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Thread: LOTR characters as epitomes.

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We all know that Tolkien's characters in LOTR books aren't really two-dimensional - they have their strenghts and their weaknesses. But in my mind I was playing with this idea for a long time. The question is:

if you could depict LOTR characters as epitomes to abstract characteristics like emotions, virtues and conditions how would you do it?

For example, for me Arwen in the books would be the epitome of Love in the LOTR universe. She gave everything she had for the man she loved. And Pippin... well, that's a tough one - he's always causing trouble, isn't he? And it alwyas turns out that the problems he caused wer're leading to something good. He would be portraying Luck for me. I'm really looking forward to see your suggestions, because the question stayed in my head for so long! Smile Smilie

Indis, what imagination. How fun.

 

I would take Eowyn, my heroine and use the word sacrifice, that is all she did unil the house of healing and a new life with Faramir. Sacrifice.

Thank you, LeeLee. As I said - that question was in my head for a long time, it was probably one of my favourite things to think about when trying to fall asleep. Or cleanig the house Wink Smilie

Sacrifice - I was wondering about Sacrifice also. Never thought about Eowyn though, but it definitely makes sense for me. That was one of the things I saw mainly in Frodo, but now when I think about it Eowyn's fate really defines it for me. She had so many duties.

Boromir - his name just popped into my head - right now I am thinking about him describing the fair and the dark side of Pride. He was a noble man, very honorable, very proud. He did some bad things because he felt he was obliged to do whatever it takes to save his country. He didn't want to sneak up on Sauron. He wanted to stand there, in front of Mordor armies and fight for every inch of his beloved land, proudly as any Gondor ruler should be. It led to his fall.

How about Wisdom - there is some obvious choice, right? And speking of the wise characters... how would you describe Saruman?

What an interesting thread! I could never thoght about such idea but it's fantastic.

I would mention Sam (again as in the Loveliest word thread), and he would be HONESTY. I think that word would describe him perfectly as he was loyal, sincere, careful... always honest to his feelings.

Saruman, well, I must think about it...... a bit difficult task.

Saruman -  Knowledge without understanding is similar to ignorance. It's like breaking a toy to find out what's in it or like the story of the milk maid.

Amazing answers, folks!

I had this problem with Saruman - how to put his character into one word? Wise and powerful. But wise not enough to be aware of his owns flaws. Not powerful enough to fight off his temptations. Ignorance sums it up perfectly, Thorin.

Elbereth - honesty and loyalty. Yes, that's exactly what I see when I think about Sam. He doesn't have a selfish bone in his body and he seems like a person unable to lie. Maybe I would also add Friendship, since Sam represents the perfect friend.

With Aragorn and Frodo I had some similar problems. Their stories are both ruled by Fate in my eyes. It's Frodo's fate to be the Ringbearer (I love this word), because of Bilbo's heritage. And "Crownless again shall be king" defines the story of Aragorn. They both bring Hope for the world. Aragorn - for Men. Frodo -  for Middle Earth - that tiny person with that tiny thing around his neck is responsible for saving the world.

EDIT: Thorin, I forgot to ask what's the story with the mild maid about. But then, I googled it Wink Smilie

I will step up for Aragorn here. I have noticed that many person (I'm not talking about people in his thread) have a cliche of Aragorn being a mighty hero and great warrior. While it is of course true, Aragorn is also a character we can look up too. He's life wasn't comfortable nor laid out on a red carpet.

 

I agree that he's fate was there waiting for him. But treading on that path was a Choice he made. He could have chosen otherwise and remained but a Ranger of the North. He instead chose to forge his own destiny with his will, and the desire to redress the ill caused by his ancestors. The first half of his life was long and hard where he endured many dangers and solitude, roving the wild hunting he creatures of Sauron and protecting the unsuspecting villagers of the shire.

 

Who knows what darkness he faced alone, and for all his hardship was scorned by the very people he and his people protected. Yet he had the strength of character to remain himself and learn from he wise and live and rule correctly later on.

 

I doubt anyone of us can really identify ourselves with him, but in a way he is what we deep down all strive for. We have to fight hardship daily, overcome barriers while at the same time striving to remain who we are and believe what we believe in. I believe that Aragorn is up there with the Sams. And I barely mentioned the task of renouncing the ring which he could have rightly claimed at the Council of Elrond!

Galadrial And her people, for me epitomise longing. Longing to justify their struggles in Middle Earth. Longing to stay until their doom is fulfilled, longing to return home, longing to preserve Elvendome on Earth and longing to see out their "long defeat". How sad it would have been to visit Caras Galadhon after the final groups of the remaining Sindar left for their final Journey. The widowed Queen Arwen's visit to her grandmothers realm, now abandoned, as mentioned in the appendices of TLOTR's and shown Beautifully in the movie, although heartbreaking, show what we as Mortals have truly lost in the new age of Men.

Thorin,

yes, you're right. It would be a bit wrong to simplify Aragorn this way. Of course, the years when he was  watching over various places, helping, fighting, protecting what he loved. That what makes him so extraordinary - it is a king, who was some kind of a servant, who was belittled, who knew despair, tragedy, fear, dejection. His return to Minas Tirith was well-deserved not because of his heritage only, but also from his own deed. What a strong character. Quiet and fair hero. I can't see anybody identifying with him too.

When I think about it now - he's kind of Witch King antagonist. Both character's were Men, powerful Kings of Men. Both faced the same weakness at some point in their life. One of them was miserable, but his wisdom, his dignity, his persistence lead him to the place he should be - he became the king. And the other (at least from what we know) was a ruler, but didn't have the strength, the persistence, the wisdom - he ended miserable.

Brego,

Beautiful words. She saw so many things, she experienced so many things, she knew what the future will bring for her and her people but couldn't  neither stop or hurry it.

I love the scene with Arwen visiting abandoned Lothlorien too. So sad, the fate of the Elves in the Third Era is so sad. 

When I think about it now - he's kind of Witch King antagonist. Both character's were Men, powerful Kings of Men. Both faced the same weakness at some point in their life. One of them was miserable, but his wisdom, his dignity, his persistence lead him to the place he should be - he became the king. And the other (at least from what we know) was a ruler, but didn't have the strength, the persistence, the wisdom - he ended miserable.

 

I absolutely love this! You are so right and this never even crossed my mind!

 

Also, Saruman could further stand for Greed, not being satisfied with one have and coveting one's neighbours' belongings!

I absolutely love this! You are so right and this never even crossed my mind!

Thanks, Thorin. It never crossed my mind until yesterday. Oh, and comparing their "relationships" with Eowyn - she loved Aragorn (or maybe I shoul dsay she was in love with him) and she killed The Witch King.

Greed and Saruman - yes, you're right here. But once you said "ignorance", it seems like the obvious connection, that was a brilliant choice!

Great Thread dear Indis

For me Saruman epitomises Pride. He came to a point in which he thought he was Eru and could do as he pleased,forgetting he only found what Eru wished him to learn and apply in the affairs of Middle-Earth.

As for Frodo,Aragorn and all those who were appointed by Eru to certain tasks, I must say that ALL his creation were appointed to do certain things, but that does not mean most of them ever agreed to it and did a single thing they were destined to do if they agreed. Look at Radagast and the other wizards, they were sent to do things which I am certain they never finished and eventually chose their own pleasures and plans over Erus. So the thing with Frodo and Aragorn that I think epitomises them is Covenant. They knew their tasks, Aragorn since a boy, Frodo in the blink of an eye as it were, but both at a certain moment convenanted, Aragorn with the fate of his people, Frodo with the fate of the Shire and no matter what they did not turn back. Frodo's momentary lapse at the very end was because he could not mentally and physically go on and was in a dream , a trance if you will by all the horror and hardships and could not think straight, so Eru intervened and 'allowed' Gollum to bring Frodo to a halt by biting off his finger. So Covenant or Faithful To The Bitter End is how I would epitomise them.

Galadriel , for me the word is Willful and not in any bad way. She knew what she wanted in life, went for it and refused anything less until she had achieved what her mind and heart willed.

LeeLee, I love your interpretation of Frodo's story. I must say that I sometimes catch myself thinking that he actually failed, because he let the Ring to seize him - but then I suddenly realize that he was the one who decided to go to Mordor and he was  able to go so far with this terrible burden, and who am I to judge how he handled it? Your interpretation made me realize, that in the Middle-Earth we're always dealing with not only what we see, but also with Eru's existence - his plans are fulfilled in all those stories we read in Tolkien's books. Thank you for reminding me about this important thing.

Galadriel is such a powerful character in my opinion - she (and Gandalf, but it is another story, since he's much more actively involved in those events) have this ... overwhelming Consciousness. If someone in the Third Era knows what needs to take place in the history of Middle - Earth it is Galadriel. As I said before, she has this powerful knowledge of the past, the present and the future. She is aware of the world changing inexorably, irretrievably in front of her. She's not participating in those events, because - as LeeLee beautifully said - she's not in Eru's plan when it comes to this war. It is not her task to save the world, even if she's fully aware of the what may come. She's waiting, she watching - pretty much like Arwen after Aragorn's death - this world won't belong to her.

I totally agree about the word Longing for describing the elves. It suits perfectly for them.

Related to Saruman, I still haven't found the right word, it might be one which has some nuances for describing his character.

Now, I've about Aragorn and the word that comes to my mind is responsibility. He pondered on his "place" for a long time because he wished to do the right thing and not being a king because of his blood but also for his actions. So for me, I think he knew well which tasks were bound to this title.

Now, I've about Aragorn and the word that comes to my mind is responsibility. He pondered on his "place" for a long time because he wished to do the right thing and not being a king because of his blood but also for his actions. So for me, I think he knew well which tasks were bound to this title.

I agree with you - Aragorn's life was full of responsibility in a various ways. First - and most important - he was aware of his heritage, and if I remember correctly there were times he found this as a quite heavy burden - he was afraid of going the same path as Isildur and being defeated by his weakness, "weakness in his blood". Also being in love with an Elvish woman made his responsible for her future in Middle Earth in those dark times, without her family, maybe not for long if the Ring won't be destroyed. It made him responsible for her life after his death and for the loss of her immortality. He knew she loves him, but because of the responsibility he asked her if she is convinced that she wants to give him that precious gift. After Gandalf's fall in Moria he felt responsible for the other members of the Fellowship - I'm sure not only because it was Gandalf's request to become the leader of the group, but because he knew it should be his task to protect them. I believe he felt responsible for the fate of Men - that's why he engaged in the Battle of the Hornburg, that's why he supported Rohan. This is amazing how many responsibilities he had to deal with. And we must remember what Thorin said a couple of posts before - it still was a choice.

Earlier today I was thinking about Denethor. I came out with Dejection. He had no hope, he questioned Faramir's quality as a warrior, he questioned his own strength to rule and protect Gondor, he didn't see the possibility that they still can defend themselves, and Sauron can be defeated. He questioned Aragorn's right to be a king and wisdom in Mithrandir's advice. There's so much sadness in him, and I'm sure it was hard to be the Steward of Gondor, during those times.

Indis you expressed the character of Aragorn pretty well.  He assumed a big responsibility for many things and he also showed patience until his day arrived...

Now that you also mentioned Mithrandir, I would choose HOPE for him. He knew well the power against the fellowship and whole Middle Earth must fight; however he always found the right words to say, he gave the people hope, not  fool illusions but one of the possibilities, hard but at least there was a choice. Gandalf was also a down-to-earth being, because even if he gave people the courage to fight he warned them about the great danger. He was wise and kind hearted but even so he was cautious giving justice for enemies and also fellows. A truly wizard! What I do admire from him was his words. The warning he gave to Frodo when he said that everyone had a role in that story, even Gollum. (These weren't the words, but you catch the idea). His way of showing justice is admirable.

Thinking over it, I would  put Elrond and Treebeard in the same group if I had to describe them. I can't seem to find a single word for them but it's more like they represent all the good memories and feeling people turn to in times of sorrow and difficulty! After all, they have been in ME since time immemorial and have known the good as the bad. They keep the good memories fresh in their mind as treebeard himself says, he sings the names of the Entwives to himself to remind him of their beauty and characters.  They're like the small, "unimportant" things which ironically always bring a quite little smile of joy and pleasure on our faces!

Thorin, there's something very ancient in the Ents, isn't it? I'm fascinated by it - what would the old trees growing around us say if they could? They have an amazing history in them. Things are changing, people are moving, we see new buildings, everything moves around them, and they are still there.

I hate when those old trees are chopped down, I absolutely hate to see that. I had a tree exactly in front of my window, when I was small I tried to draw it. I had a painting which coincidentally looked exactly like my view outside the window - and I liked to think that it is the same tree. And someday, a couple of years ago they just chopped the tree down. It wasn't even  harmful in any way to the nearby buildings or the road, it wasn't diseased. They chopped it down, old, healthy, strong tree, just because they were removing some tree species from the city. I remember that it took them awhile, it was too big and too healthy to be chopped down immediately - they had to cut all of its branches first, and step by step they removed it. I was observing how they were literally fighting with it and I was crying.

Oh, that was a bit off topic, I know.

The Ents, the trees, the plants, the flowers. There is one word that comes to my mind and it's GREEN. It is due to the colour of course but also for the meaning we actually give to be green or behave green. For me, the green behaviour is living with respect towards nature and others, it's living according to your basic needs and taking other people into account, not being egoistic.

Anyway, the Ents cannot be described by the word green; it's too simple for them. Those trees shepherds had an ancient wisdom sleeping deeply in their roots, as if they were witnesses of every event in Arda from the very beginning, as if they were born in the same second as Arda was created.

Yes in my mind the Ents are a manifestation of all of nature. I choose to believe that Yavanna (with the help of Manwe and of course therefor Eru) made the Ents from all of her thought, from all of her creations great and small. Aule has his Dwarves, Manwe his Eagles and Yavanna her Ents, but either she and the other Valar had forgotten about them or they were newly created for Her via Eru at the prayer of Manwe. In the Sil chapter Of Aule and Yavanna there is some explanation, however typical Tolkien it's up to the reader to decide who the Ents came to be. For me, all I care is that they were created, for I love them as I love nature. I also love the relationship between them and he Elves.

I cannot think of the precise word I am looking for when I think of the Ents, but as well as being ancient almost to the point of being forgotten, they have within them an ancient regret for their estrangement and loss of their Entwives. I cannot think of the Ents without feeling this ancient sadness and regret within them.

I'd say the the Ents are like Memory of Middle Earth. It's like - even if we talk about real trees - we have all those complicated methods of dating when it comes to things that the archaeologists can find. I'm certainly not an expert in those things, but as far as I know the trees (and the carbon) have some major role in recreating the past events in our planet's history. Studying a tree's anatomy we can find out what has is gone through, right? It is a similar characteristic to the powerful knowledge that the Ents had when it comes to the history of Middle Earth. They saw those ancient things, they survived through all kinds of times. Yep, I'd say they really are the Memory.

I thought about Eowyn yesterday and I found another word that matches her character in my opinion. It is Humility - she's aware of her duties - as a woman, as a King Theoden's niece, as a possible heir of Rohan. Maybe her humility, love and respect towards her uncle restrained her from leaving Meduseld, during the times when Saruman overtook Theoden's mind - who knows. She suffered greatly during those times.

Purpose - that's the word I recently linked to Frodo's story. Of course, Frodo wouldn't go to Mordor and would not succeed without purpose. Gandalf's words "Bilbo was meant to find the ring. In which case, you also were meant to have it...and that is an encouraging thought (...)" really defined his role in the Third Era for me. So we can say that Frodo was purposed for that journey, as LeeLee somewhere said - he was in Eru's plans, and his goal was to take the Ring to Mordor. I'd even say, that after fnishing his goal, Frodo couldn't find a purpose for living in the Shire, and that's why he felt empty, exhausted and suffered so much. But that's of course an interpretation for our cogitations here, it doen't exhaust the subject.

Wonderful idea, Indis! However, I would like to disagree about some things that were said about Eowyn. First, she is Sacrifice. But for a whole different reason. She simply sacrificed her people in order for her to be able to fight in the battle. You know what I am getting at? Eowyn, instead of following her father's commands to take care and be a leader of the people staying behind, she left her duty so that she could fight like a man in the battle. That was her weakness and I would call Eowyn - Irresponsible.

For the others...

Aragorn - Majesty

Gandalf - Wisdom

Boromir - Pride

Faramir - Bitterness

And that is all for now....mind mind is swimming with others though... Smile Smilie

Wenlesael, you made a wonderful input on this thread Smile Smilie

I cannot agree with you about Eowyn though. For me saying that she was irresponsible because she wanted to fight for everything she loved it's like saying that Pippin, Sam and Merry were irresponsible because they wanted to help Frodo (and Elrond along with Gandalf who made the irresponsible decision to let them go on this journey). Of course, we can say that but I find it more important that in the end if Eowyn wouldn't go there and fight, the Witch King wouldn't be defeated. Merry wouldn't be on Pellenor Fields. The times of War of the Ring were so crucial to the Middle-Earth's existence, and that being said - they were full of hard, sometimes desperate decicions. And I see Eowyn's decision as desperate - if Sauron would win what future could she and her people have? She made the same decision as her uncle - she wanted to fight, because that was better way to end her life - fighting not waiting. And Merry... he also made that decision. Maybe that's a Rohan thing? Wink Smilie

You've linked "Bitterness" with Faramir - may I ask why? That's interesting.

Denethor reminds me of bitterness by the way. He had no hope, he saw that the kingdom he ruled and faced great danger and probably will be defeated soon. He lost his beloved son, and being totally dismissing towards the other - he felt abandoned. Like his life was just waiting for the inevitable - defeat and death.

I'd love to see what you all would say about Smeagol. I have a hard time finding the words myself.

Many thanks Indis!

You hit upon some interesting ideas with Eowyn an that whole thing. I somewhat see what you are saying...but I think there is a difference. Gandalf KNEW that Merry, Pippin and Sam had a place in the adventure. Nobody KNEW that Eowyn's place in the adventure was in the battle. They though her place was to lead her people. True, she was meant to kill the head Nazgul, but she still deliberately disobeyed her father and abandoned her position. You know? 

Faramir. I chose Bitterness because his life was bitter. He was unloved by his father. He led a life that was full of grief and sorrow.

Gollum/Smeagol - Lost. Why? Because he was lost, from his home, from who he used to be, from the life he used to live, and most of all, he was from the truth and bound to the lies of the ring.

Aragorn - HOPE (as in faith, not as in "I hope it won't rain tomorrow"Wink Smilie; is not his name Estel, which means hope?

Hi everybody!

As I read the last post I cannot stop thinking about Eowyn. I don't agree with the suggestions I read. All of them has a good reason but the right word (with respect to all the previous ideas and in my humble opinion) is FRUSTRATION. I must recognize I didn't like the character of Eowyn at first, but at the end I can understand her. How do you feel when people expect from you some features you don't really have? In her case, she was expected to be a lady, beautifully dressed, kind, sweet, etc. However, if she was all those things, she felt that those details might wait for another moment because there were more important serious things to do before behaving as a "queen". She loved her folk and she wanted to defend and fight for them but that was a man duty, not a lady's. Her mind and heart were in struggle for this reason, to do what she felt or to do what her people and relatives wished or expected from her. Painful decision I think.

I would agree with your reasoning Elbereth! However I would not consider Faramir as bitter. While the reason you listed are absolutely correct I would think that Bitterness is too strong a word for Faramir. For that I would point out that he still loved his father as evidenced when he called out to his in the midst of his fever in 'The Pyre of Denethor' and not letting personal feeling cloud his judgement in his dealings with the Ring Bearer.

 

I would tend to think he's more like the quiet person we all know who we think is 'ordinary' but surprises us when he shows his skills and talents, like he did after the death of his brother.

My thought tonight is of Theoden. For me he epitomises Glory and Humility. Although beaten down by forces beyond his mortal powers, he managed to rise up ( with the help of The Fellowship ) and ride himself to Victory unexpected and long Doomed. Although tempered with death, the chapters of the riding of the Rohan are simply exhilarating. His humility comes in by his actions towards, and his love of Aragorn. King Theoden recognised in Aragon true destiny, his right, unchallengeable, to the throne of Gondor and Arnor. The difference between the actions of Theoden and of the Last Steward of Gondor, Lord Denathor, is astounding. Both Men of Power. Both around the same age. Both Fathers. Their ultimate ends are so incredibly different it's astonishing.
My thought tonight is of Theoden. For me he epitomises Glory and Humility. Although beaten down by forces beyond his mortal powers, he managed to rise up ( with the help of The Fellowship ) and ride himself to Victory unexpected and long Doomed. Although tempered with death, the chapters of the riding of the Rohan are simply exhilarating. His humility comes in by his actions towards, and his love of Aragorn. King Theoden recognised in Aragon true destiny, his right, unchallengeable, to the throne of Gondor and Arnor. The difference between the actions of Theoden and of the Last Steward of Gondor, Lord Denathor, is astounding. Both Men of Power. Both around the same age. Both Fathers. Their ultimate ends are so incredibly different it's astonishing.

 You all wrote some great suggestions here!

Wenlesael, I thought about Gollum too, and found the same word as you. Lost. You've  explained it so well, I have nothing to add.

Elanorraine, yes, Aragorn definitely gave hope to his Men, to Frodo's mission, to Middle-Earth's future. I completely agree with you.

Elbereth, I also didn't like Eowyn's at first. It is hard to describe why - she seemed pallid, almost lifeless. I saw her through her relationships with men - with her Uncle or with Aragorn. Then with Faramir. But it was a mistake, because she really has a complex personality, she is very humane in my eyes now. Even discussion on this thread proves it.

When it comes to describing Faramir I find it quite difficult. Maybe I would say he portrays the Virtue aspect for me, but in the end it wouldn't be 100% correct, since a lot characters have this strenght. I need to think about it. I definitely don't see him as bitter. He had a bitter life, yes, but he wasn't bitter in my opinion.

Brego, great post about Theoden. The fates of Denethor and Theoden are totally different, aren't they? Denethor claims to be the only legitimate ruler of Gondor, his dignity depends on it, or at least he acts that way. And it was his bane, because when suddenly he realised his power didn't safe Gondor he gone mad. And Theoden's story is completely opposite - he is the only legitimate ruler of Rohan at that time, but he didn't have his royal dignity - his mind was poisoned with words of those, who said he is powerless. And when he regains his royal dignity it helps him to feel his power and find the way to fight  for his people.

Very thought provoking everyone.

To me the Ents represent a breaking of covenant and the everlasting sorrow that came from that. Their both, husbands and wives, their disinterest in staying together as one with one another and the wives leaving represent a tearing of the covenant between them, and although they were blessed with incredibly long lives there was always an accompaning sigh and sorrow, at least in regards the sentinments of Treebeard who represented the males, forever. And I have no doubt that the wives, though they moved forward as it were and enjoyed 'new and interesting pursuits,' gradually saw the emptiness of it all without the fellowship of their mates and perhaps just died out. And perhaps through pride or dim memory did not go and look for their husbands but just quietly perished through time.

Wen I too must disagree with the word irresponsible for Eowyn. Never before in her life it seems had she disobeyed the wishes of her parents or her beloved uncle. i believe, that just as Frodo suddenly understands he 'must' leave the Shire, his home and get the ring away from the people there, so too, in a flash of understanding , Eowyn knew she must go to battle and take Merry with her against orders. Just as Gandalf had told Frodo he was supposed to have the ring just as Bilbo was to have the ring- called to it by Eru Himselfso too was this shield maiden and we can see the result of her going. It was in fact these two, a woman and a Hobbit who killed the Witch King and no others to fulfill what was said ' No man can kill me" as the Witch King boasted. And no man as it were did, only a woman and a Halfling.

No, in the end it was the divine will of the grand Creator and no one else's that was to take place. There were others left behind that knew the ways of the king from his good days before Grima and would would quietly carry on until the rightful ruler came back. And like every kingdom there would have been someone in place of Aeowyn should anything happen to her in normal day to day life.

Eowyn knew she must go to battle and take Merry with her against orders. Just as Gandalf had told Frodo he was supposed to have the ring just as Bilbo was to have the ring- called to it by Eru Himselfso too was this shield maiden and we can see the result of her going. It was in fact these two, a woman and a Hobbit who killed the Witch King and no others to fulfill what was said ' No man can kill me" as the Witch King boasted. And no man as it were did, only a woman and a Halfling.

What a brillaint point you made here, LeeLee - it took a woman and a Halfling too kill the Witch King. Those, who weren't even supposed to be there. Another astonishing point in Eru's plan. Eru's plan. You'll be always linked to this thought in my mind!