Friday, February 29, 2008
While we are at it, how old do you think Aragorn is? The books talk about things that he done 38 years ago. Is Aragorn 50 plus years old when all of this is taking place? This reminds me of Beowulf fighting a dragon at age 70. Aragorn could be 70 too. How long exactly does a Numenorian live?
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
It seems that the orcs are physical representations of evil and chaos. Sauron himself seems to resemble satin or god of evil on (middle)earth with the power "see" and bring all that is evil together. Even the “sinful” men try to come to his aid for example Boromir. The orcs of Mordor are his minions/ death bringers; they will not turn on their master because he is the only reason for their existence; the only one that can give them propose. Without Sauron the orcs would not have common goal and thus would turn on themselves.
One the other hand you have Saruman and the uruk-hai who seem to represent the evils on an industrious world and the faceless army of a dictator. To me Saruman himself could represent Hitler or any of the WWII dictators of Tolkien's time. He is someone with a sliver tough and who is able to gain influence and bend the will others with the power just of his speech. Moreover he cares not for the world he lives but seeks to destroy it in oder to bring it into the future to and create his own ideal utopia just as Hitler and his allies attempted to do in second world war. Like Hitler he obsessed with perfection.
Hobbit socks so that you too can have furry feet:
Socks knit with Tolkien's runes integrated into the stitches themselves:(They say "The Hobbit, Or There and Back Again)
Adorable crocheted hobbits:
A scarf designed with the One Ring's inscription:
And the white tree of Gondor:
I'm always interested to see what sort of a lasting affect that the written word can have on people. It shows the adaptability of the stories and the characters that they can be taken from paper not only to screen, but also into other forms. Like yarn.
- Kelly Huber
Friday, February 22, 2008
Also, it seems to me that after Frodo meets and leaves Goldberry his character is more mature. It was mentioned during class once that there are no romantic interests in the books, but to me Frodo acted like he had a crush on Goldberry. Was this so or was Frodo acting like a knight who showed courtly love for Goldberry?
Another thing that I wondered about is the constant use of the word queer to describe something odd. Why doesn't Tolkien use synonyms instead of using a single word over and over?
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Later it is revealed that they are half-breeds. A mixture of men and orcs. (I swear I read that somewhere but now I can't find the quote to save my life...)
In a land where each race is isolated from the other, either through distance or ancient feuds, could it be that the mixing of blood is what makes the Uruk-Hai so great a threat to Middle Earth?
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
When Gandalf 'dies' in the previous book, it seems to me that none of the fellowship spends much time thinking about him, or mourning him, or whatever they would normally do in that culture.
I know they don't necessarily have time to stop their mission, but it seems to me that Gandalf played such an important role in the whole journey. Once he was gone, it was mentioned that they missed him, but it seems like they go on with their business without much thought. I felt that Gandalf was not only their leader, but their close friend. Especially from Frodo's point of view. Thats why I wonder why it seems like none of them have much to say about his death. Any thoughts?
The question I pose to everyone is this, are Boromir's actions at Amon Hen enough to gain his honor back after he tried to take the ring? Or is he destined to be remembered as a "betrayer" and "backstabber"?
I believe this does redeem his actions with Frodo. I mean granted he shouldn't have tried to take the ring, but, he was only doing so because he though it would help his people in the coming war. Is it so wrong for him to do so? And can anyone really be blamed for giving into the power of the ring? He must have realized the error of his ways because he gave his life in an attempt to save other fellowship members and maintain his honor.
What does everyone else think?
If one looks at the matter with the opinion that Gandalf represents the father of the Balrog, one could argue that the Balrog is a character foil for Gandalf, who represents fire and good (light). The Balrog represents fire and evil, or shadow (the opposite of good/light). This puts the two and an equal standing on the basis of sharing "fire" and an opposite standing on the basis of good/evil or light/shadow.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Also on page 370, Gandalf says that he is the wielder of the flame of Anor. What is this? Is this his Elven ring of fire? If not, does anyone know the name of the ring? I haven't read the third book yet.
Friday, February 15, 2008
I am sorry to come late to the conversation that developed in response to Joe Donaldson's post "Is Sauron the Good Guy?" [I am currently at Wake Forest University where I have been guest-teaching on, you guessed it, Beowulf], but I just wanted to say that the level of intellectual conversation here is very, very rich and I am really impressed with all of this commentary on a very difficult question: the nature of evil, goodness, whether or not absolute morality exists, etc. I think Mike Pilato does an excellent job of summing up the different threads of the conversation here and also raising the interesting idea of a pluralistic objective morality, which is not the same thing as an absolutist ethics in which there is always one perfect answer to any ethical dilemma [i.e. God is always right, read the Bible, read the Constitution, read the law codes, do unto others, thou shalt not kill or steal, an eye for an eye, etc.]. Although I would point out that even the Council of Elrond represents different, interested [i.e. subjectively invested in the outcome] parties who, for one reason or other, all come to agree on the importance of destroying the ring--they are a kind of precursor to something like the United Nations [although I'm not sure the U.N. has ever effected a real and lasting peace or helped to avoid disastrous military conflicts, which was one of the intentions behind its foundation: in other words, the U.N. has not triumphed over evil, but then again, although the Fellowship will manage to destroy the ring, that does not mean evil has been eradicated from the world, only that a temporary stay against the wholesale destruction of the world has been effected].
Rocky's point that history is always written by the victors is very apt here, too [and also a famous sentiment echoed by many historians and philosophers over the years], and it connects in certain interesting ways to the idea that one actually can get away with murder sometimes. I want to share with everyone here some dialogue from Woody Allen's film, Crimes and Misdemeanors, during a Seder dinner [a Jewish holiday devoted to the Passover], in which family relatives [one of whom is a rabbi] are arguing over the same provocative moral questions you are all raising here. I will first provide the plot set-up and then the dialogue:
Woody Allen's film, Crimes & Misdemeanors is a kind of creative adaptation of Dostoevky's Russian novel Crime and Punishment. Judah (played by Martin Landau), the sixty-something successful and married opthamologist has been suffering various attacks of his conscience over the fact that he hired a hit man to kill his lover (played by Anjelica Huston), because he didn't want her to expose their affair (which she was threatening to do), and therefore ruin his life and marriage. Repeatedly, throughout the film, he claims he doesn't believe in God, and he doesn't think it's fair that, for one brief adulterous affair, his life should be ruined. How is it justice (?), he wonders, to be destroyed by a "neurotic" woman. He feels he has no choice but to get rid of the girlfriend. He has a patient, a rabbi (played by Sam Waterston), who appears in a dream sequence just as Judah is getting ready to make the phone call to arrange the murder, and says to him, "Don't you think God sees?" To which Judah replies, "God is a luxury I can't afford." The rabbi replies, "Without the law, it's all darkness." Nevertheless, after the girlfriend is killed, he finds he can't sleep at night, and he is convinced he will be caught and punished for what he did. One afternoon, he drives to the house in Brooklyn where he grew up, and as he is wandering through the rooms, he sees himself as a young man and his large extended family having Passover supper in the dining room, and he listens in on the conversation. Saul, his father (a rabbi) is praying and his sister, May (Judah's aunt), interrupts to say, "hurry up, enough of the mumbo jumbo, we're hungry":
Saul: I apologize for my disrespectful sister.
May: This is the twentieth century, you have young boys sitting here. Don't fill their heads with superstitions.
Saul: Oh, the intellectual, the schoolteacher--spare us your Leninist philosophy just this once!
May: Are you afraid if you don't follow the rules God's going to punish you?
Saul: He won't punish me, May. He punishes the wicked.
May: Oh, who, like Hitler?
Saul: May, how can you say that?
May: Six million Jews burned to death and they got away with it!
Saul: How did they get away with it?
May: Ah, come on, Saul, open your eyes! Six million Jews, and millions of others, and they got off with nothing!
Relative 1: How could human beings do such a thing?
May: Because might makes right. That is, until the Americans marched in and stopped the--
Saul: (interrupting) I don't like this kind of talk at my Seder.
May: Okay, okay, all right! You know, wait a minute, there's this joke about the prize fighter who enters the ring, and his brother turns to the family priest and says, father, pray for him. And the priest said, I will, but if he can punch, it'll help.
Relative 2: So, what are you saying May? You're saying you challenge the whole moral structure of everything?
May: What moral structure? Is that the kind of nonsense you use on your pupils?
Relative 2: Do you not find human impulses basically decent?
May: There's basically nothing!
Saul: Such a cynic, my sister, a nihilist--back to Russia!
Relative 3: Listen, I happen to agree with May when it comes to all that mumbo jumbo.
Saul: How can you say that? You come to every Seder, you pray in Hebrew.
Relative 3: Yes, I'm going through the motions. It's like any ritual, it's a habit.
Relative 2: What are you saying, May? There's no morality anywhere in the whole world?
May: For those who want morality, there's morality. Nothing's handed down in stone.
Saul's Wife (Judah's mother): Saul's kind of faith is a gift. It's like an ear for music, or the talent to draw. He believes, and you can use logic on him all day long, and he still believes.
Saul: Must everything be logical?
[at this point, even though this is a fantasy sequence, Judah enters the conversation, while standing in the doorway]
Judah: If a man commits a crime, if he kills?
Saul: Then one way or another, he will be punished.
Relative 3: If he's caught, Saul.
Saul: And if he's not caught, that which originates from a black deed, will blossom in a foul manner.
Relative 3: You're relying a little too heavily on the Bible, Saul.
Saul: No, no, no--whether it's the Old Testament or Shakespeare, murder will out.
Judah: Who said anything about murder?
Saul: You did.
Judah: Did I?
May: And I say, if he can do it and get away with it, and he chooses not to be bothered by the ethics, then he's home free. Remember, history is written by the winners. And if the Nazis had won, future generations would understand the story of World War II quite differently.
Relative 3: And if all your faith is wrong, Saul? I mean, Just what if, huh? If, hmmm?
Saul: Then I'll still have a better life than all of those who doubt.
May: Wait a minute. Are you telling me that you prefer God to the truth?
Saul: If necessary, I will always choose God over truth.
[end of film "clip"]
Another interesting counterpoint to Allen's film [especially in relation to Aunt May's commentary] is this excerpt from Freud's Civilization and its Discontents [you don't have to agree with this, by the way, as it's a rather dim viewpoint on human nature, but it's a viewpoint, that's all]:
". . . . men are not gentle creatures, who want to be loved, who at the most can defend themselves if they are attacked; they are, on the contrary, creatures among whose instinctual endowments is to be reckoned a powerful share of aggressiveness. As a result, their neighbor is for them not only a potential helper or sexual object, but also someone who tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him. Homo homini lupus [man is wolf to man]. Who in the face of all his experience of life and of history, will have the courage to dispute this assertion? As a rule this cruel aggressiveness waits for some provocation or puts itself at the service of some other purpose, whose goal might also have been reached by milder measures. In circumstances that are favorable to it, when the mental counter-forces which ordinarily inhibit it are out of action, it also manifests itself spontaneously and reveals man as a savage beast to whom consideration towards his own kind is something alien. Anyone who calls to mind the atrocities committed during the racial migrations or the invasions of the Huns, or by the people known as Mongols under Ghengis Khan and Tamerlane, or at the capture of Jerusalem by the pious Crusaders, or even, indeed, the horrors of the recent World War -- anyone who calls these things to mind will have to bow humbly before the truth of this view.
The existence of this inclination to aggression, which we can detect in ourselves and justly assume to be present in others, is the factor which disturbs our relations with our neighbor and which forces civilization into such a high expenditure [of energy]. In consequence of this primary mutual hostility of human beings, civilized society is perpetually threatened with disintegration. The interest of work in common would not hold it together; instinctual passions are stronger than reasonable interests. Civilization has to use its utmost efforts in order to set limits to man's aggressive instincts and to hold the manifestations of hem in check by psychical reaction-formations. Hence, therefore, the use of methods intended to incite people into identifications and aim-inhibited relations of love, hence the restriction upon sexual life, and hence too the ideal's commandment to love one's neighbor as oneself -- a commandment which is really justified by the fact that nothing else runs so strongly counter to the original nature of man. In spite of every effort, these endeavors of civilization have not so far achieved very much. It hopes to prevent the crudest excesses of brutal violence by itself assuming the right to use violence against criminals, but the law is not able to lay hold of the more cautious and refined manifestations of human aggressiveness. The time comes when each one of us has to give up illusions the expectations which, in his youth. he pinned upon his fellow men, and when he may learn how much difficulty and pain has been added to his life by their ill-will."
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
And, the Ring is a small object that has a lot of power. Sauron's Ring can destroy the earth, but rings are also important gifts, like in Beowulf. Anyone see any connections, or other ideas?
Monday, February 11, 2008
Sunday, February 10, 2008
So, as far as weapons are concerned- it is as simple as that as to why Beowulf fought Grendel without "help." When he enters the fight with Grendel's mother, he does not know what exact weapon she may bare.
So there it is: in a true and fair fight, only experience, knowledge, and strength are to be the variables.
I am wondering how I could have gotten to be this old with out becoming aquanted with these stories. Especially since there seems to be a cult type following like a "Treky".
I had never heard of Beowolf either. It seems to remind me of parts of the Old Testament in the Bible.
I am a bit dissapointed that our Lord of the Ring books have pictures of the characters on the cover. As I have never watched the movies (and will not until after I have read the books), I would have rather their appearance be left to the readers imagination. After all that is the one of the major advantages to reading a book as opposed to watching the movie. I really think that is one reason the movies are never as good as the books, because the reader has already attatched a profile with the character.
I prefer to picture the hobbits to look more like Dobie from Harry Potter. I know that probably doesn't go along with the book, but I am going to stick with that as it is much more interesting then the pictures on the cover that look like regular people.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Friday, February 8, 2008
Thursday, February 7, 2008
I do have a question about the women in heroic poetry that was discussed. Why are women to be feared? It seems that in the history books women couldn't do anything but tend to the house and raise the kids. They couldn't own land or work outside the home, so why are they feared?
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
In Lord of the Rings, there are the tales of Gil-galad, Beren and Luthien, etc. In Beowulf, there's Sigemund the dragon slayer. It seems in every fantasy series that comes to mind there are heroes of the past to which the heroes of the story are compared.
Where else have you noticed this happening? Does this happen in other genres, or is this a heroic/fantasy thing?
Well as a Forgotten Realms fan, I just wanted to say that I would have liked to have seen more done with dwarves in the movie.
This story is kind of what Aragorn is living since he is in love with Arwen. Tolkien does a good job of finishing the story of Beren through the life of Aragorn as we find out towards the end of the trilogy.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
I know we briefly touched on this in class, and I believe when we were talking about Beowulf, we said he had more confidence and faith in himself than in any higher power. I was just wondering other people's opinions as to how the characters forsee 'God'...it seems as if they speak of him and a higher power often, but have much more faith in themselves...
Or maybe I have it wrong?
Monday, February 4, 2008
Sunday, February 3, 2008
There's a lot of talk about ring givers. That being people who give freely of their riches. This matches with the hobbits giving of gifts and of the sayings of the high one. also the term "ring-giver" makes me think there is something more significant about rings in this culture that I'm not seeing. This might add something more significant to the value of the One Ring.
Also the long lineage and the historical value of each person in that lineage makes Beowulf a lot longer than it would be if it just concentrated on him. Definitely reminds me of that Monty Python skit. It also reminds me of the hobbit lineage that just seems to keep going in LOTR.
Saturday, February 2, 2008