Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tolkien and Loki

Today in class, we talked about how, despite all the elements of Norse mythos that Tolkien pulled from The Prose Edda, he didn't write any characters that are clear parallels to Loki. But what if he had? I would like to challenge everyone to think of a character that Tolkien could have written as a Loki figure in his mythology, and consider how that would have affected the story of Arda.

The first character I thought of was Feanor. He already has some basic makings of a Loki figure: he is selfish, defies the gods, doesn't seem to have any qualms about killing or betraying his kinsmen, and kids go on to cause a lot of continued trouble for Middle-earth. Tolkien incorporates these things into a higher Doom that has been wrought on Feanor, but I would imagine that as a more cavalier Loki figure, Feanor would have wrought even more chaos. Perhaps he would have been the one to help Ungoliant into Valinor, or hidden his children away and taught them to hate the Valar, corrupting them even more. It is also possible that he would have given one of the Silmarils away or put it in a place where it could be found, simply to see what chaos came out of it.

What do you think? Did a different character come to mind for you first? Who, and why?


Arien said...

It seems to me that Feanor doesn't quite fit the trickster "Loki" mold. Feanor's motivation is a different type of selfishness than that of Loki. Feanor is motivated by a pride in himself and in his creation of the Silmarills. This pride is twisted by the whispers of Melkor to become something entirely different from typically selfishness. Loki's selfishness is much more spiteful in nature. Many of Loki's antics are for his own amusement. The one example of him acting out of more than just spite is the killing of Baldr, but for the AEsir as well as the Vanir in Scandinavian mythology this was unavoidable. Prophecy in this mythology is a much more concrete than that of Tolkien's "fate/doom". When it comes to an actual true trickster Loki figure, I have yet to find a parallel in Tolkien's sub-creation that fits that mold and satisfies my criteria to be called such.

Estë said...

I suppose I should have posted my previous post as a response to this comment! See my post on Loki the trickster in Tolkien's works for another thought on this :)