Monday, April 4, 2011

An interesting quote...

I came across this quote recently when reading some articles that drew parallels between The Lord of the Rings and Beowulf. I think it makes some really interesting claims, and I want to see how people interpret it:

"Because the Fellowship is burdened with the responsibility of bearing the Ring and because its presence attracts evil, the greatest threat to the Fellowship and its mission comes not from without but within. The hero must realize that he can become a monster. The two books of the Fellowship trace the process of this realization: the first book centers on the presentation of evil as external and physical, requiring physical heroism to combat it; and the second book centers on the presentation of evil as internal and spiritual, requiring a spiritual heroism to combat it. The hero matures by coming to understand the character of good and evil—specifically, by descending into an underworld and then ascending into an overworld, a natural one in the first book and a supernatural one in the second. These two levels correspond to the two levels—Germanic and Christian—of Beowulf and The Hobbit. For Frodo, as for Beowulf and Bilbo, the ultimate enemy is himself." -Jane Chance
I hadn't thought to draw the comparison between Beowulf and Frodo in the sense that they have to battle with their own potential. As we've discussed, the text of Beowulf doesn't offer much insight into the character's inner workings, but I often wonder-- why would he decide to battle the dragon on his own? Was he considering his reputation, looking for glory, or falling prey to greed? We can't know for sure. However, this quote does point out a delicate balance that Tolkien incorporated into the Fellowship several times, starting with Boromir's moment of failure and extending to Frodo's greed in Mount Doom: the greatest danger always comes from within, from people seeking their own gain or succumbing to their own failings.

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