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BarbaraN
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The Nature of Evil

[ Edited ]
I'm moving this post to its own thread so we can continue this discussion with out introducing spoilers into the Chapter discussions.
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EmeraldTear07 Wrote:
" 'I wish it need not have happened in my time,' said Frodo.
'So do I,' Said Gandalf,'and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us.' pg. 67 in my book

I just love that quote! And I was shocked today to read on and to see all that Tolkien was saying, speaking of the enemy. Gandalf further said there is one thing the enemy lacks to gain the advantage...and that is the ring. So now I wonder, in Christian terms, in spiritual warfare terms....what could the ring represent? Or perhaps it's not meant to represent anything, but just to be the ring. But our enemy, Satan...he lacks many things to get the advantage in this world....in fact, the war was won by God already when Christ laid down His life and then rose again 2000 years ago...the enemy is now just trying to win petty battles and that's all in vain....
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I love that quote as well. It just about sums up the underlying philosophy of LOTR.

I never thought of the Ring as representing "sin" but it could. I think the Ring can end up symbolizing different things for different people depending on where they are coming with. This is definitely a book about good vs. evil and the Ring is an instrument of evil. But evil never seem to be totally conquered. There seems to be a new evil that moves in as soon as one is removed or it is only temporarily destroyed.

This post and some of the others (mea culpa )is starting to get a bit off topic for Chapter 1-2, so let me move this to another thread.

=================================================
EmeraldTear07 wrote:
Ok so I'm finally nearly done with chapter two and I am just ashamed I have not re-read these books before now. How refreshing! I'm beginning to understand why some people will read them once a year. I had this prof in college, an English professor, and he said he had to read The Lord of the Rings once a year to clean out the "crap" in his head from reading so many (I'm guessing) not too brilliant papers, etc. I mean...Tolkien and his genious is very refreshing!
As I'm starting this book again, I'm searching for symbolisms...I don't seem to be alone here from the above posts. Does anyone else think perhaps the ring is equated with sin? Anyway, I thought that earlier, but then realized that the ring is much more than just a representative of sin. I mean...Gandalf speaks of how it becomes the possessor of the one possessing it, so to speak. Interesting...
I feel like so much of the journey of these books deals with spiritual warfare and the constant journey and struggle against the enemy that comes with being a Christian. A lot of Christians today don't acknowledge the reality of the enemy and the struggle we have against him as Christians. I love the following quote, which seems to put things in perspective when addressing spiritual warefare.

“A believer in Christ, therefore, has changed sides. He has left the devil’s team and joined God’s. To put it more biblically, he has been redeemed or bought back from captivity to Satan and set free by Christ to join the ranks in battle against his former tyrannical master.” -David Watson “Hidden Warfare.”
The Bible (Ephesians 6:10 and on) speaks of this struggle as the reality that it is.
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but againt the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Eph. 6:12 (NASB)
As a Christian who has dealt with attacks from the enemy for a while now, LOTR really speaks to me in this area, encouraging me to persevere, to stand strong, to keep fighting....even though I'm just a normal person, I've been called to a task in life that is MUCH bigger than I am (not unlike the hobbits who get tangled up with the ring). While we don't see Frodo "getting saved" or however you want to refer to that (being set free from the enemy...he is, in fact, avoiding enslavement from the enemy in the first place)....it can't be denied that he is not in league with the enemy, even though he has many chances to be, but strives towards freeing the land of the enemy.
I love the following quote from chapter two, and this has come back to me so many times in the past 5 years of being a LOTR fan.
Speaking of the evil returning in the land.....
" 'I wish it need not have happened in my time,' said Frodo.
'So do I,' Said Gandalf,'and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us.' pg. 67 in my book
I just love that quote! And I was shocked today to read on and to see all that Tolkien was saying, speaking of the enemy. Gandalf further said there is one thing the enemy lacks to gain the advantage...and that is the ring. So now I wonder, in Christian terms, in spiritual warfare terms....what could the ring represent? Or perhaps it's not meant to represent anything, but just to be the ring. But our enemy, Satan...he lacks many things to get the advantage in this world....in fact, the war was won by God already when Christ laid down His life and then rose again 2000 years ago...the enemy is now just trying to win petty battles and that's all in vain....
Any thoughts on this would be great!

===================================================
Above from previous thread in LOTR: Book 1: Chapter 1-2

Message Edited by BarbaraN on 03-11-2008 07:32 PM
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BarbaraN
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Re: The Nature of Evil

I was skimming the excerpt from the Creation Story from the Silmarillion provided by B&N and this seems to be the very beginning of Evil:

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But now Ilúvatar sat and hearkened, and for a great while it seemed good to him, for in the music there were no flaws. But as the theme progressed, it came into the heart of Melkor to interweave matters of his own imagining that were not in accord with the theme of Ilúvatar; for he sought therein to increase the power and glory of the part assigned to himself. To Melkor among the Ainur had been given the greatest gifts of power and knowledge, and he had a share in all the gifts of his brethren. He had gone often alone into the void places seeking the Imperishable Flame; for desire grew hot within him to bring into Being things of his own, and it seemed to him that Ilúvatar took no thought for the Void, and he was impatient of its emptiness. Yet he found not the Fire, for it is with Ilúvatar. But being alone he had begun to conceive thoughts of his own unlike those of his brethren.

Some of these thoughts he now wove into his music, and straight-way discord arose about him, and many that sang nigh him grew despondent, and their thought was disturbed and their music faltered; but some began to attune their music to his rather than to the thought which they had at first. Then the discord of Melkor spread ever wider, and the melodies which had been heard before foundered in a sea of turbulent sound. But Ilúvatar sat and hearkened until it seemed that about his throne there was a raging storm, as of dark waters that made war one upon another in an endless wrath that would not be assuaged.
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lorien
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Re: The Nature of Evil

"But as the theme progressed, it came into the heart of Melkor to interweave matters of his own imagining that were not in accord with the theme of Ilúvatar; for he sought therein to increase the power and glory of the part assigned to himself."

-----------------
What caught my eye here is this phrase: "he sought therein to increase the power and glory of the part assigned to himself."

This may be Tolkien's theme. Evil seems to be the desire for power or the desire for more power leads to evil. Even well meaning use of power will turn evil. I think this is why Gandalf and Galadrial (and possibly Elrond) turned away from accepting the Ring because it would have brought power and that would have inevitably had led to evil and domination. I think this is why Frodo may have been deemed a good Ring bearer because he didn't really want it. Bilbo never thought of gaining power by using it, and for that matter even Gollum who survived some 500 years with it probably kept some nugget of his "human-hobbit" core. Boromir and Denethor wanted the Ring for defense but under it all they wanted power and therefore were very susceptible to corruption by it.




BarbaraN wrote:
I was skimming the excerpt from the Creation Story from the Silmarillion provided by B&N and this seems to be the very beginning of Evil:

-------------------------------------
But now Ilúvatar sat and hearkened, and for a great while it seemed good to him, for in the music there were no flaws. But as the theme progressed, it came into the heart of Melkor to interweave matters of his own imagining that were not in accord with the theme of Ilúvatar; for he sought therein to increase the power and glory of the part assigned to himself. To Melkor among the Ainur had been given the greatest gifts of power and knowledge, and he had a share in all the gifts of his brethren. He had gone often alone into the void places seeking the Imperishable Flame; for desire grew hot within him to bring into Being things of his own, and it seemed to him that Ilúvatar took no thought for the Void, and he was impatient of its emptiness. Yet he found not the Fire, for it is with Ilúvatar. But being alone he had begun to conceive thoughts of his own unlike those of his brethren.

Some of these thoughts he now wove into his music, and straight-way discord arose about him, and many that sang nigh him grew despondent, and their thought was disturbed and their music faltered; but some began to attune their music to his rather than to the thought which they had at first. Then the discord of Melkor spread ever wider, and the melodies which had been heard before foundered in a sea of turbulent sound. But Ilúvatar sat and hearkened until it seemed that about his throne there was a raging storm, as of dark waters that made war one upon another in an endless wrath that would not be assuaged.

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lmpmn
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Re: The Nature of Evil

I was also thinking as I read your posts that as well as sin or evil, the Ring may represent our power to choose--free will.  Bilbo and Frodo both chose their paths.
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oldBPLstackdenizen
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Re: The Nature of Evil

Your comments about Evil perhaps coming out of ( or at least, beeing "fed" by ) the desire for power ( and domination over others ) and how that all relates to The Ring really "Hits the nail on the head" ( and my capacity for cliches knows no bounds ) --- But seriously, I mean it --- These comments remind me an awful lot of what I was trying to convey in some of my other postings ( like the "Frodo and the Ring" discussions in the "Hero" Thread ) ---      Ardo
"Middle-earth Is A State Of Mind"
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oldBPLstackdenizen
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Re: The Nature of Evil

I've been mulling this over a little bit, and although I'm not taking back anything I just said --
 ( it still stands -"as is" ) - I'm not sure how much closer this brings us to a definition of "The Nature Of Evil" - ( as it relates to LOTR ) -- 
Certainly ( in LOTR ) it's in evil's "nature" to feed on the lust for power, and the desire to dominate can be looked upon as evil, in of itself  --- But  "Evil" itself most often seems to be more of a vague, amorphous, "faceless" entity -- it just exists as itself - it is what it is - some kind of ethereal force in the Universe -- And in Middle-earth, even Peoples and creatures seem to be divided up into camps of either "Good" or "Evil" beings, with corresponding Natures --- You just don't find too many "Good" people in the story doing evil things ( far and few between ) and no evil beings seem to be up to doing much good at any time, either. ---
 I realize this is mainly a lot of "Circular Reasoning" ---
 And the stipulation of the "Lust for Power and Domination" as being one of the "Core Components"  ( if not THE central component ) of "Evil" itself ( in LOTR ) is a good start --- I'm just not sure if one should continue to elaborate on that theme, or start looking around for other possibilities. ---
 And if it seems like I'm getting overly-pedantic and confusing myself with all my own doubletalk (as well as anyone else who might be reading this ) - I'd say you are absolutely right! But lately, sometimes all these thoughts pop into my head and I can't seem to stop myself from sending them in. ---- Ardo
"Middle-earth Is A State Of Mind"
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Ardo Whortleberry
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oldBPLstackdenizen
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Re: The Nature of Evil

I'm afraid sometimes I have the tendency to knock myself down too much - to be too self-effacing -
my comments in my last posting to this Thread were not "overly-pedantic" or "doubletalk" - nor could they be considered "confusing" ( to me or anybody else ) ----  Ardo
"Middle-earth Is A State Of Mind"
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Ardo Whortleberry
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lorien
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Re: The Nature of Evil


BarbaraN wrote:
I was skimming the excerpt from the Creation Story from the Silmarillion provided by B&N and this seems to be the very beginning of Evil:

-------------------------------------
But now Ilúvatar sat and hearkened, and for a great while it seemed good to him, for in the music there were no flaws. But as the theme progressed, it came into the heart of Melkor to interweave matters of his own imagining that were not in accord with the theme of Ilúvatar; for he sought therein to increase the power and glory of the part assigned to himself. To Melkor among the Ainur had been given the greatest gifts of power and knowledge, and he had a share in all the gifts of his brethren. He had gone often alone into the void places seeking the Imperishable Flame; for desire grew hot within him to bring into Being things of his own, and it seemed to him that Ilúvatar took no thought for the Void, and he was impatient of its emptiness. Yet he found not the Fire, for it is with Ilúvatar. But being alone he had begun to conceive thoughts of his own unlike those of his brethren.

Some of these thoughts he now wove into his music, and straight-way discord arose about him, and many that sang nigh him grew despondent, and their thought was disturbed and their music faltered; but some began to attune their music to his rather than to the thought which they had at first. Then the discord of Melkor spread ever wider, and the melodies which had been heard before foundered in a sea of turbulent sound. But Ilúvatar sat and hearkened until it seemed that about his throne there was a raging storm, as of dark waters that made war one upon another in an endless wrath that would not be assuaged.

 

I think we might also want to reopen the topic on the Nature of Evil. As I recall, Eru-Iluvatar could only create good according to Tolkien's religious pholosophy. Evil was actually only a corruption of good brought about by a "good intention" but corrupted by the sin of pride--a desire to make something better and a personal achievement beyond what the creator had intended. Melkor did not set out to be evil but tried to add his own "improvements" and thereby created discord. Eventually, this discord became even more bloated by his pride and eventually was evil.

I will have to re review my Paradise Lost but I think this might have been the same same thing that Milton ascribed to Satan. In fact it might be worthwhile to compare Tolkien's Melkor with Milton's Satan. I think they may have a lot in common.

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Danaan
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Re: The Nature of Evil

[ Edited ]

lorien wrote: 

 

As I recall, Eru-Iluvatar could only create good according to Tolkien's religious philosophy. Evil was actually only a corruption of good brought about by a "good intention" but corrupted by the sin of pride--a desire to make something better and a personal achievement beyond what the creator had intended. Melkor did not set out to be evil but tried to add his own "improvements" and thereby created discord. Eventually, this discord became even more bloated by his pride and eventually was evil.


I completely agree with you, lorien! Tolkien even states in one of his letters that Sauron, Melkor's disciple (whom one would assume reflects Melkor as well) was "not indeed wholly evil, not unless all 'reformers' who want to hurry up with 'reconstruction' and 'reorganization' are wholly evil, even before pride and the lust to exert their will eat them up" (#153).

 

Considering Tolkien's familiarity and fascination with Germanic languages and their Anglo-Saxon counterpart, I would add that this view of evil may even relate to the word's Old English form yfel, which literally means (per the lovely OED) "exceeding due measure" or "overstepping proper limits". In fact, I think it's that capacity for good that makes Melkor's downward turn so sobering. He begins as a good servant, gaining his power through trying to help the Numenoreans rebuild their world and recover from the disastrous, Valar-induced flood that ended the First Age of Middle-earth. But he takes it just a step too far, and then another step, and then ultimately he is on a path that, if not stopped, would lead to the destruction of Middle-earth.

 

Tolkien clearly related this overstepping to the rise of Hitler's party pre-WII, recognizing that the initial popularity of the Nazi party there was due in part to their stated goal to rebuild the country following its decimation in WWI. Yet from that ostensibly innocent intention arose the greatest evil our world has ever known. Perhaps this concept (reference Hannah Arendt's "banality of evil" ) is part of what keeps LOTR so relevant today?

 

Rebecca

Message Edited by Danaan on 08-31-2008 12:20 PM
Life is rather above the measure of us all (save for a very few, perhaps). ~ Tolkien, Letter 215