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Old 08-18-2002, 08:28 PM   #28
Kuruharan
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Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Tolkien

For the sake of clarity I'm going to have to deal with everyone's points in a scrambled order, so please bear with me.

(Rather ironic that in order to be clear I have to scramble everything.)

Nar:
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However, I find this, as well as Tom Bombadil's rescue of the hobbits, to be happy reverses of a more earthbound type-- we could argue if they qualify as eucatastrophes by Tolkien's definition.
I'm going to take a positive stand and say...maybe? [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]

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If they do, I think it's in a more of a mythic or folktale way: do the right thing, sing the right song, make the right gesture, and the forces of creation will save you, banish your enemies, retrieve all your errors...The eucatastrophe at the end of RotK is much more mature
Well, yes. But I think that the funny dancing, feathered fellow may just be the "dressing" in stating the message in a different, but equally viable, way. The message in both cases is that sometimes your fat will get pulled out of the fire (or the tree) by unexpected, or even unknown (to you), forces. Or stated more clearly, the mythic and the "mature" ways of stating this are the flip sides of the same coin. So maybe the message can remain in it's glossing of "myth" (or "wonderous" if you prefer), and, indeed, perhaps needs to do so.

mark12_30:
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I'm finding myself wondering how many definitions of eucatastrophe there are.
Two things...

One, incorporating the comments of Gandalf the Grey

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I coined the word 'eucatastrophe': the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears
-and-

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if you define the word "event" as "an occurrence, something which happens or happened" ... you could actually define both Frodo's prophetic dream and my dream of Mirkwood as being "events."
An event that is a definite action on the part of a character or characters (including in the context of the story everyone up to Eru) that not only advances the plot of the story but is in fact a hinge (or for that matter THE hinge) on which the story turns. (There, I hope I managed to credibly tie the two seemingly unrelated quotes together. [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img])

To my mind at least, this event should be accomplished in an unexpected way (although Eru, and to a lesser extent the Valar, would be obvious exceptions to this) on the part of the characters. And perhaps the total consequences should be beyond the intent of the characters that perform the act. (Again Eru, and to a lesser extent the Valar, would be exceptions to this.)

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As for your assertion that a eucatastrophe ought to reach beyond the individual, I would counter that even the smallest actions ... even those actions which are not eucatastrophes, even those actions thought to be private ... can often affect far more people than the individual ever realized...A eucatastrophe? I would say no. A small action? Again, I would say no.
A small action with large ultimate consequences. (Notice the word "ultimate." It's very important.)

The actions of eucatastrophe are also in themselves, small. What makes them seem great is the immediate results. Bard shooting his arrow, Bilbo jumping over Gollum, Sauron leaving Thrain alive in his dungeon for Gandalf to find, Gollum 'nancing about the Crack of Doom and then doing a swan dive right on in. All single actions, and yet some of them had a great immediate impact, and some of them had great ultimate impact.

Perhaps, a better definition for a eucatastrophe is the final culminating event in a great chain of events that (within the context of the story) gives a "glimpse of truth," or a glimpse of the ultimate victory of the Good.

Now, to the Second part of the answer for mark12_30...

Quote:
I'm finding myself wondering how many definitions of eucatastrophe there are.
The trouble may not be that there are so many definitions, it may be that there are so many ways of looking at it. I believe that Tolkien was taking the perspective of the reader in that particular quote. I've been (I think) trying to analyze a eucatastrophe purely in the context of the story. It may be that I've been trying to do something that can't really be done because it's difficult to seperate the story from the person that's reading it in this particular case.

In that case you can only have pity on my brain, for it is weak. It's also consumed with the odious reality that I must return to classes tomorrow (yuck!)

So if poor ole' Kuruharan seems to lurch and stagger from one non-point to another, giving the general impression that he hasn't the least idea of what he is supposed to be talking about, just smile and nod your head and say, "There, there Kuruharan! I'm sure that you won't have to do 2 and a half research papers this semester like you had to last Spring!"

[Edit: For some reason I also seem to be spelling like crap tonight!]

[ August 18, 2002: Message edited by: Kuruharan ]
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