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Old 02-02-2004, 10:29 PM   #1
Magician of Nathar
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Sting Flaws in Lord of the Rings... Yes in the book.

Oh dear, hopefully I won't get murdured for this...But my friends, someone has to do it some day.

As much as I love Tolkein and his works, there are many bones I can pick with him.

First off, the whole logic issue with Lord of the Rings. It is a fantasy, I know, but it has to make the sense. The rings of power business is fishy enough to begin with. But since that's the foundation of the entire story it will have to pass for now. The whole deus ex machina thing with the eagles at the Black Gate is poorly executed, in my opinion. Sure, it's nice to save Frodo and Sam's life. But what then is the point of having this story of fellowship and journeys when you can simply fly to Mount Doom?

Secondly, the underlying theme seems too simplistic. It's very flat, two dimensional, black and white. Sure, the ring represents power and the whole story shows how absolute power corrupts absolutely, listing off examples like Saruman, Gollum and Boromir. But the underlying sense of good and evil is still the traditional and conventional sense. It made me question. Just why is the ring evil? Why does the power it represents is evil? Why do people of Middle Earth absolutely refuse to believe power can be used for good? And better still, just why is Sauronevil? Except that the author said Sauron is evil, what real, substantial evidence are there to prove he is as dark as they tend to portray him? I usually detest books with an antagonist that is simply labeled as "evil". It irritates me. I really don't believe in absolute evil. And don't say it is needed to create conflict. There are plenty of great works without such things in them, even works similar from LOTR. Check out Wagner's version of Nibelungied if you want to know what I am talking about.

That's all I have for now. If I think of more I will sure post them. [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img] Please share your opinions on this matter.
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Old 02-02-2004, 11:53 PM   #2
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Sting

Hello MoN!

Surely you cannot kill people at the Downs where you are already dead [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]

First of all: I'd like to know what you think so fishy about the Rings of Power.

And now the Eagles. Ofcourse Eagles could fly to Mount Doom, there are no geological barriers along the way if you can fly. Yet you would have to pass the Mountains (either Ered Lithui or Ephel Duath) or the Morannon. In any case they would have been spotted there, if not long before. Nazgul would be there to fight them and the Eagles would be the ones that have to save M-e by avoiding or defeating the Nazgul.
I don't think Gwaihir Windlord would do anything to his Eagles to put them in danger except in the greatest need (as in: Bttle of the Five Armies and Battle at Pelennor Fields). As long as it was uncertain if there was another way (or just a way) into Mordor, I believe they wouldn't go freely to Mount Doom, putting themselves to danger. In LotR Gandalf says the mission with the Ring relies on it's secrecy, but with the Eagles secrecy would soon be gone.
So, I guess the Eagles could, but wouldn't fly to Mount Doom except in the greatest need (when Frodo and Sam lay there) and more important: after the destruction of the Ring, thus no more Sauron and no more Nazgul. They had a clear air, which they otherwise would not have had.

Both the Ring and Sauron are evil, yes. The source lies with Morgoth, who corrupted Sauron in the early days. Thus Sauron became the servant of Melkor (his chief servant) and did great damage from his fortress in Angband. But then, in the Second Age, after the fall of Thangorodrim and Morgoth, he returns in Mordor and, after walking among the Elves for a long time, makes the One Ring. He made this Ring to seek domination over all others. To corrupt them and force them under his will. Because of Sauron being evil and putting a lot of his power into the Ring it would be evil. But also because it's purpose solely is to gain it's Master world domination it is evil. Sauron uses his Ring for this and ofcourse an extremely big armie.
Letting his power into the Ring and using it seek dominance over all other Rings (and indirectly over all the 'Free People') is what made the Ring evil. For Sauron himself did many more deeds out of evil which I haven't spoken about in this post.

But certainly you are right to suggest that all this is because the writer said so. If LotR was written from the view of Sauron and his forces the Elves probably would have been described as 'nasty, cruel people with terrible shining white faces' and would have been the 'bad ones'.

greetings,
lathspell
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Old 02-03-2004, 12:10 AM   #3
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Tolkien

I don't understand why you say that LotR is flat and two dimensional and simplistic? If you think about it, that is what life is. Either something is bad or it is good. There are a few shaded areas in the details of life but ultimately there is good and evil.

Quote:
But the underlying sense of good and evil is still the traditional and conventional sense
Ultimately, there are very few different story themes and the theme good vs evil is the common one, I think. Break any story down and you have that good and evil there. What makes a story stand out is the way it is written and I haven't found anything as detailed and intricate as LotR...Tolkien re-defined the meaning of elves and created a mythology for England.

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I really don't believe in absolute evil.
See, that's where you and Tolkien disagree. Tolkien was a Catholic (which is similiar to Christianity in some ways) and he probably did believe in an ultimate evil. Even though he protested that LotR is an allegory, his world view definitely crept into his story. It's a personal issue there.

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Old 02-03-2004, 01:32 AM   #4
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Greetings, Magician of Nathar! I just wanted to point you to some other threads that might prove to be interesting reading on some of the points you have raised. First, the Eagle issue: The Great Eagle Mystery goes into some depth on the question of the Eagles in this regard. Secondly, a discussion on the writing style and characterization in LOTR:
Psychological Depth in Tolkien's Characters , and also another thread I can't seem to find with the search function, called "Dumbing Down the Books", which may be gone forever now, because it became rather heated and was closed for a lack of demonstrated decorum. I will say that subjects like this can easily go that way, and I hope this one will remain on the cordial level. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img] With that in mind, I shall continue:

Quote:
Sure, the ring represents power and the whole story shows how absolute power corrupts absolutely, listing off examples like Saruman, Gollum and Boromir.
I will say that I do not believe that these three characters show an "absolute" evil or corruption, even in their characterizations. Boromir especially, repents and dies defending Merry and Pippin from many foes. Saruman's fall is the fall of centuries and takes place mainly "offscreen" with regards to LOTR, but the style of the book is such that the nature of his fall is hinted at and the reader can draw what conclusions are natural. (His character would be the closest to 'absolute' evil of the three, I think.) I think Tolkien's style demands more of the reader in this way. Gollum, although he ends in "persistent wickedness", according to Tolkien, still has his chance at redemption, and I, for one, can feel the delicacy of the moment and how it passes away with Sam's rough words on the Stairs of Cirith Ungol.

To the absolute nature vs. relative nature of evil that you refer to, suffice it to say that I understood you to mean that the "evil" side is simply underdrawn, so that a reader is encouraged to be biased against it, no matter its innate nature. I figured that was the privilege of the author myself, but an individual reader is free to interpret it in anyway he or she pleases. I can understand why a story told from hobbits' points of view would not delve into the point of view of the "forces of evil." Even in Frodo's connection to Gollum, he is acting from an impetus of good, the admonitions of Gandalf and then his own developing innate sense of mercy.

More later, as I always say!I take my leave. [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]

Cheers,
Lyta

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 2:34 AM February 03, 2004: Message edited by: Lyta_Underhill ]
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Old 02-03-2004, 02:46 AM   #5
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Sting

Hello,

I too fail to see the logic in your point about how LOTR is flat and two-dimensional, maybe another read would cure that short-sightedness. I addition, your point defending Sauron as being a nice misunderstood guy who just wanted some nice wraith-like buddies is quite bizarre. Apart from being the Lieutenant of Morgul, uh trying to dominate and lord over Middle-Earth, uh virtually causing the fall of Numenor, waging countless wars upon the elves and tricking them into creating tools for his domination. Shall i go on? No no Sauron was a real sweetie just misunderstood and hey lets live and let live, i think enslaving the world is fun too (add ample sarcasm) *rolls eyes*

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Old 02-03-2004, 07:18 AM   #6
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Sting

As much as I hate to admit it, you're technically right about the two-dimensionality of the thought process in LotR. The plotline, characters, developement, and dialogue are not as trite, but the story's purpose could be interpreted that way.

On the subject of eagles; a statement which just seems like convenience for the author. It was important to Tolkein for at least some to survive, so he does exactly what Gandalf does, calling in a favor from Gwaihir. The eagles wouldn't have willingly carried Frodo from Hobbiton to Orodruin, but they were willing to make a brief trip into Mordor to snatch him from Mount Doom's gaping maw. They did drastically affect the story, except for the important fact that they allowed Sam and Frodo to survive.

Next point: Absolute evil, a very touchy subject. In my opinion (not necessarily that of others) you are right about the power representation. This is where LotR falters. Power is not always evil, it can be used for good. Of course, before the real story even started, Tolkein had established some facts that make more sense. The One Ring is not power alone. The One, Seven, Nine, and Three Rings are power, like the Silmarils before them (or after, in publishing order). The Elves did not let power change them, as their light was already waning and their autumn had come, they did not desire power and were not corrupted. The dwarves simply became reclusive with their Seven, letting the power get at them, but not so much that they lost all humanity. The mortal men, on the other hand, who "only desire power" were corrupted by the Nine Rings they were given. This does suggest that these men where comparitively easier to sway than the greater beings of Middle-Earth, but during the War of the Ring, the goal of man was to overcome that desire for power and find good. The lesson is not that power is evil, merely that the evil of power is evil, which goes without saying.

In addition, despite the flat level of the good v. evil, power plot, the sub-plots are what make it interesting. Each nation, race, and often individual represents an important aspect to consider. There is the lost cause of chivalry in Rohan, the wizened but undecisive elders in Ents, the madness and infinity of war in Denethor, the rights of all in Eowyn, man's frailty in Boromir, the power of seduction in Saruman, and everything else. The story is so incredibly multi-faceted, you could even go so far as to ignore that 2-D quality of the purpose.
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Old 02-03-2004, 08:08 AM   #7
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Quote:
Tolkien was a Catholic (which is similiar to Christianity in some ways)
Eh? Catholicism IS Christianity, or rather it is the oldest of the many different strands of Christianity in the world today.

This is not the first time I've seen a comment like this on the Downs, and I'd be very interested in knowing where this weird perception of Catholicism comes from.
Given that Tolkien was a Catholic (and I'm not, btw, so I've got no personal axe to grind) I think it's important to clear this up.
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Old 02-03-2004, 08:34 AM   #8
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Quote:
I too fail to see the logic in your point about how LOTR is flat and two-dimensional, maybe another read would cure that short-sightedness.
I like the assumption above that always comes up when flaws in Tolkein are discussed. Its the readers fault. You shouldnt be so stupid. You dont understand.

Or perhaps it just IS two dimensional.


Quote:
Apart from being the Lieutenant of Morgul, uh trying to dominate and lord over Middle-Earth
Erm, take a look at the size of the combined realm of Arnor and Gondor at their greatest extent. Are they evil? If you seem them as not then how to absolve them of their domination tendencies?
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Old 02-03-2004, 12:47 PM   #9
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Sting

Hey, Magician!

You've cited a number of points about Tolkien's work which Lyta Underhill has eloquently responded to above. I have little to add, except on the point of Tolkien's "Black and White" view of the world (or universe.) One need not agree with an artist's philosophy or theology (in fact, I do not) to appreciate his skill in expressing it. Even Hitler was a dynamic and persuasive speaker.

On this issue, many people make the mistake of expecting an artist to approach his work in a like manner to his contemporaries. From this viewpoint, Tolkien should "read like" Joyce or Faulkner or at least Hemingway. He does not. Deliberately so. His approach to story-telling has more in common with Dickens or Hugo or Tolstoy, even Robert Louis Stevenson. I believe one should read Tolkien the way one reads these nineteenth century authors, and appreciate what he has added to their genre, rather than expect of him what one expects of his twentieth century contemporaries. It is neither better nor worse. It's just different and requires a different critical approach.

Are there plot-holes? Yes. The Great Eagle Mystery that Lyta cited is one. There are others. I will leave you to find them yourself. The point is that while the plot is consistent with Tolkiens philosophy, I don't believe it is ultimately his point in telling this story. His main interest, it seems to me, was in ennui, in the world of Middle Earth, its peoples, its characters, its languages and history and landscape (right down to the buttons on Bilbo Baggins waistcoat or the contents of his larder.) These are the things, at least for me, that I recall within me when I think of 'Lord of the Rings.' It may be fun to debate why the Eagles are Tolkien's perennial deus ex machina, or how Gollum got out of Moria, or why Balrogs only die on mountainsides, (it is fun!) but these things do not take away from what Tolkien himself set out to do with this work, and whether or not he succeeded. His intent may not be consistent with your expectations, but that is ultimately your issue, not his. Perhaps you're just not a fan? That's okay. I know only one person in my life that has even read Tolkien, and he reads everything.

Did Tolkien succeed with his intent? The short answer, without example to prove it, is yes. I think so. Try re-reading with this in mind, and you might come to the same conclusion. (and you might not! That's okay. At least you'll know you gave it a fair chance.)
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Old 02-03-2004, 01:27 PM   #10
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A few thoughts on your post.
I am not sure how you could see the One Ring or Sauron as anything but evil.
The Ruling ring was forged in secret to control all the other rings. It was filled with Sauron's wrath, malice and will to dominate. The power of the ring and Sauron for that matter are considered evil not because of the power they have but what the power is explicitly used for-Domination, destruction and cruelty.
I don't think that Boromir was necessarilly evil. I think he was more "flawed" He wanted to destroy the evil that was menacing his homeland but in his willingness to stoop to whatever level was necessary to do that; he was blinded to the consequences of the ring's use and to the true evil nature it had.
With regards to Gollum I think he was somewhat evil to begin with and by the time of the events of the Lord of the Rings he is more "insane" than anything else.
Finally, in regards to your last statement about people in Middle Earth not being willing to see Power as something that can be used for good, I am not sure that is expressed in those terms. If it is, I would say it is a healthy scepticism for anyone or any group that can weild enough power to change the course of events across nations and worlds. One always has to be suspect of the motivations of said groups or people and what their power to change things means to each of us as individuals pursuing our own goals and growth
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Old 02-03-2004, 05:24 PM   #11
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I would definitely disagree with you about it being 2-D. Are you saying that just because the underlying theme of good v. evil is simple that the whole story is flat? What gives it depth is the characters' emotions and actions as well as the glimpses of history and language. It is one thing that has always stood out to me as one of the amazing things about LotR, even before I started to read the Sil etc. That is basically what this world is, if you take it down far enough, is good v. evil (In my own opinion, anyway). There are also several other themes in Tolkien's work but I don't think that belongs here.

As for Sauron being evil, I think that it is definitely shown that he is evil. Somewhere Gandalf says something (to Frodo?) like "He has many more useful servants. But hobbits as miserable slaves would make him much more happy than hobbits happy and free." In addition to trying to dominate all of ME, tricking the Elves by making the One Ring, and other things already mentioned. And the Ring is evil because Sauron is evil and most of his power went into it. Everything done with the Ring turns to evil. Can you tell me where it says that the people of Middle Earth don't think that any power can be used for good? If they thought all power was bad, why would they have Kings?

Yes, there are plot holes, but doesn't every book have them? Especially with a work that big I don't think it would be possible not to have some errors. Yes, it can be fun to discuss them, but I try not to let those things get in the way of enjoying a truly excellent book.
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Old 02-03-2004, 09:33 PM   #12
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Sting

I don't quite see how (I quote) "The whole deus ex machina thing with the eagles at the Black Gate is poorly executed".

To add to what was already posted above: One of the simplest reasons why the eagles could not have just carried the Ringbearer to Mount Doom is plain secrecy. Eagles carrying a dwarf, an elf, a son of Gondor, the heir of Isildur and - especially - a "Baggins of the Shire" would be sure to draw the attention of Sauron. Sauron could have easily discerned what was going on and taken the Ring. Even if they flew with the ring without the fellowship, a flock of eagles flying toward Mordor is too suspicious. Sauron - not even Saruman - would miss that.

More significantly, the eagles were servants of the Valar. Like the Istari, the eagles were only to interfere with the affairs of mortals as the Valar allowed. The concept of the eagles as deus ex machina does not just mean "they come to the rescue" whenever needed.

The people of M-E did not refuse to believe that power could be used for good. It was never implied that power was evil in itself. We see a good, righteous kind of power at work in Imladris and Lorien (that of the latter was so great that it was virtually impenetrable). The One Ring was evil because it was forged with the intention of being used for evil purposes. This particular kind of power could not and never be used for good.

I don't even think it was implied that "absolute power corrupts absolutely". Gollum had the ring in his posession for ages but he did not become "absolutely corrupted".

Sauron was "evil" not just because he was the antagonist. He was evil because he chose to be - he wasn't "born that way", but he chose to go in that direction. He had great power which he decided to use for selfish gain. Remember that he was no mortal man who simply thought of doing something bad. His passion for domination consumed him that one can even say it became him.

Of course, remember that LOTR was supposed to have been written from the viewpoint of hobbits - they would naturally emphasize the Dark Lord's "badness". [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 10:35 PM February 03, 2004: Message edited by: Kaiserin ]
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Old 02-03-2004, 11:45 PM   #13
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Sting

Far be it from my intent to argue that The Lord of the Rings is perfect (no literary work can claim perfection), but I would have to say, Magician that your criticism is poorly executed; Tolkien's style had its problems, but making sense (within the framework of the book itself) was never really one of them.

Furthermore, Sauron really does come off as simplistic at first (at least he did for me), but then again, if you keep in mind historical figures such as Jeffrey Dahmer, Eichmann, and Ivan the Terrible, you might begin to see that Tolkien's theories are not that far off from real life. Naturally, all of the above examples are human beings that had some good in them, but I would argue that there was also within them a huge capacity for evil.

What Tolkien is working with in relation to Sauron is that supernatural quality that evil takes on when it is divorced from all other human impulses and characteristics. This technique has many mythic connotations, and myth was what Tolkien wanted to create, among other things.

For more background reading you should at least check out The Silmarillion. Other people on this site will probably recommend you other books. For my part, I've neither had time nor energy for anything besides the afore-mentioned volume, as well as The Hobbit, and am unashamed to admit it, but whatever. The thing is, the Silm might give you more context for your thoughts on Sauron and his shenanigans.
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Old 02-04-2004, 01:28 AM   #14
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1420!

Well said, Lush [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]. Another thing to keep in mind is whose point of view we're seeing the story from; the four hobbits are all very 3D characters, but the further away from them the players in the story are, the more two-dimensional they seem. I'd argue that this is as realistic as anything, especially considering the fact that these utterly unprepared hobbits have just been shoved headfirst into a war situation with Black Riders chasing them, etc. *They* are not going to see Sauron, or Saruman, as anything other than evil figures of doom whom it's healthier to avoid. It's one thing to reflect on Saruman's corruption from the comfort of Bag End, but if you're being dragged along to certain death by his Uruk-hai, you're not going to bother.

Similarly with the historical figures that Lush mentioned; I can't imagine that anyone trying to flee Nazi Germany would have seen Hitler as a fallible human with great evil potential; he would probably seem more like a *force* than anything else, especially if one had never seen him in real life. He'd seem less like a human than like some overarching demon trying to thwart you through various minions, all of whom would doubtless seem less than human to you as well. The fact that he was human, and was as 3D as everyone else in the world is, no matter how corrupt, simply wouldn't register. Why should it? There were more pressing things to consider.
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Old 02-04-2004, 02:19 PM   #15
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This is certainly no new topic - the individual quams nor the concept of Tolkien having flaws. We've had extended discussions of his flaws before.

This is where reading the rest of the history of Middle-earth becomes helpful There is an immense amount of depth behind all of this.

Eagles were spirits akin to the Maiar and appear somewhat as servants of Manwe. They are not just animals who can talk and show up at their own discretion when all else is lost. Had they flown the Ring to Mordor, it would've been no different than the Istari (angel-like powers clothed as old men sent from the Valar to guide the peoples together against Middle-earth) or Tulkas, Eonwe, and Orome marching to Mordor and simply dominated Sauron face to face. The War of the Ring was left to the *peoples* of Middle-earth because they had to learn to triumph over evil on their own instead of having the Powers that rule the world, the Valar, babysit them. If the task was done for them, what would they learn? Surely another evil would come about and they wouldn't be unable to defeat it also, defeating the purpose. You might remember the chapter about the Shire's scouring when Gandalf leaves the fight to the hobbits themselves. The hobbits went along on the quest to learn to fend for themselves - to fight for the good that lies within their being. (By the Valar's reckoning,) Gandalf did this on a grand scale with the whole of Middle-earth's inhabitants also.

Furthermore, eagles would've had a hard time getting into Mordor - it's not as if they could've slipped by Sauron undetected. At the least, the Nazgul would've presented a problem, but there was undoubtedly more resources at Sauron's disposal to prevent their entrance. There are multiple threads about this, and I'm going to ask that any further discussion on that subject be done

Quote:
Except that the author said Sauron is evil, what real, substantial evidence are there to prove he is as dark as they tend to portray him? I usually detest books with an antagonist that is simply labeled as "evil". It irritates me. I really don't believe in absolute evil.
I don't know what you mean by "absolute evil" as opposed to being "evil" but evil exists in Morgoth and Sauron as they desire to take the place of Eru himself, creator of the Universe. Sauron is undoubtedly evil and manipulative, and reading The SIlmarillion serves to solidify Sauron's evil beginnings and foul deeds as a servant to the first Dark Lord, the most powerful being ever to be in the world, Morgoth. Sauron deceives others - that's how he made the Rings of Power. He gives them out to corrupt those who accept them so they turn to his purposes and in turn he eliminates his enemies and takes over their lands without a fight. What is not evil about this?

Boromir and Saruman did not have absolute power, nor was Boromir absolutely corrupt.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 9:24 PM February 04, 2004: Message edited by: Legolas ]
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Old 02-04-2004, 09:37 PM   #16
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I disagree with your use of Boromir as an example of a "flat" evil character, Magician. Boromir was actually one of the few "grey" examples that Tolkien slipped into his works. You just have to read between the lines a bit more when his character is involved. Since when is wanting to defend your country and your people, evil? Since when is wanting to believe that you can still love and please your father, evil? If those things are considered evil, then I'd hate to see what you consider good. Yes, Boromir fell to the temptation of the One Ring, we all know that weakness. Apparently a lifetime of good deeds is not enough to save a man, although one bad deed is enough to condemn him forever.
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Old 02-04-2004, 10:45 PM   #17
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Darn. I thought this was going to be a thread about different flaws in the story. Like how in The Shadow of the Past Gandalf tells Frodo that one who has a Ring of Power "never abandons it. At most he plays with the idea of handing it on to some one else's care - and that only at an early stage, when it first begins to grip. But as far as I know Bilbo alone in history has ever gone beyond playing, and really done it."

Interesting comments from someone who is at the time wearing a Ring of Power that was freely given to him by Cirdan.

Hmmm. I just tried to find some of the "flaws" discussions you all have had, but the search function isn't co-operating with me. Does anyone happen to have any links to any of those discussions?
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Old 02-04-2004, 10:52 PM   #18
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I think that the Rings of Power that Gandalf meant were the ones that were directly influenced by Sauron. The Elven Three were not influenced by Sauron as much as the Nine or the Seven. They were purer compared to the other Rings, even though they were still under his dominion. Also, Cirdan is the oldest Elf in Middle-earth, ergo, he's pretty darn powerful. Gandalf could have been talking about mortals (Hobbits, Men, etc.) who possessed the Rings of Power, not Elves as old, wise, and powerful as Cirdan.
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Old 02-04-2004, 10:54 PM   #19
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Had they flown the Ring to Mordor, it would've been no different than the Istari (angel-like powers clothed as old men sent from the Valar to guide the peoples together against Middle-earth) or Tulkas, Eonwe, and Orome marching to Mordor and simply dominated Sauron face to face.
I'm curious. Are you implying here that Gandalf could have defeated Sauron one on one? I'm thinking that anyone who lost his life in a battle with a Balrog would get his *** handed to him in a brown paper bag by Sauron. And if the 3 named Istari went together to face Sauron, surely Sauron wouldn't just take them on by himself - he and his Nazgul would whoop them like red headed step children.
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Old 02-04-2004, 11:05 PM   #20
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I think that the Rings of Power that Gandalf meant were the ones that were directly influenced by Sauron.
You could be right. But when I read the part of the chapter from when Gandalf first starts talking to Frodo about his Ring it seems to me that he's consistently refering to the Great Rings or Rings of Power as being the Nine, Seven, Three, and One. All other rings were "essays in the craft....trifles." But the Great Rings were "periluos." And the sentence before what I quoted above was "A Ring of Power looks after itself, Frodo." Nothing that I see excludes the Three, nor do I get any sense that Gandalf meant to.
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Old 02-05-2004, 03:06 AM   #21
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Nothing that I see excludes the Three, nor do I get any sense that Gandalf meant to.
In saying that one never abandons a ring of power, Gandalf could have been refering to the effect of the rings on mortal beings. Gandalf is no mortal man who could be beguiled by the ring he held - in addition to the fact that Narya is one of the Elven three.

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Are you implying here that Gandalf could have defeated Sauron one on one? I'm thinking that anyone who lost his life in a battle with a Balrog would get his *** handed to him in a brown paper bag by Sauron.And if the 3 named Istari went together to face Sauron, surely Sauron wouldn't just take them on by himself - he and his Nazgul would whoop them...
Well first of all, Tulkas et al aren't Istari; they are Valar. I don't doubt that they could defeat Sauron, but the fact is that they wouldn't. And see here: Gandalf didn't exactly lose his life to the Balrog, did he? [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img] I do not consider him "lesser" than Sauron, and though he probably could face the Dark Lord, he shouldn't, because defeating Sauron is something mortals must accomplish for themselves.
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Old 02-05-2004, 05:16 PM   #22
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“Absolute Evil” is a hard concept to grasp fully if you think about it. My defenition of evil is someone or something that goes against life, I could also say that goes against God (or in ME’s case, Eru) but not everyone is religious, but everyone believes in some form of evil. Without evil, there would be no good.. Morgoth and Sauron can arguably be absolutely evil, but doubt still hangs in my mind. We are given no reasons to believe that they are anything but the spawn of evil, all their mentioned evil emotions: Lust, jealousy, greed…it all sounds pretty human to me. Ahh, there’s an interesting point. The evil of Sauron and Morgoth is very (if not super) human. Infact this whole story, whether you be elf or dwarf or god…is all very human. Anything less is an animal and anything more is beyond our comprihention. You could say that it’s like this because Tolkien was obviously human and had no other way of writing it, but I believe he was making a point about humanity, which he later builds on in “The New Shadow” brief, unfinished story of the 4th age. I don’t believe that any human can obtain absolute evil, that they wish to pervert or destroy all life on the planet. I don’t think that was our two dark lord’s intentions either. If they had been human in a Catholic situation, if they had asked, they would have been given forgiveness. Does it sound like I’m defending our bad guys? I don’t want you to think that I am, but people need to think about things more sometimes. What is evil? What is evil to you? I’m a bit of a critical thinker I’m afraid.

Tolkien’s flaws…not perfect, but what are these days? I think that all of these “flaws” as you so call them, have their own purpose and reason for existing. I think we figured out the Eagle thing, but all the other “plot holes” and mysteries about the story are all relevent. Tolkien had a reason for Beorn, the shapeshifter, and Tom Bombadil. He had a reason for the elve’s immortality. He’s the author, and any “plot holes” that we think are there, probably aren’t, we just don’t know about them. It’s only too much of a shame that we can’t ask the mind behind all this descussion. But when I’m in heaven (I pray) I will ask him. That thougth comforts me.
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Old 02-05-2004, 06:45 PM   #23
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Well first of all, Tulkas et al aren't Istari; they are Valar.
Obviously. And it's also obvious that Sauron would be hard pressed to even put up a good fight against any of them. But the post said Istari or Tulkas, Eonwe, and Orome. That's why I bolded Istari in the quote, because I am curious if Legolas thinks Gandalf could handle that battle.
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And see here: Gandalf didn't exactly lose his life to the Balrog, did he?
I'm not exactly sure what you mean. He obviously didn't lose his immortal being as Olorin the Maia, but Gandalf the Grey, mortal being of Middle Earth, ceased to exist (and was sent back as the more powerful Gandalf the White). And since that happened as a direct result of his battle with the Balrog, I think "lost his life in a battle with a Balrog" is accurate.

But that's neither here nor there. I'm curious as to why anyone thinks that there is an exception for the Three in what Gandalf is saying about the Rings of Power. To me there is nothing there that would give even a slight hint that Gandalf meant to exclude the Three when describing the Great Rings as perilous or saying that no one ever gives them up, or implying that this was the case only for mortals but not for Elves. It appears to me that J.R.R. just slipped up.
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Old 02-05-2004, 07:27 PM   #24
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Magician, I deleted your most recent post. If you want to try it again without the sarcasm, you're welcome to continue, but I have no patience for trolling.
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Old 02-05-2004, 07:49 PM   #25
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They are absolute, satanic evil! Because they want to dominate the world!
Not really. What makes these people "evil" is what they did to people under their rule and the terms that you used really refer to only Hitler and Sauron (I don't recall hearing that Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar are termed as evil). What Hitler and Sauron did was terrible: they massacred innocent people. That's what made them evil. -- that's why they are termed evil. It's not because they wanted to dominate the world.

Quote:
quote: The lesson is not that power is evil, merely that the evil of power is evil, which goes without saying.

I think I understood that... maybe... I guess in that way it makes sense. But the way Tolkien portrays it just screams "Power is evil! Stay away from it! And evil is evil, there is no second side to it!" Those critics that compare the ring with nuclear weapons are making this a lot worse too.
This is my two cent's worth: Tolkien did not think that power in and of itself is evil. The power of the elves and of the Three Rings clearly attest to that. In fact, I fail to see why you think he screams that power is evil. If Tolkien thought that anything was evil it would be technology (this theory clearly pervades the books). I think what Tolkien was trying to drive at was that power could be used for good or for evil: The elves used there's for good, and Sauron used his for evil.

Quote:
It's the definition of good and evil in LOTR that makes it 2D.
So what is your definition of good and evil?
Let's hear it from good old Mr. Webster, shall we?

Evil: 1. The quality of being morally bad or wrong; wickedness.
2. That which causes harm, misfortune, or destruction: a leader's power to do both good and evil.
3. An evil force, power, or personification.
4. Something that is a cause or source of suffering, injury, or destruction: the social evils of poverty and injustice.

I know that "morally bad and wrong" and "wickedness" is relative but I'm sure we can agree that murder and stealing and betrayal are morally wrong, which is what Sauron has done. Regardless of that, I'm sure that Sauron fits these four definitions of "evil".

How about good?

Good: Being positive or desirable in nature; not bad or poor: a good experience; good news from the hospital.

1. Having the qualities that are desirable or distinguishing in a particular thing: a good exterior paint; a good joke.

Worthy of respect; honorable: ruined the family's good name.

Attractive; handsome: good looks.

As you can see, this also fits the good guys. What you are basically saying is that we have a flat 2d definition of good and evil. Goodness, we are a boring society aren't we?

Quote:
quote: We see a good, righteous kind of power at work in Imladris and Lorien

And what distinguishes that beside the fair appearance and the author's words?
We don't really know much about the elves. What we do know is that they were seekers of knowledge and that they avoided human affairs. We also know that they did not murder innocent civilians, did not ravage the countryside, and that they were lovers of nature. Now imagine dingy huts for Imladris and Lorien, haggard hags and old men for elves. Yet, even though they are not fair in appearance, these ugly people are doing the same as the fair elves of Lorien. According to the definition above, how is that still evil? Now, I am not saying that there were not "evil" individual elves. I'm sure that every elf had his faults. What I am saying is that the elvish nation as a whole are good.

You said or agreed that Eowyn was flat. She is not: she is bitter, she is sad, she loves her father, she has a hopeless crush upon Aragorn and she must learn to look past the ambition and to look at the character. She learns to do this and thus marries Faramir. That is hardly flat or 2d.

I believe this has rambled on enough, so I add just a parting word. When I say that a nation is good or evil, I am referring to the nation as a whole, not individual members of that race.

Cheers!
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Old 02-05-2004, 07:49 PM   #26
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I think what it comes down to is how you yourself percieve the world: your beliefs, values, your morals. Tolkien saw the world as having good and evil, as do many of us. It brings us all back to the definition of "evil" and what it means to an individual. Just because one does not agree with Tolkien's perception does not mean it is a flaw, only a varience of opinion. The world having good and evil is really an opinion at heart, and you cannot say an opinion is false. If you believe that world dominance is not evil, then that is alright. Just remember that there are so many more points of view out there than just your own.

Magician:
What books do you enjoy and not consider "2-D" as you so dub the works of the professor? Might seem a bit off topic, but I am very curious if there are any books out there that don't have good and evil at their core, or have the same definition of good and evil as in LOTR.

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True, and everyone only represents one thing and one thing only. That at times annoys me.
Okay...well if that annoys you, there is nothing I can do about it. Is there anything about LOTR you DO like, and that doesn't annoy you? (sorry if I sound aggressive, just in one of those moods! [img]smilies/evil.gif[/img])

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I am sure that's the case! It must be me! Oh how can I be so stupid? How can I not see that Tolkien is God, and is perfect. Oh deary me, I must go home and wash my brain...(note the sarcasm, just in case you eyes glossed over.)
I seriously doubt that any of us here at the BD consider Tolkien "God" as you put it, Magician, nor do we agree completely on everything in his books. But we all (or at least I assume) enjoy what he has written and that's way we're here. And if you don't agree, state your opinion. That's fine. Realize that others have opinions that are as strong as yours and that, as I stated earlier, no opinion can be considered true or false, right or wrong.
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Old 02-05-2004, 10:12 PM   #27
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Reaching back in this thread for some grist for my mill... Kransha said:
Quote:
Absolute evil, a very touchy subject. In my opinion (not necessarily that of others) you are right about the power representation. This is where LotR falters. Power is not always evil, it can be used for good.
Touchy indeed, as the short history of this thread seems to bear out! But to the point at hand: I never saw the power itself as an evil, and certainly it has its uses. The evil comes when one desires that power. Desire is what draws them into corruption. The Elves wielded great power, but they did not desire more. The Dwarves also wielded power, but were reclusive and tended not to engage in wars of conquest. Men, however, were ripe for seduction, being innately desirous of power and willing to compromise certain moral and ethical standards in order to gain it. ("The end justifies the means" being a characteristic quote in illustration.) I cannot remember where I read it, but the very idea of fighting a "Long Defeat," a battle without hope of more than a temporary victory, the object becomes not the winning of the war but how the participants behave in the fight, whether honor is maintained on a personal level as well as a larger scale of "us vs. them." The very fact that Saruman falls so completely and yet Frodo is willing to forgive him and wish him to find his cure is indicative of the tone and message of Tolkien's work. The theme is not just good vs. evil on a grand scale, but also on a personal scale, and, to me, that prompts me to take a closer look at my own mundane world and how I live my life. If I could get a bumper sticker that said "What Would Frodo Do?" I would! (Except that I don't ever put them on my car...it would sit by my computer more likely!) [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]

Anyway, my latest rhapsodizing on a theme is over for now. I hope you all have enjoyed it! I take my leave. [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]

Cheers,
Lyta

P.S. Great post, Imladris! [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 11:15 PM February 05, 2004: Message edited by: Lyta_Underhill ]
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Old 02-05-2004, 10:13 PM   #28
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Magician, I deleted your most recent post. If you want to try it again without the sarcasm, you're welcome to continue, but I have no patience for trolling.
[img]smilies/eek.gif[/img] [img]smilies/eek.gif[/img] [img]smilies/eek.gif[/img]

Ok, I try again...

Firstly, if my sarcasm has offended anyone, then I apologize.

Secondly, I can't feeling but a bit saddened. Even if my post was not too good in some degrees, it was rather a lot of typing. And I didn't save it... Too bad. And I am NOT being sarcastic.

Thirdly, if I have time, I will type up something again...

Fourthly, since when is sarcasm illegal? I am very curious to know just which rule I broke. And what does trolling mean? No, I am serious.
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Old 02-05-2004, 10:35 PM   #29
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Anyways, my attempt at being not sarcastic and wholly serious...

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What books do you enjoy and not consider "2-D" as you so dub the works of the professor?
I think I mentioned it before... The Ring of the Nibelung, Wagner's rendition. It has that core of good and evil thing too. But the definition of evil is blurrier in there, and the portrayl of evil less extreme. Wagner's other works, like the Dutchman, and Tanhauser too. The materials Wagner used are almost the same from LOTR, (I dubbed them "The Ring" and "The Older Ring") but Wagner's presentation of a similar central idea, in my opinion, was deeper, richer, more fleshed out less rigidly defined.

Tolkien intended his story about a journey, Frodo and Sam's journey mainly. Maybe this was why he didn't pay more attention to the antagonist in the story. Maybe he viewed Sauron as a force rather than a real character. Maybe the conflict in this story is leaning towards a man against nature thing, and that's why Sauron seem so cartoony. I don't know. I am merely pointing it out that Sauron is a cartoony character. Maybe Tolkien intended him to be like that. I don't know again.


Quote:
Is there anything about LOTR you DO like, and that doesn't annoy you?
[img]smilies/tongue.gif[/img] LOL! That's hardly fair. If there is nothing about LOTR that I like, why would I even be here?

I will break it here. I think no one should take offence this time... I will return. [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
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Old 02-06-2004, 03:29 AM   #30
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But the underlying sense of good and evil is still the traditional and conventional sense.
Would you want any other definition? Surely, I wouldn't, despite the fact that good is now encompasses a "wider" meaning.

Goos and evil is "conventional" in Tolkien's world to draw the stark difference between the two. What if Boromir had taken the Ring from Frodo, and used it to defend Minas Tirith? Surely, his intentions were good. But what good will "good" be, then - especially when Boromir sits atop Barad-dr?

Quote:
This is where LotR falters. Power is not always evil, it can be used for good.
Of course. LotR hasn't said that. Desire for power beyond one's bounds - that would be evil. Many have fallen from their high standing due to their desire to grasp "just a little more power."

Quote:
Gollum had the ring in his posession for ages but he did not become "absolutely corrupted".
In fact, he saw Sauron's desire for the Ring, for power short of the absolute, and decided to do something about it:

Quote:
[Smagol:] Smagol will swear never, never, to let Him have it. Never! Smagol will save it.

(LotR IV 1)
Unfortunately, his path was wrong, and his life was the payment.

Quote:
What Tolkien is working with in relation to Sauron is that supernatural quality that evil takes on when it is divorced from all other human impulses and characteristics.
I've seen cold-blooded men who no longer care for anything but fulfilling their goal. Sauron has no qualms for doing anything to achieve power. That is the scariest enemy. Nothing restrains them any longer.

Quote:
And see here: Gandalf didn't exactly lose his life to the Balrog, did he?
He did die. Completely die: including the spirit-departing-Arda thing. Eru just decided he deserved to return - no, wait. He had to return.

Quote:
That's what made them evil. -- that's why they are termed evil. It's not because they wanted to dominate the world.
So if they never massacred innocent people on their path to power, they would not have been termed evil? I doubt it.

Hitler didn't immediately kill the Jews(and the Gypsies, and the Untermensch Slavs, and anyone else who just happened to p*ss him off...); he just took away their humanity, made them slaves for his path to autarky for the German nation - not exactly an evil goal. Sauron didn't want the peoples of Middle-earth dead - he just wanted them. To be under his ultimate control.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 4:34 AM February 06, 2004: Message edited by: Nilpaurion Felagund ]
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Old 02-06-2004, 04:05 AM   #31
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This book is a FANTASY. It is a genre of novels that is 1. has supernaturalistic elements 2. entirely fictional. Why do we read books? If it is to dully absorb facts, you're much better of watching TV in a mindless state. By reading, we can IMAGINE a fictional life in a fictional place. What if Sauron is ultimately bad? So it is in this world - all right , I'll take it forg granted.

AND EVEN MELKOR, SAURON, and ALL the other evil lords weregood once
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Old 02-06-2004, 10:22 AM   #32
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Magician, we do our best to maintain a standard of thoughtful and respectful debate and discussion on the Downs. Dripping sarcasm does not, as you can imagine, further that aim, and your post was loaded with it. Check our Forum Policies for more information on posting guidelines. Members must be even more mindful than usual of good standards of discussion when discussing potentially explosive topics.

Trolling is defined here.

Thanks for revising your arguments.
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Old 02-06-2004, 10:47 AM   #33
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The eagles had been watching things all along; ever since rescuing Gandalf from Orthanc their role grew. It's clear that once that happened, Gwaihir was back and forth between his eyries, Radagast and Galadriel's houses in the least. He'd been in contact with her, probably often, because she sent him to collect Gandalf from Zirak-zigil; not Radagast. After that, we see eagles often scouting the three hunters. It's pretty clear they don't fly east of Anduin much as a rule of thumb, just like how the Nazgul don't yet fly west of it until 'their time has come'.

The eagles; aside from the Nazgul and regardless of the final battle, well it's not really prudent to fly near a volcano is it? That and obviously certain players like the Witch-King had some control over lightning, and Sauron had some sway with the East Wind . . . and pretty much had control over Mordor's weather. It seems likely Sauron would spot an eagle himself pretty quickly through the Palantiri, and be able to do something, even if it was too high for arrows. In his own land, Sauron had control of every aspect (well, except Frodo and Sam). The windlords couldn't 'simply' fly to Mount Doom until Sauron was good and dead. At that time, Gwaihir deemed it would be okay, and trusted Gandalf anyway.

Logic? When almost all hope is lost, what council is there in logic?

The Ring didn't corrupt Boromir - it played a game with his values, which it got the upper hand in for only a brief while. Don't villainize Boromir. Men of Gondor are the most honest, honorable men alive, and when he vowed to protect Frodo and to aid him in his quest, it was set in stone. Quite literally the Ring had to make a spell come over him to get anything done, so resolute was his will.

Good and evil in a traditional sense? Sauron was just a smart kid who got peer pressured into evil in the beginning because it made sense to want to set everything to orderliness. It was likely he, like Saruman later did, saw orcs as nothing more than a means to an end, and hated the filth, but thought it was necessary. In between Dark Lording, he was clearly a master artificer and spellshaper, and not just some 'evil archetypal tyrant'. There were certainly different levels of evil, expressed by the insouscient, destructive orcs, the confused and 'brain-washed' (I hesitate to use the term) easterlings and southrons, those who lust for their own gains like the Mouth of Sauron and Saruman, those who's lust was their downfall (Nazgul) and on a lesser note, the mercenaries like Wormtongue or the Corsairs who Sauron probably bought. I don't know if I'd say the Balrog was evil, it certainly hated Gandalf's type, all white-light and shiny and good. But it seemed more like a dissillusioned soldier, once of light, who doesn't buy into the Valar's crap anymore. Or at least, that's what Morgoth tricked it into thinking.

Why is the ring evil? Because Sauron put all his negative energy into it, not his positive. He kept his optimism and happy-go-lucky nature to himself, because the Ring was for creative purposes (note; destruction being a form of creation). The power it represents is considered evil, most likely because it is a power that demands utter dominance over all life, and that's usually looked down upon. Why is Sauron evil? Because he doesn't care how he achieves his final end. The end (the one he wants anyway) quite literally "crowns" the means.
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Old 02-06-2004, 10:51 AM   #34
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Why is the ring evil? Because Sauron put all his negative energy into it, not his positive. He kept his optimism and happy-go-lucky nature to himself
I am curious as to where you got documentary evidence of Saurons optimistic and happy go lucky nature.
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Old 02-06-2004, 11:00 AM   #35
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That, is just an educated guess, based on Gollum's double-nature. Smeagol is somewhat nice and was clearly once sort of normal, but the Ring split him into his old self, and his bearer-self, in a way.

I suspect this mirrors Sauron to some extent. While he may not be 'happy-go-lucky' as my sarcasm would imply, he certainly was optimistic and we know for a fact he delighted in some things, like when he had " a mouse fed to his cat" and had it described to him, or when he got a new piece of mithril jewelry (armor, weapon, etc. . .).

The Ring was nothing but cold and calculating.

Slinker and Stinker . . .
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Old 02-06-2004, 02:08 PM   #36
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I wouldn't call Sauron exactly happy-go-lucky. I imagine his beginnings to have been much like Saruman's: a somewhat humourless individual, determined that everything would be better if only everyone would do things his way. However, after many centuries as Morgoth's disciple, and still more as a Dark Lord in his own right, I doubt that there was anything to his plans but the simple will to subjugate everyone and everything in Arda to his will, and to become both emperor and god over the entire world.

After the fall of Morgoth in the War of Wrath, Sauron was given the opportunity to leave this path, and to return to the rightful rle of the Ainur: that of protectors and caretakers of the world for the Children of Ilvatar. The Silmarillion says:
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When Thangorodrim was broken and Morgoth overthrown, Sauron put on his fair hue again and did obeisance to Enw, the herald of Manw, and abjured all his evil deeds. And some hold that this was not at first falsely done, but that Sauron in truth repented, if only out of fear, being dismayed by the fall of Morgoth and the great wrath of the Lords of the West. But it was not within the power of Enw to pardon those of his own order, and he commanded Sauron to return to Aman and there receive the judgement of Manw. Then Sauron was ashamed, and he was unwilling to return in humiliation and to receive from the Valar a sentence, it might be, of long servitude in proof of his good faith; for under Morgoth his power had been great. Therefore when Enw departed he hid himself in Middle-earth; and he fell back into evil, for the bonds that Morgoth had laid upon him were very strong.

Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
Tolkien had a very clear idea of Sauron's personality and motivation, and it does not seem unconvincing to me. That he does not choose to explore it in The Lord of the Rings could be as simple a matter as not having the wherewithal to do so within his narrative context: that of a work compiled from various accounts of the War of the Ring. Tolkien did not adhere to this at all faithfully, but on such major points as Sauron's history and personality he did not fall victim to the oversights that occur elsewhere in the book. The only way for the chroniclers to know anything about Sauron would be for a character such as Gandalf, Elrond or Galadriel to tell them about him; and with so much going on after the end of the war, it's not surprising that people were not too concerned with asking questions about whence their gladly forgotten enemy had come.

I find the comparison between The Lord of the Rings and Wagner's Ring Cycle a little too hard to swallow. In the Nibelungenlied, the Nibelung's ring carries a curse that has been consciously placed on it by a former owner, and this is what causes it to lead its bearers to destruction. Tolkien's One Ring causes evil by the very nature of its construction: its entire purpose and existence is a curse, which is why it must be destroyed. The Ring is evil, not because it confers power, but because it is an instrument of evil; and Tolkien is very specific about his intent to show that one cannot expect to use the weapons of evil to do good. His idea is not that power corrupts, but that evil corrupts and delights in corrupting good, as it does with Saruman and Boromir. Since this is a perfectly reasonable philosophical position, particularly for a Christian, there seems nothing wrong with it that is not also wrong with myth, Christian moral philosophy and certain strands of twentieth-century literature in general.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 8:42 AM February 07, 2004: Message edited by: The Squatter of Amon Rdh ]
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Old 02-06-2004, 08:06 PM   #37
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Woe betide anyone who dares to point up flaws in Tolkien's works here. [img]smilies/tongue.gif[/img] [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]

Actually, I think that Tolkien was pretty flawless when it comes to cohesive story-telling. There are ambiguities - most, if not all, of them deliberate. But there is nothing that I have come across from reading the books, or in my time here, that I would describe as a "plot hole" - that is not explicable in some way.

There are what some may consider flaws in Tolkien's narrative style and characterisation. But these, to my mind, are largely matters of personal taste. Some people (most here) will defend Tolkien's style to the hilt. Others may find fault with some aspects of it.

The characterisation issue has been discussed in detail in the "Psychological Depth" thread linked to early on in this topic (and you are welcome to revive the discussion there, if you wish [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img] ). I agree that Sauron is depicted, in LotR at least, as a "flatly evil" character, lacking in any real personality. I happen to think that this works well, in the context of the book. To me, the utter and unremitting evil that he represents is far more chilling than would have been the case had we been given some rationale (however unacceptable) for his actions. When I first read the book, I found this nebulous, but uncompromisingly evil, presence in Mordor truly horrifying, all the more so because its precise nature is left undefined.

There are, in my view, a good many other one-dimensional characters in LotR (and I would include Aragorn here, and certainly Legolas and Gimli). The fact that there are does not concern me, since I consider that these characters are sufficiently defined for the purposes of the story that Tolkien is telling. Others might, quite understandably, prefer more depth to their characters. As I have said, that, really, is a matter of personal preference. At the same time, I do think that there are characters in the story that are incredibly multi-layered - Denethor, Boromir and Eowyn to name but three.

Do I consider LotR to be flawless? Well, from my perspective, I think that it is pretty much there. But that is my personal opinion. There are, quite clearly aspects of it which will not resonate with everyone. And, while it is manifestly an extremely popular book, it can by no means be said to be universally popular.

It may be trite to say it, but it is nevertheless true: it would be a pretty dull world if everyone's tastes where the same and everyone held the same view.

Which, I suppose, is a very long-winded way of saying that, while discussion is healthy and can be extremely stimulating, let's all be tolerant of other people's views.
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Old 02-07-2004, 11:21 AM   #38
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Forgive me for polluting this thread with something somewhat away from the main topic, but I'm presently reading the book again and wanted to point this out while it's still fresh in my mind. Re: the side discussion of whether Gandalf or the Istari could defeat Sauron -
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it would've been no different than the Istari.....marching to Mordor and simply dominat(ing) Sauron face to face.
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I don't doubt that they could defeat Sauron, but the fact is that they wouldn't.
- I found these quotes from Gandalf today as I was reading White Rider:
Quote:
'But Isengard cannot fight Mordor, unless Saruman first obtains the Ring.'
Quote:
'Dangerous!' cried Gandalf. 'And so am I, very dangerous: nore dangerous than anything you will ever meet, unless you are brought alive before the seat of the Dark Lord.'
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'I am Gandalf, Gandalf the White, but Black is mightier still."
And let us also not forget the Gandalf was a prisoner of Dol Guldur.

So, it seems pretty clear to me that Gandalf didn't just go to Mordor and throw down Sauron not because he shouldn't or wouldn't, but because he couldn't. He was sent to ME without the power to do it himself, only with enough power to lead others to do it. And he was sent the first time with too little power, and had to be sent back with a bit more in order to get the job done.
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Old 02-07-2004, 11:31 AM   #39
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Elfstone - I explicitly meant the Valar/Maia I mentioned right before that, but collectively Sauron would've had no chance against the five wizards also.

Gandalf could've defeated Sauron by himself (but not necessarily in the manner of the example I showed before - it would be a much more even fight). Gandalf did not fight Sauron directly *not* because he wasn't physically able, but because he was strictly forbidden to. This is outlined in Unfinished Tales and The Letters of JRR Tolkien. Isengard couldn't take on Mordor because it was obviously but a small watchtower compared to Sauron's stronghold. Further, Saruman wouldn't have much of a chance against Sauron. Gandalf's quotes on himself are humble - he refused to go to Middle-earth to begin with, until Manwe cited his humble attitude as all the more reason to go. 'Black is mightier still' because Sauron had the Ringwraiths and a much larger army behind him.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 12:41 PM February 07, 2004: Message edited by: Legolas ]
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Old 02-07-2004, 12:49 PM   #40
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While I agree that a battle between Gandalf and Sauron would likely be a bit closer than either of our original declarations, I still think that his inability to survive a brawl with the Balrog, even armed with whatever extra might Narya may have provided, bodes ill for him if he had to go head to head with Sauron.

As far as his reasons for being sent to ME, I haven't read The Letters so I don't know what enlightenment they might offer, but UT makes no mention of humbleness. In fact, Manwe cites as 'all the mose reason why he should go' Olorin's declaration 'that he was too weak for such a task, and that he feared Sauron.'

I suppose that can be construed to mean that Olorin was too humble to admit his own strength and power, but it seems more to me to show his doubt that he had the ability to stand against Sauron.

They are both, after all, of the same order, and it's reasonable to assume that one is mightier than the other. Why is it that Gandalf must be the mightier, even in the face of his own repeated claims that he is not? He has enough trouble with the Balrog, and later with the leader of the Nine. Sauron was the chief lieutenant of the stongest being that Eru ever created - Melkor. Perhaps if we were talking about Eonwe, but Olorin housed in a mortal body? I find it doubtful.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 1:51 PM February 07, 2004: Message edited by: Elfstone ]
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