Minas Tirith Forums Create a New Topic  Reply to this Topic
profile | register |
search | faq | avatars | citizens
donate | about | library
  This topic is comprised of pages:  1  2 
Minas Tirith Forums » History of Middle-earth » Would you say that Tolkien's characters are all pure good and pure evil? (Page 1)
Author Topic: Would you say that Tolkien's characters are all pure good and pure evil?
Peter_20
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 6368
posted      Profile for Peter_20   Email Peter_20   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
There's this popular rumour going on in Sweden right now that Tolkien created his characters as totally good and totally evil.
For example, Frodo and Aragorn were huge heroes, the Orcs are just there for evilness material, Gandalf is the stereotypical wizard and so on.
And as might be expected, they refuse to mention the slightest details about stories from The Silmarillion and the like; it's all about Lord of the Rings.

Personally I think Tolkien created lots of "human" characters who had their flaws, like Fëanor, Thingol, Eöl, Maeglin etc.
And he does stress that Sauron and the Orcs started out as normal spirits and creatures.

Oh well, discuss.

From: Sweden | Registered: Apr 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Prince Imrahil
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 5425
posted      Profile for Prince Imrahil   Email Prince Imrahil   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
Obviously these people haven't read the books other wise they would know better (they probably just saw the films, I'm guessing). So very many of the characters suffered from such a severe overdose of pride (i.e. Turin, Thingol, Boromir, Feanor, and other such "good" characters) in particular that I find the idea of them being "purely good" almost laughable. Almost.

On the flip-side, one could argue that the Easterlings of the First Age were misguided and lied to by Morgoth and ended up only serving him because of fear (begrudgingly) after the Nirnaeth thus they weren't purely (though perhaps they were still mostly) "evil."

Tell them to pick up a book.

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
And last and proudest, Imrahil, Prince of Dol Amroth, kinsman of the lord, with gilded banners bearing his token of the Ship and the Silver Swan, and a company of knights in full harness riding grey horses...tall as lords, grey-eyed, dark-haired, singing as they came.

-Minas Tirith

From: Dor-En-Ernil, Belfalas (by way of VA) | Registered: May 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Thorin
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 816
posted      Profile for Thorin   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
This isn't a new idea at all. I think this basic idea must have been very prevalent before 1977 and the Silmarillion was published.

For instance, take this 1966 book review from Time:
quote:
Another enthusiast likes the Rings' old-fashioned moral simplicity: "You cheer the hero and boo the villain."
Granted, Time isn't exactly up to the standard of the New York Times in book reviews, but it still shows that even critics had this opinion. I think it is probably still common among those who have read no more than LOTR. The Hobbit probably has more moral ambiguity than LOTR.
From: Helsinki | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Alatar the Wizard
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 5315

posted      Profile for Alatar the Wizard   Author's Homepage   Email Alatar the Wizard   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
If Gandalf was pure good, by which I assume you mean incorruptable, why did he turn down the opportunity to possess the One Ring?

I think that there are good and evil characters in LOTR, but they are good or evil based on their choices and strengths/frailties. Boromir was a good person, but his natural human frailties did him in. Even Frodo gave in to the power of the One Ring in the end, although he was released from its power when it was destroyed.

Only Tom Bombadil seemed incorruptable to me, and I suppose that Orcs are bred to be inherently evil. And let's not forget what happened with Fëanor and his sons in the First Age.

[ 11-20-2008, 12:58 PM: Message edited by: Alatar the Blue ]

From: South Forodwaith | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Amárië
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 5498

posted      Profile for Amárië   Email Amárië   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
There's no such thing as "pure" good or "pure" evil.
From: Mishawaka, IN | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Neytari Took-Baggins
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 490

posted      Profile for Neytari Took-Baggins   Author's Homepage   Email Neytari Took-Baggins   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
What is the beam of goodness in Morgoth?
From: California ainrofilaC | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Ulairë Gordis
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 5350

posted      Profile for Ulairë Gordis   Author's Homepage   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
In Morgoth there may be none already, but Melkor definitely had some good qualities: open-mindedness, brilliant creativity, leadership qualities (hasn't he seduced many Maiar to his service, even those first committed to other Valar?)

Had Eru chosen Melkor over Manwe to be King of Arda, perhaps he would have remained good-intentioned. But things in Arda would have gotten far more ... ahem ... interesting. []

[ 11-21-2008, 06:26 AM: Message edited by: Ulairë Gordis ]

From: Minas Morgul | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Hamfast Gamgee
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 5528

posted      Profile for Hamfast Gamgee   Author's Homepage   Email Hamfast Gamgee   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
What about Gollum/Smeagol?
From: Bagshot Row, Hobbiton, The Shire! | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Neytari Took-Baggins
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 490

posted      Profile for Neytari Took-Baggins   Author's Homepage   Email Neytari Took-Baggins   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
Smeagol definitely had rays of hope in him. The scene where Frodo is asleep and Smeagol reaches for him and Sam wakes up and yells at him...Smeagol is not all bad.

[ 11-21-2008, 10:04 AM: Message edited by: Neytari Took-Baggins ]

From: California ainrofilaC | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Ulairë Gordis
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 5350

posted      Profile for Ulairë Gordis   Author's Homepage   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
What about the Mouth of Sauron? []
From: Minas Morgul | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Neytari Took-Baggins
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 490

posted      Profile for Neytari Took-Baggins   Author's Homepage   Email Neytari Took-Baggins   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
How do you know he wasn't raised by his single mom who did the best she could but couldn't stop him from living it up with the kids in the bad neighborhood they had to live in because on her salary she couldn't move her kids anywhere better? With the drugs and the lousy revolving door schools and the gangs....He might just be a product of the society he was raised in!

( [] )

(Note: I am not mocking anyone. I just think the idea is funny)

[ 11-21-2008, 10:32 AM: Message edited by: Neytari Took-Baggins ]

From: California ainrofilaC | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Ulairë Gordis
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 5350

posted      Profile for Ulairë Gordis   Author's Homepage   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
Ha, I have actually made someone defend MOS! [] *Am happy*

...and don't forget the bad genes he got from his long line of Black Numenoreans... []

[ 11-21-2008, 05:54 PM: Message edited by: Ulairë Gordis ]

From: Minas Morgul | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Hamfast Gamgee
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 5528

posted      Profile for Hamfast Gamgee   Author's Homepage   Email Hamfast Gamgee   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
Well, actually I was genuinally asking about Gollum-Smeagol. I'm not sure he was actually evil, but then again even as Smeagol he did tend to act purely in self-interest. Neither Slinker or Stinker wanted Sauron to get the Ring after all!
As for the Mouth of Sauron, perhaps he was a descendent of Castimir and maybe had a legitimate, possibly, claim to the throne of Gondor! I have often thought he might be! Then again, he might have just been a highly skilled jumped up nobody!

From: Bagshot Row, Hobbiton, The Shire! | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Neytari Took-Baggins
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 490

posted      Profile for Neytari Took-Baggins   Author's Homepage   Email Neytari Took-Baggins   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
The book strongly implies (if not directly states) that with pity, Gollum/Smeagol could leave his wicked ways. So he is not pure evil.
From: California ainrofilaC | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tuor
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 374

posted      Profile for Tuor   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
There's this popular rumour going on in Sweden right now that Tolkien created his characters as totally good and totally evil.

People can't be wrong about their own understandings. If that is what they understand after reading the text, then that's what they believe. There's no arguing with it. There's no proving it wrong. People simply believe what they believe.

From: Oklahoma | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Hamfast Gamgee
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 5528

posted      Profile for Hamfast Gamgee   Author's Homepage   Email Hamfast Gamgee   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
Maybe the books did, Ney, but it would be pretty difficult to see how Gollum/Smeagol would have survived once the Ring had been destroyed. In fact the character says so himself. Wheather this makes him totally evil is debatable. He might have had an awful lot of reforming to do in a very short space of time!
From: Bagshot Row, Hobbiton, The Shire! | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor pi
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 5374

posted      Profile for pi   Author's Homepage   Email pi   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
'But this is terrible!' cried Frodo. 'Far worse than the worst that I
imagined from your hints and warnings. O Gandalf, best of friends, what am I
to do? For now I am really afraid. What am I to do? What a pity that Bilbo
did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!'
'Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike
without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so
little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his
ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.'
'I am sorry,' said Frodo. 'But I am frightened; and I do not feel any
pity for Gollum.'
'You have not seen him,' Gandalf broke in.
'No, and I don't want to,' said Frodo. I can't understand you. Do you
mean to say that you, and the Elves, have let him live on after all those
horrible deeds? Now at any rate he is as bad as an Orc, and just an enemy.
He deserves death.'
'Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some
that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to
deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.

[]

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
The grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.

From: Virgo Supercluster, 40º N 75º W | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Neytari Took-Baggins
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 490

posted      Profile for Neytari Took-Baggins   Author's Homepage   Email Neytari Took-Baggins   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
Should have started a pool on how long it would take before someone posted that quote []
From: California ainrofilaC | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor pi
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 5374

posted      Profile for pi   Author's Homepage   Email pi   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
It's the least I could do.
From: Virgo Supercluster, 40º N 75º W | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tuor
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 374

posted      Profile for Tuor   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
The book strongly implies (if not directly states) that with pity, Gollum/Smeagol could leave his wicked ways.
Where did the quote given by Pi ever say this?
From: Oklahoma | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Neytari Took-Baggins
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 490

posted      Profile for Neytari Took-Baggins   Author's Homepage   Email Neytari Took-Baggins   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
That one doesn't. The scene I described does. And my copy of LotR is in a box in my brother's room and I don't know where my mom put hers []
From: California ainrofilaC | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Thorin
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 816
posted      Profile for Thorin   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
If [Sam] had understood better what was going on between Frodo and Gollum, things might have turned out differently in the end. For me perhaps the most tragic moment in the Tale comes in II 323 ff. when Sam fails to note the complete change in Gollum's tone and aspect. 'Nothing, nothing', said Gollum softly. 'Nice master!'. His repentance is blighted and all Frodo's pity is (in a sense)* wasted. Shelob's lair became inevitable.

This is due of course to the 'logic of the story'. Sam could hardly have acted differently. (He did reach the point of pity at last (III 221-222) but for the good of Gollum too late.)

* In the sense that 'pity' to be a true virtue must be directed to the good of its object. It is empty if it is exercised only to keep oneself 'clean', free from hate or the actual doing of injustice, though this is also a good motive.

Letter # 246

I'm not sure what quote in LOTR itself discusses this, but there is this from Letters. Other letters go on to show that Frodo's Pity redeemed himself, not Gollum.
From: Helsinki | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tuor
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 374

posted      Profile for Tuor   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
If you think Tolkien's opinion was of any worth, then you can find his opinion on the topic of his thread in a couple of letters. 183 would do nicely.
From: Oklahoma | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Sarah the Good Witch
Guard of the Citadel
Citizen # 11219
posted      Profile for Sarah the Good Witch   Email Sarah the Good Witch   Edit/Delete Post 
Tolkien's characters strike me as being, above all else, human. While orcs might not be capable of good, the same could be said of many soldiers (didn't Tolkien say that Orcs were mongoloids in appearance?) Likewise, all but the utterly idyllic and near-omnipotent (like Bombadil) are capable of evil, if they succumb to temptation for even the potential to transcend ethical boundaries without account, even if they do so for "the greater good."
Therefore, "good" characters would be those who actually sacrifice of themselves the "greater good" for the greater greater good.

[ 03-20-2009, 06:54 AM: Message edited by: Sarah the Good Witch ]

From: Vancouver | Registered: Feb 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Khamul the Black
Soldier of Gondor
Citizen # 11222
posted      Profile for Khamul the Black   Email Khamul the Black   New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post 
in a bad guy mind he's doing good but in the wrong way and vice versa
Registered: Apr 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Create a New Topic  Reply to this Topic Minas Tirith Forums » History of Middle-earth » Would you say that Tolkien's characters are all pure good and pure evil? (Page 1)
This topic is comprised of pages:  1  2 
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic       The Red Arrow!       Admin Options: Make Topic Sticky   Close Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic

About  ~ • ~  Contact  ~ • ~  Minas Tirith  ~ • ~  F. A. Q.  ~ • ~  Help

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.6.1