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The Teeth of God

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Harad

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If one takes at face value Letter 246 in the Letters of JRR Tolkien, and many people do:

http://www.thetolkienforum.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=3432&pagenumber=4

then no one could have willingly destroyed the OneRing.

Only the Teeth of Gollum stood between the victory of Sauron and the defeat of Sauron (Evil). And Gollum, of course, delivered the defeat of Sauron accidentally.

But how did Gollum get to the Cracks of Doom? Through the "pity" of Bilbo, and the "tolerance" of Gandalf, Aragorn, the Woodelves, Sauron, Shelob, Frodo, Sam, and Faramir, at least. And what was Gollum but a fallen Man, a murderer and a thief?

So are we to believe that Man can not achieve Good directly by his own deeds, but only indirectly through the tolerance of fallen Man and/or happenstance?
 

Goro Shimura

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The "good guys" did not merely tolerate Gollum.

They sought his "cure--" they wanted him to experience a transformed, rededicated life.

The same thing was sought for Saruman.
 

Elanor2

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Originally posted by Goroshimura
They sought his "cure
Yes, the theme of pity and mercy, is central to Tolkien's thought, and so is the one of redemption, of the one act, no matter how small, that erases all your "sins" and saves your soul. Pity, giving a second opportunity... They are good things.

Gollum did not die voluntarily, it is true (he is perhaps the most pityful figure, together with Turin, of Tolkien's literature). Gollum's dead was an accident. But others redeemed themselves because they showed pity to him:

Bilbo: he saved Frodo's soul by not killing Gollum
Gandalf: he ultimately succeded in his goals because he did pity Gollum
Faramir: he saved Gondor (and more)
Aragorn: ditto as Faramir
Sam: ditto as Bilbo
Frodo: he saved himself, and everybody else. (I give Frodo a great part of credit. After all, he carried the damm Ring till the Fire Mountain, and that was a great achievement that must not be forgotten, and his pity and defense of Gollum determined the completion of the task).

As for Saruman, it did not work so well. Perhaps because he had been good at the beginning and had been given many more opportunities than Gollum (which he did not take). He was sadly beyond redemption from Tolkien's point of view I guess. He died on a ditch, neither useful not harmful to anyone.

my2c. Elanor2
 

Lantarion

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I think that is a good assumption, and quite possible. People who go on about the natural greed and malignancy of Man do not realize, or do not show, that they think of themselves that way. I think Humans are deliberately and naturally a form of Evil, but i also think that Man has so many good and kind qualities that they can thankfully overshadow the evilness (as can be seen from Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea"). But Man did bring the victory about, Faramir by tolerating Gollum and sparing him and Aragorn by pitying him (at least a bit). Faramir and Aragorn are quite possibly the only two righteous and naturally more than 50% 'good' Men in the book. Of course, Théoden was good as well, but he was not as central a character in the story.
And although it's a good theory, I don't think Gollum can be thought of as a fallen Man. Hobbits were indeed descendants of Men, but Gollum was born thousands of years after Hobbits were known to be around, so I think calling him a Man, however distantly, is a false perception.
:)
 

Camille

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Lets not talk about fallen men let say creature :D For me gollum made a great task, without him even knowing, and he achieved due to the pity of others, who is anybody to be a judge and take a life? remaind me what Gandalf said to Frodo (do not have the quote) I think those are the wisest words in Tolkien work.
 

Goro Shimura

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Originally posted by Pontifex
Hobbits were indeed descendants of Men, but Gollum was born thousands of years after Hobbits were known to be around, so I think calling him a Man, however distantly, is a false perception.
:)
But how did Tolkien define our relationship to Hobbits in the Preface/Prelude to the LotR??

Didn't it say that they are cousins to us, or something?

Hobbits are definitely mortal, like us-- and they lived together with Men at Bree. Their close racial relationshup makes that possible--whereas you don't see that sort of things with elves and dwarves (and orcs!) so much....
 
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Harad

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Hobbits are a subspecies or "cousin" of Man. In my "biological" classification scheme of ME, since Hobbits were not a separate creation like dwarfs or elves, then Hobbits = Men. Gollum was a Hobbit. There is no serious argument against this. Therefore Gollum was a Man.

However that is a sidelight, albeit interesting, of the question I am posing.

Originally posted by Pontifex
I think Humans are deliberately and naturally a form of Evil, but i also think that Man has so many good and kind qualities that they can thankfully overshadow the evilness
This sentence knocks the breath out of me. "A form of Evil" that has good qualities that "overshadow evilness" ???

What eggzactly is the scheme for the triumph of Good over Evil that LOTR arrives at?

It is not that Men (including Hobbits) can achieve the victory of good via their own will--the Ring (Evil) is too strong.

Yet isnt Good "fated" to win?

Is it via Deux ex Machina wherein at the last minute the Good Deities thrown in a random event (Gollum) that snatches victory from the jaws of defeat?

Or does Evil (Gollum) necessarily defeat itself? If so what does it mean to say that Good can not directly conquer Evil?

For me this is a Philosophical mishmash.
 

Goro Shimura

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Tolkien, as both a writer and a Christian, was very preoccupied with the concept of "the Fall."

In his LotR myth, the scenes of Genesis 2-3 occur "off stage." And the theme of the Fall is revisted again and again-- especially in the destruction of Numenor.

In keeping with orthodox Christian thought, man is not Created evil, but he is corrupted whenever he chooses to set himself up against God. (By eating the apple, breaking the Ban, or giving into to any other contrary thing promulgated by Melkor.)

After the Fall, mortals can no longer be "good" without some sort of divine intervention.



Regarding the nature of evil, Tolkien presents a synthesis of two views:

1) Evil is an external force that can dominate us. (Like the Ring, or demonic possession, say....)

2) Evil comes from within ourselves-- through our own lusts.

Gollum is quickly dominated because both #1 and #2 are strong for him. Other Characters are sufficiently devoid of #2 to resist #1-- except for Frodo at the very last when he was at the seat of the Ring's power and #1 could overcome anyone regardless of their purity in #2!



Finally, in Tolkien's moral universe, evil intentions always result (ultimately) in a greater good being accomplshed.

Gollum's evil intentions save the day. Saruman's evil intentions trigger the chain of events that lead to everyone ending up at the right place at the right time. Sauron's evil intentions make him vulnerable to defeat by insignificant hobbits.

What is it that Theodon says? "Oft evil will shall evil mar." Something like that.

The punch line is... you are either a willing collaborator with God's will, or you are a slave to "fate," contributing to your own destruction (and the accomplishment of God's will in spite of yourself!)
 
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Harad

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The punch line is... you are either a collaborator with divine will (GOOD), or a slave to "fate," contributing to your own destruction (and the accomplishment of God's will in spite of yourself!)
There goes free will again. What a world view!

1. Good is too weak to prevail
2. Evil does good because it is predestined to do so.

Check, please!
 

Goro Shimura

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Originally posted by Harad
There goes free will again. What a world view!
Well... it's what Tolkien presents.

I don't think this theoligical underpinning upsets anyone's enjoyment of the literature.

(On the contrary, because it's true, it makes the story much more believable!) :p
 

Turgon

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Originally posted by Harad
There goes free will again. What a world view!
Harad, your statement makes no sense at all. LOTR is a work of fiction, the 'Free will' was Tolkien's, to end the matter in anyway he chose. Fortunately in our world, there is no magic, no One Ring; no 'Fall', 'Free Will' is the pulse of human history - it shapes the lives of Man for good or ill. Tolkien could have wrote a sequel to the Hobbit or he could not. That's the bottom line.
 
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Harad

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Turgon:
Perhaps if you understood what I said it would help.

If Goro's interpretation of "The Teeth" holds then Tolkien creates a Universe with no Free Will. It appeared to me that Goro also believes that this accurately reflects the real world--he didnt answer my question.

For you to say my statement "makes no sense" reflects upon your reading, not my statement.
 

Turgon

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By Harad

Turgon:
Perhaps if you understood what I said it would help.

If Goro's interpretation of "The Teeth" holds then Tolkien creates a Universe with no Free Will. It appeared to me that Goro also believes that this accurately reflects the real world--he didnt answer my question.

For you to say my statement "makes no sense" reflects upon your reading, not my statement.
.
lol! You're such a sophist Harad! I love reading you're threads! Have you got a fan club - I wanna join!
 
T

theEvenStar

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:confused:

maybe we could assume that man cannot willingly forego the burden of sin/evil...?
 

Goro Shimura

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Originally posted by Harad
If Goro's interpretation of "The Teeth" holds then Tolkien creates a Universe with no Free Will. It appeared to me that Goro also believes that this accurately reflects the real world--he didnt answer my question.
No... Free Choice is one of Tolkien's favorite themes.

Sauron dominates all of his servants... and his ring both dominates it's wearers while creating withing them a desire to dominate others just as Sauron does. Sauron seeks to control all of ME-- and to set himself up as God.

Notice how the Allies make decisions: always, always through consensus. No one ever tells Frodo what to do: not Elrond, not Galadriel, not Aragorn, not Faramir.... And Gandalf never establishes a kingdom, but rather shows up with the right information at the right time, and serves the free peoples.

Tolkien's view does not eliminate Free Will. You can chose to cooperate with God or not-- it's just that either way, the final culmination of history is already determined. God is the author of history-- but we are all free to determine the part we play in it.

See this thread for more:http://www.thetolkienforum.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=3421
 
H

Harad

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So Goro says that characters have "free choice" in a story that has a predetermined ending? That seems like a pretty pale imitiation of what I would consider to be "free will." If a whole world of people making a contrary "choice" is not enough to change the outcome, then what value is that "choice"?
 

Grond

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The definitive thread on this issue was started some time ago in the Silmarillion forum by Ancalagon. This has been discussed and re-discussed... hashed and re-hashed. Here's the link to "Melkor - Evil by Will or Evil by Nature". I've just posted to it again to bring it on up to the top of the forum. http://www.thetolkienforum.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=1051

By the way Harad, am I Yngvi?
 
H

Harad

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Sleep easy Grond. I won't reveal the origin since a Genius of the Week title, with all the attendent priveleges awaits, but I did find this amazing factoid that surprised even me:

GAG LINES Short, well-known sentences. Theoretically they are good for a laugh any time, if used properly; actually their meaning and
function may vary considerably with the context. Gag lines famous in fandom include "The Gostak Distims the Doshes", "Goshwowboyoboy", "Yngvi is a louse", "Savage sullen defiant and contemptuous", and "Who sawed Courtney's boat?" (They never did find out.)
I skimmed through the thread you mentioned and could not find the "definitive" answer.

I don't know what JRRTs answer is, and I further dont know whether an author always has to put his answer for the real world into his creation. I know what I believe, and is more like one of Gothmog's answers

Melkor, Evil by Nature or Evil by Will. Definitely by Choice!
in that thread than it is like one of Grond's.

Melkor had absolutely no choice in the matter.
What intrigues me in this thread is Goro's (real) world view, which I still am not sure I understand, since he remains elusive. He seems to say "choice" but in a "story" whose plot is set in concrete. That seems like an internal contradiction. What good is "choice" if the plot is pre-determined.

This hearkens back to Gollum at the Cracks. Gollum acts out his "choice" to fulfill the necessary plot line. Thats no choice at all.
 

Goro Shimura

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But there's evidence in LotR that God doesn't always get his way:

The prophetic dream comes thrice, I think, to Faramir-- and only once to Boromir.

God would have prefered Faramir... but made do with Boromir.

The choices (and plot) are not predetermined-- only the final defeat of evil is set in stone.


(Didn't you read Asimov's Foundataion story? Psychohistory could predict the major turning points of the future history, but could say nothing about individual actions. Were Asimov's characters devoid of free will as well? This is just another way of saying that history makes great men-- not the reverse.)
 

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