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Old 08-18-2002, 10:03 AM   #22
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 228
Nar has just left Hobbiton.

I would say that a eucatastrophe-- if earned, that is, if the entire book leads to and compells that stunning reverse (which will happen if a book's well-written) --induces a particular type of catharsis. I think there are other patterns that induce different types of catharsis. An unearned attempt at eucatastrophe is cheap and manipulative. You can see such things in the formulaic reverses in romance novels-- 'The hero loves her after all! It was all a misunderstanding! YAWN!'

I think 'the eagles are coming!' works twice because the eagles serve a different function at the battle of the Black Gates and the Battle of Five Armies.

The eagles don't rush around LotR saving the company at every questing dead end-- they don't come and help on Caradhras or against the wargs in front of Moria. This is plotted into the book-- the Eye is now active and by the end of FotR we know its power is airborne. Thus, in Morder, the eagles can't airdrop canteens and leaf-wrapped lembas (I knew those air-dropped foil-wrapped poptarts reminded me of something!), or give express rides to Sammeth Naur. They'd give Frodo and Sam's purpose and position away, and Sauron woud be on them like the prince of cats on a mouse.

Matters are more serious now, the characters face not the enemies (goblins and wargs) but the Enemy and an organized army. Strategically and thematically, LotR is a progressive development of the Hobbit, so the development of the 'Eagles' eucatastrophe moves us differently.

The eagles in the Hobbit create a eucatastrophe divided between physical help-- goblin slaying, etc, and the seal of the 'higher powers' (of the eyrie or of Valinor) on the alliance-- 'yes, you stubborn idiots, that was the key, form the alliance or the orcs and wolves will get you!' The eagles aren't shown to be influenced by Valinor in The Hobbit, but they enter the alliance only after the thickheaded elves, dwarves and men have begun it themselves.

The eagles in LotR arrive after the battle for both Aragorn's side and Frodo's side has mostly been endured-- they're more of an expression of higher solidarity and, as in the Hobbit, a seal on the choices of each side 'yes, sacrifice all and endure all, with a hope that's not exactly hope, that was the key!' (We may not know of the Manwe connection with the eagles at that point, but we do know that Gandalf was sent back and the eagles retrieved him.)

In LotR the eagles' function as seal and agents of solidarity leads their function as physical preservers. Because it comes at or after Sauron's defeat, the eagles' practical help now serves as an extension of sealing and solidarity. The eagles possibly bring about a slightly earlier end at the gates so Pippin can be found before QUITE suffocated. They certainly allow the retrieval from Mt. Doom so Frodo and Sam need not die in a horribly existentialist manner after saving everyone --'Well, you got what you wanted, and it's a cold, hard, ironic universe after all.' --NO thank you!

This is the development of that eucatastrophe from The Hobbit to LotR: from a saving from the goblin army that overshadows the confirmation: 'Alliance was right!' to a confirmation: 'Endurance, sacrifice --right!' that is then embodied in the saving of Frodo and Sam. (Pippin as well, by helping end the battle early: by Elrond's foresight Pippin's death was a probability. However, no one expects the Spanish Inquisition! -- uh, the eagles!)

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