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Old 09-23-2014, 06:07 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
One thread I see already in this is that, although duty and sacrifice are necessary, tweaking things to emphasize that more would often remove the reward that should come of it, which changes the message rather emphatically.
Rather depressing thought experiment there. But a reward (or at lease sense of reward/accomplishment) really is an important measure.

Originally Posted by Zigūr View Post
One of my biggest issues with the films is one that I think irrevocably differentiates it from its source material: the difference in tone.
Oh yes. And, as a crossover to another long-lost debate somewhere on the forum, this is partially the reason I cannot take The Hobbit (book) as seriously as LOTR, both in terms of Middle-Earth trivia facts (could Gandalf read Kuzdul? ) and in terms of characters. The real character of the characters shines through every so often, but even then it's clouded by the comicness of the book. And then you read the Appendices, and you realize how grave that quest actually was...

Well, you covered tone, duty was already taken (I don't agree as much about sacrifice - I think that is part of the choice of fulfilling a duty and not a discrete aspect), so I'll examine the flip side of the duty coin: staying true to one's fundamental beliefs and moral code (which means pursuing one's calling, ie his/her truest duty, but let me get there first). From the most basic struggle of resisting the Ring ("I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel") to conflicting loyalties (Eomer and Beregond going against the law to help Aragorn and Faramir) to doing what one firmly believes is right despite a good lot of (also not wrong) arguments against it (Frodo letting Saruman go) to people rediscovering themselves (Gollum... almost!, Theoden preferring to die in battle as a true King rather than hide as the cripple that Wormtongue made him be). The Scouring of the Shire also falls in that category - the triumph of true character over other character layers such as timidness, patience, and fear. And, of course, the most difficult moral dilemmas involving duty are also there because the character would not be the same without both aspects - like Aragorn just wouldn't be Aragorn if he did not combine personal affection and loyalty with duty and responsibility for something much larger, be it Arnor or Gondor or the Quest. And in all of the cases, he still remains selfless.

Now the interesting thing about these characters is that all of the examples I came up with are people who are innately good and noble. Sometimes it is not obvious, but the goodness can be traced underneath whatever is covering it. Theoden was a decent King until Wormtongue took hold of him, and afterwards he was awakened. Smeagol still shows his face from underneath Gollum. Denethor could be a debatable case - as in it's debatable if he really comes back, and the extent to which he comes back. Isildur too - I do not remember the UT account that well, but I think it could be argued both ways. Then there are some people who are just people. Wormtongue. I can't say he's necessarily evil, but he just has no iron rod in his character that makes his stick to a moral code, or a duty. Destroying Rohan - well, he's a person without that much of a conscience, and he thought it was worth it. Killing Saruman - he was driven beyond the point of bearing it in silence. He doesn't really have a "true character", per se. I guess the big question here is if he was just big enough to cause trouble but not big enough to have the right backbone - and I don't have time to go into it as I have to return to my chemistry homework. It would certainly be an interesting point to come back to, although I'm not sure how far it will lead into such trivial questions as inherent good and evil, duality of human nature, and redemption. I think I'll leave off here before I get entirely sidetracked.
"I have no great fondness for the universe, but I do live there." - Eliezer Yudkowsky
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