Whose side are you on ?

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Whose side are you on ?

Post by feanor 1999 on Thu Aug 07, 2014 7:02 pm

Ayup All...

I was just thinking, when reading about the BO5A, that when I read Tolkien, I seem to naturally 'Align' my sympathies with the 'Goodies'. Elves, Dunedain, Ents and so on, but sometimes feel sympathy for their opposite numbers. Is that everyones or the majoritys inclination on the site ? does anyone EVER feel any sympathy for 'the Baddies' like Morgroth, Sauron, Orcs, Dragons even, or not ?

In 'Of Herbs and stewed rabbit', or at least in the TTT film, its opined that the Haradrim/Easterling soldiers, dead upon the field, are actually only someones son, caught up in the disaster of war, and fighting only maybe because their boss told them, and not because of any hatred of the men of the west. That really touches me, for many soldiers in the real world die in this context. Another of the most powerful images from TTT, fo me, was when Gollum was 'Interrogated' by Faramir, and kicked and abused to make him talk. this of course encouraged Smeagol to influence Gollum and really shows the wretched condition of the poor creature. (there we go, is he bad or good ?)

Taking stuff like this into consideration, how do you line up, and is it 'Natural' do you think, to align oneself with the 'good' side of the Mythos ? Given that I'm SO like Feanor myself, it's a hard final decision to make.

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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Aug 07, 2014 7:50 pm

Well I never liked the change to Farmir and th ebeatin gup of Gollum, it was uneccessary and reflects poorly on the characterof Faramir.

But that aside I think the first time you read LotR's you are more likely to just view everyone on the other side as the bad guys.

But once you have a greater knowledge of Tolkiens writings, and have read about Harad, the Kin-strife and all that those aspects of it become greyer and greyer.

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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by Forest Shepherd on Thu Aug 07, 2014 8:34 pm

I don't like to think about it in terms of greyness. (For one obvious reason above all!)

I do, of course, empathize with the main characters of the story. After all, Tolkien would not be a very good writer if there was noone in his stories that a reader could identify with. The villains of the story are, to my mind, divided into three main camps.
There are the purely evil characters of Sauron, Shelob, and the Ringwraiths. These are only capable of destroying life; nothing they do is good, and they have no love for anything.
Then there are the orcs, lesser spiders, black-hearted huorns, etc. All of whom at least exhibit a basic ability to care for their own kind. This is a distorted kind of companionship, and breaks down when there are none to oppose them, perhaps. But there is a sense of identity within a larger whole. Old Man Willow and the other dark huorn-type tree-things care for the forest and will defend it against non-trees. The orcs only care about pillage and a life of ease at the expense of enslavement of the weak, but they sometimes speak to each other of "setting up somewhere" together. The two orc commanders that Sam overhears in the pass of Cirith Ungol speak of something like this.
The third camp is where Gollum would be placed, as well as the men of the south that Feanor 1999 mentioned. They commit evil, and have done so in the past, but they have a capacity for good deeds as well that shows itself to others around them.
It could be argued that Gollum is actually good, I suppose, if it were not for how he ended. The scale may be tipped against him, that's all.

Anyway, I think the point, often, that Tolkien makes is that anyone is capable of evil. The Ring, as has been argued before, is a kind of metaphor for the temptation to forward your own selfish wishes over the good of others. It's ultimate corrupting ability works in the story because it reminds us that nothing made by humans is incorruptible. It is very easy to give in and let our desires master us. Even if those desires are good, giving them free rein, unchecked by wisdom or caution, can lead to bad consequences.

I was joking around about the "grey/gray" debate, but I suppose the morality of Tolkien's characters does tend to spread out into a broad spectrum when we examine them closely. Even the elves, the purest creatures in Tolkien's writing, are classified into shades of light, grey, and dark. While there have been few elves that anyone would call evil, Men certainly cover the spectrum well into the darkest shades.

As to the question of what is natural, I do expect other readers to come up with the same conclusions as myself. However, life is not so simple as that, and many may either read more subtleties into it than I have or brush over the differences with a broad stroke.

For example, Peter Jackson's elimination of any servants of the enemy but orcs and the Nazgul from Return of the King (any that we see up close anyway, the Haradrim are mounted atop their Mumakil and so a further step away from the Rohirrim) was a step towards blind simplification of Tolkien's work. The horrors of war that he describes are replaced with gung-ho iodicies like the back-and-forth catapulting of huge rocks that we see in the sieging of Minas Tirith. To reduce the enemies of the white city to a swarming mass of insect-like snarling figures is the same tactic used by xenophobic propagandists over the years.
Well, that may be a bit harsh, and I'm going on too long...The point is that for the sake of appealing to stereotypical blockbuster viewers dehumanization of the servants of Sauron was an essential aspect of the LotR film-making process.

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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by Norc on Thu Aug 07, 2014 9:43 pm

the "badie" in Tolkien's universe was never a person or people, it was the modern world, the machine. The ring and Sauron, and Saruman's work, are all symbols of machine taking over and destroying all that is beautiful in this world aka. nature and love and peace. This reflects the modernistic way of thinking during WWI but especially between the two wars and after (1940s-now), a growing scepticism towards modern inventions and the way society was heading, e.g machines taking a larger part in wars even to the point of there being no man-to-man-combat, just machines against humans. This goes for all his stories i would say, in LOTR it is the machine and the "modern" world that is the enemy (see how Sauron is never a "solid" person and the ring being a symbol for the ultimate machine=power) and the enemy is the Hobbit being Smaug's greed and the effect the treasure has on everybody, Thranduil and Thorin being great examples. There really are no "goodies" and "badies" in Tolkien's universe, even though LOTR is often an example of just this. You can relate to, more or less, and understand every character, even Saruman and Denethor, for the choices they take. If the characters are relatable that is what makes a great story. Even the orcs, although they have been simplified in PJ's versions. They act out of selfishness mostly (but we can relate to that), but they are also brutal and horrid (like some wicked humans). But they're not just evil. This might be stretching it a bit far because the orcs and goblins are perhaps the closest thing to a baddie in Middle-Earth you can get to, but Azog revenges his father who was killed, just as Thorin does, and even the orcs have communities, though brutal ones at that. 
what i am trying to say is that one can sympathize with all the "badies" in LOTR and that that is what makes The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit great books (same goes for George R.R. Martin's books). If you really wanna find the true black and white "badie" vs. "goodies" in Middle-Earth you have to in fact look at the symbolism, not the characters themselves.

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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by Forest Shepherd on Thu Aug 07, 2014 10:01 pm

Thanks for that Norc, great points!

I think it's important to remember that there are, in fact, actual "baddies" to whom we never reconcile ourselves in the story. But the process by which these people have become bad are often the same struggles which the "good" characters have faced. Saruman becomes evil because of his overpowering pride, as opposed to Gandalf, for example, or the path that Boromir could well have gone down because he lacked the will-power of his brother Faramir.
I like to think that the theme of, say, LotR can be interpreted in a few different ways but that the characters' responses to the more human choices that they are faced with add up to form an answer to the question of whether or not they are evil.

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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by Eldorion on Wed Sep 24, 2014 5:36 am

Interesting post, Norc, is this related to your much-teased essay about LOTR as a work of modernist literature? Wink

I'll need to think more on this when it's not so late, as there's a lot to take in there. My initial reaction is somewhat skeptical, but it's based primarily on writings from The History of Middle-earth rather than The Lord of the Rings itself. But I think that it's valid to include those works since Tolkien was trying to keep the deeper context in mind when he wrote LOTR. Looking deeper into the mythos, you see that Morgoth is pretty much a Lucifer figure, and his primary motivation is nihilism. But Tolkien also said that Sauron's motivation was to bring about control and order, rather than to destroy everything, which could fit nicely with your theory. The nature part is giving me pause. Obviously Tolkien had a well-documented interest in nature and a vocal distaste for (at least elements of) industrialization. But within the context of his fictional world, the entire universe was corrupted by the rebellion of Morgoth. Nature itself is part of Arda Marred, and therefore in the really long term, can it be considered an asset of the "good" side? But this seems to jar with Tolkien's environmental beliefs. scratch

Like I said, I need to come back to this. But thanks for making this post. I'm glad I stumbled across it now, since I was leaving for vacation when you first made it.
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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by Norc on Wed Sep 24, 2014 8:54 am

Yes and it will be written

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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by Mrs Figg on Wed Sep 24, 2014 4:31 pm

I I love you  Smaug. I am Always sorry and sad when he gets it. Sad  I love Dragonses.
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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by azriel on Wed Sep 24, 2014 6:09 pm

Oh stop that Mrs Figg Sad Now Im thinking of "DragonHeart", I choked up at the end when Draco fizzled away in sparkily sparkles ! Sad

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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Sep 25, 2014 9:12 am

I bet dragon burgers are tasty Nod

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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by Mrs Figg on Thu Sep 25, 2014 2:22 pm

Suspect
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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by Bluebottle on Thu Sep 25, 2014 3:12 pm

Perhaps it's just me, but wouldn't the flamability of dragon components kind of clash with their entier fire spouting quality? scratch

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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by Norc on Thu Sep 25, 2014 3:49 pm

don't fucking norc this wonderful thread guys! it was actually about something sensible!

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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Sep 25, 2014 3:57 pm

Who are you and what have you done with Norc?!! Suspect

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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by Norc on Thu Sep 25, 2014 3:57 pm

yeah but this is like the thread i am gonna write an essay on so please!!!

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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Sep 25, 2014 3:58 pm

Well this is what happens when we are waiting. Impatiently waiting! Mad

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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by Norc on Thu Sep 25, 2014 3:59 pm

well.. yeah.. but like.. i am sorta busy!!!!!!

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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Sep 25, 2014 4:00 pm

Yes getting drunk up mountains from your pictures. Fjordians! Mad

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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by Norc on Thu Sep 25, 2014 4:01 pm

what no!!!! look at that fucking music thread! that's what i am doing and more!

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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Sep 25, 2014 4:04 pm

Yes but thats only your entire future life in the balance based on successful studies, this is important!

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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by Norc on Thu Sep 25, 2014 4:05 pm

i know!!!

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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Sep 25, 2014 4:07 pm

Very Happy

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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by halfwise on Thu Sep 25, 2014 4:31 pm

Norc wrote:don't fucking norc this wonderful thread guys! it was actually about something sensible!

Jeez.  Just Norc it back when you need to.  This ain't flippin' rocket science. Rolling Eyes

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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by Norc on Thu Sep 25, 2014 4:32 pm

... well. but yeah, but no, but yeahi just want it to look good!

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Re: Whose side are you on ?

Post by Bluebottle on Thu Sep 25, 2014 4:44 pm

Writing a bad joke takes about 5 seconds, writing a post that actually says something interesting takes.. let's see 1 hour and 30 minutes. (Not that I used all the time to write this, I was supposed to be doing school stuff, but this thread distracted me with it's interestingness. Rolling Eyes ) But.. just longer.

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