Thursday, March 31, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
"For my part, I cannot convince myself that the roof of Bletchley station is more 'real' than the clouds. And as an artefact I find it less inspiring than the legendary dome of heaven. The bridge to platform 4 is to me less interesting than Bifrost guarded by Heimdall with the Gjallarhorn. From the wildness of my heart I cannot exclude the question whether rail-way-engineers, if they had been brought up on more fantasy, might not have done better with all their abundant means than they commonly do. Fairy-stories might be, I guess, better Masters of Arts than the academic person..."
Can the boundary between what is real and what isn't real truly be defined? Or should it ever be defined?
Friday, March 25, 2011
In The Hobbit, the Arkenstone (the most significant item) is unselfishly given up for peace – a positive gesture. In Smith, the star is given up by Smith so that others can enjoy it – a positive gesture. Both the Arkenstone and the star are items that symbolize concepts on the good (as in not evil) spectrum and are given up unselfishly. In LOTR, the ring is extremely difficult to give up (excluding Bombadil); its bearer wants to use its power selfishly and for evil purposes, an extreme contrast to Smith and the Hobbit. The pattern I am seeing here is that when the content is dark and is obviously intended for adults (such as LOTR), Tokien’s most significant object symbolizes evil and provokes selfishness. When the content is lighter and is intended for children (such as the Hobbit and Smith [Smith may be intended for children, since Tolkien gives children so much credit]) the most significant objects symbolizes good intentions and provoke unselfishness. Even though Tolkien throws in adult content into his children stories (like in the Hobbit), does the way he characterize these objects hint at his primary audience (children)? Simply put, do the significant objects Tolkien depicts suggest his intended audience for his works?
Thursday, March 24, 2011
I think the most interesting thing is that it seems to be a theme that only certain people are picked to venture into the land of Faerie, and usually they are not obvious choices. Smith says that when he picks Tim, that he is not the most obvious choice. This is true too in the Chronicles of Narnia. The 4 children are not an obvious choice to go in and fight a great battle, and especially not to win it. It seems like people are chosen to go to Faerie based on how it will help them to grow and be better equipped for living in their own world. I think Lewis might have said that at some point, that they had learned all they could from Narnia and now they were ready to go and live in their world. I don't know, just some intersting ideas surrounding Faerie and how both authors used them.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
We found 6 words we thought were imperative to understanding the section on Children.
1-Pernicious: having a harmful effect; p.58 Tolkien considers wise those who don't think fairy stories are "pernicious"
2-"Lumber-room": we had a difficult time really defining this term. Tolkien discusses it on p.59. We decided he means that amongst the nonsense that is a lot of fairy stories, there are "diamonds in the rough" or treasures stuffed away in the attic.
3-Credulity: readiness or willingness to believe especially on slight or uncertain evidence; p. 60 Tolkien discusses how this fact was somewhat of a factor for focusing fairy stories towards children.
4-Secondary Belief: we never really came up with a definition for this one but we thought it was important. Tolkien discusses it on p. 61. We thought it had something to do with adults suspending disbelief and being "supported by sentiment" in order to like a fairy story. Any thoughts here?
5-Voracity: eager approach; p. 61 children are eager to try anything that is given to them, therefore they are more open to fairy stories
6-Erroneous: wrong or incorrect; p.65 the incorrect assumption that children are naturally to be associated with fairy stories
-Andrew Lang's Fairy Books: mythology and folklore for children
-Alice in Wonderland: Tolkien had no desire to have crazy dreams like Alice did
-Treasure Island: Tolkien had no desire to fight pirates and find treasure
-the world of Arthur and Merlin: Tolkien thought this better than Alice and Treasure Island
-history, astronomy, botany, grammar, etymology: all things which Tolkien was interested in as a child, besides fairy-stories
-poetry (in general): he disliked it as a child (even skipped over it in books), but "discovered" it later on in life
Monday, March 21, 2011
The first choice I chose to analyze was the possibility of Aragorn marrying Eowyn instead of Arwen. For a lot of us, I think this marriage would have been more satisfying since by the end of the series, we feel pretty attached to Aragorn, and then he marries this elf that we really know nothing about. In contrast we've been with Eowyn and gotten to know her as she struggles with her place in life and how she can serve her country. But I feel as if Aragorn marrying a human would've been somewhat anticlimactic (no offense, Eowyn). Elessar grew up in Rivendell, he's the long lost King of Gondor, he's wielding Anduril...this guy's pretty special. And so it's fitting for him to marry Arwen, the Evenstar of her people. It's almost like the Elves' last gift to Middle-earth, and Arwen staying somewhat softens the blow of the departure of all of the immortal.
The second choice I chose was swapping the places of Theoden and Eomer at the battle of the Pelennor Fields. This would've undermined Tolkien's theme of "out with the old, in with the new" (that sounds kind of horrible talking about Theoden that way, I know). After the War of the Ring, power in Middle-earth has completely shifted to this new generation. Aragorn is King of Gondor, Faramir is the Steward, Eomer is King of Rohan, and overall power has shifted from the Elves to Men. Also, if Eomer had died and Theoden had lived, I'm not sure how well he would've taken it. Theodred is already dead and now Eomer, his beloved nephew? I feel like Theoden may have been overcome with guilt and grief, as strong as he may be.
The last choice I thought about was what would've happened if Saruman was killed by Wormtongue in Orthanc and never went to the Shire. This would've changed so much! The scouring of the Shire really shows how much the hobbits learned and changed throughout their adventures. I also think it plays an important part in redeeming Frodo in a way. In some ways coming back to an unchanged Shire would've been refreshing as a reader to see that evil doesn't penetrate everywhere. But Tolkien knew that was wishful thinking. The worth of the hobbits of the Shire shines so clearly as they deal with Saruman. It also goes to show the utter demise of the formerly great wizard that his power is completely broken by worthless (in his mind) hobbits.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
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.
Answer any or all of the above questions, using as many specific examples as possible to support your point.
Friendship itself as well as the loyalty between friends is also a key theme throughout LOTR. Apart from the bond between Legolas and Gimli, what other ways does Tolkien emphasize the importance of friendship in his works?
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
Why did Tolkien create the multiple-step ending? Perhaps Tolkien wanted to show how drastic the hobbits transformed relative to the hobbits who remain in the Shire. Maybe Tolkien decided to do this multiple step ending for its novelty (or both). Tolkien creates novelty by adding maps, portraying uncommon endings with multiple climaxes and resolutions, switching the outcomes of the epic and fairy tale characters, and essentially creating his own fantasy writing rules in the process. Did Tolkien write the multiple-step ending for the same reason (novelty) that he does in these instances?
When people read about “sub-created” worlds, some people (like me) tend to think that many of these fictions only piggy back off of a great work like Lord of the Rings; thus, they are just not as good. Even though many works are similar to LOTR, it just lacks that novelty (we have already seen it before). Did Tolkien do so many unique things just for the novelty of it? Is that why LOTR rose in popularity to achieve greatness? Or did Tolkien just do this simply because he wanted too (no additional reasoning)?
Secondly, why did Tolkien make the ending so long? Did he also do this because it was new and innovative?
Many great works are great because they are the first of the kind and have never been seen much before. Is novelty Tolkien’s motivation beyond the multiple-step (and long) endings and other unique Tolkien additions? Are the benefits like exaggerating transformations and the fear of ending too quickly just bonuses?
Click the blog posting's title "March 19th Show" for more details!
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
I think Frodo both succeeded and failed. Frodo was successful in that his quest was completed. He brought the ring all the way from the Shire to Mount Doom. Sure he had help, and fate (luck?) but he made the most contributions (as the predominant ring-bearer) to this collaborative act. He was successful in the majority of his quest in the least (he did bring the ring a long way). In this sense, it was neither a complete success nor a complete failure.
Frodo also failed in that he was corrupted by the ring. He vowed to himself to cast the ring into the fire. However, one could argue that even as he made this vow, he was already under the power of the ring. Did Frodo just say this because he did not want Sam to get any bright ideas about taking his ring? If this is so, then are these words even Frodo’s own? Frodo makes this vow seconds after snapping at Sam. I highly doubt Frodo was in control at this point. As an explanation to this outburst Frodo explains, “I must carry this burden to the end.” This is, disputably, an explanation for an outburst that Frodo had no control over. Is this Frodo's vow or the ring's vow?
Elrond never specifically told Frodo to get to Mount Doom on his own and personally cast the ring into the fire. It is disputable if Frodo (as himself) even made the vow to personally destroy the ring.
This entire debate rides on whether or not Frodo’s own quest was destroy the ring personally.
Because of the internal conflict between Frodo and the ring the specificity of the quest is ambiguous; thus, you could argue that he is successful in some ways yet failed himself in others. However, we really cannot be certain of either.
However, based on the context of Frodo ‘s vow to personally destroy the ring, I am more inclined to view Frodo as successful in this ambiguous quest. But still, it is impossible to be 100% certain of what Frodo’s quest specifically entails.