Sunday, March 20, 2011

Choices and Consequences

As a follow-up to our earlier class work on the choices and consequences of characters' actions, think again about the authorial choices Tolkien made in writing The Lord of the Rings. Select from the list below a couple of the alternative choices that Tolkien might have made instead and discuss the consequences of each alternative version of the story in a separate blog.

What would have to be changed or different in the rest of the trilogy to make the revised version work? Consider the impact of these changes on the reader as well as what authorial or textual gains and sacrifices Tolkien made in choosing to write the text as he actually did.

1. Sam instead of Gollum is responsible for the Ring's final destruction.
2. Aragorn marries Eowyn rather than Arwen.
3. Merry is killed by the Black Captain.
4. Pippin never goes to the last battle before the Gates of Mordor and stays with Merry in Minas Tirith.
5. Frodo escapes from the Tower of Cirith Ungol without Sam's help.
6. Denethor kills Faramir, but is prevented from killing himself.
7. The eagles never arrive to take part in the last battle before the Gates of Mordor.
8. The orcs in the Tower of Cirith Ungol do not fight and kill off each other.
9. Aragorn decides to wait at Minas Tirith, rather than to go to battle Sauron in Mordor.
10. Gandalf instead of Aragorn leads the Company through the Paths of the Dead.
11. Eomer instead of Theoden dies on the Pelennor Fields.
12. The warning signal of Silent Watchers turns Sauron's attention to the Tower of Cirith Ungol.
13. Eowyn never rides to battle, but remains in Edoras.
14. Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli return with the Hobbits to the Shire at the end.
15. Sam is stung by Shelob rather than Frodo.
16. Fatty Bolger was never thrown into prison in the Shire, but married Rosie Cotton while the Fellowship was gone.
17. Saruman is killed by Wormtongue in Orthanc and never goes to the Shire.

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