Sunday, March 16, 2008

Is Sauron God?

So I'm reading Book IV of the Lord of the Rings The Two Towers, and I notice something very peculiar...when Gollum is talking about Sauron, he refers to him as "He" "Him" and "His" all starting with capital letters. Now I was taught that you only start he, him, and his with a capital letter when you are talking about or referring to God. This leaves me confused. Did Tolkien do this purposely to make you question the same thing about Sauron or was it done unintentionally and only to emphasize how powerful Sauron is? What do you think?

9 comments:

Jason Fisher said...

Hi Megan. No, it was purely to emphasize his power and singularity, as you guessed. It was intentional, as Tolkien often used capitalization in this way, but it was definitely not to suggest that Sauron is God — although Tolkien tells us that some people (the misguided and subjugated) did worship him. Tolkien himself was a devout Roman Catholic and would never have wanted readers to confuse Sauron for God! He would have been mortified at the very idea! :)

becky said...

I would agree. By capitalizing "he," it becomes a name. To me it seems that Gollum practically can't say Sauron's name by the evil and power that he himself is under.

jasontrout said...

The idea that Gollum may sees Sauron as a god does not suprise me, or seem like a crazy idea. Gollum knew that Sauron was powerful and all knowing, so maybe he thought a god was after him.

Erica W said...

I agree gollum is in a state of confusion and corruption and because he has to fight against his own demon self he sees Sauron as the source of his suffering and then views him as all powerful or godlike

allison said...

I agree that Tolkien did not want to compare Sauron to God, but it is an interesting observation. I agree that by capitalizing those words, it shows that Sauron was very powerful and capable of many things, even though they were evil doings.

Heidi Harshman said...

I noticed this too, at the beginning of the course. It seems that Tolkien uses capital letters in numerous occasions. I too believe that it shows an importance felt by the character speaking.

Tim said...

I think this is an interesting observation, as I noticed it but didn't pay much heed to it. Similar to this idea though is 'He who must not be named' from Harry Potter. At least I Think that it is capitalized there too. Anyway, I would agree that it is just a power idea, not a reference to a Godly nature. Gollum respects the power and therefore names Him with the capital H.

Anonymous said...

I can't help but notice that a lot of people are using very solid statements such as "I know that Tolkien..." or "No, it isn't supposed to be taken that way..."

The important thing to remember about literature is that it is entirely subjective. Some people might see things in one light, some in another and the wonderful thing about literature is that both can be right if they can back it up with textual evidence.

When posting opinions or your take on the literature, don't phrase your answer as if it is the definitive statement on the subject. Sadly, none of us can call ourselves Tolkien, so none of us can say with all certainty what he meant by doing one thing or another.

Jason Fisher said...

Sadly, none of us can call ourselves Tolkien, so none of us can say with all certainty what he meant by doing one thing or another.

However, we can say with all certainty that Tolkien did not intend Sauron to be confused with God. The very idea would have been abhorrent to him. Even a passing glance at his published letters would be enough to reveal that.

Similarly, though you make a good point of caution on the subjectivity of literature, it’s important to remember that literature doesn’t exist in a vacuum. And this is particularly true of Tolkien’s work.