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Old 07-31-2011, 12:01 AM   #1
Archaic Elf
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Eye of Sauron

What significance was there in having Sauron represented as a disembodied eye living on the top of the tower of Barad-Dur? Why that shape and not just a shadow of a man or something else? Did Tolkien want us to dig deeper and figure that out or possibly make connections with our own modern society?

Look at these two images (from Wikipedia, so shouldn't cause a problem):

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi.../8e/Mordor.jpg
Barad-Dur

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...ted_States.jpg
US Currency

(Did they have money in Mordor?)

Two images of an eye on top of a tall structure. Not to raise an issue of the US being like Mordor (I happen to like this country), but to ask the question...what significance do you attach to the eye of Sauron?
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Old 07-31-2011, 12:39 AM   #2
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Well, the eye on the US currency is the Eye of Providence, which symbolizes an all knowing figure (now normally interpreted as the Christian God, but it has its roots in Eye of Horus, as far as I can remember). It's a very powerful symbol, certainly...the idea that there is always somebody watching you.

As far as the Eye of Sauron goes, it would be a very powerful symbol for him. It sends the message that he can see everywhere, and nothing is hidden from him. Regardless of whether that was true for Sauron, it would have been a very good idea for him to spread. The eye would demoralize those living near Mordor, with thoughts of there being no escape from the eye.
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Old 07-31-2011, 07:38 AM   #3
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I think Sauron having his external image as an eye did two things to his servants:
1. As Galadriel said, it was a constant reminder that he was there and watching them, especially when the Eye was used as a device on shields and whatnot as well. It was like the Big Brother image in 1984: there was no escaping it for Mordorians.

2. The Eye image would also be a means of making Sauron seem impersonal, a desirable trait for one, like him, who desired to be considered not only a king but also a god to his people.

Here is another thread from a while back that deals with the same subject and has some excellent points.
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Old 07-31-2011, 08:17 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
2. The Eye image would also be a means of making Sauron seem impersonal, a desirable trait for one, like him, who desired to be considered not only a king but also a god to his people.
I like this one!

I also think that the "eye" is a way to describe with a word we all know the feeling of Sauron's willpower searching and seeing everything...
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Old 08-01-2011, 07:02 AM   #5
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I agree that Tolkien might have wanted to impersonalise him. I do, however, also feel that it is important to note that it is one eye and not two. It seems as if it is a singular vision that can only see one path of life, and makes no exceptions for anything or anyone. What I do not understand, however, is why it is a flaming eyeball. It seems to me to have little relevance, but then again I haven't given it much thought.
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Old 08-01-2011, 07:43 AM   #6
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I do, however, also feel that it is important to note that it is one eye and not two. It seems as if it is a singular vision that can only see one path of life, and makes no exceptions for anything or anyone.
That's an interesting idea. Also, as a device, one Eye works better than two, and could also have simply been another reminder to his troops that Sauron was a singular being, as a god-king unique in the world.


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What I do not understand, however, is why it is a flaming eyeball. It seems to me to have little relevance, but then again I haven't given it much thought.
I don't think it actually was "flaming"; that's more a Peter Jackson visualisation.
When Frodo saw the Eye in the Mirror of Galadriel it was:

Quote:
.....rimmed with fire, but was itself glazed, yellow as a cats', watchful and intent, and the black slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing.
FOTR

However, the association with flame might have its origin with Sauron's apparent fascination with Mt. Doom. Or, alternatively, there's a quote from the UT essay on the Istari that I think interesting.

Quote:
....for [Gandalf] was the enemy of Sauron, opposing the fire that devours and wastes with the fire that kindles, and succours in wanhope and distress.
Sauron had become a servant of that first type of fire, and possibly the fire symbolism was also shown by the Eye being red in its depictions.
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