The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum


Visit The *EVEN NEWER* Barrow-Downs Photo Page

Go Back   The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum > Middle-Earth Discussions > The Books
User Name
Password
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 12-26-2002, 06:20 AM   #1
Inderjit Sanghera
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Wolverhampton, England
Posts: 716
Inderjit Sanghera has just left Hobbiton.
Sting Racism and Tolkien.

This essay is in response to some quotes about how Tolkien was racist. I hope to prove otherwise. In my first one, I will be discussing the races of M-E, whilst in the second I will be looking at the attitudes towards other races in Tolkien’s time, as well as in M-E.


Lord of the rings is one of the greatest novels ever. Yet it is also fraught with controversy. One of the biggest ‘gripes’ that people have with it, are the perceived racist overtones that exist in Tolkien’s works . Supposedly, all dark skinned peoples are evil worshipers of Sauron. Yep, so I suppose that Sam, Tom Bombadil and the Breemen are secretly worshipping Sauron sacrificing goats testicles and rebelling against authority, spraying ‘Eru sucks’ on the classroom walls? So do we automatically assume that every dark skinned person in Middle-Earth is evil, since Tolkien was racist? I don’t think so.

Firstly, let’s start with those little fellas the Hobbits. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. If you’re a grumpy old wizard that is. Many people think that all Hobbits have pale skin, yet this is not true.

In their origin, when Strider was a Hobbit named Trotter and Treebeard was a malevolent megalomaniac Bond villain, Hobbits were said to have be like Aborigines. Of course this was changed, but the diversity of skin colour exists in Hobbits as much as it does in Humans.

The Harfoots, were said to have ‘nut-brown’ skin, and it is probable the Gamgee’s were of the Harfoot clan, as there is a brief reference to Sam’s ‘brown-hand’ in Book Six, though I cannot remember where it was exactly.

And now we come to Mr Unknown identity himself-Tom Bombadil. Tom, the enigmatic jackass also had brown skin, which is shown by the following passage, in the chapter, ‘In the House of tom Bombadil’, in which he asks Frodo to give him the ring.

“ It seemed to grow larger as it lay for a moment in his on his big brown skinned hand”

So these examples show that there were some good dark skinned people in Middle-Earth. “ But hang on!” you say, surely all dark skinned men are evil? Look at the Easterlings, the Haradrim and the Variags of Khand (Such nice names.)

Well, let’s delve into the history of men. In their origin, men were corrupted by Melkor not long after they first arose, and so all men fell into the shadow, and were forsaken for a while by Eru, and their life expectancies were cut dramatically short.

Well, Melkor left them to their own devices as he went off to the war in Beleriand. Many men then revolted, against the ‘men of darkness’. Now, just because they are called the ‘men of darkness’ doesn’t mean they are actually ‘dark-skinned’. Dark is often associated with evil, and so I think that by saying ‘men of darkness’, Tolkien is just saying that they were evil men, and it I probable that they were of mixed races.

O.K, to continue. It is probable that the first main migrating camp for men, was on the Sea of Rhun. The Beorians (House of Beor) were the first to reach the Sea, followed by the Marachians. (House of Hador), whilst it seems that the Haladin (House of Haleth) had passed on to lands further east, with the Druedain, another good dark-skinned people, though I will be picking up on that later on.

Now, the Beorians, were described as having dark hair, and were most like to the Noldor. But a lot of them were also said to have a swarthy complexion, due to interbreeding with other Easterling tribes, such as the Borrim. (House of Bor.)
So we see that there is a race of good dark-skinned men.

We can stretch this further, by looking at the Dunedain of Middle-Earth. Now, it is probable that most of the survivors of the Downfall of Numenor were of Beorian descent, as their descriptions match the descriptions of the house of Beor. (Dark hair, grey eyes etc.) Now, several times, the Rangers are described as having a rather dark complexion, and the cartoon version of Aragorn certainly seems to have a light brownish skin colour.

Now assuming that Minas Tirith is in the region of Florence, Italy. Then couldn’t
They represent the roman empire? Albeit, this conception may be far fetched, due to Tolkien’s dislike of allergy, yet it is still a possibility.

Let’s look at the Borrim. Now, a lot of you who have read The Silmarillion, and thus you will know of the two swarthy tribes, the evil followers of Ulfang and the good ones of Bor. Now, before they excavated into Beleriand, the Borrim resided in Eriador, with other mannish tribes, and probably the followers of Bereg, of the House of Beor.

So, we can see that the majority of the indigenous mannish population of Eriador, were dark-skinned, though most of the Borrim of Beleriand were slain in Unnumbered Tears or it’s aftermath. (A few of Turin’s ‘wolf-group’ may have been followers of Bor or Ulfang. This is a possibility, as one of the men was named Ulrad. Which is similar to Ulfang.)

So the men of Eriador, who were in the majority good natured, set another example of a good dark-skinned people. Though it was a hugely mixed population of many tribes of men, that unfortunately suffered greatly due to the war with Sauron and later with The Witch-King, and so they were pretty much wiped out, as many probably marched with Elendil in the last alliance.

Now, let’s look at the Druedain, the ancestor’s of the Pukel men. The Druedain, and their descendants were another good dark-skinned peoples, who were the first men to ever cross the Anduin (So the Gondorian loremasters say) and they went into the white mountains, though many went with the Haladin into Beleriand, and so got involved in the war with Morgoth. Some survived, and went to Numenor, though when Tar-Aldarion began his journeys to Middle-Earth, claiming evil would come out of his voyages, and by the time that Sauron came to Numenor, they had all gone to Middle-Earth. It was these peoples who later helped Theoden in the War of the ring.


The Dunlendings were another group of good dark-skinned peoples. In the beginning, they had come to the lands the were later known as Gondor, and resided their, but they were pushed out by the Dunedain of Isildur and Anarion. Later on, they went to Rohan, but the Rohirrim pushed them out.

So who can blame the Dunlendings for their misgivings against the Rohirrim? Even then, most of the Dunlendings remained a ‘good peoples’. Some fell into evil, whilst some excavated north and some interacted with the Rohirrim and some even had interracial marriages. Wulf, the leader of the dissension in the time of helm was of mixed Rohhirm-Dunlending race. Another possible ‘mixed-race’ person was Erkenbard, the mighty warrior in LOTR. He was unusually friendly with the Dunlendings when they were defeated and he also knew their language, and so couldn’t he have some kind of Dunlandish ascendancy?

It seems that the Dunlendings were simply misguided by Saruman, who merely inflamed their grievances against the Rohirrim, and later on the lived peacefully in Dunland.

Meanwhile, their northern Arnorian relations settled in Bree, were also living ‘good’ lives (with a few exceptions, such as Bill Ferny, whose evil behaviour was unusual since he was the talk of the village). But Bree was probably not fully mad up of Dunlendings and Hobbits, and it was originally founded by some Haladin, and the Butterbur’s were probably descendants of the Haladin, hence Buttebur’s red cheeks.

The Haradrim, certainly have a Arabic or Indian feel, and as for the Easterlings and the Variags of Khand, Tolkien never gave us any information on their skin colour, which left many to assume they were had a Chinese/East European look. Well, for one, the Wainriders, the most evil of all the Easterling groups were white, and though doubtless some may have been Chinese-esque, we don’t know for sure.

Yet, we still see that even the good ‘white’ tribes of men can be bad. The Numenoreans had the greatest fall of man since their first fall, and Boromir tried take the one ring, whilst Isildur failed his people by not throwing the ring in Mount Doom when he had the chance.

Yet Tolkien held that all men were ‘fallen’, due to the ignorance of their forefathers. (Except perhaps for a few exceptions, such as Hurin, Huor, Beren, Tuor, Amandil, Elendil and Aragorn) So one can see that man is a very complicated race in M-E, and as we see in Tolkien’s last book, which he abandoned (The new Shadow?) men were destined to fall again, and again and again, no matter what race they were.

Well, that is it for Part 1, and Part 2 will be completed in two weeks time. I apologise for the absurd length of this essay.
__________________
“If I’m more of an influence on your son as a rapper then you are as a father then you've got to look at yourself as a parent” ~>Ice Cube.

"Life is so beautiful"->Don Vito Corleone
Inderjit Sanghera is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-26-2002, 08:03 AM   #2
zagwakh the sneaky
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Sting

I do not wish to under mine all the you have done, because it seems to me that you have researched your essay extensively, and I am in no way saying the JRRT WAS a racist. What I would like to say is that millions of people the world over have fallen in love with Tolkien's stories of Middle Earth. Who cares what the man himself believed in so long as all those have read his works are able to interpret them for themselves and have our own beliefs that we abide by. I am sure that if I were to meet some of my favourite musicians then I would think that some of them are complete tossers, yet that does not nessecaryily alter the way that I view or interpret their music or my own personal beliefs. In summary what I mean is there are those who will view Tolkien's 'The Lord of the Rings' as a fantastic work of literature and will find in it themes and sub-themes that others may not. Isn't that what makes a great piece of literature?
  Reply With Quote
Old 12-28-2002, 01:56 PM   #3
Inderjit Sanghera
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Wolverhampton, England
Posts: 716
Inderjit Sanghera has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

Well, the whole point of this, was just to show peopel that not all the good guys wer white and bad guys black. Believe me this time next year there will be a lot of contorversy surronding ROTK, so couldn't some of these examples be used as arguments against the allegations? I bet anyone £100 that the Wild men will be white. Has anyone seen a picture of them?
__________________
“If I’m more of an influence on your son as a rapper then you are as a father then you've got to look at yourself as a parent” ~>Ice Cube.

"Life is so beautiful"->Don Vito Corleone
Inderjit Sanghera is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-27-2003, 01:24 PM   #4
the guy who be short
Shadowed Prince
 
the guy who be short's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Thulcandra
Posts: 2,496
the guy who be short has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

personally i think you are wrong
notice how all of tolkiens "evil men" in alliance with sauron come from either the south or the east - where men are dark skinned and oriental. how come none of the worshippers of sauron came from the north?
the guy who be short is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-27-2003, 01:33 PM   #5
Ultimatejoe
Wight
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario
Posts: 125
Ultimatejoe has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via ICQ to Ultimatejoe
Sting

Sauron had allegiance with many of the Northman who lived in Rhovannion. The geodemographics of Tolkien are really no more than a lingering influence of his earlier work on the Book of Lost Tales, which was written specifically as a new native 'mythology' for Britain; the most north-westerly region of Europe. When working on the Silmarillion the intent and methodology of the writing was decidedly different (if you don't believe me ask Micheal Martinez) he still retained the geography of his original legendarium. To imply a racist intent is absurd. Even if the forces of evil came exclusively from the South and East, which I have already demonstrated is not true, so what? The odds are 50-50 that one of those directions would be chosen. By all probability at least one would have been used no matter what.

Regardless, your examples are false. Morgoth resides in the North and draws forces from there; Sauron draws men from the Northern tribes of Rhovannion, the realm of Angmar is full of wild North-Men... do your homework before you make such an accusation.
__________________
Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory.
-Leonardo Da Vinci
Ultimatejoe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-27-2003, 01:42 PM   #6
Legolas
A Northern Soul
 
Legolas's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Valinor
Posts: 1,846
Legolas has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

Quote:
personally i think you are wrong
notice how all of tolkiens "evil men" in alliance with sauron come from either the south or the east - where men are dark skinned and oriental. how come none of the worshippers of sauron came from the north?
Some of Sauron's supporters did come from the North. Remember the Witch-King of Angmar? Angmar was in the north.

But the biggest reason that not many men came from the north is because there were no men in the north. Men either came from the east/south, or the fallen isle of Numenor. The portion of Middle-earth we know is the very northwest corner. There's nowhere for them to come from.

Also, the men east and south had little/no contact with the elves (except for, perhaps, the Avari) and were not under the superivision of Aman. They were more accessible to the influence of Sauron.
__________________
...take counsel with thyself, and remember who and what thou art.
Legolas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-27-2003, 03:42 PM   #7
Lalaith
Blithe Spirit
 
Lalaith's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,772
Lalaith is a guest at the Prancing Pony.Lalaith is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Sting

Tolkien was a specialist in North European languages and literary traditions so it is natural that his work would have a North European 'feel' in terms of the culture and appearance of his heroes. That doesn't make him racist.
I would also, like Inderjit, point to the Druedain, who are about as non-Aryan as they come.
Not only are they held in enormous respect and affection by both elves and their fellow Edain, but they are also the only men *never* to have succumbed to Morgoth.
__________________
Out went the candle, and we were left darkling
Lalaith is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-28-2003, 03:06 AM   #8
Inderjit Sanghera
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Wolverhampton, England
Posts: 716
Inderjit Sanghera has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

The guy who be short- What on earth are you talking about? Since all Men and Elves orignated from the East, it means that they were black? And the Avari had a magical skin change? And the Druedain and the 'swarthy skinned' Breelanders were white? And the Numenoreans were Sauron worshippers, and they originated from the 'north' and even some of the Marachian tribes of Rhovanion held alliances with the Easterlings. The Borrim, a 'swarthy skinned tribe'made up a large proportion of Eriador-a Northern realm.

[ January 28, 2003: Message edited by: Inderjit Sanghera ]

[ January 28, 2003: Message edited by: Inderjit Sanghera ]
__________________
“If I’m more of an influence on your son as a rapper then you are as a father then you've got to look at yourself as a parent” ~>Ice Cube.

"Life is so beautiful"->Don Vito Corleone
Inderjit Sanghera is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-28-2003, 08:05 AM   #9
Maédhros
The Kinslayer
 
Maédhros's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Formenos
Posts: 658
Maédhros has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via MSN to Maédhros
Sting

And what about elves?
__________________
"Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy."
Maédhros is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-28-2003, 08:30 AM   #10
Inderjit Sanghera
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Wolverhampton, England
Posts: 716
Inderjit Sanghera has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

Maedhros-what do you mean?
__________________
“If I’m more of an influence on your son as a rapper then you are as a father then you've got to look at yourself as a parent” ~>Ice Cube.

"Life is so beautiful"->Don Vito Corleone
Inderjit Sanghera is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-28-2003, 08:54 AM   #11
Orald
Shadow of Malice
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: right behind you
Posts: 843
Orald has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via AIM to Orald Send a message via Yahoo to Orald
Sting

The Druedain were not a dark skinned people. They were squat, not swart.
Orald is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-28-2003, 09:02 AM   #12
Inderjit Sanghera
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Wolverhampton, England
Posts: 716
Inderjit Sanghera has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

I think Tolkien likens them to pigmies somewhere, though I have forgotten where it is.
__________________
“If I’m more of an influence on your son as a rapper then you are as a father then you've got to look at yourself as a parent” ~>Ice Cube.

"Life is so beautiful"->Don Vito Corleone
Inderjit Sanghera is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-28-2003, 03:47 PM   #13
Maédhros
The Kinslayer
 
Maédhros's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Formenos
Posts: 658
Maédhros has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via MSN to Maédhros
Sting

Are there any dark skinned elves?
__________________
"Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy."
Maédhros is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-28-2003, 06:33 PM   #14
The Saucepan Man
Corpus Cacophonous
 
The Saucepan Man's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: A green and pleasant land
Posts: 8,467
The Saucepan Man has been trapped in the Barrow!
Pipe

Excellent topic, if I may say so Inderjit, and a subject which I have previously contemplated myself.

My initial reaction, when I first read the book many years ago, was that there were racist overtones in LotR. After all, on casual reading, all of the "baddies" seem to come from the south and the east and are described as swarthy or squint-eyed.

One of the travellers from the south in the Prancing Pony, for example, is described as a "squint-eyed ill-favoured fellow". When Frodo uses the Ring he follows a "swarthy Bree-lander" out of the door (presumably to alert the Ringwraiths).

When the Southerlings arrive at the Black Gate, Gollum describes them to Frodo and Sam thus:

Quote:
Dark faces ... They are fierce. They have black eyes, and long black hair, and gold rings in their ears. And some have red paint on their cheeks, and red cloaks ... Not nice; very cruel wicked Men they look. Almost as bad as Orcs but much bigger ... Smeagol thinks they have come out of the South beyond the Great River's end.
The Southrons who are ambushed by Faramir's men are described as "swarthy men in red" and the Southron who falls close to Sam has "black plaits of hair braided with gold" and a "brown hand" still clutching the broken hilt of his sword.

In the Battle of Pelennor Fields, Sauron's forces include Southrons with scimitars, Easterlings with axes, Variags of Khand and "out of Far Harad black men like half-trolls with white eyes and red tongues".

References such as these did lead me intially to think that dark-skinned Men were portrayed as the "baddies" lined up against the good ol' white folk of the North West.

But, on re-reading the book again recently (for the first time in adulthood), and particularly since learning more of JRRT's other writings, I have come to reconsider my initial view and my thinking is now much more in line with the fine analysis that you have presented, Inderjit.

It is, I think, important firstly to bear in mind that JRRT was an Englishman writing a book in the first half of the twentieth century, when attitudes towards those of different colour was very different from those today. Great Britain was still an (albeit diminished) Empire and still had colonies in far flung parts of the world. My imprssion is that British society in general at that time still viewed dark skinned people, if not as inferior, either as exotic and perhaps slightly dangerous, or as the "servant classes". While racism still unfortunately exists today, society in general has become much more enlightened on this issue.

Now, that is not to say that JRRT was a racist. Far from it. However, his writings are bound to reflect the attitudes of the time in which he was writing.

But that is not the whole story by any means.

Firstly, the fact that the evil powers (Melkor and Sauron) are associated with blackness does not indicate racism. It may be trite to say this, but I believe that this point has been used to justify theories of racism in JRRT's writings. Clearly, however, the colour black (not black skin) has always been associated with evil.

As for the squint-eyed fellow and the swarthy Bree-lander, the first (as I recall) turns out to be a half-orc, while the description "swarthy" does not necessarily imply a different racial stock from other peoples of the north. It may simply mean that their skin is tanned from exposure to the elements. Strider, for example, is first introduced to us as a "strange-looking weather-beaten man". It is likely that he was heavily tanned (hence, possibly, the representation of him in the animated film).

The Southrons, Easterlings, Haradrim and Variags are from the south and the east. As has been pointed out, the story is set in a location with which JRRT felt comfortable, ie the north west (representative of Europe). To the extent that Men come to Sauron's aid from "off the map", they are bound to come from the south and the east. There was only sea to the west and nothing much further north. The Southrons, with their scimitars, red cloaks and gold earrings have a Turkish or Middle Eastern flavour to them. Taking ME as representative of Europe, this makes geographical sense. On the same basis Far Harad can be seen as representative of Africa (hence the black men of Far Harad, although their likening to half-trolls is perhaps unfortunate). The Easterlings and the Variags of Khand (of whom I think little description is given) may have been of similar stock, or oriental. But they may just as easily have been from the region that would represent Russia, in which case they need not be dark-skinned at all.

And in any event, we only hear of those who have joined forces with Sauron. They are not necessarily representative of the peoples of these regions as a whole. What of those who remained behind? They are likely to have been just as "good" as the people of Rohan and Gondor. Furthermore, once Sauron was defeated, it is quite likely that many of those Men who fought on his side would have seen the error of their ways, just as the Dunlendings did. They were not necessarily intrinsically evil (as, say, orcs).

And, as others on this thread have said, Melkor and Sauron did not recruit solely from the south and the east. Men from the north allied themselves with these dark powers at various times. Also, noble Men like Boromir, and those who were not so noble, such as Wormtongue, were seduced into evil ways (although Boromir, of course realises his error and repents).

Inderjit, you have also pointed out that there are dark-skinned people amongst the "good" people in the tale. Although, as I have said, I do not think that the description "swarthy" necessarily implies naturally dark skin, it is of course quite capable of bearing that meaning. I never imagined the Dunlendings as dark skinned, but there is nothing to suggest that they were not. The various migrations of Men would, as you note, inevitably have led to dark complexions amongst the peoples of Eriador and the other realms of north western ME. The Harfoots are also a good example, being browner of skin than the other types of Hobbit.

Which brings us to the Woses. I had always imagined them as dark-skinned, but now I read the description of Ghan-buri-ghan again, I see that this is not necessarily so. Perhaps my initial view was coloured (no pun intended) by the fact that our only experience today of simple-living and reclusive people is remote tribes in places such as Papua New Guinea, Ecuatorial Africa and the Amazonian rainforest. It will be interesting to see how they are portrayed in RotK.

So, I agree with you. The presence of dark-skinned people in Sauron's army makes geographical sense and would also have resonated with English readers of the 1930s and 1940s, who would have seen them as exotic and perhaps rather scary. But that does not make JRRT a racist, and I think that there is sufficient evidence on a closer examination of his works to show that he was not. And it is this which allows the books to stand up to scrutiny in a much more multi-cultural society than that prevailing at the time that they were written.
__________________
Do you mind? I'm busy doing the fishstick. It's a very delicate state of mind!
The Saucepan Man is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-28-2003, 06:50 PM   #15
Rumil
Sage & Onions
 
Rumil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Britain
Posts: 887
Rumil has been trapped in the Barrow!
Boots

Good posts by Inderjit and Mr Saucepan,

I'd always thought of the Druedain as more like Neanderthals (I've aways seen Neanderthals represented as 'white' but why so? Hmmmm)

Its worth noting that before the advent of mass tourism, a tan was viewed as a marker of low social class (in Europe at least) as only the people who worked out-doors would be tanned. Unlike, presumably, hobbits of independent means and luxurious holes!

I'm not too clear on the significance of 'swarthy' - can this also mean unshaven?
__________________
Rumil of Coedhirion
Rumil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-29-2003, 02:50 AM   #16
Inderjit Sanghera
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Wolverhampton, England
Posts: 716
Inderjit Sanghera has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

Maedhros-no, Elves were fair of skin. That is becuase Elves in M-E are based on North-West European legends. The Noldor may have had a darkish complexion though, becuase they are likened to the Beorian's, who had a quite dark complexion. As for 'Aryan' races, the Vanyar were one, though they bored me to death and the Marachians were another, and most of the downfalled Numenroreans, an exmaple of a fall of a 'fair-skinned' tribe.
__________________
“If I’m more of an influence on your son as a rapper then you are as a father then you've got to look at yourself as a parent” ~>Ice Cube.

"Life is so beautiful"->Don Vito Corleone
Inderjit Sanghera is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-29-2003, 02:52 AM   #17
Inderjit Sanghera
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Wolverhampton, England
Posts: 716
Inderjit Sanghera has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

Neandrethrals were pre-historic humans who resided in the Neander valley of Germany. Thy were driven out by newly come Africans, who eventually became Europeans. Oh, and swarthy is dark skinned
__________________
“If I’m more of an influence on your son as a rapper then you are as a father then you've got to look at yourself as a parent” ~>Ice Cube.

"Life is so beautiful"->Don Vito Corleone
Inderjit Sanghera is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-29-2003, 06:29 AM   #18
doug*platypus
Delver in the Deep
 
doug*platypus's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Aotearoa
Posts: 963
doug*platypus has just left Hobbiton.
Tolkien

I think that we need to keep in mind that neither the Easterlings nor the Southrons are evil men. They worship Sauron as a god, which is a heresy, as the only being that should be worshipped in Arda is Ilúvatar. They have been deluded by Sauron into fighting a war far from their own home for an ally who cares little for them apart from their use as weapons. Anyone who has heard of Gallipoli might be a little more sympathetic towards them.

At any rate, Sam seems to see the human aspect of the Southrons, and so does Tolkien himself (in Letters of Tolkien). The mere fact that they are fighting Gondor does not make their entire race evil. Similarly, Gondor although on the side of the almost faultless elves, is not composed strictly of good people. Look at Denethor. He would, by Tolkien's admission, have become a tyrant little better than Sauron had he won the war, with or without the Ring, and would have shown as little mercy to the Southrons or Easterlings as he would to the orcs - without justification.

Gondor, Harad, and other nations are political entities, just as France or Germany are. You cannot say that all Haradrim are evil anymore than you can say all North Koreans are. That kind of propaganda won't hold up these days, and nor would it to Tolkien at the time he wrote his books. The fact that all the dark-skinned people fight for Sauron is not enough to say that Tolkien was racist. There is no evidence whatsoever in The Silmarillion, The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings to indicate that he is.

Regarding your first post, Inderjit - what colour is brown? Are there no Caucasians who could be described as having a "brown hand"? There is such a thing as a tan, and I'm sure that as a gardener Sam had a lot of time to work on his, toiling away with his shirt off in front of Frodo's study window. He would not necessarily have to resemble a Fijian to end up with a brown hand. Ditto Bombadil.

I am, however, greatly interested in your description of the House of Bëor containing dark-skinned members with descent from Bor's people. I wasn't even aware that Morgoth's allies (and those who betrayed Maedhros) were dark-skinned. I though they were Caucasian, as I believed the other Edain to be. If you can post a quote on their complexions, I'd greatly appreciated. Personally, if I was ever to make The Silmarillion into a movie, I would make the Woodmen of Brethil look African-American, and it would be nice to know that this would not be completely out of order.
__________________
But Gwindor answered: 'The doom lies in yourself, not in your name'.
doug*platypus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-29-2003, 07:47 AM   #19
Inderjit Sanghera
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Wolverhampton, England
Posts: 716
Inderjit Sanghera has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

Sam was of the Harfoot clan of Hobbits ,and they were reported to have nut brown skin. The wood men of Brethil were, in my opinion, dark skinned since it seems all of their descendants, such as the Breemen and the Dunlendings were said ot have dark ksin ,and the short story 'Tal-Elmar' appears to be about a group of Haladin who had removed further to the south of M-E, possibly by the river Harnen.

As for dark skinned Beorians, here is a quote from HoME 12: Peoples of Middle Earth; Of Dwarves and Men.

" There were fair headed men and women among the house of Beor,but most of them had brown hair, some indeed being swarthy"

As for the intermingling of the Easterlings and the Beorians, I cannot YET find a quote, but I will take a closer look later.
__________________
“If I’m more of an influence on your son as a rapper then you are as a father then you've got to look at yourself as a parent” ~>Ice Cube.

"Life is so beautiful"->Don Vito Corleone
Inderjit Sanghera is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-29-2003, 08:12 AM   #20
The Squatter of Amon Rûdh
Spectre of Decay
 
The Squatter of Amon Rûdh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Bar-en-Danwedh
Posts: 2,185
The Squatter of Amon Rûdh is a guest at the Prancing Pony.The Squatter of Amon Rûdh is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Send a message via AIM to The Squatter of Amon Rûdh
Sting

You may all be interested in the following discussions:

Can the book be considered rascist? (sic)

Racism in LOTR?

Are Tolkien Books Racist?

Are Tolkiens Books Sexist?

Lord of the Rings labelled racist
__________________
Man kenuva métim' andúne?

Last edited by The Squatter of Amon Rûdh; 06-13-2004 at 03:05 PM.
The Squatter of Amon Rûdh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-29-2003, 08:19 AM   #21
Maédhros
The Kinslayer
 
Maédhros's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Formenos
Posts: 658
Maédhros has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via MSN to Maédhros
Question

Ok, Inderjit Sanghera, you made very good points with the descriptions you have made in your essay.
But what makes me wonder is the fact that the "fairest of the Children" of the World are all "not dark skinned or oriental or diff", but as Tolkien would say fair. (White)
This kinds of makes me wonder.
__________________
"Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy."
Maédhros is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-29-2003, 08:30 AM   #22
Inderjit Sanghera
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Wolverhampton, England
Posts: 716
Inderjit Sanghera has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

Well, the only thing I can say to this is that they were based on North European folklore. What of the Dwarves? Does it ever mention they were of an exclusive skin colour?
__________________
“If I’m more of an influence on your son as a rapper then you are as a father then you've got to look at yourself as a parent” ~>Ice Cube.

"Life is so beautiful"->Don Vito Corleone
Inderjit Sanghera is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-29-2003, 06:55 PM   #23
The Saucepan Man
Corpus Cacophonous
 
The Saucepan Man's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: A green and pleasant land
Posts: 8,467
The Saucepan Man has been trapped in the Barrow!
Pipe

Thank you, Squatter, for those links. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img] They certainly do make interesting reading. One thing that they do make clear is that JRRT was not a racist and, indeed, deplored the idea of racism - as we can see from his angry reaction to the request from a German publishing house in the 1930s asking him to confirm that he was not Jewish.

I had not realised that he spent the early part of his life in South Africa. I think that it does him (and no doubt his family) great credit, considering the views to which he would have been exposed, that he rejected the idea of racism so firmly.

Having read the threads posted by Squatter of Amon Rudh, I think it is instructive to compare the following two links given in those threads:

The Shadow of Racism

and

Lord of the Rings labelled racist

The first is a thoughtful and well-written article by one Quickbeam which considers the case for racism in LotR, but rejects it on the basis of a more detailed analysis of JRRT's works. He cites many of the arguments discussed on this thread above. I particularly like the reference to Sam's musings on the background of the Southron who falls close to him:

Quote:
He was glad that he could not see the dead face. He wondered what the man's name was and where he came from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from home; and if he would not really have rather stayed there in peace ...
I wish I had read further when I made my earlier posting on this thread and rediscovered this passage, since it really confirms for me that there was no racist intent in JRRT's use of Men of the South and the East as servants of Sauron. It reminds us that, but for Sauron's lies and/or threats, these Men would in all likelihood be living peaceful lives in their homelands. They are not intrinsically evil, like the orcs (of whom, notably, no such stmpathetic view is ever painted).

The second link above is to a report of comments made by one Dr Stephen Shapiro, apparently an expert in "cultural studies, racism and slavery", accusing LotR of outright racism. I would recommend Squatter's excellent analysis of the report in the last thread given in his post above. Basically, Dr Shapiro relies on all the obvious passages in LotR where dark-skinned characters are portrayed as "evil" or wrongdoers. What he does not do is undertake any deeper anlysis of JRRT's works, as Quickbeam and most of those who have posted on this thread and the other threads on this topic have done. He may be an expert in his own field, but he is clearly no expert on the works of Tolkien.

There is one point that he seeks to make that is worth addressing. He argues that, because orcs are black-skinned, and because they are evil, that is clear evidence of racism on JRRT's part. He tries to suggest that the hordes of invading orcs represent JRRT's (alleged) concern that hordes of immigrants were flooding England. That is utter nonsense in my view. As has been pointed out, the timing is wrong for a start. LotR was long finished by the time immigrants were arriving in any numbers in England in the 1950s - largely at the request of the government of the time, I might add.

In any event, I can see no analogy (intended or otherwise) between the orcs and non-white peoples. The orcs are servants of the Dark Lord and it is therefore approriate that they are dark in appearance. I had not originally imagined orcs as black-skinned myself, but taking them as such, I picture their skin as black in the way that rotten flesh is black, rather than in any way like the ebony and olive colours of dark skin in reality. Orcs do not even figure in the argument for me.

All that I have read on these threads simply reinforces my view that there is no racist undertone in JRRT's books. If one looks at it on any more than a very superficial level (as Dr Shapiro fails to do), there is ample evidence to show that there is no analogy to be drawn in his works between the colour of a character's skin and that character's virtue.

[ January 29, 2003: Message edited by: The Saucepan Man ]
__________________
Do you mind? I'm busy doing the fishstick. It's a very delicate state of mind!
The Saucepan Man is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-29-2003, 08:23 PM   #24
Maylin
Haunting Spirit
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Mordor ( or school, same thing)
Posts: 81
Maylin has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via AIM to Maylin
Sting

hmmm...well, I can't believe that orcs are represent Africans, since in the chapter, "The Black gates are Closed", it discribes are darkskinned people that come along with the Oliphants. and since it was england's mythology, a people from somewhere else would most likly be helping the adversary.
Maylin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-30-2003, 01:42 PM   #25
Inderjit Sanghera
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Wolverhampton, England
Posts: 716
Inderjit Sanghera has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

"There is one point that he seeks to make that is worth addressing. He argues that, because orcs are black-skinned, and because they are evil, that is clear evidence of racism on JRRT's part"

Weren't orcs said to be a yellowish Mongolid type colour? I think J.R.R says something like this in one of his letters.
__________________
“If I’m more of an influence on your son as a rapper then you are as a father then you've got to look at yourself as a parent” ~>Ice Cube.

"Life is so beautiful"->Don Vito Corleone
Inderjit Sanghera is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-30-2003, 06:33 PM   #26
The Saucepan Man
Corpus Cacophonous
 
The Saucepan Man's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: A green and pleasant land
Posts: 8,467
The Saucepan Man has been trapped in the Barrow!
Pipe

In my Illustrated Tolkien Encyclopedia, Orcs are described as having skin which was "black as wood that has been charred by flame".

Now, I don't yet have the letters, HoME volumes etc, so this is all I've got to go on for the time being, but the description must have come from somewhere in JRRT's writings.
__________________
Do you mind? I'm busy doing the fishstick. It's a very delicate state of mind!
The Saucepan Man is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-01-2003, 08:15 AM   #27
doug*platypus
Delver in the Deep
 
doug*platypus's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Aotearoa
Posts: 963
doug*platypus has just left Hobbiton.
The Eye

Interesting quote, there, O Saucepan, but I think that words actually written by Tolkien should really be given more weight. It's shocking the amount of liberties that are taken and errors that are made by some of the so-called Tolkien Scholars out there. They should use the Barrow Downs as an editing station, and there would be less confusion for all.

Inderjit is correct - I have just finished Letter 210, about the initial storyline of the animated version (and how much Tolkien hated it!!):
Quote:
The Orcs are definitely stated to be corruptions of the 'human' form seen in Elves and Men. They are (or were) squat, broad, flat-nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths and slant eyes: in fact degraded and repulsive versions of the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types.


Letter 210
Genghis Shagrat? This is the closest to racial prejudice I've seen Tolkien come, but he isn't saying that Orcs look like present day Mongolians. Still, I don't think Letter 210 would go down very well in the far east.
__________________
But Gwindor answered: 'The doom lies in yourself, not in your name'.
doug*platypus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-01-2003, 09:21 AM   #28
Inderjit Sanghera
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Wolverhampton, England
Posts: 716
Inderjit Sanghera has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

What did Tolkien hate the cartoon version, by Bakshi? Can't blame him really.his

[ February 01, 2003: Message edited by: Inderjit Sanghera ]
__________________
“If I’m more of an influence on your son as a rapper then you are as a father then you've got to look at yourself as a parent” ~>Ice Cube.

"Life is so beautiful"->Don Vito Corleone
Inderjit Sanghera is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2003, 11:36 AM   #29
The Saucepan Man
Corpus Cacophonous
 
The Saucepan Man's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: A green and pleasant land
Posts: 8,467
The Saucepan Man has been trapped in the Barrow!
Pipe

I appreciate that Tolkien reference guides may not always represent the last word, but as I said, other than the books themselves, the Illustrated Encyclopedia is all I have to go on for the time being. And it seems to me that the notion that Orcs were black-skinned must have come from somewhere in JRRT's works, rather than having been made up by the author of the Encyclopedia.

There are a few possible references in LotR that I managed to find. For example, the Orc-Chieftain who leads the attack against the Fellowship in the Chamber of Mazarbul, is described as having a "swart" face, meaning dark-hued (though not necessarily black).

While listening to the Uruk-Hai and Orcs argue amongst themselves, Pippin sees "a large black Orc, probably Ugluk" (although the fact that he was standing in the twighlight might have made him seem darker). Also, Ugluk describes the horesemen of Rohan as "Whiteskins".

None of these references are conclusive, although there may be others.

Anyway, it makes no difference to the original point that I was making which is, even if the Orcs are black-skinned, this does not (as Dr Shapiro attempts to argue) in any way suggest to me racism on JRRT's part.
__________________
Do you mind? I'm busy doing the fishstick. It's a very delicate state of mind!
The Saucepan Man is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2003, 12:34 PM   #30
Inderjit Sanghera
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Wolverhampton, England
Posts: 716
Inderjit Sanghera has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

I think there was a varying degree of skin colour becuase of the intermingling of Orcish tribes.
__________________
“If I’m more of an influence on your son as a rapper then you are as a father then you've got to look at yourself as a parent” ~>Ice Cube.

"Life is so beautiful"->Don Vito Corleone
Inderjit Sanghera is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-03-2003, 11:37 AM   #31
Lossentilien
Wight
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: lost in a web of intrigue
Posts: 144
Lossentilien has just left Hobbiton.
Silmaril

I guess I can kind of see where the idea of racism in the books came from, but I don't agree with it.

Tolkien was trying to write a story for England, was he not? A folklore for the country, which would mean that if all the characters were ethnic that the story wouldn't be English based. That's my understanding anyway.

I don't think that it was in any way intended to be racist, although underlying thoughts may have come through, this is possible, but people seem to be blowing everything out of proportion. Especially at the moment, everyone has become extremly uptight about being politically correct and are finding some kind of injustice in everything.

[ February 03, 2003: Message edited by: Lossentilien ]
__________________
"Can I cry as much as I want? The white snow falls and hides my tears."
Imladris
Lossentilien is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-03-2003, 02:09 PM   #32
GaladrieloftheOlden
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Massachusetts - digging up a bottomless hole, searching for something that's not there...
Posts: 1,611
GaladrieloftheOlden has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via AIM to GaladrieloftheOlden Send a message via MSN to GaladrieloftheOlden Send a message via Yahoo to GaladrieloftheOlden
Tolkien

I personally think that this is JUST A BOOK! It would certainly be different if Tolkien just said, straight out, "the orcs are bad BECAUSE they have dark skin" it would be different. But this is, in my opinion, a little bit strange. Even if Tolkien WAS a racist, he wrote a masterpiece, and that should be enough.
__________________
"Glue... very powerful stuff."
GaladrieloftheOlden is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-03-2003, 02:11 PM   #33
GaladrieloftheOlden
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Massachusetts - digging up a bottomless hole, searching for something that's not there...
Posts: 1,611
GaladrieloftheOlden has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via AIM to GaladrieloftheOlden Send a message via MSN to GaladrieloftheOlden Send a message via Yahoo to GaladrieloftheOlden
Sting

Also, if you need more arguments about racism etc, try going here...
http://www.angelfire.com/sk/sharkens/pc.html

Hehe, it IS just w humor site link though. [img]smilies/evil.gif[/img]
__________________
"Glue... very powerful stuff."
GaladrieloftheOlden is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2012, 03:16 PM   #34
KamexKoopa
Pile O'Bones
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 12
KamexKoopa has just left Hobbiton.
Topics of this ilk pop up almost daily on the various movie boards of IMDb. I don't think he was racist, as others have said he was creating a mythology for England. Would you call Tyler Perry racist for not casting white people in his movies?


(I realise this thread is pushing ten years old, and most posters from it have either forgetten or left, but still )
KamexKoopa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-28-2012, 01:13 PM   #35
HerenIstarion
Deadnight Chanter
 
HerenIstarion's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 4,301
HerenIstarion is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Send a message via ICQ to HerenIstarion
Quote:
Originally Posted by KamexKoopa View Post
most posters from it have either forgetten or left, but still )
Well, I'm actually still subscribed to number of topics (even a decade old ones ) so get mail notifications

But that's just an aside
__________________
Egroeg Ihkhsal

- Would you believe in the love at first sight?
- Yes I'm certain that it happens all the time!
HerenIstarion is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-28-2012, 01:41 PM   #36
KamexKoopa
Pile O'Bones
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 12
KamexKoopa has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HerenIstarion View Post
Well, I'm actually still subscribed to number of topics (even a decade old ones ) so get mail notifications

But that's just an aside
Haha nice! I've been looking back at a lot of the past pages, there are some long dead threads that make me wish I'd have been a member at the time, it's making interesting reading D: I wasn't allowed on the internet at the time, but still

Last edited by KamexKoopa; 12-28-2012 at 01:48 PM. Reason: bad grammar
KamexKoopa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2013, 07:13 PM   #37
Ulvenok
Banned
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 41
Ulvenok has just left Hobbiton.
On the topic of racism, of course Tolkien was a racist and so are you. I saw a lecture about predjudices held by some neuro scientist. Anyway racism is in all of us, we are all hostile towards people who are different than ourself, and that for a good reason. If Tolkien would have been a black person writing these books in Africa the orcs would be white devils and the elves would be tall black men. Even if you say you're not a racist you're lying to yourself, because you are. Just like we got different tastes in music we got different tastes when it comes to appearances. Of course one can get over these differences if one gets to know that person, but on a very primal level we are all racists even Tolkien which is apparent reading his books.
Ulvenok is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2013, 07:46 PM   #38
alatar
Doubting Dwimmerlaik
 
alatar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Heaven's basement
Posts: 2,488
alatar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.alatar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Ulvenok, interestingly, your post here was predicted with high probability, as you'd hinted at Tolkien and racism elsewhere. Anyway...

What or who defines a 'race?' In Tolkien's world, it may be more clear earlier in time, with orcs and elves and dwarves and men, but by the fourth age?

And me, I think more of families and genotypes than names and phenotypes. When you say 'all,' you might be painting with too broad a brush.
__________________
There is naught that you can do, other than to resist, with hope or without it.
alatar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2013, 08:51 PM   #39
Inziladun
Gruesome Spectre
 
Inziladun's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Heaven's doorstep
Posts: 7,426
Inziladun is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Inziladun is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Inziladun is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Inziladun is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Inziladun is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulvenok View Post
On the topic of racism, of course Tolkien was a racist and so are you. I saw a lecture about predjudices held by some neuro scientist. Anyway racism is in all of us, we are all hostile towards people who are different than ourself, and that for a good reason. If Tolkien would have been a black person writing these books in Africa the orcs would be white devils and the elves would be tall black men. Even if you say you're not a racist you're lying to yourself, because you are. Just like we got different tastes in music we got different tastes when it comes to appearances. Of course one can get over these differences if one gets to know that person, but on a very primal level we are all racists even Tolkien which is apparent reading his books.
I would certainly take issue personally with the suggestion that I am "hostile" toward anybody who looks different.

As for Tolkien, his lack of racial prejudice seems apparent in his rejection of it regarding Jews. In Letters # 29.

Quote:
I do not regard the (probable) absence of all Jewish blood (in himself) as necessarily honourable; and I have many Jewish friends, and should regret giving any colour to the notion that I subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine.
__________________
Music alone proves the existence of God.
Inziladun is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2013, 09:32 PM   #40
Ulvenok
Banned
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 41
Ulvenok has just left Hobbiton.
I think the lecture lasted for two something hours. I wish I would be able to sum it all up in one post but I can't. We are all to some extent prejudicial towards people. We can hide it, we can try to block it but at the end of the day we are prejudicial. It's the same with racism, the only reason you're "not" a racist is because you are too politically correct to admit it. Nature is racist and it's in your nature to be racist too, we shouldn't deny what we are, it's not healthy for our species or for you as an individual. Racism exists in order for us to find a partner, carry on our genes and sort out bad genes in our species gene pool by not having sex with them or approve of their culture or behaviour, whatever it is that we don't like about the "race".

I think race and being racist is a bad word, because it's easily mixed up with hitlerism and has all sort of bad connotations. It's not always appearance or skin colour, it could be language, culture all sort of different things. Today we are all suffering because our society is one crazy place, we supress so much of what we are because society won't accept it. People with little to no education have tons of children and it's allowed. In places like China and India they have implemented one child policies, even as far back as the 19th century people in India castrated criminals. People are so afraid to look at themself in the mirror that on many sites I would be banned for saying this.

Anyway nature is racist and so is Tolkien, he is just too smart to admit it.
Ulvenok is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:34 PM.



Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.