Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Pippin and Gandalf

Something that's always bothered me about Gandalf was how he treats poor Pippin.  It seems like he is often very angry with our young Hobbit, and I--as a person who is extremely sensitive to others' feelings--have always been hurt by Gandalf's chastising.  My mom, because she is a parent, I suppose, probably understands Gandalf's motives better: tough love.  We know that Gandalf is a good character and that he cares for the Hobbits in general.  The question is: is his harsh treatment of Pippin wholly benevolent, or is it a side of Gandalf that is less than perfect?


The examples are found in both the books and the movies:
"Knock your head against these doors, Peregrin Took! And if that does not shatter them, and I [Gandalf] am allowed a little peace from foolish questions, I will try to find the opening words." (The Fellowship of the Ring 2001)
This is just one of the many outbursts Gandalf has.  He also famously calls Pip a "fool of a Took" several times, rolls his eyes, and several other minor things that, when added up, seem almost hostile.

 

I have historically been on Pippin's side.  I feel very bad for him when Gandalf is angry with him.  As a powerful and respected figure, it must hurt to be insulted by Gandalf, and I wouldn't wish that upon anyone.  But I never could fully say that Gandalf was "mean" to him because Gandalf was always painted as a perfect character with no errors.  After I read The Silmarillion and found out that he was actually an angelic character--a Maia--I became even more convinced that he could do no wrong and must have had some reason for berating Pippin.

My mom has always suggested that he is exhibiting tough love like a parent would do to their child.  Considering this, I found a few examples where Gandalf does support a few things Pippin does, apparently approving of Pip's good behavior.


Gandalf claps after Pippin and Merry's dance in Edoras, apparently approving of their happiness and congratulating them.

Gandalf comforts Pippin and cares for him while they are in Gondor.  He even trusts him to light the Beacons (in the movie).


He is surprisingly caring about Pippin when the Hobbit looks into the Palantir.  He apprehends him harshly--in this case, completely appropriate--but understands that Pip has just gone through a traumatic experience and tries to keep him calm.  

Overall, I think it has become clear to me in time that while Gandalf can come across as harsh and stern, he is well-meaning deep down and truly cares about all the Hobbits.  He has been put into a stressful situation with remarkably high stakes and will not allow a Hobbit to mess things up.  As Pippin matures throughout the story, Gandalf gains more respect for him and ultimately comes to trust him as a comrade.  

Gandalf was integral in shaping Pippin's character and without his tough love, Pippin could have ended up a lot worse.

What are your thoughts on the Pippin/Gandalf relationship?  Do you think Gandalf went a bit too far?

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Lord of the Rings Quotes

In memory of all those who served and in gratitude to today's defenders of liberty and protectors of human rights.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Fellowship of the Ring EE Review

Yesterday I finally watched the Extended Edition of The Fellowship of the Ring!  I was able to borrow a copy from my friend Anna who owns it but has never watched it.  Thank you, Anna!

amazon.com
I have seen a lot of the extended scenes on YouTube, but never all compiled together into one continuous film.  The first thing I was struck by was the beautiful case!  It comes with a gorgeous little guide and Alan Lee artwork on the back of the slipcase.

Once the film actually started, I right away picked up on the different musical queues.  In the guide I remember it saying that Howard Shore rerecorded the entire score for the Extended Edition.  I originally thought this movie would just be the regular movie with little inserted scenes throughout, but it truly was like watching a new film.  Even in scenes I recognized from the originals there were little lines put in which really added a lot.  Take this scene for example:


In the original movie, Boromir's cry "it will be the death of the Hobbits" was omitted.  I really liked it in this extended scene because it showed that Boromir really cared about the Hobbits and also Frodo's decision to go through the Mines actually was founded.



Speaking about Boromir, there were a lot of little tidbits put back in here that added a lot to his character.  I've seen Boromir's death so many times it doesn't often make me tear up, but after all these new scenes with him, I really did get a bit misty (okay one or two tear drops may have spilled out).  Boromir seems much more relatable and I truly felt bad for him after he chased Frodo away and then was crying out an apology.  It stung my heart to really grasp that Frodo never saw Boromir again after he attacked him--never received his apology.


















It was so fun to watch this movie--every time something new came up or a new scene was introduced I got so excited!

My mom who has a good knowledge of the story, but that is only based on the movies and my detailed explanations, also really liked the Extended Edition.  I thought it might be geared more toward book-readers and less explanatory and for those reasons I guessed she would get confused.  On the contrary, however.  She said she really enjoyed them and felt that they explained certain aspects even better, such as the Uruk-hai.

The Concerning Hobbits scene did a very good job of describing the lifestyle of Hobbits.  I can understand why the filmmakers cut it from the theatrical version as there is little conflict within this scene and probably wouldn't be that interesting to anyone who isn't acquainted with the story.

My favorite part of this addition was that it created a better relationship with Bilbo and let us learn a bit more about him--that he enjoys writing, cares a lot about Frodo, and enjoys adventures.  

The music in this scene was wonderful as well!


I adored this scene!  I absolutely loved Pippin and Merry's song at the Green Dragon.  It added fun to the movie which was nice to have at the beginning of the film which demonstrated the nature of Hobbits as care-free and happy.

I distinctly remember the conversation between Sam, Ted Sandyman, and the Gaffer at the Ivy Bush inn from the very first chapter of The Fellowship, and it was a joy to have that little detail showing the inquisitive nature of Hobbits back in the film.  Five stars!


I got very excited when I saw the Passing of the Elves scene which set up the Elves passing into the West very well and made the episode with Arwen more understandable.  I was disappointed not to see Gildor Inglorion, but I understood that it would be complicated to introduce a new character for only one scene.

The Midgewater Marshes scene showed that the passage to Rivendell was not very easy, which I think is very important.  Also, Aragorn singing the Lay of Leithien perfectly foreshadowed the Arwen story to come.


Gilraen's memorial was almost a touching scene, but it was marred by a conversation between Aragorn and Elrond about how Aragorn didn't want to be the king.  I suppose this whole Aragorn-inner-conflict was put into the film just to add more drama, but it really changes a lot of aspects of Aragorn's character, and not necessarily for the better.  In the original films it bothered me, but it was expanded upon greatly in this extended edition.  I guess one more scene with Viggo Mortensen and Hugo Weaving isn't the worst thing that could happen though ;)


Also, the departure of the fellowship was so amazing!  First off, the looks between Aragorn and Arwen were heart stinging, and my absolute favorite part: "Mordor, Gandalf; is it left or right?" by Frodo.  Melted.  My.  Heart.  The proof that Frodo is taking on this challenge with little to no knowledge of what is happening, but is brave enough to go through with it makes his character and the whole venture that much more touching.



As for the Moria scenes, there was more Pippin bashing (almost literally) on the part of Gandalf, who, exasperated with all of Pippin's questions about the doors of Moria sarcastically ordered him to bang his head against the stone.  I said to my sister, "Gandalf must be insecure if he feels the need to rip on Pippin so much."  I understand completely that Gandalf has to be stern to teach Pippin, but it still bothers me every time.  There was a greatly expanded fight with the cave troll.  Generally I am not a huge fan of fight sequences, especially since I know the outcome, but it was kind of nice to get better acquainted with everyone's fighting style, and everyone was helping each other out.

The scenes with Haldir and Aragorn trying to get into Lothlorien, honestly seemed a wee bit unnecessary.  When I saw a new scene coming on, I was hoping we would get to watch them cross the Nimrodel on the ropes.  That may have made Lothlorien seem even more magical and special.  Instead we got a scene which went a long way to establish the racism between Elves and Dwarves, which was okay I suppose, but overall I felt that that could have been shown more subtly throughout the stay in Lothlorien.

I did really enjoy the gift-giving scene, though I have already watched it several times.

I am really excited to check out all the extra behind-the-scenes videos in this series and watching the Extended Edition of The Two Towers.  What did you think of the Extended Edition?  Did you think it was better than the original film?

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Tolkien's Great War

Today I watched Tolkien's Great War, a short documentary about J.R.R. Tolkien's experience in World War I.  I found it to be very informative, captivating, and downright touching.  I strongly recommend this documentary as it offers many detail's about Tolkien's young life I was unaware of and presents the effects of the war poignantly.

You can view it on Vimeo here.

johngarth.co.uk

Strawberries with Cream: The Recipe

"Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It'll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they'll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields... and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?" (Return of the King 2003)


For cake and fruit (for cream recipe, see below)

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 lbs. strawberries, stems removed, cut in quarters
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flower
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Mix strawberries with 3 tablespoons of sugar.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the juices to get nice and sugary.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and the remaining sugar together.  Add salt in the medium bowl.  Mix in heavy cream.  Place batter in an ungreased 8-inch square pan.  Bake until golden (about 18-20 minutes).  Remove the cake from the pan and cool on a rack.   Spoon strawberry/juice mixture on cake.  Add whipped cream.

Whipped cream recipe

Ingredients
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
Use a large bowl.  Whip cream until little peaks begin to form.  Beat in sugar and vanilla extract until more peaks form.  Caution: do no over-beat because the whipped cream will be lumpy.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Mini-Eucatastrophes

When Lord of the Rings unexpectedly pops into my life just to brighten my day a bit (is that considered a eucatastrophe? ;):



Three instances in the past couple days where Lord of the Rings references caught my attention and made me smile a bit.

First, I was doing a stupid internet quiz (but I love them so much!).  You know, the type with questions like "what wings would you have?" and "can we guess your favorite color in under two minutes?".  Once I start one, I end up getting sucked into a million.

Through these quizzes, I've been told my sense of manners is most similar to that of Victorian Europe, I am a fifty year old single male (for the record, I'm not), and I have a doctorate degree (I don't).  So when I take these quizzes, I don't expect anything accurate.

I was taking the quiz: what classic book is most similar to your life? and you will never guess what I got!


I was very happily surprised--I didn't even know that LOTR was an option when I started the quiz!

Secondly, I was looking up song lyrics on one of those websites that has a bunch of links to lists of "celebrities you never hear about anymore" and "secret hair care ideas you never knew".  I was just scrolling through the list to get to the bottom of the article I was reading, when I came across this:


Yes!  That is what I'm talking about!  Lord of the Rings is the thumbnail for a list of the best epic movies.  That is how it should be, world!

And finally, I was listening to the Catholic Stuff You Should Know podcast, and the Deacon Gobel was talking about how he gave up biting his nails for lent.  (Paraphrasing) "My fingers felt so weird...like a cave creature--I felt like Gollum or something..."

Perfect simile--I knew exactly what he was talking about.

What are some ways that casual insertions of Lord of the Rings have made your day a bit brighter?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Lord of the Rings Quotes

 “The leaves were long, the grass was green,
The hemlock-umbels tall and fair,
And in the glade a light was seen
Of stars in shadow shimmering.
Tinuviel was dancing there
To music of a pipe unseen,
And light of stars was in her hair,
And in her raiment glimmering.

There Beren came from mountains cold,
And lost he wandered under leaves,
And where the Elven-river rolled.
He walked along and sorrowing.
He peered between the hemlock-leaves
And saw in wonder flowers of gold
Upon her mantle and her sleeves,
And her hair like shadow following.

Enchantment healed his weary feet
That over hills were doomed to roam;
And forth he hastened, strong and fleet,
And grasped at moonbeams glistening.
Through woven woods in Elvenhome
She lightly fled on dancing feet,
And left him lonely still to roam
In the silent forest listening.

He heard there oft the flying sound
Of feet as light as linden-leaves,
Or music welling underground,
In hidden hollows quavering.
Now withered lay the hemlock-sheaves,
And one by one with sighing sound
Whispering fell the beechen leaves
In the wintry woodland wavering.

He sought her ever, wandering far
Where leaves of years were thickly strewn,
By light of moon and ray of star
In frosty heavens shivering.
Her mantle glinted in the moon,
As on a hill-top high and far
She danced, and at her feet was strewn
A mist of silver quivering.

When winter passed, she came again,
And her song released the sudden spring,
Like rising lark, and falling rain,
And melting water bubbling.
He saw the elven-flowers spring
About her feet, and healed again
He longed by her to dance and sing
Upon the grass untroubling.

Again she fled, but swift he came.
Tinuviel! Tinuviel!
He called her by her elvish name;
And there she halted listening.
One moment stood she, and a spell
His voice laid on her: Beren came,
And doom fell on Tinuviel
That in his arms lay glistening.

As Beren looked into her eyes
Within the shadows of her hair,
The trembling starlight of the skies
He saw there mirrored shimmering.
Tinuviel the elven-fair,
Immortal maiden elven-wise,
About him cast her shadowy hair
And arms like silver glimmering.

Long was the way that fate them bore,
O'er stony mountains cold and grey,
Through halls of iron and darkling door,
And woods of nightshade morrowless.
The Sundering Seas between them lay,
And yet at last they met once more,
And long ago they passed away
In the forest singing sorrowless.” 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tolkien's Road

Today I viewed the short film "Tolkien's Road".  According to the studio's Facebook page, the creator of this film is Too Big to be a Hobbit Productions, and the film is: 

"...a student film project about J.R.R. Tolkien's journey to beginning his first book "The Hobbit." But before he can bring the world of Middle-Earth to life he must overcome the trauma of fighting in WWI and find his voice again.

"Tolkien's imagination comes to life everywhere he looks in the form of Elves, Dwarves and Dragons. But it is when he meets the Hobbit that he is transported on a journey of self discovery which will change himself and the world of literature forever."

I recorded my thoughts at each moment in the film, so read those below, and enjoy the show!


Don't take any of the following comments too hard--I am just joking around.  Also, I would recommend looking at each comment along with the moments in the film because I did not provide much context--they're just quick notes I jotted.

2:38 Why did he call Edith "little one" and why do they sleep in different rooms?

3:00 Amazing but did Tolkien actually bike to classes?  In his tweed suit and wasitcoat?

3:37 Umm.....

6:04 Is that a Hobbit or a creepy hobo?  I am concerned.

6:33 What kind of sick, twisted Hobbit would do this?  Is it Gollum?

7:04 Ummmm this is questionable....

7:20 So is Tolkien the dragon in this scenario?  I'm confused.

7:36 That little thief! That wretched little burglar-ohhhhh....

7:26 Cute!

9:48 "Gublins"

10:01 I like the nightgowns.

10:05 AHHHHHHHH *rocks slowly back and forth*

10:18 Is that actually how PTSD works?

10:51 Not only is this vicious Hobbit a robber, but a stalker as well!  Goodness gracious!

11:58  How I feel when I read The Silmarillion or The Histories of Middle-earth.

12:21 That's what people say when I tell them about Elvish.

12:22 And that's how I respond.

13:04 Okay epic Elvish skills, but is it sad that I know a lot of what she's saying without subtitles?

13:44 So the true story of how Tolkien came up with his books is...a strange hobbit stole his notebook and then he hallucinated Elves?  Seems legit.

14:12 That kid doesn't seem remotely surprised, and that Elf does not appear to have any idea what she's doing.  Furthermore, didn't people usually call Tolkien "Ronald" when he was young?

14:27 Noooooo sadness overload--I can't!

16:15 No.  I refuse to believe this.  Tolkien did not dress up like William Wallace on a regular basis.

16:49 No, "Tolkien"'s clinically insane!

17:25 So now "Tolkien" is Gollum and that Hobbit just stole his stuff?  "Dirty, tricksy theif!"

17:43 NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

18:04 It's RIGHT BEHIND HIM!!! He could reach it if he tried!!!!

18:58 Even at the beach "Tolkien" wears a sweater-vest and smokes.

19:10 At this point, I'm alarmed for "Tolkien"'s safety.

19:54 So he's in Ireland now?

21:15 Gasp!  It's Frodo's song!

22:53 Best defense against creepy top-hat men in Middle-earth/Ireland?  Singing a song and dancing!

23:47  Stop, this is too scary!!

24:27  YOU SHALL NOT PASS!

26:24  Um, excuse me?  HERESYYYYYY!!!!!  Stahhhhpppp!  It's not decide what you "want" to do, it's what you SHOULD do!  GRRRRRRRR The subtle twisting of words to make it sound like you can do whatever you want is reminiscent of Saruman--tread carefully....CAREFULLY....

27:05 On point.

28:56 The lighting is perfection in this scene

28:27 And by "interesting" I mean I had a series of inexplicable hallucinations which resulted in tears and a loss of sleep.  In other news, I still don't have my notebook!

29:31 Um, he just said he isn't feeling well plus he missed work.  Do you really think he wants to go on a walk?

29:33 I stand corrected.

29:56 My thoughts exactly.

30:20  What?  No, of course imagination's not false!  An imagined image of Elves sitting on the grass is real (the image is) but there are not literal Elves sitting on the grass that we can detect with our senses, so we deem them not real.  That doesn't mean that the image you think of is fake, or the abstract noun of imagination is unreal.  What is this?!?!?

30:47  STAHHPP THE MYTHOPOEIA!!!! There is no way that Tolkien literally just began spewing out poetry!  He SENT this to C.S. Lewis after writing it!

31:07 Well I already have most of the lines for this scene memorized.

31:35 The color grading is INTENSE.

31:37 You mean the Hobbit that robbed you and constantly stocks and teases you?  WHAAAATTT??

32:17 Sweater-vest and rifle are incompatible.

33:10 I FEEL LIKE I'VE BEEN HIT OVER THE HEAD REPEATEDLY BY MYTHOPOEIA REFERENCES

34:37 Like the actual Lord of the Rings movies, this film has multiple endings.

---

But seriously, I did enjoy the film.  There were some moments which were a bit objectionable, but I love poking fun at little inconsistencies in movies and television, so don't take anything I said above for anything but a grain of salt.

What did you think of the film?  Personally, I felt like the filmmakers did a good job putting in a lot of references and it was obviously well researched and edited.  My only suggestion is that they be careful to provide context for things that are happening--we wouldn't want some uneducated new-be to come away thinking that Tolkien literally had hallucinations.

My applause to the filmmakers and I hope they continue to produce more films!

techtimes.com

Monday, May 23, 2016

Tolkien Quotes

“Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible, and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer.” -The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Monsters and Evil Things in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings

Prompt from the Tolkien SocietyCarefully read the book you want to work from if you have not already done this. Note down and think about all creatures that are 'nassty precious'! What is it that makes them scary? Does the place where they live make them more scary? What is the best defense against them? Is there any?

I will be analyzing the following in this essay: trolls, goblins, the spiders of Mirkwood, Smaug, Nazgul, the Balrog, and Shelob.

First up, the trolls of The Hobbit.  The trolls are almost a comical present--arguing about how to cook the Dwarves and Hobbit with their funny accents--but they are still scary for the simple fact they have captured Bilbo and the Dwarves and are about to eat them!  They are nomadic trolls, and move all around.  The best defense against the trolls is out-smarting them.  Their greatest weakness is daylight, so if you can just keep them occupied until then--like Gandalf does--you'll be able to escape without harm.

food, pot, chef

Second, the goblins also from The Hobbit.  These creatures have strength in numbers.  I can just imagine how disgusting it must have been to have all of the little goblins running around and creeping everywhere.  The place where they live--namely the tunnels beneath the Misty Mountains--definitely adds to the fear factor.  The tunnel brings images of worms, slugs, and all manners of nasty creatures to mind, as well as keeps our protagonists away from the Sun and their source of hope.  They feel hopelessly lost in the winding tunnels with no sense of escape.  The best defense against goblins is to simply outrun them.  Both times Bilbo and co. escape, they are right in their grasp but are able to escape just in time--either by falling out of their pathway and into Gollum's cave, or being rescued by Eagles.

The third group is the spiders of Mirkwood.  These spiders are so scary because many children--myself included!--are frightened of the eight little eyes and eight spindly legs of big spiders on our walls at night.  Since we are already scared of the creepy-crawlies, big versions of them are especially unsettling!  They live in twisty, sticky, webs high in the trees of dark Mirkwood forest.  I think this makes them more scary because you feel trapped amid their treacherous webs and it is very easy to get stuck and be left to their mercy (or lack thereof!).  The best defense against spiders we see is magic rings that keep you invisible, taunting them by singing rude songs, and generally just evading them.

nature, animal, fog

The fourth scary creature is Smaug the magnificent.  Smaug is terrifying because--well, he explains it best:  “My armor is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!”  Just the very being of Smaug is enough to invoke fear in the stoutest of Hobbits, the bravest of Dwarves, and the most fearless of Men.  At his name the surrounding villagers tremble.  He lives amid the ruins of a Dwarf city, in their dark halls which once were filled with light.  I think the large area and haunting sense of death and destruction must have added to Bilbo's fear as he went deep into the passageway.  The best defense against Smaug is--of course--black arrows, which are very rare.  If you don't happen to have a black arrow handy when Smaug attacks, you may be in significant trouble.

From The Lord of the Rings, the Nazgul are truly terrifying.  They are frightening because we don't get that much information about them, and they are the first scary creatures we encounter at the beginning of the story.  Gandalf gives us a bit of exposition, but we don't get a very good description or many details concerning them.  They are shrouded in mystery which contributes to the fear factor.  They live in Mordor which is certainly scary, but we never actually encounter them there.   The best defense against Nazgul is stealthy evasion as demonstrated by Frodo and friends and encouraged by Gandalf, fire which was utilized by Aragorn defending the Hobbits, and Elvish magic which was used by Glorfindel as the group passed over the Bruinen.

landscape, nature, forest

Next, the Balrog.  Durin's Bane is a terrifying monstrosity of literal fire and death.  His physical being is very scary and only made more horrendous by the fact he lives in a dark cavern, bereft of all light and life.  The best weapon to fight the Balrog is bravery and a hint of magic.  Gandalf is surely the only one of the Fellowship who had any hope of defeating him.  They are just lucky they had a wizard with them!

Finally, Shelob is a creepy creature from The Lord of the Rings.  She lurks in the tunnels in the mountains separating Minas Morgul from Mordor.  She spins her webs all about in order to trap and poison her prey.  Her dark surroundings are similar to both the spiders of Mirkwood and also the goblin tunnels.  The best defense against this monster is the light of Earendil and the strength you can only find within a brave and loving Hobbit.

Tolkien is great at demonstrating different ways to make his creations scary: from making their physical beings truly frightening, to placing the creatures in terrifying surroundings, and even keeping key things about the creatures secret in order to keep mystery and suspense at play.  These are great examples of how we all can use these methods in our own writing.  Good luck!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Richard Armitage

I am hoping to do a few posts about the different actors in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  Since I just finished binge-watching a show for four hours starring Richard Armitage, I decided it was only fair to start with him.

Here is a bit of biographical information:

  • His full name is Richard Crispin Armitage
  • He works as an actor doing not only live action in film and television, but theater and voice performance as well
  • Though his biggest break came as his role of Thorin in The Hobbit movies, he is also known for acting in the following: North and South (2004), Robin Hood (2006), The Vicar of Dibley (1994-2007), Spooks (2002-2011) and Strike Back (2010-2015)
  • He graduated from the London Academy of Music and Art
  • He has performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company
  • He has recorded audio books
  • He plays the cello and flute
  • A fun fact is that he uses method acting, and sometimes puts diaries together for the character he is taking on
Most information taken from "North and South" on bbc.co.uk

In The Hobbit
Thorin Oakenshield is probably one of the most challenging characters in the whole story of The Hobbit to play.  Richard Armitage would have to find a way to balance the leadership and determination of Thorin with his vengeance and greed.

You are probably aware that I, personally, am not a very big fan of The Hobbit movies for the most part.  One aspect of the films that I did admire however, was the acting.  Not all the acting was perfect to be sure--some of the reprized roles seemed particularly forced and/or overly fan-servicing--but I was impressed by two main actors, namely, Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage.

After seeing some of Richard Armitage's other work, I can definitely see that he often plays very broody and grumpy characters.  Thorin fits this description, to an extent.  Richard Armitage has a very deep voice and commanding presence which I think was very good for Thorin's character.  

I think the whole dragon sickness thing in the movie was very rushed (Thorin went from 0-60 in about fifteen minutes) but that is not Richard Armitage's fault (screenwriters, I'm looking at you     -_-).

His portrayal of Dwarven culture was much darker than John Rhys-Davies as Gimli, but given the circumstances and the obvious differences in personalities between the actual characters themselves (in the books, mind you!) I think he can be forgiven--especially when there are so many other Dwarves fooling around in the background throughout The Hobbit movies to make up for it.

All in all, Richard Armitage did a good job with what he was given in The Hobbit movies.

Other Work
Richard Armitage playing Mr. Thornton in North and South
Like I said, I just finished watching the BBC series North and South.  I found it on Netflix and at first I thought it was about the Civil War.  After reading the description, I found out it was actually about a cotton mill in the north of England.  I wasn't very interested, but seeing that Richard Armitage was in it, I decided to give it a go.

The first episode was quite melodramatic, and I found that I really despised the main character.  She constantly would presumptuously ask Mr. Thornton (Richard Armitage's character) loaded questions about the running of his mill which implied that he was an evil person.  I found myself literally cheering for Mr. Thornton though as he consistently fried her (no other verb for it!) and put her in her place.  

An example.  Margaret, the main character, decided it was her job to begin yelling at Mr. Thornton out of nowhere because he had fired one of his own employees who had been smoking in the cotton mill.  Little did she know that one of Mr. Thornton's previous mills had burned to the ground because of irresponsible employees like that one, and that he had already warned said employee not to smoke.

Margaret is put in her place time after time, but for reasons I still don't understand, Mr. Thornton falls on his knees declaring his love for her.  She rudely turns him down like he is the dirt beneath her slipper, and Mr. Thornton is completely distraught.  At this point I was already done with Margaret, but I was getting frusterated with Mr. Thornton--why can't he see that she is no good?

The end of the series of course ends up with them solving their differences (not really, just meeting at the train station and kissing...?).  I was not satisfied with this series at all.  I found it over dramatic, poorly acted for the most part, and not well plotted.  Boy was it entertaining, though!  My sisters and my mom and I all watched together and had a great time making fun of it.

About half way through the show I began calling Mr. Thornton "Mr. Darcy" because he looks and acts pretty much exactly like the Pride and Prejudice character!  As I was doing some research on Richard Armitage, I found that I am not the only one to make this comparison!  Apparently many people have noticed his tendency to take broody yet caring protagonist roles.

Richard Armitage in Into the Storm.  Note the destruction
in the background--this is the school post-tornado.
I also saw Richard Armitage in the film Into the Storm (2014).  He played a small town teacher who is in big trouble--along with the rest of his students--as TOULS (tornadoes of unusually large sizes) completely ravage their Midwest town.  

Frankly, I didn't even know that Richard Armitage was in this film.  It could be that I didn't recognize him or didn't notice him, but I was unaware he was the teacher, and therefore I can't comment on his acting.

To sum up, Richard Armitage is a good actor who, in my opinion, has worked on some projects which are probably not on his level.  I would like to see more of his work, particularly if it is a well-rounded, well-produced project.  His good acting is being suppressed by poor film making.  Best of luck to you, Richard Armitage!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Debate: Sauron or Melkor?

Well friends, the Hobbit Lifestyle Debate just passed up 12 Things You Should Never Say to a Lord of the Rings Fan as the most popular post. In celebration, my sister Emily and I are back with another debate.



This time, the question is: who is the better “bad guy”? Sauron, or Melkor?

Emily and I actually both agree on who the better bad guy is (who I will not--at this time--disclose) but for the purposes of this debate one of us (not saying who) will be playing devil’s advocate (no pun intended). Emily will be advocating for Melkor and I will be on the side of Sauron.  Emily will be in green.

Since Emily went first last time, I will start out.

Sauron Opening Statement
Sauron the Deceiver clearly learned a lot from his tutor, Melkor. He was able to learn a lot from Melkor’s mistakes and--cunning as he is--reassessed Melkor’s ideas and came up with better ones. The result was a “bad guy 2.0”, new and improved. My first three points in this argument will be the following: a) Sauron is far better at being tricky and stealthy, in opposition to Melkor’s outward menace b) Sauron lasted much longer than Melkor because he had the benefit of education, and c) Sauron was able to rebuild after being defeated not once, not twice, but three times--a true sign of flexibility and cunning.

Melkor Opening Statement
While Sauron undoubtedly changed the face of Middle-earth, it was Melkor, also known as Morgoth, who truly established evil as a force to be reckoned with. As the greatest of the Ainur, Melkor is naturally more powerful than Sauron, and was able to wreak havoc in ways Sauron would never be able to. My argument hinges upon the facts that Melkor is naturally a more powerful being than Sauron, that Melkor prevailed for hundreds of years against a much mightier enemy, and that Melkor created an environment which allowed his malice to thrive for centuries after his defeat, proof that he focused on long term domination rather than short term gratification.




Sauron Point #1
My first point is that Sauron is far better at being tricky and stealthy, in opposition to Melkor’s outward menace. Melkor started off his career by being extremely outward with his hatred toward the Valar as well as the Children of Illuvatar. This became a disadvantage for him because he was unable to subtly corrupt people (like Sauron does so well) but had to resort to outright torture and brute strength. In contrast to this, Sauron is far more mysterious and excels at fooling and tricking people, as he did in the island of Numenor. The destruction of some of the best Men to ever live was one of Sauron’s greatest achievements, and he did it not by laying their island under siege, nor by entering battle (as Melkor undoubtedly would have done) but by infiltrating the elite of the island and planting corruption within the Men’s hearts. The latter is much more effective, as it ends in Men choosing to do wrong rather than just becoming victims. For instance, Melkor tortures and abuses Turin and Nienor in the First Age. These two characters die, but in dying, escape Melkor’s grasp. Sauron corrupts the Ringwraiths and they can never escape his grasp. Similarly, Sauron doesn’t just kill the Numenorians, he ruins them.

Melkor Rebuttal #1
I firmly believe Sauron’s subversion tactics were a) only adopted because he just wasn’t as strong as Melkor, and b) just happened to be the right way to deal with Men because, you know, they are so weak-willed. Melkor never even attempted to conquer Numenor; I have no doubt that he could have. That’s just not how the story worked out temporally.


Sauron Redirect #1
Melkor either underestimated the power of Numenor or was unable to figure out how to conquer it, because whether he liked it or not, the future people of Numenor were some of his greatest adversaries. I don’t think he just decided not to attack the Edain, I think he could not figure out an effective way to. AND EVEN IF HE HAD succeeded in killing them all, they still would not be “conquered”. Like I said before, even in death they would escape his grasp. Sauron completely subverted them so that they would be unclean sinners who themselves would never be free while under his power.



Sauron Point #2
My second argument is that Sauron lasted much longer than Melkor because he had the benefit of education. Sauron was able to see Melkor’s mistakes as he made them, take those failings, and fix them for his own career. Examples of these repaired shortcomings include: being stealthy rather than outwardly evil, corrupting rather than just attacking, exploiting weakness rather than injuring, etc. Just to be clear, it makes no difference that Melkor was originally the teacher. Quite often, students end up better off than their tutors. Could anyone say that Aristotle is less than Plato simply because he was his student? Of course not; he got all of Plato’s knowledge, plus his own intuition. The same is true with Sauron; he had Melkor’s knowledge and his own.

Melkor Rebuttal #2
When comparing the merits of two individuals, you have to look at the accomplishments of each relative to their starting point. Melkor basically invented evil in Middle Earth; all the discord that echoed in Middle-earth since the forming of Arda came originally from him. He was the inspiration and motivation behind Sauron’s behavior and, even though the teacher/student relationship does not automatically establish Melkor as the greater force, we have to recognize that Melkor’s role in establishing evil as a major force in an otherwise Eden-esque landscape is far more important than Sauron’s additional modifications. Comparatively, Sauron’s actions were far less impactful than Melkor’s great strides.


Sauron Redirect #2
Do not forget that Sauron was around throughout the entire First Age aiding Melkor in everything. Chances are that if it were not for Sauron working behind the scenes, many of Melkor’s greatest triumphs would never have come to fruition. While Melkor was the first to have a rough idea of evil, I have shown that Sauron was the first to perfect the design and put it to use effectively and prolifically. Sauron made evil so effective that he didn’t have to be around to perpetuate it, but could sit back and let Men and other peoples bring it to pass.



Sauron Point #3

My final point is that Sauron proves his superiority by coming back not once, not twice, but three times. He follows the motto: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. His first major defeat comes when Luthien cleanses the island of him. Sauron is forced to flee, but returns even stronger. The second time is after Numenor is destroyed and Sauron sinks with it (which is an instance, I may point out, which needed the help of not only the Valar, but Eru himself*--unlike Melkor’s destruction). He loses his physical form, but his spirit comes back even more powerful. The third time is when Isildur and co. defeat him in the Last Alliance. Finally, he is defeated once and for all by Frodo. The point is, that all of these different occasions were obstacles that Sauron overcame and learned from. In the end, he was much more powerful coming back from these events than he ever was before. Sauron demonstrates his tenacity, flexibility, and triumph in adversity through these redemptive returns.
*I am, of course, referencing the fact that the Valar had to lay down their governance of Arda to Eru in order to banish the evil that Sauron had incurred. In Melkor’s instance, they were able to handle it themselves.

Melkor Rebuttal #3
This is a matter of perspective; I would argue that Sauron’s many defeats are signs of weakness rather than perseverance. Melkor’s reign of terror contrasts to that of Sauron in that Melkor was complete and sustained in his control. For long stretches of time, Melkor caused chaos while simultaneously resisting a strong, prolonged attack at the hands of the Elven armies. The fact that he did not falter and have to rebuild during his extensive reign shows that he was stronger in general than Sauron ever was, and that Sauron’s reincarnations occurred only because Sauron was not as staunchy as Melkor from the get go. 



Sauron Redirect #3
“Reign of Terror”, “resisting”, “did not falter”? Melkor did none of these things throughout the First Age. Throughout the thousands of years he was at large he had countless opportunities (many more than Melkor) to cause mayhem, many of which he passed up. Furthermore, Melkor was not a fearless tyrant, but a puppy hiding from the thunderstorm outside. He is not the powerful king marching out and procuring havoc, but he is rather hiding like a coward inside Thangorodrim, who is even reluctant to move when Elven armies literally knock on his door. Melkor even trembles when a single elf--Fingolfin--comes near his “stronghold”. The bottom line? Melkor did not have solid control over Middle-earth. The fact is that Melkor wasn’t defeated as many times as Sauron because he was never as successful.

Melkor Point #1
As stated earlier, Melkor’s status of Vala instantly establishes himself as one of the most powerful beings in Middle-earth. Sauron, while a powerful being in his own right, is intrinsically less powerful than Melkor. The war of the Silmarils began when Melkor, with Ungoliant, destroyed Laurelin and Telperion. Essentially, Melkor infiltrated the most wholesome place in Arda, Valinor, and destroyed the cornerstone of an entire civilization. Sauron was never able to commit the smallest crime in Valinor because, as far as ‘bad guys’ go, he was not as ambitious and blazon was Melkor was in the very beginning of his campaign, and Melkor only increased his attacks from there.


Sauron Rebuttal #1
While Sauron was not as lucky as Melkor to receive all those powers, he still was able to do more with the skills that he did have. Throughout this argument I have illustrated that Sauron accomplished more than Melkor, and the fact that Sauron did this all from a disadvantage just adds to Sauron’s reputation.



Melkor Redirect #1
No. Sauron did not accomplish more than Melkor. He rode Melkor’s coattails until his mentor was destroyed and he had to carry on by himself. And even with all the knowledge he gained from watching Melkor, Sauron was not able to conquer Middle-earth or even restore the empire to the glory it had when Melkor ruled from Angband. Just no.

Melkor Point #2
By the time Frodo was making his way to destroy the One Ring, the peoples of Middle Earth were self centered and scattered. While Sauron struggled to overtake the relatively weak, warring countries of Men, Melkor prevailed against established, expansive Elven forces who, unlike Rohan and Gondor in the modern times, brought the battle to Melkor’s front door. On the one occasion where Middle-earth attacked Sauron directly, he was destroyed by Isildur, a mere human. In contrast, the Elven army that contested with Melkor for Beleriand was strong, well organized, devoted, and sustainable, yet Melkor still succeeded for thousands of years against their assault.

Sauron Rebuttal #2
The Elves of the First Age were anything but “well-organized”! Different factions were constantly warring or in tense situations which deeply divided their power. It took Maedhros hundreds of years to actually convince any of the Elves to do something about the Melkor-situation and even then their strategy was poorly-executed and that is the only reason Melkor triumphed. My point is that it is not Melkor’s superiority but his opponents’ failure that caused his success. As for Sauron, he conquered those that Melkor could not: the Numenorians. Try as Melkor might, he could not tempt the Edain in any way. Sauron snuck onto the Edain home-turf in the flesh and completely corrupted them. This is just one of the many instances of Sauron defeating an enemy that Melkor never could.



Melkor Redirect #2
If we are talking about who defeated the greater enemy, Melkor is the obvious winner! Even the other Valar could not conquer Melkor in his prime! Through history, men have always been the easiest creatures to corrupt, and besides, Melkor never even bothered with Men. I firmly believe that Melkor could have destroyed the Edain if he wanted to, but the truth is he was more concerned with the constant presence of the Elven armies and the war of the Silmarils.


Melkor Point #3
Finally, Sauron’s power, while meaningful in its own right, was from the beginning simple a vestige of Melkor’s reign. In addition to pursuing dominance, Melkor gave rise to great powers, like Sauron, the Great Worms, and Balrogs, that continued to thrive even after the final defeat of Angband. Sauron did not have such insight; his final defeat at the hands of Frodo left the “evil” forces of Middle Earth without an outlet to continue. Melkor, on the other hand, continued to act in Arda even after being banished. Even his final defeat was not total; his malice lived on through Sauron and the plethora of other monstrous beings to whom he gave purpose.


Sauron Rebuttal #3
Sauron’s reign was not fruitless, as you claim. He was able to give purpose to countless creatures he tormented successfully: the Nazgul, the Southrons and Easterlings, the Uruk-hai, the Orcs, etc. Furthermore, Sauron’s spirit did something that Melkor’s battles and brute strength never could: it corrupted Men, Elves, Dwarves, and good peoples who will continue the trend of evil throughout history. After all, the story of Middle-earth is supposedly the story of early human history. Sure, we’re not battling literal giant monsters, but their influence continues to trickle through regular humans. Sauron was instrumental in making sure that this continued to happen.

Melkor Redirect #3

But again, Sauron was an instrument, not the source of the evil. After the Frodo destroyed Sauron, the Nazgul were destroyed, they didn’t continue on like the Dragons did after Melkor’s empire ended.



Sauron Closing Argument
Whatever credit is given to Melkor throughout this debate is also due to Sauron because Sauron lived through all of Melkor’s reign, learned from him, perfected his ways, and put them into action effectively throughout his own rulership. He learned that stealth and trickery are more effective tactics than brute strength and succeeded by implementing that strategy, notably by the conquering of Numenor as well as the corruption of the Nazgul. He lasted much longer than his predecessor by using this education to his advantage. Finally, Sauron was such a flexible and dynamic villain that he was able to adapt to any situation he needed. I would like to close by highlighting one thing. Remember how Melkor was defeated? He was destroyed by the forces of the Valar. Sauron, on the other hand, was only temporarily handicapped by the intervention of Eru Illuvatar himself. As time went on in Middle-earth, evil got stronger and stronger. The strongest of them all, was Sauron the Deceiver.

Melkor Closing Argument
In the end, there is no denying that Melkor was the ‘original’ bad guy; everything, including Sauron, was simply an extension of the original malice that he and he alone bore into Middle Earth. Melkor’s natural constitution, opposing force, and lasting impression clearly establish him as the most predominate force of evil in Middle-earth, and the instigator of all evil that followed his empire.
---

So, who do you think is the better bad guy? What should we debate next?
  • Do Balrog’s have wings?
  • Movies or books?
  • Was it a good idea for the Valar to bring the elves to Valinor?
  • Was destiny or bad choices more to blame in the story of Turin Turambar?
  • Is Sauron or Melkor the “better” bad guy?
  • Who is the best character?
  • Was Sam or Frodo right about the way they handled Gollum?
  • Was the quest for the treasure in The Hobbit more beneficial for the dwarves or for Bilbo?
  • Is the hobbit lifestyle negative (focused on sensory pleasure and isolationism) or positive (appreciating nature and the little things in life)?
  • Was Gandalf’s idea to send the hobbits without knowledge of Mordor prudent or misleading?
  • Is Thorin Oakenshield a hero or a repentant trespasser?
  • Should more female characters have been included in The Hobbit?
  • Does Gandalf always do the right thing?
  • Is Bard or Thorin Oakenshield right in the argument about the distribution of treasure?
  • Are the Teleri or the Noldor right about their access to land (Teleri claim the land of Middle-earth is theirs, the Noldor claim that they deserve it since they fought the orcs off for the Teleri)?
  • Should The Silmarillion be made into a movie?
  • Who was more to blame in the country flick over the Nauglamir, Thingol or the dwarves?
Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts. If you’re interested in doing a collaboration post or debate, let me know--it could be fun! Have a great day, you lovers of lembas :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

10,000 Views


Lover of Lembas has just passed 10,000 views!  It has been just under one year of blogging and I am truly honored by all the support and encouragement I have received from everyone who views this blog.  Please know that I am very grateful and will continue to do my best to provide quality content for all you lovers of lembas.


Stuff Ents Say

My limbs are sooo sore!

I haven't seen anything like that for an age and a half.

I am a shepherd of the forest!

I speak for the trees, for the trees have no voices... (wait, wrong book...)

Those orcs will be the ruin of us all!

Should we call an Entmoot?

Wow, that was fast!

Don't be too hasty!

I remember the days of the Entwives.

Fimbrethil, where have you gone?

Slow down, young one.

I am the eldest.

The water is foul here.

Have you seen the Entwives?  They seem to have been lost.

Don't rush, child.

The dirt here is rich and fruitful.

The orcs will tear us down unless we pay toll with sweet fruit or strong wood.


I have been asleep for a long time.

Darn Huorns!

My favorite place to walk was in Beleriand...

I miss the Entwives.

Buraroom....buraroom...

Monday, May 16, 2016

7 Lively Virtues of Middle-earth

In an attempt to get this all in one post, I will be only choosing only one example of the virtues shown in Middle-earth.  There are certainly more than one example for each, so let me know any you think of in the comments.  Each virtue corresponds and is the opposite of the deadly sins: pride/humility, envy/admiration, wrath/forgiveness, sloth/zeal, greed/charity, gluttony/temperance, lust/chastity.

The antidote to the deadliest of the deadly sins, pride, is humility.  I briefly commented on Samwise's famous humility (and his literal humus) in this post.
"[Sam] did not think of himself as heroic or even brave, or in any way admirable – except in his service and loyalty to his master." (Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, 239)
It is clear that Sam was one of--if not the--hero(es) of the story, but he did not regard himself as better than others or above anyone else.
In opposition to the next sin, namely envy, is admiration.  Theoden and Aragorn are both powerful royalty, however Theoden has a kingdom and Aragorn has not taken his throne yet.  While the following is true of the book, I think it is demonstrated exceptionally in the movies so I will be using evidence from them.  Theoden starts off feeling threatened by Aragorn, and perhaps even envious of him.
"Last I checked, Theoden--not Aragorn--was king of Rohan." -The Return of the King (film 2003)
Is it just me, or does Theoden sound a bit defensive?  Aragorn was just trying to give advice.  But throughout the course of the film, Theoden gains more respect for Aragorn and eventually becomes a great admirer of his:
giphy.com
Wrath is counteracted by forgiveness.  Feanor shows completely disordered wrath when he threatens his own brother by sword point.  Fingolfin however, forgives him:
“For Fingolfin held forth his hand, saying: ‘As I promised, I do now. I release thee, and remember no grievance.’ Then Feanor took his hand in silence; but Fingolfin said: 'Half- brother in blood, full brother in heart will I be. Thou shalt lead and I will follow. May no new grief divide as.’ 'I hear thee,’ said Feanor. (Silmarillion 73)
 The opposite of sloth is zeal.  I discussed this a bit when explaining how Denethor was slothful in my last post.  While Denethor refuses to help in the battle and stays inside, Theoden rides out with his host and gives them hope.  He energizes them and shows a zeal for righteous battle and doing what needs to be done.
fandom-media-project.tumblr.com
In contrast to greed is charity.  Lobelia Sackville-Baggins shows immense greed to the point where she would rather have Bilbo dead so she can take his home.  Bilbo, however, counteracts this by giving away gifts (albeit pointed gifts) just before he leaves the Shire.
"For LOBELIA SACKVILLE-BAGGINS, as a PRESENT; on a case of silver spoons. Bilbo believed that she had acquired a good many of his spoons, while he was away on his former journey. Lobelia knew that quite well. When she arrived later in the day, she took the point at once, but she also took the spoons."  (The Fellowship of the Ring 22)
 The opposite of gluttony is temperance.  While the orcs gluttonously use up the trees and other naturally resources, Elves are the poster-children for using things in moderation and respecting nature.  Instead of cutting down trees to build their homes, the Elves of Lothlorien build around the trees and the spectacle is not only good for nature but one of the most beautiful places in Middle-earth.
“The others cast themselves down upon the fragrant grass, but Frodo stood awhile still lost in wonder. It seemed to him that he had stepped through a high window that looked on a vanished world. A light was upon it for which his language had no name. All that he saw was shapely, but the shapes seemed at once clear cut, as if they had been first conceived and drawn at the uncovering of his eyes, and ancient as if they had endured for ever. He saw no colour but those he knew, gold and white and blue and green, but they were fresh and poignant, as if he had at that moment first perceived them and made for them names new and wonderful. In winter here no heart could mourn for summer or for spring. No blemish or sickness or deformity could be seen in anything that grew upon the earth. On the land of Lórien, there was no stain.”  (The Fellowship of the Ring 351)
Newline Cinema
Finally, in contrast to lust is chastity.  Aragorn shows immense chastity and faithfulness by tactfully avoiding Eowyn's (well-meaning) advances.  He does not do this in a rude or condescending manner, but sincerely wants the best for her and knows that means not being with him.  Eventually, Eowyn realizes just how much his refusal of her has helped her.  After Eowyn announces her engagement to Faramir, she says to Aragorn, "Wish me joy, my liege-lord and healer!" Aragorn replies perfectly, saying, "I have wished thee joy ever since first I saw thee.  It heals my heart to see thee now in bliss."  (The Return of the King 279)

There are sins and virtues to be found in Middle-earth just as there are in any good story, including real life.  It reminds me of Boromir's saying:

"Yes, there is weakness; there is frailty.  But there is courage, also, and honor to be found in Men." 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Lord of the Rings Quotes


Happy Pentecost!  Bilbo, Frodo and Co. were sent out on their missions: one to the Lonely Mountain and one to Mount Doom.  Today is the anniversary of our missions beginning after being powered by the Holy Spirit. Consider Bilbo's above advice!

The 7 lively virtues post hopefully will be up tomorrow.  Have a blessed day!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

7 Deadly Sins of Middle-earth (Pt. II)

Part I is available here.  The final four deadly sins are sloth, wrath, envy and pride.  Again, examples are taken from The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings.


The first sin is sloth.  Sloth can mean being lazy in a couch-potato style, but it can also mean being unhelpful, disinterested, or neglecting duties.

Smaug was extremely lazy--he slept on his pile of gold for 150 years in Erebor.  
"They removed northward higher up the shore; for ever after they had a dread of the water where the dragon lay. He would never again return to his golden bed, but he was stretched cold as stone, twisted upon the floor of the shallows. There for ages his huge bones could be seen in calm weather amid the ruined piles of the old town." (Hobbit 276)
If Smaug had kept moving, he would not have been the target of the Dwarves' vengeance since they could have reclaimed their gold without killing him and, in the long run, he would have been better off.

Again, Hobbits sort of fit into this category, while sort of being exceptional.  It could be argued that the Hobbits are lazy and unhelpful in general, but it doesn't seem to be necessarily portrayed that way.

Denethor is, in an interesting way, also slothful.  Unlike Theoden who energizes and rides out with his army, Denethor hides like a coward inside, refusing to aid and command his men.  Theoden's people are full of renewed hope as their king shows enough faith in them to ride with them, while Denethor's people receive his clear message that he is not confident in their victory.  
"Then suddenly Denethor laughed. He stood up tall and proud again, and stepping swiftly back to the table he lifted from it the pillow on which his head had lain. Then coming to the doorway he drew aside the covering, and lo! he had between his hands a palantír. And as he held it up, it seemed to those that looked on that the globe began to glow with an inner flame, so that the lean face of the Lord was lit as with a red fire, and it seemed cut out of hard stone, sharp with black shadows, noble, proud, and terrible. His eyes glittered. 
'Pride and despair!' he cried. 'Didst thou think that the eyes of the White Tower were blind? Nay, I have seen more than thou knowest, Grey Fool. For thy hope is but ignorance. Go then and labour in healing! Go forth and fight! Vanity. For a little space you may triumph on the field, for a day. But against the Power that now arises there is no victory. To this City only the first finger of its hand has yet been stretched. All the East is moving. And even now the wind of thy hope cheats thee and wafts up Anduin a fleet with black sails. The West has failed. It is time for all to depart who would not be slaves...'
'To me it would not seem that a Steward who faithfully surrenders his charge is diminished in love or in honour.' [said Gandalf]."  (Return of the King 142)
Denethor's neglect of his duty leads to his despair and ultimately, his own suicide.



The second sin is wrath.  It is important to note that Tolkien often uses the word "wrath" in the archaic sense of the word, which does not necessarily mean disordered anger.  For instance, he refers to the anger of Orome (Silmarillion 29), but not in a negative way. Orome, an unambiguously good character had just cause to be angry at his foes--Morgoth and the orcs.  Don't automatically assume that any anger or wrath in this story is an example of the deadly sin.

There are, however, some instances of anger out of measure.  Feanor demonstrates this in The Silmarillion when he goes a step too far and threatens his own brother out of anger.  This is also related to envy, but we'll get to that later.
"Then turning upon Fingolfin he drew his sword, crying: 'Get thee gone and take thy due place!'  Fingolfin bowed before Finwe, and without word or glance to Feanor he went from the chamber.  But Feanor followed him, and at the door of the king's house he stayed him; and the point of his bright sword he set against Fingolfin's breast.  'See half-brother!' he said.  'This is sharper than thy tongue.  Try but once more to usurp my place and the love of my father, and maybe it will rid the Noldor of one who seeks to be the master of thralls.'" (Silmarillion 70)  
Clearly this little outburst does not end well for Feanor and his sin of wrath does not go unpunished:
"But Feanor was not held guiltless, for he it was that had broken the peace of Valinor and drawn his sword upon his kinsman; and Mandos said to him: 'Thou speakest of thraldom.  If thraldom it be, thou canst not escape it; for Manwe is King of Arda, and not of Aman only.  And this deed was unlawful, whether in Aman or not in Aman.  Therefore this doom is now made: for twelve years thou shalt leave Tirion where this threat was uttered.  In that time take counsel with thyself, and remember who and what thou art.'" (Silmarillion 70-71) 
Taken from Pinterest
 Feanor is not only wrathful himself, but he is the master at using other people's emotions for his own benefit.  As he and his people are leaving Valinor:
"Therefore when Finarfin spoke yet again for heed and delay, a great shout went up: 'Nay, let us be gone!' and straightaway Feanor and his sons began to prepare for the marching forth.  Little foresight could there be fort hose who dared to take so dark a road.  Yet all was done in over-haste; for Feanor drove them on, fearing lest in the cooling of their hearts his words should wane and other counsels yet prevail..." (Silmarillion 84)
This urging on of his people out of wrath does come back to bite them.  The Elves were so under-prepared that many died in the cold of the Helcaraxe and elsewhere along the rushed journey.

Eol, who was guilty of lust is also guilty of wrath.  He pursues his son and wife to Gondolin where Turgon offers him a life of happiness, but no chance of leaving the city.  Because of his hatred for Gondolin and the Noldor in general, Eol erupts into a fit of rage:
"Suddenly, swift as serpent, he seized a javelin that he held hid beneath his cloak and cast it at Maeglin, crying: 'The second choice [dying rather than remaining in Gondolin] I take and for my son also!  You shall not hold what is mine!'" (Silmarillion 138) 
Aredhel, Eol's wife and Turgon's sister leaps in front of the dart and it kills her.  For this crime, Eol is hurled over the walls of Gondolin and killed.  This fit of rage did not work out for him, clearly.

Turin Turambar also confronts wrath:
"And he [Brandir, a woodman] answered: 'Niniel is gone forever.  The dragon is dead, and Turambar is dead; and those tidings are good.'...But even as he ceased, and the people wept, Turin himself came before them...and he said: 'Nay be glad; for the Dragon is dead, and I live.  But wherefore have you scorned my counsel, and come into peril?  And where is Niniel?  For her I would see.  And surely you did not bring her from her home?'  Then Brandir told him that ti was so, and Niniel was dead.  But the wife of Dorlas cried out: 'Nay, lord, he is crazed.  For he came here saying that you were dead, and he called it good tidings.  But you live.'  Then Turambar was wrathful, and believed that all Brandir said or did was done in malice towards himself and Niniel, begrudging their love; and he spoke evilly to Brandir, calling him Club-foot.  Then Brandir reported all that he had heard, and named Niniel Nienor daughter of Hurin, and he cried out upon Turambar with the last words of Glaurung, that he was a curse unto his kin and to all that harboured him.  Then Turambar fell into a fury, for in those words he heard the feet of his doom overtaking him; and he charged Brandir with leading Niniel to her death, and publishing with delight the lies of Glaurung, if indeed he had devised them not himself.  Then he cursed Brandir, and slew him; and he fled from the people into the woods...Then at last Turin knew that doom had overtaken him, and that he had slain Brandir unjustly; so that the words of Glaurung were fulfilled in him."  (Silmarillion 224-225) 

Notice Tolkien's wording: "wrathful" and "evilly" and "fury" clearly point out that Turin is in the wrong here.  His rage causes him to kill an innocent person and just adds to his misery.

Turin's father, Hurin, watches all these events unfolds and becomes angry.  Instead of being angry at his proper enemy--that is, Morgoth, who caused all this--he takes his anger out on two other people: Thingol and Mim the petty dwarf.
"'Who are you, that would hinder me from entering the house of Finrod Felagund?'  'I am Mim; and before the proud ones cam over the Sea, Dwarves delved the halls of Nulukkizdin.  I have but returned to take what is mine; for I am the last of my people.'  'Then you shall enjoy your inheritance no longer,' said Hurin, 'for I am Hurin son of Galdor, returned out of Angband, and my son was Turin Turambar, whom you have not forgotten...' Then Mim in great fear besought Hurin to take what he would, but to spare his life; but Hurin gave no heed to his prayer, and slew him there before the doors of Nargothrond."  (Silmarillion 230)
Hurin takes from Nargothrond the Necklace of the Dwarves, which he uses to perpetuate his rage.  He brings it to Thingol:
"And Hurin cast it at the feet of Thingol with wild and bitter words.  Receive thou thy fee,' he cried, 'for thy fair keeping of my children and my wife!  For this is the Nauglamir, whose name is known to many among Elves and Men; and I bring it to thee out of the darkness of Nargothrond, where Finrod thy kinsman left it behind him when he set forth with Beren son of Barahir to fulfill the errand of Thingol of Doriath!'"  (Silmarillion 231)
Hurin is very disrespectful to Thingol, forgetting how much Thingol actually did for his family.  Luckily Thingol takes pity on him and lets him go with little punishment.  Hurin, however, is so distraught that he casts himself into the sea.
Copyright Alan Lee
Perhaps the most devastating instance of wrath comes from our own Samwise Gamgee.  He sees Gollum "pawing" around Frodo and immediately jumps to the conclusion that he is up to no good.  In reality, Gollum was just crossing the fence into the good side of things.  Sam's harsh treatment of him, however, causes him to permanently remain evil.
“And so Gollum found them hours later, when he returned, crawling and creeping down the path out of the gloom ahead. Sam sat propped against the stone, his head dropping sideways and his breathing heavy. In his lap lay Frodo's head, drowned in sleep; upon his white forehead lay one of Sam's brown hands, and the other lay softly upon his master's breast. Peace was in both their faces. 
"Gollum looked at them. A strange expression passed over his lean hungry face. The gleam faded from his eyes, and they went dim and grey, old and tired. A spasm of pain seemed to twist him, and he turned away, peering back up towards the pass, shaking his head, as if engaged in some interior debate. Then he came back, and slowly putting out a trembling hand, very cautiously he touched Frodo's knee--but almost the touch was a caress. For a fleeting moment, could one of the sleepers have seen him, they would have thought that they beheld an old weary hobbit, shrunken by the years that had carried him far beyond his time, beyond friends and kin, and the fields and streams of youth, an old starved pitiable thing.
"But at that touch Frodo stirred and cried out softly in his sleep and immediately Sam was wide awake.  The first thing he saw was Gollum--"pawing at master," as he thought.  'Hey you!' he said roughly.  'What are you up to?'  'Nothing, nothing,' said Gollum softly.  'Nice Master!'  'I daresay,' said Sam.  'But where have you been to--sneaking off and sneaking back, you old villain?'  Gollum withdrew himself, and a green glint flickered under his heavy lids.  Almost spider-like he looked now, crouched back on his bent limbs, with his protruding eyed.  The fleeting moment had passed, beyond recall."  (The Lord of the Rings 699) 


The next sin is envy.  Many characters exhibit envy.  Just to name a few: from the Silmarillion, Feanor is jealous of his two brothers, Fingolfin and Finarfin.
"The wedding of his father was not pleasing to Feanor; and he had no great love for Indis, nor for Fingolfin and Finarfin, her sons." (Silmarillion 65)
Maeglin is extremely jealous of Tuor:
"...and hatred for Tuor led Maeglin the easier to his treachery, most infamous in all the histories of the Elder days."  (Silmarillion 242) 
The Numenorians are jealous of the immortality of the Elves:
"And they said among themselves: 'Why do the Lords of the West sit there in peace unending, while we must die and go we know not whither, leaving our home and all that we have made?  And the Eldar die not, even those that rebelled against the Lords.'" (Silmarillion 264) 
And Saruman is jealous of Gandalf:
"And Curunir (that was Saruman the White) was chosen to be their chief, for he had most studied the devices of Sauron of old.  Galadriel indeed had wished that Mithrandir should be the head of the Council, and Saruman begrudged them that, for his pride and desire mastery was grown great..." (Silmarillion 300)

There are so many instances of this throughout The Lord of the Rings that there is no way I can record them all here.  Just to name a couple: Denethor is jealous of Gandalf, Lobelia is jealous of Bilbo and Frodo, and Boromir is jealous of Aragorn.

Pride is the most deadly of the deadly sins.  It was prideful of Adam and Eve to decide that it was their prerogative to eat the apple and do whatever they want, and it is the absolute final sin.  Really any other sin stems from this most deadly one.  Any lust comes from the thought that you are more important than the dignity of the other human; gluttony is basically saying that you are worth all the food and sensual pleasure you can get; greed is arrogating to yourself as much as you can "because you're worth it"; sloth is being too good for something; envy is having your high-horse threatened.  So while all of the sins I have listed today and yesterday stem from pride, there are also several very clear instances that are directly from pride.

I did a short essay on this a long time ago which you can read here.  I will just list some instances below since I can think of so many.

  • Melkor; thought he was better than Eru
  • Feanor; prideful over Silmarils
  • Galadriel; wanted to be a ruler of Middle-earth and get the highest place she could
  • Eol; appropriated his own desire for Aredhel over her own wants and needs
  • Thingol; was arrogant towards the Men and treated them as lesser than he
  • Turin; would not heed the advice of Ulmo's missionaries which led to the downfall of Nargothrond
  • Thingol; was arrogant towards the Dwarves and treated them as lesser than he
  • Turgon; would not heed the advice of Ulmo's missionaries which led to the downfall of Gondolin
  • Numenorians; thought they knew better than Eru
  • Thorin; was sometimes condescending towards the other travelers, Bilbo in particular
  • Boromir; placed himself on a pedestal because he was Gondorian
  • Denethor; so proud he decides it's his decision when his life ends
  • Saruman; tried to be even more powerful than Sauron
  • Sam; was sometimes too forward with Gollum
  • Sauron; was so arrogant that he didn't even guard Mt. Doom very well
In the end, you can't have a good story without some conflict.  Tolkien was a master at showing the Deadly Sins within his work fairly and sometimes even bordering compellingly.  Where else can you spot the Deadly Sins?  Tomorrow's post will be more uplifting as we will look at the Lively Virtues and where we can spot them in Middle-earth.
Taken from threcord.com.au