Monday, November 16, 2015

Heroism one last time

How do you think Tolkien means us to define heroism within his created world of Middle-earth?  Are his definitions of heroism multiple? Who is the MOST heroic of the characters in Tolkien's works?

4 comments:

Vana said...

I think Tolkien's view on heroism is similar to his views on good and evil. There is no dichotomy, no creature or man is wholly evil, but all have the potential to be. In other words, there is always a chance at redemption. Similarly, I believe Tolkien makes it possible for the vast majority of his characters to display heroism to some degree, but also to fall short. Frodo carries the ring, and thus is a hero, but fails to destroy it. Sam doesn't seem to do a whole lot but he is an unceasingly loyal companion to Frodo's quest. Eowyn is a woman, but nevertheless also lends her aspect of heroism to this tale. Thus, I believe Tolkien's characters are meant to be relatable in their inherent ability to be heroes if they so choose.

Yavanna said...

I think Tolkien would define Heroism as that which is the 'hopeless courage' that we talked about not too long ago. Heroism isn't made through strength in arms, or might and magic. The heroes are those who, in the face of overwhelming odds and a great desire not to, do the right things. In this, therefore, I think Sam is the most heroic character in the LotR books, being dauntless in the face of extreme danger, and unbending to the darkness and corruption that surrounds him.

Nienna said...

I agree with Yavanna that the idea of "hopeless courage" plays a role in how Tolkien portrays heroism. While his tale contains many examples of characters that we expect to be heroes (Aragorn, Theoden, etc) there are many examples of heroic characters that are completely unexpected. Heroism portrayed by Tolkien seems to be standing up in the face of darkness and danger and doing what is right, even if you are likely to fail. The hobbits commit several heroic deeds that are completely unexpected from people of their stature and prestige and yet they do it anyway. I believe Tolkien does have different examples of heroism in his works but they all tend to run along the same theme. They must stand up for what is right even in the face of overwhelming odds. The most heroic character that came to my mind immediately was Sam because he faced danger head on with basically no qualms about doing so. He was going to help Frodo no matter what and this unfailing loyalty led him into the most dangerous situations imaginable and he never once thought about leaving Frodo. To me this is simply heroic.

Manwë said...

I agree with the previous respondents- I think that the idea of “hopeless courage” as well as the idea that there is no dichotomy and each person displays heroism to a certain degree. I also think that Sam is perhaps one of the most heroic of Tolkien’s characters as he shows as wide array of degrees of heroism and fights against hopelessness to achieve true heroism. When the quest first begins I’m not sure I would call him a real hero- sure he wants to help his friend in his endeavors but he does not totally understand what the true consequences of his actions are. But as the journey continues he faces hopelessness with an ongoing courage and at the end I would call him one of Tolkien’s strongest examples of heroism.