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Old 01-05-2013, 06:42 PM   #68
A Mere Boggart
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Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Originally Posted by Bęthberry View Post
I agree with you that Tolkien's use of animals appears related to his own personal preferences--although the eagles clearly have a genesis in biblical references--but really my question is more to the point of why Radagast's love of animals is so closely tied with his failings.
I would say that to put it simply, Radagast was not doing what he was sent there to do, namely to help the peoples of Middle-earth. As Saruman was not. And the Blue Wizards. Time and again Tolkien shows us that the animal life and the beings existing on the blurry boundary between flora/fauna and 'people' (e.g. Ents) are actually quite self sufficient and self sustaining. The Ents do not want the 'help' of men or Istari. The Mearas and the Eagles likewise are proud creatures and do not want help.

Note that the 'good' people of Middle-earth are not really shown to use animals much aside from horses and ponies. Those who do make extensive use of animals (wargs, dragons, oliphaunts, crows, etc) are more often on the side of evil.

Is he a buffoon because he loves animals or are his animalistic habits a sign of his madness? And what are we to think of Peter Jackson, who apparently wishes to modernise the female presence in Middle-earth as he wanted to modernise Aragorn's style of heroism or manhood, but who seems quite happy to use animals as the butt of jokes and crudity? Or does his politically correct consciousness not extend to animals?
Are there jokes made at the expense of animals? I can't think of any so you will have to help me out here!

The Elves are implied to be vegetarian (one of dwarves query where the meat is at in Rivendell as he looks upon some greens on his plate). A philosophy endorsed by Elves is high praise indeed in Middle Earth.

Yes, Radagast is no stranger to buffoonery but a buffoon whose heart is portrayed as in the right place. He also does useful stuff like distracting the orcs and informing the Council that the Enemy is back. He appears to be using his innate Istari power to rescue animals in one scene. Ultimately, I think the writers wanted to portray him as an eccentric genius character and yes, a good guy.
Actually, I can't think of any instances in any of the books of Elves eating meat, so I am going to have to do a search for that...And we will have Beorn coming up who notably does not eat meat (though he is not a vegan!).

I like the phrase 'buffoon' - it's not a malicious term at all, it's gentle and seems to suit someone who has gone off-task and is eccentric, even in Middle-earth terms. People who find Boris Johnson amusing call him a 'buffoon' affectionately. I have other terms I prefer to use though, as 'buffoon' is far too nice

the references to the Old English and Yorkshire derivations of spider (ie., 'attercop', 'lob', 'cob'),
It's not a Yorkshire dialect word except very rarely and only archaically even then. It's a Lancashire dialect word still in everyday use. The ultimate origin in England is as likely to have been Norse from eitterkopp given that this has more influence on Northern England (clearly both the Norse and Old English shared the same root back on the continent so it's swings and roundabouts). If heard spoken by a Lancastrian it sound thus: ehyterkop. Tolkien probably saw it in The Owl and the Nightingale, which was clearly written by a Northerner.

'Lob' as in 'Lazy Lob' could also take humour from lobcock which means an idle good for nothing. And 'crazy Cob' from the term used right across the North for being angry: "getting a cob on".

Thankfully Tolkien did not stumble upon the Lancashire dialect words for mice and dandelions.

And then there's the next bit, just how appropriately or successfully does Jackson reproduce such folkloric elements? Or is his rendition just Jackson excess?
Quite possibly he does, given that the one place I did find lots of these 'bunny sleds' was on vintage german Christmas cards. There's obviously something in german folklore or fairy tale about rabbit sleds, but I'm at a brickwall on that as it's something I'm not that knowledgeable on.
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