Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tolkien: Natural vs. Artificial Beauty

Today as I listened to the presentations being given, I noticed that it was several times mentioned that Tolkien appreciated nature and natural beauty nearly above all else. These types of statements led me to recall Tolkien's somewhat strange attitude towards the Dwarven races. It appears to me that Tolkien ties in his love of nature in its purity to the Dwarves' misfortunes, especially regarding Smaug and the Balrog. Is Tolkien stating that because the Dwarves marred the natural beauty of the mountains and caves that they are punished? Or simply conveying a warning against greed? He seems to portray the Dwarves as a wholesome race, yet with the fatal flaw of greed, and I couldn't help but wonder if this was tied into what he sees as an intrusion (although materially and aesthetically beautiful) upon nature?


Elendil said...

Probably. I mean, the Dwarves were created because Aule, one of the Valar, wanted to create something on his own, more of a pride thing than a greed thing, but it's still there. I think he wants to collaborate the idea of greed with the perversion of what is natural, unfortunately for the dwarves

Thengel said...

Hmm...I don't know about the presentation of dwarves as perverse and destructive. Yes, they are a slightly greedier race, probably because they are a more secluded race. They were also originally one of the less favored races of Illuvatar, because they were created when one of the Valar tried to usurp the role of God.

If you look in the appendices, however, recall that Legolas and Gimli make a pact: Gimli agrees to travel the forests with Legolas if Legolas enters into dwarven caves with him. The two friends fulfill this pact, and Legolas (one of the Elves, perhaps the purest of the nature-based races)finds the caves to be one of the most naturally beautiful formations he's ever seen. The dwarven tie to nature comes in the form of a different landscape: the beauty of the deep places of the earth, and the gems and minerals found there.