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The Field of Cormallen #2: Dust in the Wind

a.s.
Valinor


Dec 1 2008, 12:41am

Post #1 of 16 (910 views)
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The Field of Cormallen #2: Dust in the Wind Can't Post


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And even as he spoke the earth rocked beneath their feet. Then rising swiftly up, far above the Towers of the Black Gate, high above the mountains, a vast soaring darkness sprang into the sky, flickering with fire. The earth groaned and quaked. The Towers of the Teeth swayed, tottered, and fell down; the mighty rampart crumbled; the Black Gate was hurled in ruin; and from far away, now dim, now growing, now mounting to the clouds, there came a drumming rumble, a roar, a long echoing roll of ruinous noise.

"The realm of Sauron is ended!" said Gandalf. "The Ring-bearer has fulfilled his Quest."





Matthew 27:50-51 (Douay-Rheims version)

And Jesus again crying with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And behold the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top even to the bottom, and the earth quaked, and the rocks were rent.






Quote

The Captains bowed their heads; and when they looked up again, behold! their enemies were flying and the power of Mordor was scattering like dust in the wind. As when death smites the swollen brooding thing that inhabits their crawling hill and holds them all in sway, ants will wander witless and purposeless and then feebly die, so the creatures of Sauron, orc or troll or beast spell-enslaved, ran hither and thither mindless; and some slew themselves, or cast themselves in pits, or fled wailing back to hide in holes and dark lightless places far from hope. But the Men of Rhn and of Harad, Easterling and Southron, saw the ruin of their war and the great majesty and glory of the Captains of the West. And those that were deepest and longest in evil servitude, hating the West, and yet were men proud and bold, in their turn now gathered themselves for a last stand of desperate battle. But the most part fled eastward as they could; and some cast their weapons down and sued for mercy.





Psalm 35 (Douay-Rheims version):

For David himself. Judge thou, O Lord, them that wrong me : overthrow them that fight against me.

Take hold of arms and shield : and rise up to help me.

Bring out the sword, and shut up the way against them that persecute me : say to my soul : I am thy salvation.

Let them be confounded and ashamed that seek after my soul. Let them be turned back and be confounded that devise against me.

Let them become as dust before the wind : and let the angel of the Lord straiten them.

Let their way become dark and slippery; and let the angel of the Lord pursue them.

For without cause they have hidden their net for me unto destruction : without cause they have upbraided my soul.

Let the snare which he knoweth not come upon him : and let the net which he hath hidden catch him :
and into that very snare let them fall.



1) Comments? Do you agree that there is a strong Biblical influence on this part of the story, both thematically and in language used?

2) Why did Tolkien's use of language turn to the Biblical in this chapter? We'll see more examples as the chapter progresses...

a.s.

"an seileachan"

Some say once you're gone, you're gone forever, and some say you're gonna come back.
Some say you'll rest in the arms of the Savior, if sinful ways you lack.
Some say that they're coming back in a garden: bunch of carrots and little sweet peas.
I think I'll just let the mystery be.

Iris DeMent



Call Her Emily


sador
Half-elven

Dec 1 2008, 7:54am

Post #2 of 16 (427 views)
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Very short answers [In reply to] Can't Post

1) Comments? Do you agree that there is a strong Biblical influence on this part of the story, both thematically and in language used?
Yes, of course.


2) Why did Tolkien's use of language turn to the Biblical in this chapter? We'll see more examples as the chapter progresses...
Well, this is the chapter of eucatastrophe - which you just missed discussing last week...Frown


"It is a long way, is it not, from Bree, where you did not like the look of me?" - Aragorn


a.s.
Valinor


Dec 1 2008, 11:21am

Post #3 of 16 (415 views)
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eucatastrophe [In reply to] Can't Post


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this is the chapter of eucatastrophe - which you just missed discussing last week




I didn't miss it, just lurked.

But it is pretty amazing to have this chapter fall directly after the discussions of Recovery, and Consolation.

Cool

Do you think Tolkien is making a direct parallel to the Christian Story in this chapter? Or did his imagery and use of language just naturally turn to Biblical tones?

Are we meant to notice the similarities in tone and language, or is he just reaching for the language that feels "right" to him, to tell us the tale of this part of LOTR?

a.s.

"an seileachan"

Some say once you're gone, you're gone forever, and some say you're gonna come back.
Some say you'll rest in the arms of the Savior, if sinful ways you lack.
Some say that they're coming back in a garden: bunch of carrots and little sweet peas.
I think I'll just let the mystery be.

Iris DeMent



Call Her Emily


sador
Half-elven

Dec 1 2008, 11:41am

Post #4 of 16 (407 views)
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Well, you missed leading it [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder about the Christian motives in LotR in general, but as my knowledge of the New Testament is very slim, I can't answer your question how direct the parallels are.


In Reply To
Are we meant to notice the similarities in tone and language, or is he just reaching for the language that feels "right" to him, to tell us the tale of this part of LOTR?


Is this different? I'm sure Tolkien reaches for the language that feels right, but he clearly expects the reader to recognise it for Biblical. There is no either/or here.

"It is a long way, is it not, from Bree, where you did not like the look of me?" - Aragorn


a.s.
Valinor


Dec 1 2008, 12:16pm

Post #5 of 16 (438 views)
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Oh. True that. :-) [In reply to] Can't Post


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I wonder about the Christian motives in LotR in general, but as my knowledge of the New Testament is very slim, I can't answer your question how direct the parallels are.




Unlike some others, I don't think Tolkien is "re-telling" the Christian Story here. I don't think we are seeing a pre-Christian pre-figuring of Calvary, not directly, because Frodo is not and never was some kind of God made Flesh. Frodo's humanity (if you will) is part of the point of the whole shebang.

In my opinion.

Frodo isn't a pre-figuring of Christ, he's us, and his walk up Mt. Doom to fulfill his mission, his subsequent falling into temptation and succumbing to evil, and then his Providential saving (in my reading of the events) is, in fact, Tolkien showing us that good has always existed and men have always had to choose right and wrong, and Providence has always been in charge, before and after Christ and always and forever, until the end of time.

I think Tolkien is using Biblical language, though, and doing it on purpose. Maybe for tone only, for language that "feels right" to talk about eucatastrophe. Or maybe for us to make the parallels.



Quote

Tolkien reaches for the language that feels right, but he clearly expects the reader to recognise it for Biblical.




This bothers a lot of readers, or so it seems to me. Readers who are not bothered by other obvious influences, such as Anglo-Saxon poetry, are bothered by Bible influences when they are pointed out, especially when they are pretty explicit. I wonder, sometimes, if Tolkien didn't overplay his hand in this chapter...

a.s.

"an seileachan"

Some say once you're gone, you're gone forever, and some say you're gonna come back.
Some say you'll rest in the arms of the Savior, if sinful ways you lack.
Some say that they're coming back in a garden: bunch of carrots and little sweet peas.
I think I'll just let the mystery be.

Iris DeMent



Call Her Emily


FarFromHome
Valinor


Dec 1 2008, 7:09pm

Post #6 of 16 (407 views)
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Apocalypse now [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I wonder, sometimes, if Tolkien didn't overplay his hand in this chapter...



I'm not sure that the biblical style in this chapter would bother too many readers. You don't have to be a devout Christian to recognise that what we have here is the Day of Reckoning, Judgement Day, the Last Trump, the Crack of Doom (hmm, maybe he did overplay his hand just a touch there....)

Doomsday scenarios draw on Christian eschatology, sure, but they are widespread in the general culture. There are more movies than I can remember that use biblical language, imagery and music (the Dies Irae, for example) for their end-of-the-world stories, and they certainly aren't all religious in intent.

However, I think some readers may object to an over-interpretation of this chapter to try to make it conform exclusively to a Christian viewpoint. I don't think Tolkien ever pushes a single interpetation on the reader, which is one of his greatest strengths.

Farewell, friends! I hear the call.
The ships beside the stony wall.
Foam is white and waves are grey;
beyond the sunset leads my way.
Bilbo's Last Song



sador
Half-elven

Dec 1 2008, 10:19pm

Post #7 of 16 (390 views)
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Definitely not re-telling [In reply to] Can't Post

The whole point is that Frodo fails, as any human would fail. A mere mortal cannot 'take on' the world's Evil and overcome it; he will be lost.
However (and this might be a comforting thought), Providence does set things right, if we have really given our utmost. Or Evil will self-destruct, if we give it enough rope (as Gandalf hints in 'The Siege of Gondor', and actually in several more places).
Frodo is Everyman, except for being far purer and morally stronger than your average human is likely to be; but perhaps I am wrong, and every person (or at least, many people) have the inner resources needed, but they are simply never called to use them? (this might be another comforting thought!)

"It is a long way, is it not, from Bree, where you did not like the look of me?" - Aragorn


Curious
Half-elven


Dec 1 2008, 10:35pm

Post #8 of 16 (474 views)
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I think the accounts of Krakatoa's eruption may be a greater influence. [In reply to] Can't Post

There are similar events in the Bible: the Flood of Noah, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the tenth plague of Egypt. They are all in the Old Testament. There's also the Apocalypse described in the New Testament. But the eruption of Mount Doom also bears a strong resemblance to the eruption of Krakatoa which happened nine years before Tolkien's birth -- except that Krakatoa also created 120-foot waves that engulfed entire islands, but perhaps we see that influence in the Fall of Numenor.

I'm not sure the Death of Christ is quite the same, since the City of Jerusalem was not wiped from the earth. Yes, in the hearts of believers the death of the Son of God is more significant than millions of deaths that came before and after, but the closest comparison in LotR, I judge, is the fall of Gandalf in Moria, not the fall of Sauron and his armies and fortresses.

As for the language, yes, Tolkien's formal declarations, which are deliberately archaic and rhythmic, do sound Biblical, but they also remind me of other ancient heroic and mythopoetic epics and sagas, from The Bhagavad Gita to The Illiad to Beowulf. Many of those ancient tales were made to be delivered orally. And the declarations in LotR remind me of more modern speeches as well:

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us --
that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion --
that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain --
that this nation,
under God,
shall have a new birth of freedom --
and that government of the people,
by the people,
for the people,
shall not perish from the earth.

And when this happens,
when we allow freedom to ring,
when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet,
from every state and every city,
we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children,
black men and white men,
Jews and Gentiles,
Protestants and Catholics,
will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual,
"Free at last!
free at last!
thank God Almighty,
we are free at last!"

The Towers of the Teeth swayed,
tottered,
and fell down;
the mighty rampart crumbled;
the Black Gate was hurled in ruin;
and from far away,
now dim,
now growing,
now mounting to the clouds,
there came a drumming rumble,
a roar,
a long echoing roll of ruinous noise.

"The realm of Sauron is ended!"
said Gandalf.
"The Ring-bearer has fulfilled his Quest."


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Dec 2 2008, 3:58pm

Post #9 of 16 (396 views)
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Everyman indeed! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Frodo is Everyman, except for being far purer and morally stronger than your average human is likely to be; but perhaps I am wrong, and every person (or at least, many people) have the inner resources needed, but they are simply never called to use them? (this might be another comforting thought!)



Oh, I quite agree about all of us being Frodo. I always gathered that the entire point of hobbits is that by nature they are us at our smallest and least heroic. They are, inherently, pudgy little bores not in the least interested in adventures that make them late for supper or otherwise uncomfortable. The whole point in creating hobbit heroes is to remind us that there is a seed of courage buried (often deeply, it is true) in all of us.

A number of people go straight to "The Lord of the Rings," skipping "The Hobbit" as a children's book. I think that would be a mistake. "The Hobbit" sets up the context for the later books in a lot more ways than introducing the Ring. Once "The Hobbit" gives you a clear picture of what hobbits really are, Frodo's accomplishments become all the more admirable. One gets an idea of just how deep he had to dig to find it in him to do what he had to do. And if he seems exceptional, not your typical hobbit to begin with, we have Sam going every step of the way with him, sharing so much in the courage that fans can spend long threads arguing as to which one was the braver.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Curious
Half-elven


Dec 2 2008, 8:08pm

Post #10 of 16 (368 views)
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Would you agree that Frodo is Christ-like? [In reply to] Can't Post

I've certainly never claimed Frodo is Christ the way Aslan is Christ. But I do think that Frodo is Christ-like, and that he exemplifies a distinctly Christian kind of heroism modeled after the story of Christ. Frodo is, I think, saintly, although technically saints cannot exist in Tolkien's pre-Christian world.

Gandalf and Aragorn, on the other hand, each resemble other aspects of Christ -- Gandalf the Angel made flesh, and Aragorn the True King. But they, too, are Christ-like, not Christ.

I agree that Frodo is us, or the best of us, i.e., modern people. And Frodo, unlike Gandalf or Aragorn, exemplifies a kind of heroism still available to us in the modern world. We are unlikely to be born with Aragorn's gifts, or to be raised by elves, or to be in a position to match swords with evil. But, like the hobbits, we can be humble, courageous, clever, and become instruments of Providence, blessed with luck. Or at least that's the story Tolkien is selling.


Darkstone
Immortal


Dec 2 2008, 8:25pm

Post #11 of 16 (376 views)
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He's part of the Trinity [In reply to] Can't Post

Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost.

(Or Mother, Maiden, Crone.)

Aragorn is mature ruling power, Frodo is innocent sacrificial figure, and Gandalf is guiding heavenly insight.

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.



Curious
Half-elven


Dec 2 2008, 8:42pm

Post #12 of 16 (384 views)
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And while few of us [In reply to] Can't Post

will be rulers, and none of us live in heaven, all of us, theoretically, can offer ourselves in sacrifice.


(This post was edited by Curious on Dec 2 2008, 8:43pm)


a.s.
Valinor


Dec 3 2008, 12:21am

Post #13 of 16 (387 views)
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Yes, but. [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, I do think Frodo is Christ-like, and there are many aspects of Frodo's story that resemble the story of Jesus' Life, Passion, Death and Resurrection. We can find many similarities, and looked at that way, Frodo is a "Christ-figure", and functions in some ways as savior or redeemer in the story itself. He has his own personal Gethsemane of fear and doubt and desire to end his mission before he is finished. He clearly has his own Way of the Cross, his own cross to carry, and his figurative death on behalf of others, and a figurative resurrection. And even, in a way, a figurative ascension into heaven when all is said and done.

And yet, I don't think Tolkien intended any of this as either an allegorical retelling of the Resurrection, or as Christian instruction. He did not intend us to read the story and say, "aha! Frodo is Christ, then!" or anything like that. He is just telling the story of personal bravery and sacrifice using the model (models, really) he loved well.



Quote
I do think that Frodo is Christ-like, and that he exemplifies a distinctly Christian kind of heroism modeled after the story of Christ.




I don't know enough about pre-Christian heroes to know if there is no other model for Frodo's actions than the Christian one. I would think Tolkien was sure (based on LOTR alone) that it was possible to sacrifice oneself for one's fellow with no knowledge of Christ or even of one's personal God. Isn't that what our heroes in LOTRs do, by and large? They trust "the wise" who advise them, but basically they simply try to do what is right because it is right, and if this involves personal sacrifice, it must be done.

Is this a specifically Christian model? I don't even know how to ask that without sounding like I'm being sarcastic, LOL. But I'm not. I'm just admitting my own lack of knowledge here. Is there something peculiarly Christian about the type of heroism Frodo displays? Is it because he does it without regard to his personal fame, for instance, or without considering his "good name", etc?

a.s.

"an seileachan"

Some say once you're gone, you're gone forever, and some say you're gonna come back.
Some say you'll rest in the arms of the Savior, if sinful ways you lack.
Some say that they're coming back in a garden: bunch of carrots and little sweet peas.
I think I'll just let the mystery be.

Iris DeMent



Call Her Emily


Curious
Half-elven


Dec 3 2008, 3:00am

Post #14 of 16 (374 views)
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It may not be [In reply to] Can't Post

exclusively Christian, but we know that Tolkien was a devout Christian, and took the Gospels as his model. Therefore it is not a stretch to say that LotR was influenced by the Gospel story.


sador
Half-elven

Dec 3 2008, 7:24am

Post #15 of 16 (435 views)
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But he does fail in the ultimate test [In reply to] Can't Post

Which is the difference, and which makes him human.


In Reply To

I don't think Tolkien intended any of this as either an allegorical retelling of the Resurrection, or as Christian instruction. He did not intend us to read the story and say, "aha! Frodo is Christ, then!" or anything like that. He is just telling the story of personal bravery and sacrifice using the model (models, really) he loved well.



"It is a long way, is it not, from Bree, where you did not like the look of me?" - Aragorn


a.s.
Valinor


Dec 3 2008, 11:09am

Post #16 of 16 (602 views)
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totally agree with that // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

"an seileachan"

Some say once you're gone, you're gone forever, and some say you're gonna come back.
Some say you'll rest in the arms of the Savior, if sinful ways you lack.
Some say that they're coming back in a garden: bunch of carrots and little sweet peas.
I think I'll just let the mystery be.

Iris DeMent



Call Her Emily

 
 

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