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Old 03-21-2004, 01:28 PM   #1
Hookbill the Goomba
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Hookbill the Goomba is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Hookbill the Goomba is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Hookbill the Goomba is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Hookbill the Goomba is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
Tolkien How the mighty do fall!

I have notised a theme that seems to run through a lot of Tolkien's Middle Earth. This is that People who were grate or mighty, are often those who fall into Evil. Take Saurman,
Quote:
He was great once
Frodo Baggins, Return of the King, book six, The scouring of the Shire
Also, the Witch king of Angmar, was Grate, now evil and dead. Denathor, was a respectable leader, now a dead twisted old fool. Sauron, was a faithful servant of the Valar, now a dead Follower of Morgoth. Even Melkor, once the mightiest of the Valar, now a lonely, footless, evil spirit trapped in the Void.

Is Tolkien trying to say something here?
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Old 03-21-2004, 01:58 PM   #2
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Yes, I'd say that is somewhat of a recurring theme in Tolkien's works. Often those who are mighty fail. They do some great things and their wisdom goes astray and they fall. Not always - there are some mighty ones such as Gandalf, Aragorn, Faramir, and many more that don't fall - but many times they do. I just thought of another good example - most of the later kings of Nmenor were mighty (or could have been) but they turned away from the Valar and trusted in their own strength, eventually resulting in the sinking of Nmenor.

Something going along with that is not only that the great fail but those who aren't strong succeed - in Gandalf's words
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and help oft shall come from the hands of the weak when the Wise falter.
It is one of the things that makes the books appeal to us - that it isn't always the superhero who comes in and saves everybody, but those who are not strong that change the course of the future.

Edit: This is my 501st post!!! I'm a Ghost Prince - or rather I would be if the titles were working!!!
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Old 03-21-2004, 09:54 PM   #3
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Pipe Congratulations, Firefoot!

Elenrod hands Firefoot a blue smartie muffin.

Ahem. Anywhen...

Quote:
This is that People who were grate or mighty, are often those who fall into Evil.
You could classify these motley collection of deceased dudes into two:
1. Those who are proud of their own abilities, mixed with contempt for those of others. *coughcoughSarumancoughDenethor*

2. Those who desire domination of others. *coughcoughMorgothcoughNazgl*

In two words: Pride kills.

And hurrah for Gandalf.
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Old 03-22-2004, 12:42 AM   #4
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I guess you could sum up tolkien's message about this topic like this...

If you are mightly, powerful, and have great influence... don't become evil. Because it will just bring you death, failure, and dispair in the end.

All of the mighty who did fall in Tolkien's works, fell because they went to the evil side and strayed from their original purpose. They gave into their own personal greed, and desires for greatness and domination over everything. The mighty who didn't fall (like Gandalf) stuck to their original purpose, and kept on basically a path of "good". And of course they were rewarded in the end.
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Old 03-22-2004, 12:55 PM   #5
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Hookbill the Goomba is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Hookbill the Goomba is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Hookbill the Goomba is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Hookbill the Goomba is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
Quote:
In two words: Pride kills.

And hurrah for Gandalf
That would seem to be true, as many times throughout the book people have insulted Old Olorin, (he he, Old Olorin I always wanted to do that) and he had the power to blast them into a small pile of smoke with eyes I expect. But he obeyed the laws set down by the Valar, to never do such a thing. Although, one dose wonder, how did he resist the temptation to turn to Evil? He had great Power, with the added power of the third ring, I expect that, if he wanted, he could have beaten Saruman, but didn't as he perhaps for saw that he would set himself in place of Saruman and end up down the same road.
The same may be said of Faramir, he had the chance to take the one ring for himself, and perhaps he did not want to have the same fate as his brother. It is also a recurring pattern that the wise or powerful who might go down the road of Evil, make a drastic decision which diverts the cause of Evil.


P.S. Congratulations Firefoot!


(Edited by moderator to remove image - please limit the use of those to Tolkien- and thread-relevant subjects.)
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Old 03-22-2004, 03:38 PM   #6
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It's like that saying, "Absolute power corrupts." It's very hard to gain a lot of power and not abuse it. All of us abuse power in some manner. Tolkien wanted to teach us to use our power to do good and to help others, not oppress them.
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Old 03-22-2004, 04:33 PM   #7
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1420!

well guys im new to the forums but heres my input i recently, meaning last week, wrote a paper about the good vs evil complexities in lotr and i feel that the Evil Manifest, as i call them, fall due to their desire for something out of their reach and instead of letting it go it drives them with an evil ambition, but this desire never starts out evil just over ambitious case in point Melkor all he wanted to do was create life of his own to basically be a true God but this eventually drove him to his other horrible deeds i.e. the creature of orcs, his want to enslave the earth, and a slew of others. This over ambitious desire is seen time and time again even with Saruman he started out with intention to take the Ring from the Enemy and destroy him even to the end, well to the end but to the fall of orthanc, and use it to destroy the Enemy thats also why he played "puppet" to sauron so he could survive the flood and in the end be triumphet and there are the first signs of his evil. The truely Evil beings are bad their just written that way

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Old 03-22-2004, 05:01 PM   #8
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I think Tolkein is trying to say, that the world is changing, you cant really trust anymore for the mighty to be mighty, and the weak to be weak.

i also susspect Olorin could have blasted everyone to mandos, if he wanted to, but he didnt because, as we all know, he was the wisest Miar, and knew that if he did, he would probably turn out just like, Sauruman, or Sauron
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Old 03-22-2004, 05:38 PM   #9
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1420!

hmmmm that just gave me an idea Gandalf vs The World video game the francizing rights alone would make us rich RICH AS DWARVES !!
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Old 03-22-2004, 08:40 PM   #10
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I think that Tolkien was trying to say that some people, when mighty and powerful, let it get to their heads and then they think that they can do anything. However, when they have gone too far, they can't get out of it because they think that they'll just use their power to get them out of it. But then they get in deeper and deeper and eventually they become corrupted by their actions, and all they think about is becoming more and more powerful.
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Old 03-22-2004, 08:56 PM   #11
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Pipe Re: How the mighty do fall!

I forgot. Not only those who are evil and mighty fall, but...

Quote:
...especially that they[the Valar] had attempted to guard and seclude the Eldar by their might and glory fully revealed...
And thus the mighty, even those who are good, fall.

Which means the only one you could trust with all power is...*drum roll*...Ilvatar, who chose to watch and wait for good to triumph than to intervene against evil...well, most of the time. But I think that one instance was necessary.
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Old 03-22-2004, 09:20 PM   #12
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Honestly speaking, expecting someone to not abuse power is asking a lot of them. If you put a gun into a little kid's hands, the first thing that they'll do is run off and shoot someone (or something). They immediately want to test their limits. Adults are just older version of little kids. If you give them power, they will immediately start trying to test their limits and if they find none, they will continue to abuse their power until they do find some. We need limits in our lives, physical, mental, emotional, etc. Even though I'm a normal, rebellious teenager, I still say that. Societal, parental, and individual limits are the only things that keep us "grounded." Without them, we would constantly be rebelling to seek out limits. This is why many kids who "experiment" with various forms of rebellion (major euphemism there) are generally from lenient homes, whereas most of the ones from the really straitlaced homes are often simply too afraid of their parents to do anything. (This is merely a generalization, don't jump on my case. If you come from a lenient household and you aren't a rebel, then kudos to you!) Without some form of limits placed by someone higher on the pecking order, we'd go completely crazy. (Rather like that Ar-Pharazon chap.)
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But Melkor also was there, and he came to the house of Fanor, and there he slew Finw King of the Noldor before his doors, and spilled the first blood in the Blessed Realm; for Finw alone had not fled from the horror of the Dark.
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Old 03-22-2004, 09:32 PM   #13
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Pipe Ar-Pharazn

Golden Boy did learn his limits...too late.

And that's for stealing Tar-Mriel!
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Old 03-22-2004, 09:53 PM   #14
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Silmaril

You see... and then they get so absurdly predictable! Everyone knows that once you start messing with the ladies, you're a gone case!
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But Melkor also was there, and he came to the house of Fanor, and there he slew Finw King of the Noldor before his doors, and spilled the first blood in the Blessed Realm; for Finw alone had not fled from the horror of the Dark.
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Old 03-22-2004, 10:21 PM   #15
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I think that Boromir is another example of power gone mad. (sort of) He thought that he had more power over Frodo because Frodo was just smaller. He tried to take the Ring and was then killed a short while later. I also noticed that Borormir and Denethor were people who had gone after power and eventually died, but not Faramir. Faramir was tempted by the Ring but resisted. I'm guessing that if it had not been but used, he would have followed in his brothers and fathers steps.
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Old 03-23-2004, 03:43 AM   #16
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Pipe Boromir and Denethor

Yes. Boromir was the proud one, so the Ring found its way easier into him. But his was the desire to do good, not actual pride in his strength.

On the other hand Denethor wanted the Ring, trusting to his own strength and wisdom. I doubt the Ring's sphere of influence had reached him. He had become like Saruman; proud.

Still, pride kills.
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Old 03-23-2004, 01:24 PM   #17
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Tolkien

Quote:
Without them, we would constantly be rebelling to seek out limits. This is why many kids who "experiment" with various forms of rebellion (major euphemism there)
Hum, don’t try and start a rebellion, I don’t think the Barrow Wright would like that!

Anyway, yes, pride kills. Another example of this could be Fenor, it seemed to me that he went mad with pride, did he not? Perhaps the fact that he got so many people behind him made him feel in power, and so, as Finwe said, he tried to test his boundaries. Maybe I’m seeing patterns in things that aren't there... (Oooh pretty colours)

Quote:
"know what I’m shayin"
Also, the fact that Gandalf did not abuse his power shows that he was the wisest of the miar, yes? But what of Faramir? Did he refuse the ring dew to some dark foreboding? Or did he have some fore sight?
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Old 03-23-2004, 03:11 PM   #18
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This has got me thinking that maybe this shows Tolkien's own beliefs were reflected in his work. Those such as Feanor, Saruman, Denethor were 'tempted' and then fell into evil. Characters such as Aragorn and Faramir are those who are offered temptation and do not take it. Boromir is interesting as he was tempted, but then admitted his sins, and he dies honourably. Also, I've often thought that the downfall of Numenor reminded me of the Tower of Babel story.

This topic has got me thinking now, it's possibly yet another way of seeing influences in Tolkien's work. What does anyone else think about this idea? Im not saying it's spot on, just a thought that's occurred to me after reading these posts!
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Old 03-23-2004, 08:58 PM   #19
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The way that I see it is, wisdom and knowledge are two vastly different things. All of these people (Fanor, Boromir, Denethor, Saruman, etc.) knew that what they were doing was wrong. Even if it was subconscious, they knew that it was wrong. They had the knowledge, but not the wisdom. In my opinion, wisdom is the ability to not react to situations. Had these characters not reacted to the temptations they were offered in the way that they had, many fates would have been changed.
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But Melkor also was there, and he came to the house of Fanor, and there he slew Finw King of the Noldor before his doors, and spilled the first blood in the Blessed Realm; for Finw alone had not fled from the horror of the Dark.
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Old 03-24-2004, 10:24 AM   #20
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Without some form of limits placed by someone higher on the pecking order, we'd go completely crazy.
This argument implies that you completely discount the importance of self imposed limits. These limits, otherwise known as principles or morals, have a greater affect on human behaviour than any imposed by legislation or the social contract. To choose an extreme example to demonstrate an elementary point, it is within my power to murder somebody, but I choose not to do so, not on the threat of any legal sanction, but rather on the revulsion I would feel for the violation of a core tenet of my morality. In this case, only a sociopath would act in a way that tested these externally imposed limits. The examples you present are of children and teenagers whose moral development is incomplete, and who have immediate authority figures imposing a code of behaviour that they would like to see emulated. To extend this kind of argument to the overwhelming majority of adults is erroneous.

To return to the topic, a description of a group of people behaving morally, but not heroically, is at variance with the requirements for interesting narrative. I argue that people such as Saruman are necessary for an appealing story. There are many more examples in the books of individuals remaining true to their principles and achieving their goals, which would imply that this is a stronger theme than the corrupting nature of power (with the exception of ring-acquired power of course).

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Old 03-24-2004, 01:36 PM   #21
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I think the main reason i started this topic is to ask whether Tolkein was trying to make some kind of statement about how people act these days. He himself says that he hates allegory, yet he see LotR as more applicability, this would seem to fit more into the theory. Did he mean us to think that Power is something that corrupts the human, (Elf, Miar, ect) mind.

I know it goes against everything Tolkien said in his forward, but i would like to say I’m not connecting it directly with LotR, but Hitler and his Nazis many have said that the power sent him mad. But i think we should look more into Middle Earth itself, and so I think that Tolkien is trying to show this, with so may characters turning to evil and only a few taking the 'wise' root and turning from it. Yet if you look more into it you begin to see that it is mainly the unexpected characters that resist the temptation (With the possible exception of Gandalf), The Hobbits, Faramir (Being the brother of Boromir and wanting to prove himself to his father), and others. I think that the message that runs through most of Tolkien's righting is that Power in the wrong hands can lead to disaster, but the most unlikely people can help prevent evil from completely taking over.

One could also look into Tolkien's religion, this would undoubtedly have had an effect on his work, if you read stories like David and Goliath; you see this message portrayed clearly.
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Old 03-24-2004, 04:37 PM   #22
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Silmaril Re: How the mighty do fall

I think Tolkien is (was) clearly trying to get a lot of messages through to his readers, among them the importance of not giving in to the desire for power (or wealth). What he say in the foreword is that the story itself is not to be seen as a picturing of the WW2 or anything like that. The story is a story in itself, but it still contains lots of messages and viewpoints on the world today, society and industry.
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Old 03-29-2004, 02:40 PM   #23
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This is that People who were grate or mighty, are often those who fall into Evil.
Of course, it could be that the poor, the weak, and the lowly, being scared of the heights of power, splendor, and wealth, do not climb and therefore cannot fall.
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Old 03-30-2004, 12:25 PM   #24
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An interesting point, Bthberry, Perhaps that is why Frodo could resist the power of the ring so much? But then again you have to look at the fact that Frodo had quite a high status in Hobbiton, as he lived at Bag end... Yet that may not be enough to corrupt him. Seeing as how he had a humble beginning in Buckland, which may go some way to explaining this

Also there is Gollum, he was a humble water hobbit, He had no high status of lordship of any kind. Yet the ring easily corrupted him. This sort of leaves the suggestion that any one can be corrupted if offered the chance of power.

There are other Characters in Tolkiens world that do not seem to go along with this pattern, Felagund for example could have stuck with his pride and sent out other to ride with Beren, but instead he himself went. That’s not perhaps the best example, but there are others.

As was said, Tolkien has tried to get many messages across in his stories, the fact that being mighty of full of wisdom does not make you impervious to Evil.
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Old 03-30-2004, 01:01 PM   #25
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I think the main reason i started this topic is to ask whether Tolkein was trying to make some kind of statement about how people act these days.
As you say, Tolkiens dislike of allegory is well known; this was stated in the letter included at the beginning of the Silmarillion. In the same letter, he went on to say that any attempt to explain a myth would necessarily use allegorical language. So while the Middle Earth myth deals above all with the description of mythical events, it is sufficiently developed enough to contain enough themes that allow readers to explore whichever allegory currently interests them.

Is there a theme of the great and good falling from power? Of course there is. Was the exploration of this theme Tolkiens purpose for Middle Earth, or even one of his purposes? I would suggest not. Is it possible that a story is just a story? That the narrative elements primarily serve the purposes of good narrative?
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Old 03-30-2004, 01:30 PM   #26
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Not quite.....

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In two words: Pride kills.
Exactly. Thus the lesson of almost all of Tolkien's works: humility.

It's not the power that corrupts. Gandalf had tremendous power, and remained uncorrupted, simply because he was humble. He recognized the fact that even with his immense power, he faced trials and challenges that he might not have been able to overcome. He had the humility to allow such a one as Denethor to treat him as an inferior, even though he was much Denethor's superior in wisdom alone, to say the least.

Those who are wise may be corrupted, those who are simple may be corrupted, those who are powerful may be corrupted, those who are weak may be corrupted. We have examples of all of these. Both of Elenrod's models of evil stem from the same source: overriding pride, and the desire to elevate oneself. All of the villains in Tolkien's works have become evil through the lust for honor and glory not due to them. Morgoth wanted to be as great as Ilvatar, Sauron wanted to be as great as Morgoth, even Gollum desired greatness (his speech about being "The Gollum", for example). Those who remained good and righteous are those who remained humble- Sam, Merry, Aragorn, etc. They recognized that their abilities should be used for the good of others, not to further themselves, and they did not consider themselves to be any better than they were, if that.

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Although, one does wonder, how did [Gandalf] resist the temptation to turn to Evil?
The answer is quite simple: humility.
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Old 03-31-2004, 01:19 AM   #27
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It would seem that being humble helps resist the temptation of becoming Evil. Thinking of Gollum's little speech about "Lord Smagol" shows that he wanted the power; this would have been why the ring had such a hold over him. Even Sam was tempted by it in that he visualised himself as the savoir of the age, yet his humble roots as a gardener helped him to resist this idea. So it would seem that power did not corrupt those whom were humble. Aragorn himself did not originally want to become king, perhaps when he heard Boromirs dream he accepted that it was decided by fate or something that he was to go to Minas Tirith with the sword Anduril. But he remained humble because he still saw himself as a humble Ranger of the north.
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Old 03-31-2004, 08:28 AM   #28
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One of the fundaments of Tolkien's belief was displayed to be that 'the first shall be last and the last shall be first.' Which isn't a bad way of stating a rather complicated sociological point of view.

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Old 04-19-2016, 12:48 PM   #29
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One of the fundaments of Tolkien's belief was displayed to be that 'the first shall be last and the last shall be first.' Which isn't a bad way of stating a rather complicated sociological point of view.
I'd been thinking of starting a thread in a similar vein, before I ran across this oldie.
I would expand the discussion a bit though.

I note that, as some above touched on, the lower one's relative state, the more resistant one seems to pride overall.
Gandalf, part of an undoubtedly 'elite' group, was in some ways the least of them. It was told that he was the last one off the ship, and was physically the weakest-looking. He also had no permanent home, usually a mark of what societies perceive as less stability and sense of purpose. Yet, he was ultimately the only one of the Istari who kept his purpose. His reward was a return home, and who knows what else after he arrived there.

Tuor and Trin and also interesting in this context.

Trin was the heir of the House of Hador, reared by no less a personage that Elu Thingol in the Hidden Kingdom, growing up with the status of a prince. He had great pride in himself, and it seems to me that it was that pride that provided Morgoth an easy means to bring about misfortune to Trin and his kin.

Tuor spent his childhood as a slave, and then, escaping, eked out a vagrant life as a outlaw until he was called by Ulmo to go on an errand, which he unhesitatingly accepted. His lack of pride led him to a reward of reaching Gondolin and marrying Turgon's daughter, and with that act becoming part of a watershed moment in Arda's history by fathering a son with her.

And then there's Aragorn.
He grew up in a similar situation as Trin: raised by one of the greatest of the Eldar in Middle-earth, the Heir not of a House, but of a Kingdom. One sees a seed of pride in him in ROTK Appendix A, where his meeting with Arwen is told. He goes into that having just learned from Elrond of his heritage, and his "heart was high". Meeting her though, he is abased when she identifies herself, and he sees how much older she is, and greater. I wonder: had he not met Arwen, would Aragorn's worldview and subsequent actions have changed?

So, how much does spending time in a lowly state affect one's sense of pride? Morwen's seems to have increased when she became poor. Is there a pattern, or is it individual randomness?
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Old 04-19-2016, 07:00 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Nimiki Angarauko View Post
well guys im new to the forums but heres my input i recently, meaning last week, wrote a paper about the good vs evil complexities in lotr and i feel that the Evil Manifest, as i call them, fall due to their desire for something out of their reach and instead of letting it go it drives them with an evil ambition, but this desire never starts out evil just over ambitious case in point Melkor all he wanted to do was create life of his own to basically be a true God but this eventually drove him to his other horrible deeds i.e. the creature of orcs, his want to enslave the earth, and a slew of others. This over ambitious desire is seen time and time again even with Saruman he started out with intention to take the Ring from the Enemy and destroy him even to the end, well to the end but to the fall of orthanc, and use it to destroy the Enemy thats also why he played "puppet" to sauron so he could survive the flood and in the end be triumphet and there are the first signs of his evil. The truely Evil beings are bad their just written that way
I think a hello and welcome is in order and also to Althern who I see has fewer posts.

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I have notised a theme that seems to run through a lot of Tolkien's Middle Earth. This is that People who were grate or mighty, are often those who fall into Evil. Take Saurman,


He was great once
Frodo Baggins, Return of the King, book six, The scouring of the Shire
Also, the Witch king of Angmar, was Grate, now evil and dead. Denathor, was a respectable leader, now a dead twisted old fool. Sauron, was a faithful servant of the Valar, now a dead Follower of Morgoth. Even Melkor, once the mightiest of the Valar, now a lonely, footless, evil spirit trapped in the Void.

Is Tolkien trying to say something here?
I guess that the corrupted Maia who followed Melkor in the rebellion just didn't like classical music. Melkor invented a new musical trend with repetitive chords. They were hard to forget.

Why Melkor would (want) to turn Arda into a dust bowl of darkness and ruined things is hard to understand.

The Valar never had a real solution to the question of Evil. They never developed means to understand their own Vanity, and I argue that the Evil of Arda was the mirror of that which the Ainur denied in themselves, (i.e. did not *resolve* in themselves). Evil cannot exist without its shadow being cast by or in or through the minds of the Ainur-Good. As Tolkien said about the Nazgul - mortals' presence "casts a shadow in their minds". That's always remained vivid imagery.

What is the shadow cast in such a mind? And what Ainur ever bothered to repair Sauron's works, or Melkor's without necessity to destroy them.
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Old 04-19-2016, 07:32 PM   #31
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So, how much does spending time in a lowly state affect one's sense of pride? Morwen's seems to have increased when she became poor. Is there a pattern, or is it individual randomness?
It's probably also worth remembering that it was fear of ending up in a lowly state which motivated Sauron to refuse to return to Valinor for judgement, knowing that he would have been the lowest of the low in reflection of his primacy among Morgoth's underlings. His pride had never suffered, and he couldn't seemingly bear the thought of it suffering then.
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I think a hello and welcome is in order and also to Althern who I see has fewer posts.
Might be a bit late unfortunately. You can see in the top left of the post the date of posting, and that was 2004. You can also check when a person last posted on their profile. Somehow I fear that if someone last posted twelve years ago a welcome now is unlikely to bring them back. That was a happier time, before the Hobbit films were made.
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Why Melkor would (want) to turn Arda into a dust bowl of darkness and ruined things is hard to understand.
To keep things on topic with Inzil's post reviving the thread twelve years later, the reason for this was pride - pride which had become "nihilistic madness" as Professor Tolkien called it. He did not create the world, so he could not bear the thought that it existed at all. Therefore he wished to destroy it.
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The Valar never had a real solution to the question of Evil.
This has come up before. It was not the Valar's role to find a full solution to the question, simply to maintain Arda's habitability for the Children of Eru. Eru had already solved the problem of Evil in the Music through the concept of "Arda Healed". This is all explained in parts 4 and 5 of Morgoth's Ring, which really are essential reading and answer a lot of common questions when exploring the metaphysics of Professor Tolkien's invention in more detail.

Is Lobelia an example of someone who learnt humility after pride? Does a character need to begin in a position of (relative) humility to be humble when they achieve greatness? Are there initially "great" characters who become humble later?
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Old 04-20-2016, 12:22 AM   #32
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Might be a bit late unfortunately. You can see in the top left of the post the date of posting, and that was 2004. You can also check when a person last posted on their profile. Somehow I fear that if someone last posted twelve years ago a welcome now is unlikely to bring them back. That was a happier time, before the Hobbit films were made.
hahahahah That's no reason to ignore her! I'm sure she'll be appreciate, perhaps in another 12 years if she returns (she's in Lorien, you know - time stop).

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It's probably also worth remembering that it was fear of ending up in a lowly state which motivated Sauron to refuse to return to Valinor for judgement, knowing that he would have been the lowest of the low in reflection of his primacy among Morgoth's underlings. His pride had never suffered, and he couldn't seemingly bear the thought of it suffering then.
I recall in the Silmarillion, when he was described as abased and defeated and begging for mercy, and yet 'he lied even unto himself' were the words at the War of Wrath after the sinking of Beleriand. Always stayed with me. Sauron as a being of pride and vanity and conceit would be angrily humiliated in defeat after little time, for that is implied by the quote. By contrast, his last moments in the Barad Dur where he discerned his peril. I suppose that is a form of fear, somehow and what he actually saw in himself in those last moments, we will never know. I imagine though, that facing that ultimate knowing of death or ending, would have pieced his God-headed vanity.

Lobelia, I believe grew in wisdom and humility of its traverse across her heart, for she lost her husband as well. Defiant candour and confinement for a chapter, and she is welcomed in our hearts as a hero of certain, but simple, plain valour.

The rebel Ainu and Maia did not seem capable or equipped to grow this way, that is, by knowing humility and candour in absence of conceit, as we saw with Lobelia. I see the same basic aspects in all their nature. Changelessness and vanity by measure each to some character. Slow to mercy or remembrance of suffering in remote corners, but purposeful in retreat, or acceptance of the marring of Arda, yet permitted to stay the impacts of marring in an annexed area, and manifest an echo of the Music of Creation, as it was discerned, or intended, to the best of their manner, sight, kind and nature.

However - strive against the evil they did. Create its echo in their footprints they did. For their labours and simple determination, they did as much as they could for this cause against evil.

However, a reshaping of Arda does not solve the question and problem of the nature of Free Will in living character. Ainu again, to return for the reshaping still have Free Will as do beings of mind, form and nature.

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This has come up before. It was not the Valar's role to find a full solution to the question, simply to maintain Arda's habitability for the Children of Eru. Eru had already solved the problem of Evil in the Music through the concept of "Arda Healed". This is all explained in parts 4 and 5 of Morgoth's Ring, which really are essential reading and answer a lot of common questions when exploring the metaphysics of Professor Tolkien's invention in more detail.
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Old 04-21-2016, 10:03 AM   #33
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facing that ultimate knowing of death or ending, would have pieced his God-headed vanity.
Not death or ending: no Ainu can be killed within Ea. He was reduced to a shadow of malice gnawing itself in the dark, unable to grow or take shape again. "While no fa can be annihilated, reduced to zero or non-existence, an evil spirit becomes fixed in a certain desire, and if it does not repent then this desire can become virtually its whole being. If the desire is wholly beyond the limits of the spirit, it will be unable to withdraw its attention from the unobtainable desire, even to attend to itself. It will then remain forever in impotent desire or memory of desire."
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Old 04-21-2016, 10:52 AM   #34
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no Ainu can be killed within Ea.
It depends what you mean by "killed" though, doesn't it? Morgoth was literally killed when he was executed by Mandos at the end of the First Age, as in his body was damaged so much that it stopped working and his fa could no longer resided within it.

I agree that the case of Sauron was different, however; his body probably fell apart or ceased to exist when the Ring was destroyed, rather than him being "killed" as we understand it; that being said, he was described as having been "slain" at the end of the Second Age.
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Old 04-21-2016, 12:38 PM   #35
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It depends what you mean by "killed" though, doesn't it? Morgoth was literally killed when he was executed by Mandos at the end of the First Age, as in his body was damaged so much that it stopped working and his fa could no longer resided within it.
I take "killed" to mean the state for any sentient creature in Arda whose physical form is separated from the fea.
In terms of Ainu, that should only apply when the forms are 'real', such as the Istari, who were ensconced in actual bodies which they could not at will discard, and Sauron, who had built himself a form that was tied to the world.
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Old 04-21-2016, 01:59 PM   #36
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It depends what you mean by "killed" though, doesn't it? Morgoth was literally killed when he was executed by Mandos at the end of the First Age, as in his body was damaged so much that it stopped working and his fa could no longer resided within it.
You're on the verge of thinking like Melkor about destroying matter being the end all be all. Yea his body was destroyed after he was decapitated and that ended him as an incarnate being, but he lives on. This is especially true with him even though he became a shell of his former self since his essence was not destroyed like with Sauron in the Ring. I don't know how he might be able to draw back that power into himself as it was suggested he might do. Makes me wonder about Sauron and the Ring and why not him with that.
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Old 03-14-2017, 09:13 PM   #37
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You're on the verge of thinking like Melkor about destroying matter being the end all be all. Yea his body was destroyed after he was decapitated and that ended him as an incarnate being, but he lives on.
I just came back upon this thread and noticed this. I am aware that Melkor "still lives" after the War of Wrath and that his fa cannot be destroyed, but that's true of all beings in E - being killed just means that the hra can no longer house the fa. To my mind this corresponds with what Professor Tolkien says in the essay found in Morgoth's Ring:
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Morgoth was thus actually made captive in physical form, and in that form taken as a mere criminal to Aman and delivered to Namo Mandos as judge and executioner. He was judged, and eventually taken out of the Blessed Realm and executed: that is killed like one of the Incarnates. It was then made plain (though it must have been understood beforehand by Manwe and Namo) that, though he had 'disseminated' his power (his evil and possessive and rebellious will) far and wide into the matter of Arda, he had lost direct control of this, and all that 'he', as a surviving remnant of integral being, retained as 'himself' and under control was the terribly shrunken and reduced spirit that inhabited his self-imposed (but now beloved) body. When that body was destroyed he was weak and utterly 'houseless', and for that time at a loss and 'unanchored' as it were.
"killed like one of the Incarnates" suggests to me that "killed" in this context specifically means "having the hra destroyed such that the fa can no longer reside in it." Just because Melkor's fa still exists doesn't mean he wasn't "killed". Elves can be killed, but their fa persist and can be reborn. Men can be killed and their fa go to Mandos. It's less common for an Ainu to be killed, but if they become bound to a single body, as Morgoth did, they can. It doesn't mean they can't recover from that, because we know Melkor could, but we wouldn't say Elves can't die or be killed just because they can be reincarnated, would we?

As Inzil points out above, Gandalf and Saruman were both also killed, despite being maiar: the hra to which the fa was bound was destroyed. Otherwise we might as well say that Wizards, Elves, Morgoth and practically anyone else besides Men and Dwarves is only "disembodied" or "temporarily inconvenienced" rather than "killed".

Sauron is also described as being "slain" in letter 131, in reference to a time when he appears to have been bound to a single body, at the end of the Second Age: "Gilgalad and Elendil are slain in the act of slaying Sauron". I note, however, that in the Appendices to The Lord of the Rings Professor Tolkien uses the more ambiguous term "overthrown", perhaps to simultaneously indicate the breaking of his power as well as his personal (temporary) demise and to avoid confusing readers who might be wondering how he seemingly "came back to life" given that it's not very clear in The Lord of the Rings itself as to what manner of being Sauron is.
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Old 03-17-2017, 01:35 PM   #38
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I think Aragorn had a line which summed it up quite nicely:

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If simple folk are free from care and fear, simple they will be.
The Hobbits are saved by their humility. Aragorn is a good King because he lowered himself to live a hard life rather than enjoy the pleasures of the world. Eomer suffered exile, Faramir suffered his father's constant disapproval.

In Tolkien's world, hardship purifies the characters - whereas the villains flatter themselves with lofty titles and airs and graces. Saruman the Wise, Sauron the Great, the Witch-King who boasts of his own immortality.

It's a very Christian view, in line with Tolkien's deeply held faith.
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Old 03-21-2017, 09:36 AM   #39
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However, the small and weak can also fall, they just do less damage when they do. Smeagol, Lotho, Grima, Bill Ferny are just some of those who fell to the temptations of petty power or trivial wealth, and as far as they were concerned then their fall was no less than that of a Feanor or Ar-Pharazon.
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Old 03-28-2017, 05:49 PM   #40
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Since this thread has already been resurrected, I might as well add my two cents on the original subject matter.

Back in 2004, the user Gorwingel offered an interesting interpretation:

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All of the mighty who did fall in Tolkien's works, fell because they went to the evil side and strayed from their original purpose. They gave into their own personal greed, and desires for greatness and domination over everything. The mighty who didn't fall (like Gandalf) stuck to their original purpose, and kept on basically a path of "good". And of course they were rewarded in the end.
The observation that not all of the ever so powerful entities in the middle-earth mythos do indeed fall, seems important to me. We encounter many instances of supremely powerful beings that don't get corrupted and twisted. First and formeost there's Manw and the rest of the Valar. They may err at times but they ultimately stay true to their path. The same can be said for less powerful beings like Gandalf or Galadriel. They key difference between those characters and evil characters lies in the willingness to oblige to their preordained roles in the cosmic plan. This difference in attitude marks a certain breaking point: Melkor, Sauron, Saruman, the Nmenreans, and so forth, all of them went astray in ther desire for things that were beyond their stature and standing. This insight bears the quiet depressing notion that everything and everyone ought to stay right where they belong, or else...!

I think this is why these fallen characters are able to claim a somewhat rebellious and free-spirited appearance for themselves which consistently attracts an entourage of less powerful but like-minded mortals. And this claim isn't solely a lie or a ruse to catch some minions. Its plausibility rests on the fact that it can be quite scarry to surrender one's own fortune and wellbeing to a largely unknown and vague but indisputable cosmic plan.

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