Tolkien saw it). You've certainly persuaded me that you see an applicability, and one that I can readily understand. But I think I'd want to see more 'Tolkien studies' kind of evidence (letters, biographical stuff etc. ) before I'd be comfortable with declaring an allegory; especially with this author and his 'cordial dislike' of allegory, and especially when there are other applicabilities.

The allegory/applicability distinction, I admit, is a pretty academic one, though clearly something of interest to Tolkien, from the evidence of his Foreword, and this is the board that tale a more academic-style interest in Tolkien and his works. And I certainly don't mean that an idea is not valid if it is 'only an applicability'.

~~~~~~
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


Jun 27 2018, 1:09pm

Post #13 of 24 (4326 views)
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Real-world Racism [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Our real world racism's narrative was always centered on white women being defiled and destroyed by black men. Lincoln's pro-slavery opponents spread pamphlets declaring that Lincoln was also in favor of and trying to promote miscegenation. He wasn't - and he had gone on record saying he wasn't in in 1858 - but it almost cost him the 1864 election. And it wasn't just Lincoln who faced this - this was the number one claim made to discredit and condemn any politician who was anti-slavery.


Your first point above is incorrect; or, rather, very incomplete. You need to apply a broader world-view. Even just within the U.S., there was the racism shown to Native Americans and Asians, as well as anti-Semitism and bigotry shown to many, diverse ethnic groups--most recently in the forms of anti-Islamic sentiment and the treatment of illegal immigrants and their families.

In Japan one can find racism against Westerners whether they are Black or White. Also, in Asia there is often prejudice against even other Asian cultures, often rooted in historical conflicts.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock


Laineth
Lorien

Jun 27 2018, 3:39pm

Post #14 of 24 (4306 views)
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I see [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
My point (when I realise it after all my rambling about!) was more that 'interracial' marriages in Middle-earth don't immediately make me, personally, think of the problems faced by people wanting to undertake an interracial relationship in real life. I think the reason that this parallel doesn't jump to *my* mind immediately is that I imagine a much bigger gulf between elves and Men than I observe or believe to be the case between people of different races in real life. So it just doesn't seem to be the same thing to me and I tend to think of other parallels instead (some of which I've suggested). I hope it's clear that I don't think my thought processes or opinions are the only valid ones, and that saying 'that's not the first parallel I see myself' is very different to saying 'you're wrong'!

When you say:


In Reply To
So here we have Tolkien's works turning racism/white supremecy's narrative around on it's head by stating multiple times that interracial marriage is really divine order, and a powerful force for good.


I wonder whether you're asserting allegory? I mean whether you think that Tolkien wrote these elf-Man marriages as a conscious, deliberate commentary upon the issues of interracial marriages in real life?

That to me would be allegory as different from Tolkien's term 'applicability' where a reader might see this parallel, but without it being one that the author clearly intended. (I'm using the terms as Tolkien does in his Foreword to 2e LOTR, if anyone wants to read more about the distinction as Tolkien saw it). You've certainly persuaded me that you see an applicability, and one that I can readily understand. But I think I'd want to see more 'Tolkien studies' kind of evidence (letters, biographical stuff etc. ) before I'd be comfortable with declaring an allegory; especially with this author and his 'cordial dislike' of allegory, and especially when there are other applicabilities.

The allegory/applicability distinction, I admit, is a pretty academic one, though clearly something of interest to Tolkien, from the evidence of his Foreword, and this is the board that tale a more academic-style interest in Tolkien and his works. And I certainly don't mean that an idea is not valid if it is 'only an applicability'.


You are being very clear and I agree about the parallels - no one's personal view is better than anyone else's, and what stands out to us is purely personal.

I'm not asserting allegory in the conscious sense, I would say it's applicability is very clear and distinct to me. However, many artists - including Tolkien - have talked about how art comes from the subconscious. Tolkien says in Letter 163:


Quote
The Lord of the Rings as a story was finished so long ago now that I can take a largely impersonal view of it, and find 'interpretations’ quite amusing; even those that I might make myself, which are mostly post scriptum: I had very little particular, conscious, intellectual, intention in mind at any point.* Except for a few deliberately disparaging reviews – such as that of Vol. II in the New Statesman,3 in which you and I were both scourged with such terms as 'pubescent’ and 'infantilism’ – what appreciative readers have got out of the work or seen in it has seemed fair enough, even when I do not agree with it. Always excepting, of course, any 'interpretations’ in the mode of simple allegory: that is, the particular and topical. In a larger sense, it is I suppose impossible to write any 'story’ that is not allegorical in proportion as it 'comes to life’; since each of us is an allegory, embodying in a particular tale and clothed in the garments of time and place, universal truth and everlasting life.
[cut]
* Take the Ents, for instance. I did not consciously invent them at all. The chapter called 'Treebeard’, from Treebeard’s first remark on p. 66, was written off more or less as it stands, with an effect on my self (except for labour pains) almost like reading some one else’s work. And I like Ents now because they do not seem to have anything to do with me. I daresay something had been going on in the 'unconscious’ for some time, and that accounts for my feeling throughout, especially when stuck, that I was not inventing but reporting (imperfectly) and had at times to wait till 'what really happened’ came through. But looking back analytically I should say that Ents are composed of philology, literature, and life.


This fits with what he says in the LotR Foreward, especially "I think that many confuse 'applicability’ with 'allegory’; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author."

On a side note, to this day my favorite quote from the Letters remains this one:


Quote
A new character has come on the scene (I am sure I did not invent him, I did not even want him, though I like him, but there he came walking into the woods of Ithilien): Faramir, the brother of Boromir – and he is holding up the 'catastrophe’ by a lot of stuff about the history of Gondor and Rohan (with some very sound reflections no doubt on martial glory and true glory): but if he goes on much more a lot of him will have to be removed to the appendices — where already some fascinating material on the hobbit Tobacco industry and the Languages of the West have gone. - Letter 66


I don't know why I find this hilarious, but I do! Laugh


Laineth
Lorien

Jun 27 2018, 3:58pm

Post #15 of 24 (4309 views)
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American Racism [In reply to] Can't Post

My point is not incomplete because I have only been talking about American history the entire time. I said "our real world" because I was switching from talking about Tolkien's fictional world.

I have never said that is the only way racism or discrimination exists, I said this specific racial narrative has always worked that way.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jun 27 2018, 4:13pm

Post #16 of 24 (4303 views)
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arts from the subconcious [In reply to] Can't Post

That's absolutely true - a creator of something might or might not be fully aware of where the ideas came from. I've seen the term 'composting' as a metaphor for the process by which a writer (or probably, artist, composer, actor....) digests what they've experienced, read about etc. and creates something rich and strange. It might be difficult to trace any part of the compost back to the original apple core or potato peeling.

As a result its difficult to prove or disprove that an author was unconsciously influenced by something - if the theory were true then there wouldn't be any evidence.

And anyway:


Quote
'For true reading is creativity: the willingness to look into the open hand of the writer and see what may, or may not, be there. A writer's job is to offer.'

Alan Garner


~~~~~~
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


Jun 27 2018, 4:43pm

Post #17 of 24 (4306 views)
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I think the point also stands if it is broadened [In reply to] Can't Post

It's certainly true that lots of groups have been racist about each other - I took the examples about people in the USA as being examples, which could be substituted for other situations in other countries or time periods.

If the behaviour of elves and Men in Middle-earth followed what I think is the typical pattern of peoples in real 'muddle-earth' then elvish males (as the more powerful and self-styled superior race) would take mortal mistresses if they felt like it (or sex slaves if their society involved the horrors of slavery). But elvish women would be considered to need protection from the 'lesser' race - the elvish men wouldn't see it as OK for their womenfolk to take mortal male lovers or keep male sex slaves. So it is to do with gender - who gets to control whose sex life - as well as race and racism.

Or at least that's the point I thought Laineth was making, with the examples of the Southern US States being just examples.

~~~~~~
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


Jun 27 2018, 5:43pm

Post #18 of 24 (4299 views)
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Another rambly idea - escape from deathlessness [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm thinking that in LOTR we have a Mannish tale, concerning in part a Man (Aragorn) who marries an elf,. In the Sil. we have tales that were originally elvish. These elvish tales concern in part an elf (Luthien) who marries a Man (Beren).

So we should have each race's view of the situation.

In the elvish Sil., maybe the tale of Luthien is exciting to an elvish audience not only because of Luthien adventuring around, rescuing Beren and generally getting the best of everyone from Morgoth to Mandos. Who could not like such a hero, but maybe it's also exciting because of her final 'escape from deathlessness' through her marriage to Beren.


Quote
And lastly there is the oldest and deepest desire, the Great Escape: the Escape from Death. Fairy-stories provide many examples and modes of this –which might be called the genuine escapist, or (I would say) fugitive spirit. But so do other stories (notably those of scientific inspiration), and so do other studies. Fairy-stories are made by men not by fairies. The human stories of the elves are doubtless full of the Escape from Deathlessness. But our stories cannot be expected always to rise above our common level. They often do. Few lessons are taught more clearly in them than the burden of that kind of immortality, or rather endless serial living, to which the ‘fugitive’ would fly. For the fairy-story is specially apt to teach such things, of old and still today.

On Fairy Stories (a lecture given in 1939), appears as part of Tree and Leaf: Including MYTHOPOEIA


So, has Luthien 'married up' to mortality - the better deal, as the elves sometimes see it, just as men can envy the immortality of the elves?

~~~~~~
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


Jun 28 2018, 1:19am

Post #19 of 24 (4291 views)
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That's fine. [In reply to] Can't Post

I only replied as I did because your original statement seemed so general. I wasn't sure quite how you meant it. And then you got very specific to the point of oversimplifying the truth. But I made the point that even racism in American is more complicated than you indicated. I do agree that it has a strong basis in the concept of not marrying outside of one's race or below one's status combined with the assumption of the inferiority of other races/cultures.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jun 28 2018, 1:29am)


Laineth
Lorien

Jun 28 2018, 2:36am

Post #20 of 24 (4275 views)
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Elves vs us [In reply to] Can't Post

While I believe the overall metaphor works (females marrying down), I don't mean to imply that elven nature and culture is just like ours - it definitely isn't, and elves having mistresses and slaves definitely doesn't fit with Tolkien's canon. With that part I was just trying to explain how it had worked in the real world, because that specific racist narrative has passed into history.


Laineth
Lorien

Jun 28 2018, 2:50am

Post #21 of 24 (4273 views)
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Tolkien vs Elves [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
In the elvish Sil., maybe the tale of Luthien is exciting to an elvish audience not only because of Luthien adventuring around, rescuing Beren and generally getting the best of everyone from Morgoth to Mandos. Who could not like such a hero, but maybe it's also exciting because of her final 'escape from deathlessness' through her marriage to Beren.


Quote
And lastly there is the oldest and deepest desire, the Great Escape: the Escape from Death. Fairy-stories provide many examples and modes of this –which might be called the genuine escapist, or (I would say) fugitive spirit. But so do other stories (notably those of scientific inspiration), and so do other studies. Fairy-stories are made by men not by fairies. The human stories of the elves are doubtless full of the Escape from Deathlessness. But our stories cannot be expected always to rise above our common level. They often do. Few lessons are taught more clearly in them than the burden of that kind of immortality, or rather endless serial living, to which the ‘fugitive’ would fly. For the fairy-story is specially apt to teach such things, of old and still today.

On Fairy Stories (a lecture given in 1939), appears as part of Tree and Leaf: Including MYTHOPOEIA


So, has Luthien 'married up' to mortality - the better deal, as the elves sometimes see it, just as men can envy the immortality of the elves?


Tolkien himself definitely saw mortality as the better deal, but it is also pretty clear that the elves never saw it that way:


Quote
Thus he began the payment of anguish for the fate that was laid on him; and in his fate Lúthien was caught, and being immortal she shared in his mortality, and being free received his chain; and her anguish was greater than any other of the Eldalië has known.
[cut]
But Thingol spoke slowly, saying: "Death you have earned with these words; and death you should find suddenly, had I not sworn an oath in haste; of which I repent, baseborn mortal, who in the realm of Morgoth has learnt to creep in secret as his spies and thralls."
[cut]
But Thingol looked in silence upon Lúthien; and he thought in his heart: "Unhappy Men, children of little lords and brief kings, shall such as these lay hands on you, and yet live?"
[cut]
Gwindor: "Go whither love leads you; yet beware! It is not fitting that the Elder Children of Ilúvatar should wed with the Younger; nor is it wise, for they are brief, and soon pass, to leave us in widowhood while the world lasts. Neither will fate suffer it, unless it be once or twice only, for some high cause of doom that we do not perceive. But this Man is not Beren. A doom indeed lies on him, as seeing eyes may well read in him, but a dark doom." - The Silm

And:

“My son,” said Gilraen, “your aim is high, even for the descendant of many kings. For this lady is the noblest and fairest that now walks the earth. And it is not fit that mortal should wed with the Elf-kin.”
[cut]
Elrond: "But as for Arwen the Fair, Lady of Imladris and of Lórien, Evenstar of her people, she is of lineage greater than yours, and she has lived in the world already so long that to her you are but as a yearling shoot beside a young birch of many summers. She is too far above you. And so, I think, it may well seem to her. But even if it were not so, and her heart turned towards you, I should still be grieved because of the doom that is laid on us.”
[cut]
Elrond: "Maybe, it has been appointed so, that by my loss the kingship of Men may be restored. Therefore, though I love you, I say to you: Arwen Undómiel shall not diminish her life's grace for less cause. She shall not be the bride of any Man less than the King of both Gondor and Arnor." - LotR App A

And:

Finrod: "Nay, adaneth, if any marriage can be between our kindred and thine, then it shall be for some high purpose of Doom. Brief it will be and hard at the end. Yea, the least cruel fate that could befall would be that death should soon end it." - Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth



Laineth
Lorien

Jun 28 2018, 3:28am

Post #22 of 24 (4280 views)
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Racial narratives [In reply to] Can't Post

Racism in America is definitely more complicated, but I was talking about a specific racist narrative that dominated history for over a century. Other ethnicities faced different racist narratives, and were never the 'main' one regarding interracial marriages.

For example, First Americans.

Virginia's Racial Integrety Act of 1924 made all marriages between white people and people of color illegal. However, it also had in it "the Pocahontas exception" - someone could be considered white even if they had up to one-sixteenth First American ancestry - because the powerful First Families of Virginia claimed they were superior because they were decended from Thomas Rolfe. Even today white "red Bollings" go around bragging that they have a more direct connection to Pocahontas than the white "blue Bollings" and "white Bollings".

And it's not only Pocahontas, the whole 'Indian Princess' ('my grandmother was a cherokee princess!') stereotype has always been based on justifying our colonialism of America. Of course, this is only acceptible if said speakers appear white, have no current connection to a tribe, and the 'relationships' happed durning the colonism period and not in the 'present'. But this is an incredibly different narrative from the one I've been talking about.

Also, in our world today, one of the top factors the gov uses to determine if a tribe is 'legit' and thus federally recognized is their distance from black heritage and subsequent closeness to white heritage:

https://newsmaven.io/...4l64L_EGF33dbEOLMhQ/

In addition, no one ever talks about the indisputable fact that Hitler's inspiration for concentration camps was American reservations:

http://www.cracked.com/...hout-knowing-it.html

http://1nfo.net/95129

In short, racist narratives in mainstream society are only the tip of the iceberg; and I was talking about one specific narrative.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 28 2018, 12:26pm

Post #23 of 24 (4252 views)
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Um... [In reply to] Can't Post

...I'm not sure how seriously to take an article published at Cracked.com. That's about like citing MAD magazine as a credible news source.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock


Laineth
Lorien

Jun 29 2018, 3:40pm

Post #24 of 24 (4223 views)
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Sources [In reply to] Can't Post

I linked to the first articles that popped up on my quick google search, because I was away from home and did not have the book. However, both articles say their source is, and quote directly from, Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography by John Toland. This book has been considered the definite biography on Hitler the person since it was first published.

 
 

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