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Old 06-19-2004, 10:50 PM   #1
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Melkor and Sauron's goal

Hi! I'm new here and I enjoy all the discussions here.

I just have a question.

I always wondered about the "goals and intentions" of Evil - ok for Morgoth it's quite clear, he wants might, he wants power, he wants to rule the world. Same for Sauron.
But why? Why the hell are there always people who want to rule?? Is there any personal advantage for them when they are the Lord over Lands they have never seen, they never went to, that aren't even paying taxes?? Is this ambition?

I also wonder what the personal goal of, for example, Dragons or Balrogs is, besides surviving. Why do they fight in battles?
Because they are commanded to do so?
They fight neither for plain surviving nor for freedom nor for so-called [self-]justice nor for anything they admire, they fight just for their Lord though they probably hate him.
Is it fun for them to kill?
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Old 06-19-2004, 11:31 PM   #2
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1420! A tolkien concept.

First, I don't know enough about Balrogs and Dragons to talk about how they are the way they are, so that question I can't answer. As for your first question about why people get in their minds to "rule" the world?

I think first of all, Melkor and Sauron wanting to rule the "world" was Tolkien mixing in his concept about dictators. Tolkien was a man who hated industrialization, he was more of a nature person, and I think Melkor and Sauron could represent possible Satan (since he was a religious man) or some of the ruthless dictators of WW1, who wanted to rule the world. Now on to why?

We may very well never know the why, but if you ask me they get these ideas in their heads from their peers they look up to and from general society. You always here about corrupt politicians, well who raised these people? Where have they been growing up at? Society. They didn't just fall from the sky. I also think a lot depends upon your childhood, your parents, and your peers. Sauron was a servant of Morgoth, so you might tell where he got some of his ideas from. And for the explanation for Morgoth you can simply say some people just want power, they aren't happy until they rule everything and control everything. Some of the most cruel, successful, wicked dictators, like Hitler and Stalin, have also been known to have many mental illnesses. For example like ADD and paranoia, the constant fear that someone will betray them and take all their power.
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Old 06-20-2004, 12:27 AM   #3
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Hello shadow_lady,

Tolkien also hated governments. His idea of how things should run are shown in The Lord of the Rings through the Hobbits and the Shire.

You don't just see this 'power' crazy stuff when people want to take over the world, it is in families, friendships etc., Why ? I don't really know. It could be the fear element, it could be not being satisfied with what they have. It could actually be an endless list of things.

From Tolkien's point of view it was more than likely the God and Devil story from the bible. The Devil gets cast out of heaven and then proceeds to try and dominate God's creation, or win it away from him/her.

We see this type of stuff going on today, we saw it 20 years ago and we will no doubt see it in the future. Someone always wants to be top dog, whether a single person in a family or a country in the world.
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Old 06-20-2004, 10:00 AM   #4
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Boots One word- Jealousy.

Morgoth and Sauron were victims of their own envy in my opinion. Melkor's reason for destroying his fellow Valar's creations was because of that envy. I believe this envy slowly turned to hate, and fed his hirst for power. It's only fitting that the Vala with the most power was the one to fall - like a Lucifer representation in a way. This goes back to the well-known theme of power corrupting. Melkor believed he had some right to the throne of Arda, which perverted him to the point of anger and jealousy.

For Sauron I would just say that he was victim to the deception of Melkor. I believe Melkor created the emotions of hatred, fear and envy, and passed it on to his servants.
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Old 06-20-2004, 06:12 PM   #5
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Morgoth was recorded as the most powerful of the Valar, at least at the beginning of the Silmarillion.

Power begs for corruption. It went to Morgoth's head and created within him the desire to be even more powerful. This need for strength is sated somewhat by dominating others, and that is exactly what Morgoth did, by corrupting the elves and creating his own little minions to do his bidding.

After that, it's only natural that he would want to dominate everyone else as well.

As for Sauron, well, his name before he joined Morgoth was Thu, and if I had that name, I'd be evil too. (*ba-doom-ching!*)

Anyway...

He most likely wasn't a very important little Maia, and wanted some recognition. So, he basically followed Morgoth's example.
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Old 06-21-2004, 08:23 AM   #6
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Old 06-21-2004, 02:31 PM   #7
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Pipe Pride, greed, hubris

Which, although it is a natural desire in Tolkien's opinion, both of these characters take to extremes. Both are motivated by pride and a lust to take everything to themselves. Sauron is more of a possessor, but Morgoth, discovering that he can never rival the creations of Eru, turns to destruction and perversion. In the end he has no real goal other than to torture, warp and destroy the work of all those who hold Eru as the ultimate authority. Sauron resents Eru much less, but allows his pride and will to dominate to take complete control of his actions. In both cases, the end is eventually lost in the chaos of the means.
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Old 06-23-2004, 11:27 PM   #8
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Oh, I personally always thought that Melkor read too much Marquis de Sade at an impressionable age.

Oh wait you want a serious answer.

A growing bitterness and greed that translate into a selfish desire for domination through violence. No sense of moderation. And de Sade.
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Old 06-24-2004, 08:21 AM   #9
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From an old post of mine:

Quote:
Tolkien's conception of Morgoth may have changed as time passed. He was originally one of a pantheon of "gods" each having their own sub-realm within the bounds of Arda (Manwe - air, Ulmo - water, etc.). These "gods" morphed into angelic Valar while retaining their pantheon-like characteristics of "elemental" power. Each had or assumed a role within the pantheon. Some of Tolkien's latest writings (the Osanwe-kenta for example) suggest that Morgoth's "role" was chaos. But rather than work cooperatively with the Valar, injecting his "wild card" into their works (the effect of chaos may have been the creation of wondrous variation in the natural world), Morgoth instead allowed his role to consume him becoming the ultimate egoist/hedonist. Instead of creating variation, he reveled in destruction and corruption. As Sharku suggests, he was not evil from the beginning but became evil through lack of restraint and utter selfishness.

Sauron suffered from similar flaws. Ironically, he is portrayed as a polar opposite of Morgoth. Sauron is portrayed as a lover of order. But in seeking to impose order in the world, he suffered from a similar lack of restraint which devolved into selfishness. Thus to impose order he uses many of the same instrumentalities employed by Morgoth to create chaos. The distinction being that Morgoth wanted destruction while Sauron wanted control. He too was not evil in the beginning but became so. As is reflected in the letter quoted by Sharku, there is no inherent evil in Middle Earth; nothing is per se irredeemable, though perhaps Morgoth and later Sauron reached a point beyond redemption.
This is from the "Inherent Evil" thread which can be found here.
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Old 06-24-2004, 01:52 PM   #10
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Tolkien Good Question, Shadow_Lady

Tolkien is just distilling evil from our real (and spiritual) world into his literary world. Why evil? Why sin? Why pride, envy, lust, fear? It is in the corrupted nature of fallen beings.
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Old 06-24-2004, 02:40 PM   #11
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Old 06-26-2004, 01:37 AM   #12
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Pipe Why?

It's a chain reaction, but with results more dangerous than the release of neutrons.

First, there's pride. I'm the best so all of you are no match.

Then envy. Hey. How come he has that? I want that, too.

Morgoth never understood that, powerful though he may be, the bounds of his strength is clearly set. In his quest to rival Eru's creative power, his envy is consumed to the point of hatred. I can't have that? Well, neither can you. *smash*

Sauron went through the same process, except his hatred was only directed at those who oppose him, not the entireity of creation. After all, his pride only came from desire to create "order" on Middle-earth, not to create existence.
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Old 10-18-2016, 01:53 PM   #13
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I have been exploring the archives recently, and came upon this gem from12 years ago. There were only 11 responses to the initial post, but it seems worthy of further exploration and fresh opinions.

The central question is what are "the 'goals and intentions' of Evil" in Middle Earth. Most of the thread focused upon Morgoth and Sauron, but there are lesser evils in Middle Earth; the Balrogs and dragons are referenced by the original poster, but also Orcs, Trolls, evil Men, Dwarves and Elves. Midway through the thread, there is a link to another thread discussing whether in Tolkien's view some persons/powers are "inherently evil." In Letters, Tolkien appears to have generally rejected this view, stating that no one, with the possible exception of Morgoth, is "irredeemable."

So in Middle Earth, there is a choice, or in some cases a compulsion, to evil. What fuels such choices or compulsions?
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Old 10-18-2016, 04:04 PM   #14
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Pipe

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mithadan View Post
So in Middle Earth, there is a choice, or in some cases a compulsion, to evil. What fuels such choices or compulsions?
Excellent revivification!

There's a temptation, I think, to distinguish between the greater evil servants--the Maiarin servants: balrogs and dragons--and the lesser: orks and trolls, on the basis of their differing origins. The nature of the former is corruption of a different--and higher--order of being. Of course, this is muddled more than a little by Tolkien's failure to settle on definitive origins for his evil races, but setting aside his failure to provide us with a definitive explanation of HOW the evil races came about, I think we could generalise by saying that there is a distinction between the "demonic" races on the one hand and the "humanoid" races on the other.

In the case of the fallen Maiar, the utter origins of evil are a bit more inscrutable: WHY does an immortal spirit that has directly experienced the presence of Ilúvatar choose Melkor? I couldn't say... though I think you can say that it was, in fact, a choice. Once chosen, though, this evil seems to be locked in. Sauron is the only evil Maia in the historical ages to be given a chance at redemption. Ossë, of course, flirted with evil in the prehistorical days, but ultimately didn't fall. Personally, I'm inclined to say that evidence suggests that incarnation--taking physical form and becoming bound to it--in some way represents the irrevocability of the choice made by the evil Maia. Once locked into a physical form--and a physical form (ie. as either a balrog or a dragon) that directly indicates the evil of the choice made--this becomes an unalterable part of their nature.

With regards to the orks and even trolls, however, I think that they have less choice in the matter--less personal choice, that is: they are clearly borne into it, and this is thrust upon them in a way even Melkor could not thrust it upon the balrogs. On other hand, orks and trolls do not seem to be quite as locked into it. Although predisposed toward evil, they seem to have the leeway to slough it off. This is harder to definitively argue: there are no actual cases of orkish repentance in Middle-earth, but I do think it is consistent with the portrayal of orks in The Lord of the Rings to say that they have more action-to-action free agency to choose good or evil--of course, given their environment and perhaps genetics, they are disposed to choose one way.
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Old 10-18-2016, 05:54 PM   #15
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I agree: great thread!

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I think we could generalise by saying that there is a distinction between the "demonic" races on the one hand and the "humanoid" races on the other.
Yes. The evil of the 'spiritual' beings is of a different order.
Melkor, Sauron, the Balrogs, and in my view, Shelob are more culpable for their evil.
As the higher order of Eru's self-aware creations, they had vastly more knowledge of his designs and their part in them, and hence, greater responsibility for their deliberate shunning of their intended role. I say, intended, because there is an underlying theme that even in their self-willed 'rebellion', they continued to serve Eru's plan.

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Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
In the case of the fallen Maiar, the utter origins of evil are a bit more inscrutable: WHY does an immortal spirit that has directly experienced the presence of Ilúvatar choose Melkor? I couldn't say... though I think you can say that it was, in fact, a choice. Once chosen, though, this evil seems to be locked in. Sauron is the only evil Maia in the historical ages to be given a chance at redemption. Ossë, of course, flirted with evil in the prehistorical days, but ultimately didn't fall. Personally, I'm inclined to say that evidence suggests that incarnation--taking physical form and becoming bound to it--in some way represents the irrevocability of the choice made by the evil Maia. Once locked into a physical form--and a physical form (ie. as either a balrog or a dragon) that directly indicates the evil of the choice made--this becomes an unalterable part of their nature.
You don't mention Saruman, but it seems clear that being clad in real bodies in mortal Middle-earth was a serious challenge to the Istari in keeping to their mission. Only Gandalf stayed true, and we don't really know why.

Quote:
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With regards to the orks and even trolls, however, I think that they have less choice in the matter--less personal choice, that is: they are clearly borne into it, and this is thrust upon them in a way even Melkor could not thrust it upon the balrogs. On other hand, orks and trolls do not seem to be quite as locked into it. Although predisposed toward evil, they seem to have the leeway to slough it off. This is harder to definitively argue: there are no actual cases of orkish repentance in Middle-earth, but I do think it is consistent with the portrayal of orks in The Lord of the Rings to say that they have more action-to-action free agency to choose good or evil--of course, given their environment and perhaps genetics, they are disposed to choose one way.
Yes, I think the Orcs had been so trained and bred for war and service to evil for so many generations that it had become an ingrained part of the universal culture. They weren't above (or below) disrespect, or defiance toward their superiors, but that rebelloiusness led them not to any approximation of good, but only to a more petty sort of thievery, pillage, and murder.
Over time, without a Sauron or a Witch-king to focus them, I think the Orcs would gradually have gotten some of that out of their systems, and maybe a majority would eventually have assimilated themselves to life with Men.
Of course, their primeval Melkor-bred tendencies would never wholly disappear, as they're still seen in our (7th) Age world today.
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Old 10-19-2016, 01:30 AM   #16
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Quote:
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So in Middle Earth, there is a choice, or in some cases a compulsion, to evil. What fuels such choices or compulsions?
Tom Shippey argued in The Road to Middle-earth that evil in Professor Tolkien's work was a result of "some combination of external prompting and internal weakness"; I would interpret this metaphysically as the "Morgoth-element" - evil is within or without all things.

That being said, it seems to me that Professor Tolkien did to an extent characterise how such choices were motivated. Morgoth's is quite straightforward - pride leading to a desire for lordship and mastery.

Regarding lesser evils, I wonder if it is related to Sauron's apparent self-delusion that Eru had "simply abandoned" Arda and didn't really care about it.

Returning perhaps to the Morgoth-element, I would suggest that evil tends to be the expression of varying degrees of the "nihilistic madness" I often mention: a desire to control and, when control fails, to destroy.
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Old 10-19-2016, 01:29 PM   #17
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I quite like the distinction that Formendacil makes between the demonic and the humanoid races of evil. One made an active choice; the others were born into it. I often find the un nuanced all bad villains boring, and have wondered why this never bothered me in LotR.

For me it is probably down to two passages in the books. The conflict between Ugluk and Grishnakh and the conversation between Shagrat and Gorbag.

The first quite clearly show us that these are not just mindless beasts, but that orcs have agendas of their own, and are in fact very much like humans.

Secondly, we have the conversation between Shagrat and Gorbag. In some way, it is one of the most important part of the books for me, as it portrays the orcs as having personal agendas and individual characteristics (that are not pure evil). Where Ugluk and to some extend Grishnakh seemed loyal to their demonic overlords, Shagrat and Gorbag seem to have much more of their own agenda. They question demonic authority and indicate desire to live in “peace” somewhere (with loot of course). That they end up slaughtering each other; probably show that they are beyond redemption, lest the reader start getting to much sympathy for them.
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Old 10-19-2016, 02:15 PM   #18
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Wow. In a single post, Rune has raised two hotly debated subjects. First, are Orcs irredeemably evil? Second, are Orcs able to act freely or are they to some extent controlled by the will of Sauron or Morgoth. Combine that with Formendacil's mention of the origins of Orcs and you have hit the trifecta.

I do not intend to delve into any of these issues (and I can direct you to where they have been discussed in the past if you like). I'd like to hone in on what motivated the greater and lesser evil personages in Middle Earth to become evil.

Morgoth is, perhaps, the most simple case. Even before the Music, he secretly sought for the Imperishable Flame in the Void, so that he could bring others into being. Why he wanted this is not explained, but one can suspect he wanted control over others. This was his earliest act of rebellion. His disruption of the Music was his next act of rebellion and reflects upon what he had become and would become, a champion of chaos. His disruption caused other lesser Ainur to attune their Music to his rather than give voice to their own thoughts. More on this in a moment.

When the Music is stopped and the Vision of Arda is displayed, Melkor was ashamed, giving rise to anger. He feigns the desire to aid others in in controlling the disruption he caused. But ultimately, after the Valar and Maiar enter the world, he claims Arda as his own kingdom. When his peers do not simply capitulate, he resumes his campaign of chaos, attempting to harm everything done by others. In a sense, he acts as a child. "If I can't have it, no one will." The initial poster in this thread asks about goals. I question whether Morgoth had any clear goals, other than doing violence to Arda.

Sauron's motives appear to differ. He wanted order and to obtain order, he wanted control. He joined Morgoth as a way of obtaining control so that he could order things as he desired.

The Balrogs and other Maiar that may have been attracted to Morgoth would have included some of those who attuned their Music to his. They may have become like him, creators of violence and chaos. Others might have simply aligned themselves with him because he was a power and they themselves could be more important acting with him than staying with the Valar. In this, their motives do not differ greatly from those who follow evil in the modern world.

Dragons? I am going to speculate here. Their origins are obscure. They were clearly bred by Morgoth, so far as their bodies are concerned. But Morgoth could not create souls or minds. So I believe their bodies were inhabited by lesser Maiar. By becoming dragons, perhaps they could become greater and more powerful than they were.

Orcs and Trolls, regardless of their "origins," were coerced and corrupted by Morgoth. Perhaps they were "born into it" after generations of manipulation. I do not want to open the Pandora's box of whether they were redeemable. Suffice it to say that they were bred to be and coerced into being followers of evil. Again not too different from the modern world.
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Old 10-28-2016, 01:57 PM   #19
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I've always seen evil in Middle-Earth not as a presence (the Manichean heresy) but as absence (nicely orthodox of me and fitting for our very religiously conservative professor): in particular, as an absence of self-control over one's own appetites.

Appetite strikes me as the central 'flaw' or 'impetus' of all the evil folk, with the extent of the appetite being directly related to the extent of the evil. If you have an appetite for a bit of destruction and violence, you're an orc; if you have an appetite for the whole world you're either Sauron or Shelob -- cause there's different 'flavours' of appetites: you can want to eat for different purposes. Sauron wants to eat the world in the sense of sating himself on it, taking it all and containing it within himself. He likes the taste of the world. Shelob wants to consume it, to see it all gone, to eat not from hunger for it, but for a mindless desire to feed. Sauron's connoisseur to Shelob's glutton.

The absence here is the absence of self control: all creatures have appetite, all individuals do but know or learn that unrestrained appetite is dangerous to oneself and others, but in some this sense is turned off or gone; the lack of self-control over one's appetites leads to evil.

My tuppence.

Nice old thread, nice revival.
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