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What do Tom and Goldberry add to LOTR?
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noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 24, 1:49pm

Post #1 of 29 (1412 views)
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What do Tom and Goldberry add to LOTR? Can't Post

Cygnus' read-through has just passed by their house, and so this seems like a topical and interesting thing to talk about. I can't remember much discussion of their role in the book, as opposed to what happens in their chapters, or the FAQ of someone hoping to find out 'exactly' who Tom is (to which, as far as I know there are theories - and 850,000 search results when I Googled 'who is tom bombadil?' just now - but no widely-accepted answers).

So how (for you) is the story better with Tom and Goldberry in it rather than omitted? And, if you like, we can also speculate on how it might have been better for Tolkien.

My suggestions (none of them original, I am sure) are as follows:

T & G seem to me like personifications of nature. In this way they are, I think, a little like Beorn in The Hobbit. They seem to me to go with wicked willows, lamenting lintels, malevolent mountains and so on. I wonder whether they tell us little about Frodo and the matter of the Ring, and a lot about Middle-earth.

I find I can compare and contrast T&G's reaction to evil with that of Gandalf or Galadriel and their allies. The Council of Elrond launches an unconventional offensive against Sauron, believing such action to be needed for the general good and being what they are 'meant' to do. By contrast, Tom does not take it upon himself pre-emtively to drive out Old Man Willow or the Barrow Wights (and nor does he turn up, Beorn like, at the climactic battle against Sauron). Tom will react defensively if needed, but he seems to me willing to tollerate dangerous and evil neighbours, and any sort of situatio outside his own patch.

T& G certainly provide some mystery! A reader of LOTR does not get a definitive answer to Frodo's question about who (perhaps Frodo means 'what') Tom is. Nor does anyone reading Tolkien's correspondence. Maybe that is exactly what Tolkien intended - that Frodo's quest and the War of the Ring goes on in Middle-earth, but does not include a full tour (or explanation) of Middle-earth. Personally, I find it quite pleasing to leave T&G as mysteries. I'm also aware that an author doesn't necessarily know - or want to know - the explanation for everything they make up. So it seems plausible to me that Tolkien didn't give an answer because he didn't know the answer, and didn't want to go away and work it out. I also know that various people have tried to tackle "who is Tom Bombadil?" as a problem left by Tolkien for The Interested Reader to solve, and have come up with various solutions, sometimes both plausible and ingenious.

In terms of plot, T&G are part of the sequence of helper characters (Gildor, Maggot, T&G, Strider) who get Frodo et al. out of their latest scrape. To me that seems to go with the episodic nature of the story at this point - like Hobbit, it's a series of episodic adventures. The helpers allow Frodo et al. to survive despite them behaving like 'a hobbit walking party', but they don't help so much that they make the adventure too safe.

But - what do you think?

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


(This post was edited by noWizardme on Jan 24, 1:51pm)


Chen G.
Lorien

Jan 24, 2:48pm

Post #2 of 29 (1314 views)
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Expanse [In reply to] Can't Post

Narrativelly, Tom Bombadil is a non sequitor: he serves no substantial purpose.

However, it is for that very reason that he works in expanding the horizon of the reader with regards to the setting: He shows you how varied and magical Middle Earth can be.

And yes, he's very much an embodiment of nature. Essentially, a leftover of Tolkien's earlier conception of Fays and Sprites.


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Jan 24, 2:49pm)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 24, 5:42pm

Post #3 of 29 (1304 views)
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All of them at once! [In reply to] Can't Post

I think that Tom especially adds layers of complexity to Middle-earth that enrich a reader's sense of its magic. He is of course silly, but his memory goes back to the birth of the world, and not just that, but even all the politics and wars. Sprinkled amid his silly talk are the hints of a much greater power and ferocity, such as "there was a glint in his eyes when he heard of the Riders." That hints to us that he's not afraid of the Nazgul and would probably relish a fight with them, and he would doubtless be the victor.

There's also the quote from Glorfindel at the Council of Elrond:


Quote
"I think that in the end, if all else is conquered, Bombadil will fall, Last as he was First; and then Night will come.’


So he's playful, silly, and one of the most powerful beings in the world. He's also very close to nature, and though we might see Old Man Willow as an evil person, he sees him as the dark side of nature that needs to be managed when it gets out of hand, not a problem to be eliminated. I think he opens up all kinds of vistas onto the world the characters live in.

Oh, and he plays Deus ex Machina twice to save the hobbits, so that's a significant plot role to play. It also says something about the world helping the hobbits, because their other saviors all have some connection to them: Gildor is friends with Bilbo, Strider is on a mission from Gandalf to help them, and Maggot has Buckland ties to Frodo. While Tom has heard about Frodo's plight from Maggot and Gildor, no one has actually commissioned him to help them, or so it seems, and for someone that likes to play Switzerland, he does get involved. Not only that, but he's the one who picked out the specific Barrow swords for the hobbits to take. Did he know what they were for, or was that just luck? Who knows, but given the mystery behind the veil of his silliness, I think the former, hence he's part of the World vs Sauron coalition.

For all those reasons, he seems indispensable to me. I agree it would be hard to put him in the movies and get all that across. He'd be another Alfrid.


enanito
Lorien

Jan 24, 6:02pm

Post #4 of 29 (1299 views)
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Good and Evil intentionally co-existing throughout time [In reply to] Can't Post

One aspect that intrigues me is the idea that Good and Evil intentionally co-exist in Eru's world. Here's a thought to have holes poked in it...

In a way, Gandalf et al are actively striving to weave the discordant music into the greater music, while T&G seem a bit more passive about the conflict between Good and Evil, allowing for the co-existence and in a way relishing it. This aligns with your second 'suggestion'.

So to your question of how T&G impact the story, I definitely read them as 'comic relief' my first times through. But after understanding a bit more about Tolkien's greater world, to me they represent the much larger picture that LOTR is simply a part of. I have grown to love how the "this-is-the-end-of-everything" story that grips us during LOTR, is enveloped by a much greater arc of history that is all part of the Creator's plan for his children.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 24, 7:48pm

Post #5 of 29 (1289 views)
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Quick prmer for those who havent read the Sil... [In reply to] Can't Post

I hope this isn't cheeky, but I wondered whether I might first elaborate on enantino's comments a bit, to include anyone who hasn't read the Silmarillion?


In Reply To
One aspect that intrigues me is the idea that Good and Evil intentionally co-exist in Eru's world.


The Silmarillion starts with the elvish creation story. According to the elves, the creator (Eru) makes some beings with whom he then sings the universe into being. Problems quickly arise though - one of the beings introduces his own ideas and the music becomes discordant (my understanding is that the effect of this is to create a universe which contains bad things). Rather than start over again though, Eru incorporates the dissonance into the music, especially by creating elves and Men. The hope (as I understand it) is that evil is either an intentional or at least a tollerated part of how things are, and the labour of elves and Men, if done right, is what will finally perfect things.



In Reply To
In a way, Gandalf et al are actively striving to weave the discordant music into the greater music, while T&G seem a bit more passive about the conflict between Good and Evil, allowing for the co-existence and in a way relishing it.


As a consequence, I think, it's a head-scratcher to know how to do good in Middle-earth: your idea of how to make things better might not be what is 'meant to happen'. Are you 'meant' to try and take the Ring to Mordor, which his what Gandalf seems to believe is the thing to do; or is it better to wait for a later opportunity to improve things? The latter is what, as I read it, Saruman has concluded: or at least says he has concluded - his plans are clearly also self-serving, and probably deluded (or at least this is the impression I get from Gandalf's account).

Then again should you not do anything much at all and wait and see what the Creator had in mind? Is that what T& G are doing - , or are they beyond the whole good versus evil thing?

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 24, 8:32pm

Post #6 of 29 (1281 views)
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....are they beyond the whole good versus evil thing? [In reply to] Can't Post

...And would that make then quite Buddhist characters? It's an idea that turns up in this paper....

Powell, Paul Andrew. "Hobbits as Buddhists and an Eye for an "I"." Buddhist-Christian Studies 31 (2011): 31-39. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41416528.

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 24, 8:58pm

Post #7 of 29 (1280 views)
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Maybe like the chicken in Minas Tirith [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Then again should you not do anything much at all and wait and see what the Creator had in mind? Is that what T& G are doing - , or are they beyond the whole good versus evil thing?


At first I was prompted to lump them with Treebeard (Gandalf will say on the way home that Bombadil wouldn't be interested in their stories, except for those about the Ents). and Treebeard initially tells the hobbits that he's not on anyone's side because no one is on his. That, actually, turns out not to be true, because he's in cahoots with Gandalf and doesn't hesitate when Gandalf asks for an army, and of course even a dumb Ent knows he's better of with Sauron and the orcs wiped out than trying to play neutral in a world ruled by Sauron. So from that line of reasoning, Bombadil is playing neutral until the war gets to his doorstep, and then he gets involved.

But I'm reminded of Tolkien's comment about the cock crowing in Minas Tirith when the Witch-king breaches the gate. The text itself says that the cock was crowing about the dawn and ignorant of the war, and Tolkien liked the idea of this war between people being subjugated to the natural world. More concisely, war is politics, and politics isn't everything. Just ask Nature. So from that perspective, T&G could be like the chicken, holding themselves above the war not in aloofness, but because like the cock, they're only attuned to the natural world.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 24, 10:32pm

Post #8 of 29 (1269 views)
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I like your second idea [In reply to] Can't Post

(which is that the chicken isn't uninvolved because it's 'chicken', but because it's a chicken)

Middle-earth isn't without its isolationists: the hobbits for example:


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"and there in that pleasant corner of the world they plied their well-ordered business of living, and they heeded less and less the world outside where dark things moved, until they came to think that peace and plenty were the rule in Middle-earth and the right of all sensible folk."


Luckily, perhaps, their absurdity prevents them realising how absurd they are. Or 'unluckily' perhaps, given how internal and external forces are able to exploit that situation in the Shire.

But, according the Gandalf at least, it's not that Tom is sitting tight in his own land, willfully ignoring the troubles outside or prefering to let others deal with them. It's that he really doesn't get what's going on at all:


Quote
"‘It seems that he has a power even over the Ring.’
‘No, I should not put it so,’ said Gandalf. ‘Say rather that the Ring has no power over him. He is his own master." ...

‘But within those bounds nothing seems to dismay him,’ said Erestor. ‘Would he not take the Ring and keep it there, for ever harmless?’
‘No,’ said Gandalf, ‘not willingly. He might do so, if all the free folk of the world begged him, but he would not understand the need. And if he were given the Ring, he would soon forget it, or most likely throw it away. Such things have no hold on his mind. He would be a most unsafe guardian; and that alone is answer enough.’


Maybe that's one of the brilliant ironies around the Ring as a plot device-cum-character, as well as a little thing about the different meanings of 'master'. The Ring is about Power and Dominance - mastery in another sense. The Ring can't be dealt with by the the masterful (Gandalf, Saruman, Aragorn, Galadriel...) because it offers far too tempting a shortcult to being the Master (as in Lord, ruler, boss). These masterful folks may have enough self-mastery to realise that they should shun the Ring, and if not it masters them. But Tom - the only person, perhaps, who is safe from it because he's his own master - is by that very fact uninterested in it. Tom may be a master (in the sense, I think of 'master chef' or kung-fu master' - someone with extreme skills, not extreme power). But he will neither master others nor serve them.

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 26, 2:23am

Post #9 of 29 (1135 views)
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Maybe it's also the need to limit the power of powerful people [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Maybe that's one of the brilliant ironies around the Ring as a plot device-cum-character, as well as a little thing about the different meanings of 'master'. The Ring is about Power and Dominance - mastery in another sense. The Ring can't be dealt with by the the masterful (Gandalf, Saruman, Aragorn, Galadriel...) because it offers far too tempting a shortcult to being the Master (as in Lord, ruler, boss). These masterful folks may have enough self-mastery to realise that they should shun the Ring, and if not it masters them. But Tom - the only person, perhaps, who is safe from it because he's his own master - is by that very fact uninterested in it. Tom may be a master (in the sense, I think of 'master chef' or kung-fu master' - someone with extreme skills, not extreme power). But he will neither master others nor serve them.

Thinking about this some more, isn't it a little too convenient that

1. The powerful people you list can't use the Ring, and Saruman goes bad and shouldn't be allowed near it anyway
2. Bombadil can't be trusted to remember it
3. The Eagles won't fly it to Mordor (yes, I'm serious)
4. Even Glorfindel can't set out on the Fellowship
5. The Istari are all limited in power and forbidden to challenge Sauron's power directly?

Isn't this really an author painting himself into a corner by creating powerful characters, then tying their hands so that "the little people will lead the way" because the powerful cannot? I need to mull it over more, and would appreciate hearing other's thoughts, but it's where I'm at right now.





noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 26, 12:48pm

Post #10 of 29 (1098 views)
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Stop making sense! :) [In reply to] Can't Post

I thought your argument made perfect sense and yet I didn't agree with it. I've spent a while trying to figure out why.

I suppose it comes down to whether the Ring and it's properties are something that Tolkien gets across as a given in his story, or whether some of the properties look very obviously contrived (of course really just about everything in a story is contrived, and the art, I suppose is to keep the audience playing along with it).

Personally I find the Ring - seen a tool for dominance over others' wills quite plausible. And the downside of using it seems pretty plausible too. It seems to work with what I understand about the real world.

I also enjoy the aspect of Frodo's predicament that he (at least nominally) looks around for wiser or more powerful folks to help him, but finds that their ability to help is either so limited, or their agenda for helping is so suspect. Of course whether he would ever voluntarily hand the Ring over, we're instructed to doubt.

So I think the rest of the features of the Ring I mentioned seem to make sense within the story and applying my experience to it.

Thinking about the plot rationally then of course Tolkien does need to contrive something to prevent Frodo handing the Ring over to somebody who is readily able to deal with it. But the reasons for that seem to me mostly to make sense, rather than that plot-hole feeling of something that would ruin the story being the thing that seems like it ought to make a lot more sense that the way the story goes.

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


Chen G.
Lorien

Jan 26, 1:48pm

Post #11 of 29 (1095 views)
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Why are people still on about this? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The Eagles won't fly it to Mordor.


I never understood this eagle conundrum. Its clear from Tolkien's writings that, for all their wing-span, the eagles were not the best way to cover ground.

Lets look at all the routes traveled via eagle in Tolkien's writing, shall we?

They fly Fingon and Maedhros from Thangorodrim to their eyries in the Echoriath. They later fly Fingolfin's body along a similar route. They bear Hurin and Huor from Hithlum to Gondolin, as well. They bear Beren and Luthien only some part of the way to Doriath.

They carry Thorin and company from the slopes of the misty mountains to the Carrock, stopping along the way in their nearby eyries. When they gather news about the Orc armies marching on Erebor it takes them longer to arrive than the army itself.

Gwaihir carries Gandalf from Isengard (itself placed at the foot of the mountains where his eyries were) to Edoras, specifically stating that he can't bear him to no end.

He later bore a much lighter Gandalf from Celebdil (again, near his eyries) to Lorien, and bearing him further, he still took some time catching up the members of the Fellowship, who were travelling by boat and on-foot.

Who knows how long it took them to get to the Morannon, and than they bore Frodo and Sam from Orodruin to the outskirts of Mordor, and one of them flew from Cormallen to Minas Tirith to deliver news of the victory.

All of these examples consistently show that the eagles were only ever capable of flying in short stints, and would in fact cover ground no faster than a mounted man, and not nearly in inconspicuously. They were certainly not invulnerable in their flight, especially to Sauron's fell-beasts.


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Jan 26, 1:52pm)


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 26, 3:33pm

Post #12 of 29 (1080 views)
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The 'eagle question' is one of this board's other long-term FAQs [In reply to] Can't Post

Like the 'who (or what) is Tom Bombadil?' it sets the literal-minded against the literary-minded. And in both cases there are many plausible answers, to which people sometimes get very attached (sometimes to the point of failing to see the difference between 'that's the conclusion I've come to' and 'this is a truth that everyone must accept'). A third FAQ, btw, is 'do balrogs have wings?' Like the other perennial questions I suspect it recurs because there's no definitive answer, and two reasonable possibilities (literal wings and metaphorical wings) availble in Tolkien's LOTR text.

I suppose it's part of Tolkien's literary achivement - Middle-earth seems so complete that people expect the he imagined every arbitrary detail and there's a definitive answer to any given question.

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 26, 5:01pm

Post #13 of 29 (1074 views)
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If they are so inconspicusous, why do they always show up by surprise to both sides? [In reply to] Can't Post

Somehow getting from the Misty Mountains to Erebor--seems a long distance to me. Equally getting to the Morannon. And how do we know they'd lose to a fell beast? When did they fight one? As for vulnerability, Thorondor went completely unscathed while recovering Fingolfin's body and B&L.

Though my point was more about does Tolkien contrive things in general. And Wiz is right, every story is contrived, it's just about how much a reader is willing to go along with it. I'm pretty sure I'm not giving up on Tolkien anytime soon. Just thinking over all the powerful characters, they all seemed to have built-in limitations keeping them from doing what Frodo was doing, and I wondered whether that's innate to the workings of Middle-earth, or something he had to tack on to every powerful person so they wouldn't steal the hero's role from a hobbit.


Plurmo
Rohan

Jan 26, 5:07pm

Post #14 of 29 (1067 views)
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Say rather that Middle-earth is complete enough that [In reply to] Can't Post

any reader could find a satisfactory explanation (to himself) to any given question should he dare try.

Then again some readers dare more than they should...

Bombadil = chicken + alfrid - masterfulness
Eagles = chicken - fuel
Balrog = chicken + fire

CuriousG is opening some cans of worms lately.Wink



CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 26, 5:17pm

Post #15 of 29 (1071 views)
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OK, but technically, I think I win the argument if someone tells me to stop making sense :) [In reply to] Can't Post

Just mulling over some other stories where the little guy has to be the hero, I thought of Star Wars (the original 3), which I tend to take at face value, but:
1. Why doesn't Obi Wan do more to help the Alliance destroy the Death Star (i.e., stay alive)? Why doesn't he kill Darth Vader? Because he's more useful to Luke as a ghostly advisor, and besides, sacrifice is noble. (Uh, yeah, right.)

2. Why doesn't Yoda leave his jungle planet and help the Rebels fight the Empire? Because he's in self-exile. OK, why doesn't he cancel his self-exile? Because he's in self-exile.

Then I thought of James Bond: why doesn't he have a watchband with a big button that says "Help! Send in the British army!" every time he's in a scrape instead of using other gizmos? Because it's more interesting if he fights the bad guys on his own. Similar thoughts on Indiana Jones.

Then I thought of "Wait Until Dark," where a blind woman is terrorized by the mafia with only an awkward teenage girl as her ally. Why doesn't her sighted boyfriend help her? Or the police? Ah, because they were tricked on a diversion. It's one of the rare plots I can think of where the underdog hero is credibly isolated and forced to confront the Big Bad on their own.

You're right: if the story works in other ways, we just go along with all the reasons why things are as they are.


Chen G.
Lorien

Jan 26, 5:38pm

Post #16 of 29 (1068 views)
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Contrivance in storytelling [In reply to] Can't Post

is absolutely fine - when it works against the characters endevours. Its only a problem when it works directly in the characters favour.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 26, 5:54pm

Post #17 of 29 (1061 views)
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A balrog is a flaming chicken? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Bombadil = chicken + alfrid - masterfulness
Eagles = chicken - fuel
Balrog = chicken + fire


From which we can rearange
Chicken = eagles + fuel
Chicken = balrog - fire

eagles = balrog - fire - fuel
(thereby demonstrating that the eagles can't fly the Ring to Mordor because they'd be cancelled out by the many extinguished balrogs)


Bombadil = chicken + alfrid - masterfulness

Bombadil + masterfulness = chicken + alfrid
(And since Alfrid is pretty chicken, if Tom did rgain his masterfulness he'd be too chicken to help anyone)

well, that seems to clear everything up
Wink

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 26, 6:52pm

Post #18 of 29 (1052 views)
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powerful character limitiations [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

Just thinking over all the powerful characters, they all seemed to have built-in limitations keeping them from doing what Frodo was doing, and I wondered whether that's innate to the workings of Middle-earth, or something he had to tack on to every powerful person so they wouldn't steal the hero's role from a hobbit.


The nature of the limitation is interesting though - it's an unwillingness to use the powers that they have. My interpretation is that this is fundamental rather than plot-convenient. My argument is that of course we don't know 'exactly' what would have happened had (say) Gandalf decided that Frodo was a poor Ringbearer and he, Gandalf, ought to take the burden on himself. I can't think of any specific reason why Gandalf would be incapable, if he decided to do it, of taking the Ring and set off for Mordor - intending (or at least telling himself he was intending) to destroy the Ring. It is not that he has some silly tacked-on disqualification; it's a calculation based on what is known by the Wise about how the Ring works. There seems to be a real risk that:


Quote
"...frightful evil can and does arise from an apparently good root: the desire to benefit the world and others - speedily and according to the benefactor's own plans - is a recurrent motive."

JRR Tolkien, in a 1951 letter to Milton Waldman, an editor, (about the potential publication of what was to become The Silmarillion).


~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


Plurmo
Rohan

Jan 26, 7:16pm

Post #19 of 29 (1049 views)
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"many extinguished balrogs" [In reply to] Can't Post

Try visualizing that. A Goya masterpiece.

You, sir, are creating pure art from Minas Tirith chicken arithmetics.

Tongue


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 26, 8:17pm

Post #20 of 29 (1033 views)
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Yes, I expect so ;)// [In reply to] Can't Post

 

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 26, 9:48pm

Post #21 of 29 (1028 views)
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Definitely “A Goya masterpiece.” // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


Silverlode
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 26, 10:31pm

Post #22 of 29 (1045 views)
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Yes, in this case... [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien set up the Ring to be a trap for the powerful, as it was designed by a Power specifically to control other powers. The very people who seem strongest in the story were the targets of the Ring; the bearers of the Three and the rulers of the world's kingdoms. That is its function and purpose. If the powerful could deal with it without being corrupted, it wouldn't need to be destroyed at all. The stronger you are and the more you want it, the more dangerous it is to you. So only the lowly and unambitious could survive it long enough to get it where it needed to go.

You can't ask Superman to take the kryptonite to the dump, now can you? Better to get the janitor gardener to do it.

Silverlode

Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.




(This post was edited by Silverlode on Jan 26, 10:32pm)


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 27, 8:22am

Post #23 of 29 (972 views)
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Contrivance is always a problem, I think [In reply to] Can't Post

If i’m thinking that part of a story is “contrived” then I find it pulls me out of the story, and I start to think about whether I want to carry on reading. That’s probably not what the storyteller would have wanted.

Certainly if I show someone a draft of one of my stories and I hear “contrived” I think that something went wrong, for that reader at least.

I find that contrivances which seem to assist the storyteller might be easier to spot or more of a problem. I suppose it’s because I might have picked up the story wanting drama, excitement and so on; and too-easy resolutions make me feel thwarted.

But I also find it frustrating if I can think of a quick and obvious solution to a character’s problem, and I’m thinking “but why don’t they just...”?.

Storytellers can also overdo the obstacles though (for me at least). I’m thinking of stories or outlines I’ve seen in draft (writing groups and so on) where the author has piled it on, giving their character so many problems that it just becomes ridiculous to me.

Really, I suppose it just comes down to storytelling- keeping the audience engaged with what’s going on so that “contrived” is never a thought that occurs to them (or that if it does they decide they don’t care because they are enjoying the story too much).

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 27, 11:33am

Post #24 of 29 (944 views)
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I can also see how, if my real name was Alfrid Chicken-Masterfulness, I might go by 'Tom Bombadil' [In reply to] Can't Post

...and deflect any further queries.

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 27, 11:57am

Post #25 of 29 (949 views)
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With great power comes two great responsibilities? [In reply to] Can't Post

My thoughts on this keep circling back to a theme about power and how to use it.

With great power comes the first responsibility - I find it easy enough to see a duty that is the conventional heroic one: try and fix things, whether it's by web-slinging and wisecracks, or by taking the Ring to Mordor, or reforging the Sword-that-was-broken and emerging from hiding to save the West.

But I think Tolkien is talking (to me at least) about a second responsibility - a contradictory one, to be cautious about doing good. One's attempts to fix things will sometimes go wrong and have unintended consequences. Even if it works out as planned, the hero, and those around them may end up bearing a cost. One's motives for wanting to do good can be complex and open to subversion (especially by a magic Ring that seems to be about Power and exercising it for it's own sake, rather than to some noble end).

Whether Tom feels the second responsibility especially keenly or whether he just doesn't see either responsibility, I don't know, of course. But I get the sense that for me Tom is a useful contrast to all the Ringbearers and Sword-swingers of the story.

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.

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