Sunday, February 10, 2013

Warrior Values

I've thought some more about the values expressed in Tolkien's fiction compared to those in medieval heroic literature, about the things Tolkien's heroes do that might be dishonorable for a medieval hero (sneaking the Ring into Mordor, cheating in the riddle game as I think Megan mentioned). But it's clear that the ends don't always justify the means for Tolkien, either. The Ring could never be used for good.

So when it comes to war, what makes a tactic acceptable or unacceptable for Tolkien? How are Tolkien's heroes different? And as for that part of the heroic spirit Tolkien does seem to admire ("Heart shall be bolder, harder be purpose, more proud the spirit as our power lessens"), where can we find that expressed?


Anna Adams said...

For Tolkien, I agree that the means do not always justifies the ends. I think the means have to do with what the characters are capable of doing. There was no way the hobbits could have successfully taken the Ring into Mordor if they had tried to walk in the front door. They did what they had to do in order to get the job done. It was not that they were cowardly, but it was their only option. I think we can see a heroic spirit in all of Tolkien's protagonists when they need to be a hero, such as when Sam takes the Ring.

Ashley Cauley said...

This reminds me of the part in Return of the King when Éomer finds Éowyn laying on the battlefield and he thinks she is dead. At that moment he has lost everything: his sister, his uncle/king, and definitely the battle. Everything looks absolutely hopeless and he knows they cannot save Minas Tirith. Even so, he becomes filled with a maddening battle rage. He gathers his troops and flies into the hearth of enemy lines. This is the epitamy of the heroic spirit: all is lost but you go to battle with everything you've got anyway. Éomer is a good example of this heroic spirit that we find in other ancient/classic works such as The Illiad.