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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Who is the single most important character in LOTR?
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Beren IV
Gondor


Sep 2 2007, 1:49am

Post #26 of 33 (108 views)
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An overwhelming task... [In reply to] Can't Post

WIth regard to the main character in LotR -

It is clear to me that the Lord of the Rings went through several stages as it was written. Because the book was written in real-time in largely the same order as the chapters in the book occur, the evolution of the driving concepts can be seen as the story itself progresses. The first stage was its being simply a sequel to The Hobbit, which is a fairy tale and an adventure story, with some deeper meenings, but less religious significance than later on. Most of Book I fits is in this phase. The second phase saw Tolkien making a concerted effort to tie Middle Earth of LotR into Middle Earth of the Quenta Silmarillion, which was an extremely religiously inspired body by this time. As this occurs, the story continues to focus on the physical legacy from the Quenta Silmarillion, rather than the overtly religious side. There are elements of this phase in Book I, but most of Books II, III, and some of IV are also in this phase. The final phase is the phase in which faith and the value of faith becomes the primary motivator of the writing. This applies to part of Book IV, and most of Books V and VI.

More generally, however, Tolkien's religious fervor, even fantacism, seems to grow over his life, and in his writing. The use of magic in his stories is a prime example of this: in the early writings, Tolkien isn't afraid to have the good guys using magic. Later, he keeps the good guys using magic, but makes it clear that it is a very different kind of magic from the villains' magic. Eventually, he implies that Men do not use any magic at all, at least not any except the truly evil Men.

I generally think that Squire is right.

Once a paleontologist, now a botanist, will be a paleobotanist


Pallando
Lorien


Sep 2 2007, 5:17am

Post #27 of 33 (99 views)
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Anyway... [In reply to] Can't Post

I haven't read Letters in quite awhile and have heard some interesting opinions in the interim so I think I'll give it a read with both your and squire's recent posts in mind and see where that takes me. My, but this board has changed in the depth of its inquisitiveness since my first arrival years ago.

Cheers.

P.


__________________________________________
For I also am a steward. Did you not know?


Beren IV
Gondor


Sep 2 2007, 6:27am

Post #28 of 33 (98 views)
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Well, to be fair, [In reply to] Can't Post

I approach everything from an extremely scientific prospective, and specifically a prospective of the natural sciences (I'm a botanist - go figure Tongue). This means that I regard the use of religion to explain or predict natural phenomena as a very risky proposition, since testable predictions about the physical world made on religious grounds have almost invariably turned out to be wrong (as distinct from science, which is only usually wrong!). Tolkien's religion-inspired creations have some very serious problems when you try to work out the biology (including the sociology) of his imaginary world, and these problems are not the sort of problems that arise from simply not knowing all of the details; they're the sort of problems that come from the Author having not considered the implications of what he was doing. Moreover, these problems become more numerous and more serious with successive iterations of the legendarium, as Tolkien got more religious and obsessed with the religious significance of his work. Tolkien did realize that he had these problems, however, because LotR manages to eliminate or at least hide them (for the most part), so that we can't see them. The Mariner's Wife, however, or even worse, The New Shadow - ugh! Crazy

Once a paleontologist, now a botanist, will be a paleobotanist


Darkstone
Immortal


Sep 4 2007, 1:28pm

Post #29 of 33 (101 views)
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Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

From J.R.R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-Earth, by Bradley J. Birzer:

As Tolkien told Father Murray, the entire story of The Lord of the Rings reflects God's grace, but while God is always present, he is never named. For example, when Frodo asks Gandalf how the Ring came into his possession, Gandalf answers: "Behind that there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker. I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought." In Unfinished Tales, Gandalf declares that what one calls chance is really one's will accepting Iluvatar's direction. When Elrond calls the council to order, deciding what to do with the Ring, he says: "Called, I say, though I have not called you to me, strangers from distant lands. You have come and are met here, in this very nick of time, by chance as it may seem. Yet it is not so. Believe rather that it is so ordered that we, who sit here, and none others, must now find counsel for the peril of the world. ..... God remains off stage in The Lord of the Rings. He is, rather, contained within the very fiber of the story."

Kinda like how Godot could be considered the most important character in "Waiting For Godot".

******************************************
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.



Darkstone
Immortal


Sep 4 2007, 1:35pm

Post #30 of 33 (94 views)
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Yes. [In reply to] Can't Post

Found this in Letter #131:

I was from early days grieved by the poverty of my own beloved country: it had no stories of its own (bound up with its tongue and soil) ... There was Greek, and Celtic, and Romance, Germanic, Scandinavian, and Finnish ... but nothing English, save impoverished chap-book stuff. Of course there was and is the Arthurian world, but powerful as it is, it is imperfectly naturalized, associated with the soil of Britain but not with English; and does not replace what I felt to be missing ... Do not laugh! But once upon a time ... I had in mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large and cosmogonic, to the level of romantic fairy-story ... which I would dedicate simply to: to England; to my country ... The cycle should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama.

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

Sep 4 2007, 4:08pm

Post #31 of 33 (122 views)
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I have not seen "Waiting for Godot," but [In reply to] Can't Post

from what I understand Godot may not exist and is never present, although everyone is talking about him. Tolkien presents almost the exact opposite of that, since God's name is never spoken (not even as Eru or Illuvatar), and yet according to The Silmarillion He does exist and throughout LotR Tolkien hints that He is always present.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Sep 4 2007, 4:28pm

Post #32 of 33 (94 views)
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I have seen Waiting for Godot [In reply to] Can't Post

and from what I recall, Godot isn't mentioned all that much, but he's an unseen, hoped-for presence that gives the characters the belief and strength to go on. The point is, whether or not God(ot) really exists, just having faith that he does is enough. Which is more or less what Tolkien presents in LotR, I think. It's a story about faith, but the object of that faith is never revealed. (The Silmarillion, being interpretable as the "mythology" of the world of the Third Age, doesn't have to be taken as fact, any more than our own mythologies have to be.)

It's true, of course, that Beckett and Tolkien are coming at the same issue from totally different sides of the debate, but I think Darkstone makes a fair point that there's a convergence in there somewhere.

...and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew,
and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth;
and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore
glimmered and was lost.


Cuinniel
Registered User


Oct 8 2007, 6:17am

Post #33 of 33 (96 views)
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Most important [In reply to] Can't Post

I honestly don't know. It could be like the chicken and the egg. A circle has no beginning and no end. Evil I would say is the most important because without evil then good men could not triumph.

'There are three,' said Legolas, gazing out over the plain. 'See how they run? There is Hasufel, and there is my friend Arod beside him! But there is another that strides ahead: a very great horse. I have not seen his like before.'

'Nor will you again,' said Gandalf. 'That is Shadowfax. He is the chief of the Mearas, lords of horses, and not even Theoden, King of Rohan, has ever looked on a better. Does he not shine like silver, and run as smoothly as a swift stream? He has come for me: the horse of the White Rider. We are going to battle together.'

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