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Thread: Is ME really environmentalist

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I really believe that Tolkien's books are regularly misjudged, that they are often misused as an environmentalist's handbook. I really disagree with that notion. I truly believe that the heart of Tolkien's books are about borders, naturalization, individualism, and misrule. And yes, I believe that that those ideas are in direct opposition to the current Green movement, which generally manifests itself in centralization of power, sweeping energy limits, and political mindgames. Faramir's "Mistress of willing slaves" I am writing an essay on this subject and would like to know everyone's opinion.

Well, while it is not an environmentalist's book per se, I would say that it reflects a vision of how the professor would have like things to be in real world; men taking only what he needs from nature. I think the hobbits reflect that feeling more than any other race in ME, even the elves, as the are in a way our better selves or how we should have been. They farm, build, fell trees for wood but not overmuch and they have a great liking for nature as well as not being interested in technology. The point is that technology moves so quickly ahead of us that in a sense we are not really ready to understand their full gravity.


As for the other races, they all seem to have that little bit of "green" about them. Minas Tirith for instance, was re-provided with green by legolas, then there's the garden of Gondor, Ithilien and the vales and valleys of anfalas and lebenin!

Tolkien's other writings, notes and letters are a gold mine of info regarding his views on our environment. I think the clearest quote regarding his view on Man's influence on Earth is that the worst invention ever to be inflicted upon the Earth was the internal combustion engine. Also the constant eating away of the forests of ME mirrors exactly what happened throughout Europe and the new world. It is Doomed very early on by the Valar that Men out of all of the Children of Illuvatar would have little respect for nature. And I have to say that JRRT was spot on the money. Good luck with your essay. If you haven't already, read the Silmarilion it's loaded with Tolkien's early ideas.

Tolkien was a nature lover. You can see that on many descriptions in his books.

For him the machine will destroy men! There was something like that written in The Hobbit, of course not with these words... We can never forget that Tolkien fought in the 1st world war and I suppose it left him a deep mark. This war was the first in which men used machines, before there were only swords, arrows and physical strength, so even if wars are always mad, we cannot compare the harm made by men hands and death caused by guns, bombs, tanks, etc. It makes me shiver only just thinking of it!

Yes Elbereth. All of JRRT's writings are littered with his want to protect as much of nature as is possible. The destruction of natural land in Britain that he would have witnessed during his life would have been horrendous. We forget, in modern days, that polluting industry is for the most part hidden from us living in for the most part beautified cities. In the old days huge chimney stacks made up parts of large towns throughout Europe. Can you imagine how awful it would be to see country Side you grew up in gobbled up and turned into a wasteland of dirty, dark and colourless buildings. Perhaps this is a window into the meaning behind the Scouring Of The Shire. Also Tolkien's heart breaking letters, given and received, deep in the trenches where his friends and country men were dying in front of him, perhaps are also a look into the warfare on Pelinor or Gondolin. All land is destroyed after war. Nature suffers even more than Man does through War. Because of these and manner other reasons. Tolkien should be on the reading lists of all of the younger generations. The world would be a much better place for it.

Good post again Brego! I would agree that the description of the Shire (pro-sharkey) in the Scouring of the Shire brings to mind the description of the Industrial Revolution conditions which started somewhere in the 1800s. 


Tolkien like may of us here realised the harm done by men to nature. Like Brego said we don't really see the pollution caused by men though we here in and in truth most people can't really be bothered with it. There's widespread climate change and its incurring effects happening all over the world and still world leaders do not appear in a hurry to fix it. Like treebeard said, it seems men now have a mind of machines and wheels and care no longer for things unless they serve them.

Yeah Thorin! Men think only in machines which can make them earn money. Machines work faster than men even if men work is always of more value. We always let something in the things we create, our effort, our love, our desperation sometimes .....

At least we read these books and appreciate Tolkien love's for nature, maybe because we share the same feeling. Surely there are people who cannot read behind the words and only get the epic story. Sad....!

Yes, I believe there is a strong suggestion in the books, that I would describe as care for the world around us. Just a few examples - the evil in Mordor is portrayed  not only as the urge to have the ultimate power over the world but also as a force devastating the nature (the same in Isengard, when we see the nature in form of Ents is willing to defend itself). We see all those good creatures - hobbits and elves especially - living close to the nature, caring about the plants, the trees, the animals. Incorporating their existence into the world, not willing to eliminate it. In the books (LOTR and also Unfinished Tales) I'm finding the suggestion, that Saruman's alteration into an evil character was also portrayed by his disrespect to nature.

Great point Indis and fully agree regarding Saruman.  I think the culmination of his turning is the tearing down of the party tree, which Tolkien seems to give special significance.  Also the way he has his orcs and wild men rip trees down rather than cut them down, Saruman seems to want to remove any memory of them from the ground rather than leave a stump which me keep growing.

Yeah Indis, I totally agree with you.

Saruman knew which was the weakest point of people in Middle Earth, especially Hobbits and Elves. If he could reach to destroy every single tree and plant, he would have made the most horrible wrong for these folks, as he knew they were very bound to nature. I think also that Saruman wished to erase everything that could remain to his old wise life. I dare to say that he hated himself too.

It is a good lesson to learn from Tolkien work. Love Nature!  and live in peace!

Plus Saruman was quite mean and disrespectful towards Radagast, seeing him as some kind of nutcase, and his interest in nature as really silly.

And I forgot about the Dwarves actually - their rapacity in exploration the nature's resources led to Moria's decay. I think it's not only a lesson about greed, but also about respect. 

You can see in the Middle Earth story that most of the fair communities had some kind of respecting attitude towards the nature.

And The White Tree? How closely it is bound to the fate of Men. It is a part of their history, it is a part of Gondor. The White Tree was a symbol, it was respected - even in quite industrialised Gondorian community. When their nobility was diminishing, you could see it looking at the Tree.

As you Indis mentioned the trees... I must say that trees in Tolkien books appear in the most important places, events and other ocassions. The White tree is the symbol for Gondor, the Party tree for the Hobbits, the Ents in Fangorn, mallorns trees where the elves of Lothlorien lived. The idea of sharing the most important moments with the nature is remarkable in Tolkien works.

Other elements such us the mountains were a sign of authority, I mean, they could bring shelter but you might also be careful inside of them as darkness hid many dangerous beings. Perhaps with darkness Tolkien tried to give a glimpse to the sunlight blurred by the smoke of industry. That's another kind of darkness...

Thank you very much guys, I truly appreciate your responses to my prompt.  

Brego- did Tolkien really say that about the internal combustion engine (ICE)?  That would be a savage blow to me.  In any case, personally I view the ICE as akin to many other things that can be in ME and normal Earth- it depends on who uses it.  

"Alas, there is nothing he cannot turn to evil uses!" -Aragorn (the quote may be off, and in this, my umpteenth reading of the book, I am going through very slowly for my essay, and have not even finished the Fellowship yet.

I would wager that the invention of the ICE and everything that follows is not really a critique of the engine itself, but rather the result of the nefarious invention of human ego (manipulated and enlarged by The Black Enemy and Sauron the Deceiver).  I hope the quote quantifies this, or it could be irreparable to my theory.  In and of itself, technology, even those that use fossil fuels, are a Godly gift, but those who attempt to imitate God are perhaps the farthest from him, and twist everything he creates.   

But I don't see Tolkien as opposed to factories, production, or the ordering of the environment.  I see him opposed to cronyism, socialism, anything you want to call it, in which the factories operate with impunity to the rights of its neighbors, and to the river it does not own, and which enforces its unnatural laws with force.