Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Magical River

On Tuesday in class, we mainly focused on unnatural or supernatural animals or creatures Tolkien created. But one aspect of the natural world - not a beast - that is still supernatural is the enchanted river in Mirkwood. I think one of Tolkien's purposes in creating the magical water was to show that one of the most basic and serene natural elements can still be dangerous - the most harmless of things can inflict great damage. This emphasizes a point Tolkien often makes: the seemingly insignificant things of life can cause surprises. Just as the river surprises Thorin and Co. with its supernatural power, so too Bilbo surprises the dwarves with his unlikely heroism. In both instances the dwarves are forewarned of the possibilities that the river and Bilbo hold, but in both cases they are caught unaware by ensuing events. Therefore in some ways the river parallels Bilbo's character.

I also found the actions of the dwarves and Bilbo interesting after they experienced the magic of the river; instead of logically avoiding all further run-ins with magic after the fiasco crossing the water, the company pursues the magical lights in the forest. This leads me to believe that the true enchantment of the river lies in the dreams the water causes its victims. The river is a starting point for the forest's true magic, and it is Mirkwood's way of luring victims ever deeper into the depths of its wood.

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