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Old 07-10-2007, 02:03 AM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
Princess of Skwerlz
 
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: where the Sea is eastwards (WtR: 6060 miles)
Posts: 7,500
Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!
Sting Honey, I Forgot to Kill the Dragon

What happens when fairy-tale conventions are turned upside-down? When unexpected characters do unexpected things? Well, that's often what parodies showcase - and it's rather well-known here on the Downs that I'm a parody fan (and occasional perpetrator).

Not only are there numerous parodies of Tolkien's works in print and on the net, he himself also wrote one! Farmer Giles of Ham is a mock-heroic parody of the knightly variety of fairy-tales, and very humorous indeed. One of the most striking turns is that the dragon is not killed, and actually becomes the hero's ally in the course of the story. Sound familiar to movie fans? Of course - we've seen it in Shrek! There too the dragon is not killed and becomes instrumental in defeating the true foe in the end. (Those who remember my long-time Fiona avatar won't be surprised that I know that particular animated movie well...)

I've prepared a light-hearted lecture comparing the two parody tales for the German Tolkien Society's annual meeting this coming weekend. It's too long to reproduce here in its entirety, but I would like to share a few interesting points with you and hope that you will add your thoughts to the soup cauldron of my notes!

What is the reason for keeping the dragons alive? In both cases, the job can be done without killing, so there is no bloodshed without necessity. A battle of wits, not of violence, is fought.

In both stories, the hero is not the king or his knights, as could be expected, but a lowly farmer in one case, and the creature, an ogre, who is normally considered the foe in the other. Both do not have the outward appearance of a hero, yet their inner worth is revealed through their actions.

In both places, the old tales and songs have lost their significance - to the detriment of the court. Fairy tale creatures are banned in Shrek, and only the lowly peasants and villagers remember the old lays in Giles. I'm reminded of Celeborn's words:
Quote:
Do not despise the lore that has come down from distant years; for oft it may chance that old wives keep in memory word of things that once were needful for the wise to know.
Both heroes have a speaking animal as sidekick - the dog Garm and the doglike Donkey.

In both stories, the persons who are responsible for solving the problem and defending the land against danger shrink back from their duty and let others take risks for them. Farquaad:
Quote:
Some of you may die, but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.
The tournament in Giles, which originally had the purpose of preparing the knights for serious threats, takes priority over the actual danger. Matters of precedence and etiquette have become more important than the substance which they formerly represented.

In Farquaad's country, outward appearances - tall towering buildings - compensate for lack of personal substance.

Both heroes use unorthodox methods to win their battles, yet they get the job done.

Both stories end with the defeat of the inefficient ruler; their sloth and greed are punished.

Both heroes are rewarded for their courage and wits: Giles with the Kingdom, Shrek with Princess Fiona.


That's just a start; there's much more to be discovered, about the female role in the stories, and about the many additional characters, but this post is definitely long enough to get the wheels of a discussion turning. I look forward to your thoughts!
__________________
'Mercy!' cried Gandalf. 'If the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What more do you want to know?' 'The whole history of Middle-earth...'

Last edited by Estelyn Telcontar; 07-10-2007 at 02:06 AM.
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