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Old 06-09-2007, 11:27 PM   #1
MatthewM
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Tolkien The Scouring of the Shire

"The Scouring of the Shire" is probably one of my favorite chapters in the books. Many people I find do not like it, but they do not understand the significance it shows for each hobbit- Pippin shows what he has learned after leaving the Shire as a fool hearted Took, Frodo shows the utmost of mercy that he has learned, contrasting his initial feelings about Bilbo and Gollum ("it's a pity Bilbo didn't kill him when he had the chance" (movie quote, although in the book I recall a very similiar statement made)), Sam is reunited with Rosie, and Merry...well...Merry always had his priorities together, I feel. He gained leadership and more authority, for sure. I feel like the chapter is essential to show the coming full circle for all the hobbits.

What are your opinions on this chapter? Is it one of your favorites as well?
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Old 06-10-2007, 11:34 AM   #2
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It's a great chapter, in my opinion. You forgot one thing with the hobbits from the Fellowship, and that's the Sam-Ted Sandyman issue. "Samwise strikes back". The same goes with Bill Ferny. But for me, the most important effect on a hobbit's fate or even the biggest movement in the view of the reader on a certain hobbit is in the case of Lobelia. When she is brought from the Lockholes, she turns from a troubling neighbor into a figure with whom the reader feels compassion.

But, of course, the best of the entire chapter is Saruman himself. Of course when you read it even for the first place, you suppose it was him who did all this mess (or do you?) - but speaking for myself, his sudden appearance succeeds to "surprise" me every time. And he is just wonderful! I mean, he's totally cool! You know, if you imagine this guy standing in Bag End? You know, that Saruman from Orthanc, the one you know from before as an enemy, the master of the Uruk-hai? Now I am not speaking of realizing his fall or how poor he now is, no, quite the contrary: it is as if, for example, Elvis Presley came to your house while you've been away. Now what he does, what he says on the few lines... he is just great! (It's not that I admire anything he did or something like that, but I just love him as character.) And his death scene? This is probably the most thrilling moment, comparable for me maybe only with the entrance into the Morgul-valley, and also the moment where we are nearest to the "transcendental" in the whole book.

However, there is also that Frodo-Gríma thing, where you can see, as it was already mentioned, the ultimate pity. It is also the last moment where Saruman is shown mercy, and he rejects it, even attacks the one who offers it: but is given mercy once more. I think no person was offered mercy as many times as Saruman (counting the situations where his power was already broken, then these were by Gandalf in Orthanc, then once again after the end of the war, then in the Shire) and when we are speaking about mercy, we are very often forgetting him and instead think too much of Gollum (who was offered mercy only once, where he accepted it. I'm not of course deprecating the question of Gollum, but emphasising the case of Saruman).

So in general: yes, I give this chapter seven stars out of five, and PJ is a loser (although it's maybe better that he did not do the chapter, since he'd surely ruin it, which will in turn ruin my heart )
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Old 06-11-2007, 09:46 AM   #3
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I personally have one problem with it.
It's hard to read about some small fight in the Shire after you read about great battles in Beleriand and the rest of M-e against Melkor and Sauron.
It's also the reason why Tolkien stopped writing anything about new possible threats in Gondor during Eldarion's rule. It just wouldn't be the same.
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Old 06-11-2007, 11:03 AM   #4
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Well, from my point of view (but it is how I feel it), I cannot agree. First, I think what you say about the "small fight" is not comparable. If you'd read it right after the Silmarillion, of course you cannot compare it, the same as you cannot compare battle at Morannon - ha, ha, some few thousands of losers - with the War of Wrath. But a common reader, supposedly, sits down and then reads all the volumes of LotR, and he is in this story now, and when he comes to the last chapter, it just logically fits with the rest of what he read before. And that some thousands of years ago some folks did this and this, who cares? Túrin also killed Brodda, and who says it is a problem to read about it when you know his father fought the troll-guard of Gothmog? If you take it from the perspective of a reader, there is a battle in the Shire, a home of those you know, and a place you know and are really familiar with it from the story. And the hobbits - those who just sit and smoke their pipes all the time - are now confronted with something the main characters experienced, but they did not - the "real world". And in this the chapter is interesting, because you now see another point of view - these guys just saved the world and all Gaffer Gamgee says is that it's about time that they are back and that they should've never sold Bag End. "And while you're been trapessing in foreign parts, chasing Black Men up mountains from what my Sam says, though what for he don't make clear, they've been and dug up Bagshot Row and ruined my taters!"

Simply, you cannot think of Thangorodrim when you read about the Shire.
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"But it is not your own Shire," said Gildor. "Others dwelt here before hobbits were; and others will dwell here again when hobbits are no more. The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out."
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Old 06-11-2007, 11:54 AM   #5
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Tolkien

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Originally Posted by Legate of Amon Lanc
these guys just saved the world and all Gaffer Gamgee says is that it's about time that they are back and that they should've never sold Bag End. "And while you're been trapessing in foreign parts, chasing Black Men up mountains from what my Sam says, though what for he don't make clear, they've been and dug up Bagshot Row and ruined my taters!"

Simply, you cannot think of Thangorodrim when you read about the Shire.
Exactly. I found it funny when I read that, I love how Tolkien included it- it shows the true simplicity and ignorance of the hobbit folk. Although I have never read the Silm, it's a different time period with different characters and different stories. The Lord of the Rings comes full circle, as it started in The Shire, concludes with grown up hobbits defeating in The Shire what are practically pee-on's compared to what they faced out in the whole of M-e, and then the departure.

I agree with you Legate about Saruman. He is definitely an interesting character, and although I do not agree with the deeds he performed, his wit and personality are intriguing and entertaining to read.
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Old 06-13-2007, 10:45 AM   #6
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Eye

It's a great chapter. Pippin and Merry emerge for the first time as full fledged leaders and heroes. You may think that they had done that already in the story, but not really.

Sure, Pippin saved the Steward of Gondor, but Pippin didn't do it himself. He ran for help and then assisted Gandalf in saving the day.

Same with Merry. He didn't call out the WK and defeat him in a duel. He cowered in the background until he felt brave enough to stab him from behind.

Not that what they did wasn't awesome, don't get me wrong. But the fact is they were not standing up and calling the shots. They were just along for the ride, always under the care of someone else (Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn, Boromir, the orcs, Treebeard, Theoden, Dernhelm, Denethor).

But when they got back to the Shire, they rose up and took the reins of leadership. There was no more running to others for orders or help. They decided what they'd do and then did it. Their experiences during their long adventure had prepared them for the role.
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Old 06-14-2007, 02:48 PM   #7
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Gandalfs last work.

Don't you remember what Gandalf said as he parted with the Hobbits: he to see Bombadil and they to head home, " I am not coming to the Shire. It is no longer my place to set things to right. That is what you have been trained for, do you not yet understand?" Good job, Olorin. Cirdan trusting Narya to Gandalf was well done. The weilder of the secret flame of Anor kindled together brotherhood and trained the hobbits to take care of themselves after the Eldar departed.
As for the Gaffer: he symbolized(as did all hobbits). the humble and small folk, namely all of us, to be left alone to worry about those things important to us.
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Old 06-19-2007, 12:36 PM   #8
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Couple of things here...
I really, really liked this chapter and I agree with the concept of it showing growth and how the Hobbits have come full circle.
Also, I won't compare the battle fought in the Shire with any of the great battles fought throughout Middle Earth, simply because I think any comparisons don't work when you think about the... deeply personal nature of the battle for the Shire.
And I wouldn't define the Hobbits as ignorant. Innocent, surely, but not ignorant.
Finally, the first time I read it, I never, ever thought that Sauman was behind it all. I didn't think he'd had enough time to create as much of a mess as he did.

Obviously he was a workaholic.
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Old 06-19-2007, 07:57 PM   #9
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The Lord of the Rings can be read and enjoyed on many levels, but from my point of view if one pares down the story to its most fundamental plotline, it is a coming of age tale concerning four naive young Hobbits, who must leave the natal womb of the Shire and travel forth as blind innocents into the cruel world, stumbling and erring along the way, but at last coming of age with the resolution and wisdom one can only accrue through experience and travail. In this context, the 'Scouring of the Shire' is not a denouement but a climax of the story, an integral link in the ongoing progression of Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin.

As others have mentioned in this thread (and Tolkien, through Gandalf's character, stated plainly), the Hobbits were literally trained throughout the trilogy to become the type of leaders and strategists that could instill rebellion and hope among their fellow Hobbits against the usurpation of Saruman and his gang of brigands -- without any outside assistance. This last point is very crucial, and it is certain from reading the text that Gandalf (with his penchant for prescience) understood this point and chose to leave the Hobbits before they entered the Shire for that very purpose. In a sense, Gandalf was much like a father figure who allowed his sons to become men (or adult Hobbits, if you prefer). Certainly, Frodo or one of his companions could have sent word to Elrond, Gandalf or Cirdan and received aid that would have quickly crushed Sharkey and his bullies, but as adults they took responsibility for the situation based on their experiences of the year previous.

A few of you may have read my tirades regarding P.J. Jackson's misinterpretation of the Lord of the Rings, and although I understand the need for time compression (particularly in a project so vast), I believe P.J. missed the boat by undermining a central plot point. There is also the shock value that was eliminated when the Hobbits discovered that war and evil, even of such a petty nature, had consumed even their pastoral and backwater patch of Middle-earth. The Hobbit characters were in a sense deprived of the opportunity to apply their wisdom and valor to defend their homes. Also, Saruman and Grima's deaths at Orthanc in the extended film version was such a waste of drama and intrigue, don't you think?
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Old 06-20-2007, 06:25 AM   #10
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Also, Saruman and Grima's deaths at Orthanc in the extended film version was such a waste of drama and intrigue, don't you think?
It's such a waste of Saruman and Gríma, in my opinion...
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Old 06-20-2007, 07:40 AM   #11
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There is no such thing as a small fight, only a small warrior!

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I personally have one problem with it.
It's hard to read about some small fight in the Shire after you read about great battles in Beleriand and the rest of M-e against Melkor and Sauron.
It's also the reason why Tolkien stopped writing anything about new possible threats in Gondor during Eldarion's rule. It just wouldn't be the same.
Well, first of all, I don't really enjoy LotR or any works of M-E because of the fights or battles--they are wonderfully told, but the purpose of all of them is to reveal character and demonstrate something essential about the themes. There is no fighting without purpose in Tolkien's world, and on that score the Scouring is no exception.

But what I really take issue with in your post is this idea that there is such a thing as a "small fight" -- to anyone in a life and death battle there is nothing 'little' about it. Part of the purpose of the Scouring is, I think, to remind us of that: that taken from the point of view of the individual combatant war of any 'size' is immense and overwhelming. You could die. You might need to kill. Whether you die alongside 10 000 other people or 100 is immaterial--either way you are dead and everything you have and could have is gone. Likewise, whether you kill 2 or 3 of 10 000 or 2 or 3 of 100 you have murdered and taken life.

The more intimate and personal scale of the battle in the Shire reminds us of this fact. Thousands died in the Pelennor, but we really only 'feel' for or remember those individual characters we know by name (Theoden) the rest are just part of that big and incomprehensible number. Those who fell defending the Shire are remembered and mourned individually by their friends and community, reminding us that this is what war really is all about.
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Old 06-20-2007, 09:03 PM   #12
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As Tolkien would say in his Foreward to LOTR the Scouring of the Shire is...

'an essential part of the plot, foreseen from the outset'.

The Lord of the Rings has to end with the hobbits, as it is hobbits as Mr. Simon argues:
Quote:
For it was Hobbits that made it possible for The Lord of the Rings to succeed. Few modern Englishmen, and not many modern readers of any nationality, could easily identify with the heroic nihilism of Túrin or the romantic bravado of Beren, let alone with the high-minded loyalties and hatreds of the Elves. But almost anyone can identify with Bilbo, Frodo, or Sam. They mediate between the high style of archaic romance and the familiar conventions of the modern novel.
It is the hobbits that caused LOTR to be the hit that it was, and as Mr. Simon argues what ultimately led to 1,000's of readers being disappointed in The Silmarillion because there were no hobbits. I think Tolkien realized this in Letter 131 to Milton Waldman:
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A moral of the whole is the obvious one that without the high and noble, the simple and vulgar is utterly mean; and without the simple and ordinary the noble and heroic is meaningless.
Tolkien sets up a complimentary balance between the 'high and noble' (the Aragorn's, Gandalf's, and Boromir's) and the 'simple and ordinary' (the Frodo's, the Bilbo's, the Sam's...etc). Without one the other is meaningless. You need the 'high and noble' to do the heroic and mighty dragon-slaying, monster-sparring and glorious battling. Yet you need the 'simple and ordinary' the ones 'who are not made for perilous quests' (as Frodo sees himself), to do the 'dirty' quests (the trudge through Mordor to destroy the Ring) that the high and noble won't do or even can't do.

In the end Sauron is defeated by the hobbits, by the simple and ordinary. Gandalf doesn't challenge him one-on-one, Aragorn doesn't duel him to the death (Gil-galad and Elendil already tried that), Sauron is defeated (for good) by Frodo and Sam's march through a desolate wasteland.

Therefor, as I agree with Tolkien, The Scouring is 'an essential part of the plot.' The Lord of the Rings is a story about the hobbits. It starts with them, Sauron is defeated by them, and it's only fitting that the story ends with them.
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Old 06-21-2007, 07:17 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boromir88
Tolkien sets up a complimentary balance between the 'high and noble' (the Aragorn's, Gandalf's, and Boromir's) and the 'simple and ordinary' (the Frodo's, the Bilbo's, the Sam's...etc). Without one the other is meaningless. You need the 'high and noble' to do the heroic and mighty dragon-slaying, monster-sparring and glorious battling. Yet you need the 'simple and ordinary' the ones 'who are not made for perilous quests' (as Frodo sees himself), to do the 'dirty' quests (the trudge through Mordor to destroy the Ring) that the high and noble won't do or even can't do.
New Thought (sparked by the above): It's not just the "good" that is presented to us in such balance: what about (to borrow Boro's* phrase) the "complimentary balance" between Sauron and Gollum? The "high" and overpowering evil of the Dark Lord vs the "vulgar" and "mean-spirited" ill will of Smeagol.

Another example more germaine to the thread topic: Saruman and Grima--both are traitors, but one is high and "one of the great" while the other is low and pathetic.

More examples??:

The Balrog and the Watcher--the former a holdover from the First Age (possibly even fallen maia, certainly with wings that work), the latter is simply a creature doing what it does with perhaps some nudging by evil but not really an embodiment of evil.

The Nazgul and the orcs--both slaves of Sauron, but again, "high" and ancient evil wih the Wraiths and pathetic, "vulgar", petty villanies by the orcs.

We now return you to your regulary scheduled topic.


* Heh, that rhymes....what if one were to ask to "borrow Boro's Barrow"?
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Old 06-22-2007, 02:36 PM   #14
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Well Fordim, I have to say I think you're on to something here. I think the best illustration of the 'complimentary balance' with Tolkien's evil characters is shown in Saruman and Grima.

Saruman is 'one of the great' and he surely has his 'great plans' which we can see from his words to Gandalf:
Quote:
As the Power grows, its proved friends will also grows; and the Wise, such as you and I, may with patience come at last to direct its courses, to control it. We can bide our time, we can keep our thoughts in our hearts, deploring maybe evils done by the way, but approving the high and ultimate purpose: Knowledge, Rule, Order; all the things that we have so far striven in vain to accomplish, hindered rather than helped by our weak or idle friends.~The Council of Elrond
He is a wannabe Sauron, a wannabe Dark Lord. We also see he sets himself and Gandalf in a different class. Saruman considers himself much 'higher' than his 'weak and idle friends' that have only 'hindered' him so far. So, you could say that Saruman is striving for a 'higher evil' than Tolkien's 'low and pathetic' evil characters...like Grima.

What does Grima betray for? Surely Grima doesn't realistically see himself as being a 'Dark Lord.' He betrays for what...money? A woman? And I think we only see how pathetic he truly is when he becomes the whip dog of Saruman.

Yet, what is a Dark Lord without his pathetic and controlled slaves? Without one the other is meaningless. Do we see this in the fact that after Grima kills Saruman, Grima is also killed?

If that's the case than I think Sauron and his Orcs are a better comparison than Sauron and Gollum. Tolkien talks about Sauron's Orcs as being in 'complete thraldom' and very much like an 'ant-like slavery to Sauron.' Sauron is the Dark Lord, and his Orcs are his controlled slaves:
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"They were indeed so corrupted that they were pitiless, and there was no cruelty or wickedness that they would not commit; but this was the corruption of independent wills, and they took pleasure in their deeds. They were capable of acting on their own, doing evil deeds unbidden for their own sport..."~Home X: Morgoth's Ring; Myth's Transformed
So, the Orcs simply committed evil because they took pleasure from it and they got a kick out of it; rather pathetic wouldn't you say? And where is the controlled slave without their Dark Lord to order them around?
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As when death smites the swollen brooding thing that inhabits their crawling hill and holds them all in sway, ants will wander witless and purposeless than feebly die, so the creatures of Sauron, orc or troll or beast spell-enslaved, ran hither and thither mindless; and some slew themselves, or cast themselves in pits, or fled wailing back to hide in holes and dark lightless places far from hope.~The Field of Cormallen
Hmm...interesting.
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Old 06-23-2007, 04:34 PM   #15
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So, the Orcs simply committed evil because they took pleasure from it and they got a kick out of it; rather pathetic wouldn't you say? And where is the controlled slave without their Dark Lord to order them around?

Quote:
As when death smites the swollen brooding thing that inhabits their crawling hill and holds them all in sway, ants will wander witless and purposeless than feebly die, so the creatures of Sauron, orc or troll or beast spell-enslaved, ran hither and thither mindless; and some slew themselves, or cast themselves in pits, or fled wailing back to hide in holes and dark lightless places far from hope.~The Field of Cormallen
Hmm...interesting.
Interesting though, that there were pockets of men, Easterlings and Haradrim, who fought on without quarter while others sued for mercy. Tolkien puts the slant on their actions that they were 'longest in evil servitude'; however, even with such authorial shading, one cannot help but see valor in these 'men proud and bold' a courage no less than that exhibited by the 'Captains of the West' when certain defeat and death stared hungrily at them.

Certainly, the Orcs were ruled out of fear -- of that there can be no doubt; yet, left to their own devices (as when ruled by Bolg to the North), they retained a malevolence and hatred for all things which is perhaps a calculated matter of breeding over countless generations.

In regards to Forodrim's new thought regarding the complimentary balance of evil, I would suggest that evil in Middle-earth was a pattered digression that mirrored in many ways the descent of the the free peoples from greatness to mundanity (the fading of Elves, the waning of the Numenoreans/Dunedain, etc.). Evil diminishes from Vala (Morgoth) to Maia (Sauron or Saruman) and eventually such great power disseminates into Men, the Aftercomers.
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Old 07-06-2007, 05:24 AM   #16
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No I don't like it, if you were a Briton who lived in the Battle of Britain would you say it was fun? Please, don't let's celebrate terrible events. Even fictional.
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Old 07-06-2007, 09:53 AM   #17
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No I don't like it, if you were a Briton who lived in the Battle of Britain would you say it was fun? Please, don't let's celebrate terrible events. Even fictional.
That has nothing to do with "The Scouring of the Shire", in my opinion.
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Old 08-29-2007, 06:35 AM   #18
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Tolkien said that The Scouring of The Shire was "an essential part of the plot, foreseen from the outset", but how much detail did he have in place in the 1930s?

I think that, despite Tolkien's denials, this chapter contains much that reflects the real events of the 1940s and his attitude to them. In WW1, Tolkien had fought on foreign soil but in WW2 he was caught up in the fighting in his own beloved country. In the aftermath of the war, he lived through the introduction of Socialism in the UK with its Rules and Gathering and Sharing, organised by men who he would have seen as not fitted to rule. Was it Tolkien's personal fantasy that men returning home after defeating Hitler's Germany would lead the people of Great Britain agianst those he saw as Communists and restore an absolute Monarchy?

The Scouring of The Shire contains to only real allegories in LoTR.
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Old 09-01-2007, 05:37 PM   #19
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Tolkien said that The Scouring of The Shire was "an essential part of the plot, foreseen from the outset", but how much detail did he have in place in the 1930s?

I think that, despite Tolkien's denials, this chapter contains much that reflects the real events of the 1940s and his attitude to them. In WW1, Tolkien had fought on foreign soil but in WW2 he was caught up in the fighting in his own beloved country. In the aftermath of the war, he lived through the introduction of Socialism in the UK with its Rules and Gathering and Sharing, organised by men who he would have seen as not fitted to rule. Was it Tolkien's personal fantasy that men returning home after defeating Hitler's Germany would lead the people of Great Britain agianst those he saw as Communists and restore an absolute Monarchy?

The Scouring of The Shire contains to only real allegories in LoTR.
.
Firstly, if you analyse the politics of what happened to The Shire, it was not despoiled due to the efforts of Socialism but Venture Capitalism - those resources did not go back to the people but were shipped out of The Shire to be sold elsewhere. Saruman was the epitome of the modern Asset Stripper.

But I also think Tolkien had no such strong right wing agenda - remember that Attlee's Government (using diluted Keynsian economics, not Socialism, certainly not Communism!) was returned to power with a resounding landslide victory by those newly returned from the war and that Tolkien himself was one of those who received the most benefit from the Welfare State; at one time he struggled to find doctor's fees for his family and was often reduced to working well into the night marking school exam papers in order to scrape some more income.

He definitely makes some interesting points about overwhelming State control and about Totalitarianism but Attlee's Government was as far from these as you can imagine. And the Rules and 'gathering and sharing' had been in operation from the beginning of the war, by necessity. The bleak times lasted from 1939 right into the 1950s as rationing had to intensify following the war due to the immense debts which had to be paid to the US (and were only paid off last year).
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Old 09-01-2007, 06:09 PM   #20
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Well, however much Tolkien may have benefited from the NHS, he was outraged by income tax, complaining that until his retirement it "took all my literary earnings."* Notwithstanding his Green opinions, Tolkien's politics have been aptly described as "Telegraph-reading Tory."

As an aside, everybody's political definitions vary; but I think 'state control of the means of production' is a decent working definition of Socialism, which thereby would certainly include Atlee's nationalisation of mining, steel, autos etc, and a health system where the State actually owns and operates the hospitals, rather than just paying the bills. Besides, Atlee used to close his letters "Workers of the world unite!"

*It seems that a large tax bill plus a lack of ready cash underlay his sale of the LR film rights!
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Old 09-02-2007, 01:53 AM   #21
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Well, however much Tolkien may have benefited from the NHS, he was outraged by income tax, complaining that until his retirement it "took all my literary earnings."* Notwithstanding his Green opinions, Tolkien's politics have been aptly described as "Telegraph-reading Tory."
Well, he could protest too much - his friend George Sayer, in his talk at the 92 Centenary Conference, states that Tolkien 'was cock a hoop & talked with great enthusiasm of the fate of the Ace paperback editions, & that 'It was wonderful to have at long last plenty of money, more than he knew what to do with. He once began a meeting with me by saying: "I've been a poor man all my life, but now for the first time I've a lot of money. Would you like some?"
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Old 09-02-2007, 05:44 AM   #22
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Ah, but the Ace affair didn't occcur until after his retirement in 1959.
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Old 09-02-2007, 07:35 AM   #23
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The "gathering and sharing" in the chapter was used by the corrupt weilders of power as an excuse that the hobbits couldn't very well disagree with on the face of it; which is why they didn't have a ready answer for it until it was too late. The Hobbits are all about community and "gathering and sharing" is a great community ideal. That the weilders of power cheated the ruled by selling to a foreign entity and making a huge profit at the expense of the local ruled, resulting in shabby living conditions, does not in itself undermine the ideal of "gathering and sharing".

So is Tolkien writing a critique of socialist ideals, or of greed amongst rulers, or that a simple market economy in an agrarian society is to be preferred over a socialist?

Or is it about how a community needs leaders with vast experience and wisdom beyond their immediate situation so they can see through the shallow lies of the corrupt weilders of power in order to lead their people to freedom?

He's writing a story that may (or may not) have such applications but those are not what the story is about. It's about four hobbits who grew into their roles within the community by means of adventures none of them chose for themselves, but went willingly, and came back the better for them.
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Old 09-02-2007, 09:21 AM   #24
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As an aside, everybody's political definitions vary; but I think 'state control of the means of production' is a decent working definition of Socialism, which thereby would certainly include Atlee's nationalisation of mining, steel, autos etc, and a health system where the State actually owns and operates the hospitals, rather than just paying the bills. Besides, Atlee used to close his letters "Workers of the world unite!"
Many of these things had been taken under state control before Attlee! WWII saw to that necessity, so there was really nothing new in the post war situation to critique!

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The "gathering and sharing" in the chapter was used by the corrupt weilders of power as an excuse that the hobbits couldn't very well disagree with on the face of it; which is why they didn't have a ready answer for it until it was too late. The Hobbits are all about community and "gathering and sharing" is a great community ideal. That the weilders of power cheated the ruled by selling to a foreign entity and making a huge profit at the expense of the local ruled, resulting in shabby living conditions, does not in itself undermine the ideal of "gathering and sharing".
Indeed. Nothing wrong in and of itself with 'sharing' amongst the community, but Tolkien does show how an ideal can easily be corrupted. I'm reminded of how multi-national companies will set up shop in some distant corner of the world, promising great riches but in reality enslaving good but poor people to a 'machine' for profit.

Of course, The Shire was already a wonderful, utopian place to begin with - we don't see starving Hobbits - and the real world is quite different.
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Old 09-16-2007, 08:22 PM   #25
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I like this chapter, and I remember my brother (now deceased) who introduced me to Tolkien back in 1974 telling me that it was his favorite chapter in the series when I specifically asked him what was his favorite chapter? He did not go into much detail as to why, probably because he was 7 years older than I.

My favorite portion back then, and still to this day, is the first book in which the four hobbits begin their journey by themselves. My favorite cahpter has always been At The Sign Of The Prancing Pony, but my all time favorite scene is when Gandalf is confronting the Captain of the Nazgul with Pippin cowering in terror as the horns of Rohan blow in the distance.

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Old 09-17-2007, 07:09 PM   #26
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I have also felt that Tolkien was influenced by Charles Dickens, especially with the Pickwick Papers. Has anyone else noticed any similarities between LotR and Pickwick Papers?

Merry
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Old 09-18-2007, 03:28 AM   #27
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No, but I always felt that I ought to read The Pickwick Papers, and given this encouragement, I think I shall.
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Old 09-18-2007, 07:46 AM   #28
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1420!

The Pickwick Papers, altough it is not a work of fantasy, influenced LotR somewhat in the servant/master relationship between Frodo and Samwise. I see the very same type of relationship between Pickwick and his servant, Samivel. Samivel reminds me in many ways of Samwise Gamgee.

By the way, be prepared to laugh out loud through parts of The Pickwick Papers.
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Old 05-19-2016, 05:02 PM   #29
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I'm drawn to this thread again because I'm reading "The Scouring of the Shire" for the 6th time.

I'm struck by the modern feel of it compared to the rest of the book. It has a similar feel, to my mind, as "The Grapes of Wrath," "Animal Farm," and other works of the period. Something in the air, I suppose...
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Old 05-19-2016, 07:12 PM   #30
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I'm drawn to this thread again because I'm reading "The Scouring of the Shire" for the 6th time.

I'm struck by the modern feel of it compared to the rest of the book. It has a similar feel, to my mind, as "The Grapes of Wrath," "Animal Farm," and other works of the period. Something in the air, I suppose...
Well, "The Grapes of Wrath" and "Animal Farm" both deal with social upheaval and change for the worse, rather than progress - although there was a small coterie led by the Sackville-Bagginses who viewed what they were doing as "progress' in a sense, the same sort of horrid sense that probably drove Tolkien to rage after WWII when old cottages and farms were torn down and pre-fab suburbs of half-arsed housing were slapped up (probably much the same in Britain as in the States after the war), with highways running over what was once fertile fields and forest. It is easy to see the dismay of the returning Hobbits as one and the same as Tolkien's.
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Old 05-19-2016, 07:36 PM   #31
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What strikes me is the way that some hobbits, notably Lotho Sackville-Baggins and Ted Sandyman, show that their race was not immune to the desire for power over their fellows.

It took an outside force, Saruman, to corrupt them (or just point a way for them to indulge notions they'd always had), but once some got a taste of even petty authority, they seem to have enjoyed it. I wonder what might have occurred if, say, Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin had all died in fighting off the Ruffians. Would the Shire had recovered as well as it did? Or would the germ of corruption have remained and spread overt time, without the help of Men?
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