Sunday, March 27, 2011

Nature of Heroism

How do you think Tolkien means us to define heroism within his created world of Middle-earth? Are his definitions of heroism multiple? Does he have a preference between the epic hero and the folktale hero? Are his definitions of what a hero is different from or similar to those of medieval authors such as the Beowulf-poet? Who is the MOST heroic character in Tolkien's works? Why that hero? Some of you have been talking about Sam as the real hero, and one of Tolkien's letters supports that definition. However, readers don't always have to agree with writers. What do you think?


Haleth said...

I think Tolkien would have us believe that being a hero means that you help others, even when it's hard. Maybe it's just me, but I'm all for Aragorn as the real hero. Aragorn differs from other medieval heros--specifically Beowulf--in that he is extremelly humble. Frodo wouldn't have been able to begin his journey with out his guidance. Also, before Aragorn even reclaimed his throne, he had been protecting Middle-earth. And once he finally does become king, he pretty much reunites Gondor and Rohan. Maybe Frodo brought peace to all of Middle-earth and vanquished evil for the time being, but Aragorn was the one who united Middle-earth to help Frodo along his way.

Idril said...

While almost all fantasy or medievalist literature has to have the "hero," I felt Tolkien really didn't emphasize the "hero" as a solitary being. I would say the strongest heroes are those who could accept friendship, or fellowship, and act in the protection of that friendship. This might explain why Sam and Aragorn stand out as exceptional heroes in the Lord of the Rings because at some point they made sacrifices and decisions with their fellowship in mind (i.e. Sam for Frodo, Aragorn for Merry and Pippin).