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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Oft evil will shall evil mar - a recurring theme?
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Dec 11 2012, 1:26pm

Post #26 of 36 (1663 views)
The greatest example of this has yet to be said!!!!!!!!!! [In reply to] Can't Post

Durin's Bane was the greatest help the West could ever ask for! My one friend always brings this up!

Gandalf's passing is mourned by the fellowship and when the Company reaches Lorien, the elves sing deeply sad songs of lamentation.

But . . .

Without Gandalf the White, I doubt there would have been anyone alive in Middle Earth, even if Frodo succeeded. The West NEEDED Gandalf the White.

Don't be hasty.


Dec 11 2012, 4:58pm

Post #27 of 36 (1683 views)
Credibility and the One Ring [In reply to] Can't Post

At the same it´s a weapon/tool which has its limitations - it´s not a tool that magically can achieve just about anything, but works in specific ways, and IMO this also makes it a credible creation and plot device.

Excellent point. I'd never thought otherwise, but what if the One was a magic ring that did anything you wanted? If Frodo and Sam are starving in Mordor, Frodo puts it on briefly and turns rocks into fresh bread and turns orcs into barrels of beer. Presto! That would have made the story light-heared, but also relegated it to children's fairy tales. The fact that the One, while horrible, has definite limits on what it can do makes the story more solid and believable in JRRT's world governed by rules.

And besides credibility, the limitations give the Ring a personality of sorts, making it another character, though I don't normally expect jewelry to be a character in a book.


Dec 16 2012, 5:25pm

Post #28 of 36 (1671 views)
Morgoth the exception? [In reply to] Can't Post

Morgoth is almost an exception to these rules ( 'oft evil will mar' / 'eveil overlord syndrome'). He is twice assaulted by the Valar because his acts become so intolerable but even though he is defeated both times he always has contingency plans in place - Utumno is destroyed but Angband is his fall-back. Angband is later assaulted in the War of Wrath but there are deeper pits dug to hide in just in case, and Ancalagon the Black is held back in reserve. Morgoth loses but he always seems to calculate more variables than Sauron.

And some other examples:

Morgoth overreaches when he becomes too incarnate within Arda and is thus vulnerable to 'death'? Yes but by the same token his essence is so disseminated that the whole of Arda is Marred.

Morgoth and Ungoliant fall out over the spoils of Valinor? Well yes but Morgoth triumphs because he has a few Balrogs he can call on. In fact, Ungoliant aside, there's little dissent in Beleriand when it comes to the forces of Evil. Morgoth runs a pretty tight ship. It's the Free Peoples who are disorganised and who fight amongst themselves.

A counter-example is the ridiculous amount of effort Morgoth seems to invest in bringing down Húrin's family. This fatal curse certainly leads to the tragic, bitter deaths of Húrin and his family but it also indirectly leads to the destruction of Morgoth's greatest (pre-Ancalagon) creation, Glaurung. What's more, Túrin remains so homicidal even in the afterlife that, according to the Second Prophecy of Mandos, he returns to kill Morgoth once and for all in the Dagor Dagorath.

Any other examples out there, either way?

Welcome to the Mordorfone network, where we put the 'hai' back into Uruk


Dec 16 2012, 6:29pm

Post #29 of 36 (1612 views)
Curses can be your best friend [In reply to] Can't Post

I think the Hurin curse worked well for Morgoth in a geopolitical sense.

1. Turin's pride led him to build the bridge over the river that betrayed Nargothrond's location and allowed it to be invaded by Glaurung.
2. Hurin's lament to Turgon revealed its general location to Morgoth.
3. Hurin's delivery of the Nauglamir to Thingol gave the latter the idea of having Dwarves set the Silmaril in the middle of it, which led to their fight with Thingol and a chain reaction of events which destroyed Doriath and made enemies between Elves and Dwarves.

So three hidden kingdoms were destroyed as consequences of the curse. Nice work, actually.

To give the devil his due, Morgoth learned from his mistakes in battle and invented the dragons when it became clear that orcs alone couldn't defeat the Noldor. Also, he was effective in exploiting the divisions of his enemies, and you point out that he had no internal dissent himself. (Though it was partly from fear of his own followers that he went out to fight Fingolfin: "he took not the challenge willingly...but he could not now deny the challenge before the face of his captains.")

To go back to the original post of evil marring itself, I came across this tidbit while rummaging through the Silmarillion. The Noldor come to Beleriand just as the Valar create the Sun. They fight with Morgoth, then Maedhros is taken hostage and attached to a rock, and Morgoth creates a new darkness to blot out the Sun (Sauron was such a copycat). Fingon goes to rescue his cousin "and aided by the very darkness that Morgoth had made he came unseen into the fastness of his foes."


Dec 16 2012, 7:09pm

Post #30 of 36 (1626 views)
That's worth 2 new threads! :) [In reply to] Can't Post

1) is the Ring just trying to get back to its master ( perhaps it has a funny way of doing so...)
2) the Problem of Magic: giving characters magical powers is a big source of plotholes; how does JRRT handle it?


Dec 16 2012, 8:52pm

Post #31 of 36 (1719 views)
Gandalf answered #1 [In reply to] Can't Post

In The Shadow of the Past:

"A Ring of Power looks after itself, Frodo. It may slip off treacherously, but its keeper never abandons it...It was not Gollum, Frodo, but the Ring itself that decided things. The Ring left him...The Ring was trying to get back to its master. It had slipped from Isildur's hand and betrayed him; then when a chance came it caught poor Deagol, and he was murdered; and after that Gollum, and it had devoured him. It could make no further use of him: he was too small and mean; and as long as it stayed with him he would never leave his deep pool again. So now, when its master was awake once more and sending out his dark thought from Mirkwoood, it abandoned Gollum."

Gives you the shivers, doesn't it? This creepy ring, or I should say Ring, has a mind of its own, an evil one, and it uses you in foul ways to get back to its foul master. Which makes it an often unrecognized character in the book. It didn't even get credit in the movie as a character. Shame! ;)

As for #2, that would be a good thread. Feel free to start one, and I'll chime in.


Dec 18 2012, 12:07pm

Post #32 of 36 (1599 views)
given the slightest encouragement... [In reply to] Can't Post

..my witless ramblings on "the problem of magic" in JRRT are now here: A Reading Room thread called

'The problem of magic' in Tolkien


Please do read & comment!

Re the Ring as a character, I think I recall something on this from the documentaries in the Peter Jackson LOTR film DVDs. I think PJ says they decided to make the Ring a character. I'm not sure whether he means this just as a mater of cinematography - for example they have shots in which just the Ring is shown, and they give it lines of dialogue to help show the effect it is having.

Or is it an interpretation of the story, about the Ring having a will of its own? Your quote supports that idea. But is the Ring operating in a fairly unintelligent way (do what you can to get back to Sauron) or is it capable of going beyond this? Does it have any kind of free will, or does it operate within very limited constraints like a machine or computer program?

Along those lines: Suppose Saruman got the Ring. He would obviously try to use it.Evil What would happen?. Would the Ring now have a new master, or would it try to master Saruman to carry on trying to get back to its original master?


Dec 18 2012, 3:22pm

Post #33 of 36 (1589 views)
link to eucatastrophy [In reply to] Can't Post

Another direction - this is one of JRRTs favourite ways of delivering a eucatastrophy, without toppling over into something unbelievable and deus ex machina.

Been commenting about that over here: http://newboards.theonering.net/forum/gforum/perl/gforum.cgi?post=544890#544890


Dec 18 2012, 7:02pm

Post #34 of 36 (1567 views)
Second thoughts! [In reply to] Can't Post

Have you ever posted something then disagreed with yourself? Sorry about that. I now think that we should save "eucatastrophic" for extremes. So that reduces us to:

Gandalf is not dead after all!
Eowyn is not dead after all!
The Ring is destroyed!!!!

....only the last one has "evil will shall evil mar" to it.


Dec 18 2012, 7:45pm

Post #35 of 36 (1568 views)
Post then self-disagree? All too often. :) // [In reply to] Can't Post



Dec 18 2012, 9:53pm

Post #36 of 36 (2078 views)
"We knows what we thinks, precious." "No, no we doesn't think that at all!" [In reply to] Can't Post


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