Friday, October 15, 2004

The Lord of the Rings' monstrous warning

As I made all of you aware last week, I am currently undertaking the task of writing two rather large papers on disparate aspects of The Lord of the Ring. I have become aware of theme shared by the texts we are currently studying. I am assuming that all of you have seen the movies more recently than reading the books, so I will refer to the films. The issue is Saruman, once white, he was a peace loving nature worshipper endowed with the ability to do good. Treebeard discusses how he used to emply nature as a source of inspiration, energy, and magic power- always for good purposes. In the film The Fellowship of the Ring we witness the white wizard during the latter stages of his transformation. He has become evil, and thus is doomed, because he has forsaken the powers of nature for, what he believes is a source for increased power, "rock and steel". This may seem like a large stretch- to imply that rock and steel can be compared to, or can be seen as interchangeable with, the types of mechanical innovation we are looking at- but let's put the book in its historical context. (Prepare youselves, enter THE NERD) Tolkein lived in a small rural community called Sarehoe (sp) near Birmingham. He writes that his native landscape embedded in him "a deep love, and responsibility for nature". He claimed that Sarehoe was so isolated and removed, that during his youth he was totally unaware of WW1. However, by the time he was entering adulthood, the industrial machine had spread to Sarehoe, uprooting the landscape and putting factory after factory in its stead. We have already examined the factory as a sort of cyborg-state in Modern Times. From this angle we can interpret the saga involving Saruman to not only warn against monster of industrialization, but as a warning of the corruption of humanity that such technological advancements bring-(I don't wanna say it but.... CAPITALISM); however I feel that Tolkein's message was not that far removed from Forster's message in The Machine Stops, or Shelleys message in Frankenstein as both warn against the moral or spritual repercussions of technological advancement- which is what I hope to have suggested about Saruman.


Blogger Andrew Chen said...

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2:08 PM  
Blogger Allison Muri said...

The films really do bring out a strong visual sense of the blight of industrial technology in strong contrast to the natural world (which has its own evils, of course). Truly some of the most awful and negative imagery is the army of creatures produced in a massive black factory-hell that seems to be in the bowels of the earth (I can't remember the details) - but I think you're right, that there is a certain Romantic version of nature (not as in romanticized, but as in a certain valorization of Nature's terrible and wonderful beauty). I can't remember if the books are like this at all, but the film seems to draw out the images of the technology of war as industrial machine.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you actually bother to read the authors introduction, you will note his obvious attempt to deter the kind of thinking you are currently undertaking. he specifically states that he wrote Lord of the Rings for the story, not in any parallel to the real world, and it in no way represents his life. Maybe you ought to read the books again, instead of relying on the movies

4:31 PM  

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