Thread: Loyalty in Prince Caspian
In any case I was wondering what you all think of Lewis's portrayal of loyalty and faithfulness in the PC story? Below is what I wrote in the movie thread...
...the idea of being faithful was still embedded in the story -- or, rather, of being loyal, following the orders of your superiors (of those to whom your loyalty/fealty is pledged) regardless of whether or not you believe they're rational, and regardless of whether or not anyone else goes along with it, sticking to what you know is right regardless of whether or not it seems like it's "working". I was a little disappointed that Trumpkin the dwarf doesn't get to show off this aspect of his character as much as he does in the book. Lucy still gets the lion's share (pun intended) of this characterization, but she's the believer in the LWW too, so that's pretty consistent. Ed gets in on a little of this by backing up Lucy (as he does in the book)... And of course the opposite (disloyalty in the ranks) ends up being one of the downfalls of Miraz...
What I didn't mention in the movie thread was Reepicheep's extreme faith in Aslan without regard to the consequences ("I'll lead all my mice into that archway if you command it"), and the idea of the Badger's remembering and holding to optimism based on the stories of the "old days" even though nothing in the current day of the story makes it probable that Aslan or the ancient Kings and Queens will show up.
And this is all contrasted with Miraz's ultimate unfaithfulness (usurping the throne, killing Caspian's father, trying to kill Caspian) and his minion's unfaithfulness (killing Miraz) and even unfaithfulness within the "old Narnians" with Nikabrik calling on Aslan in a completely mercenary way, and being willing to call on anyone including the White Witch in the same way.
Of particular interest to this site, I'm wondering how Lewis' portrayal of loyalty and faithfulness (in a rather battle-heavy chivalrous manner, at least for the Narnia books) compares with the portrayals of loyalty in middle-earth. Does Tolkien bring out the same character traits in any of his stories? Does he treat them similarly (loyalty rewarded, and disloyalty being the downfall of the enemy)? Is there anywhere in middle-earth a parallel to Lucy's unpleasant task - (Following Aslan, telling her companions to follow her, and having them all disbelieve her most of the way through the journey, yet doing it anyways?)
The orcs, for example the orcs of Mordor who quarrel over the 'spoils' of Frodo, show extreme disloyalty to each other and end up killing each other. (This in effect works to Sam's advantage when he arrives to rescue Frodo.) The orcs from Isengard who kidnap Merry and Pippin also fight amongst themselves.
Boromir cannot be overlooked in any discussion of loyalty. He tries to betray Frodo by taking the ring and this leads to his death. (Even though he repents in the end, his life is still forfeit.)
The Nazgul seem to be an exception. They are loyal to Sauron, but this is through Sauron's supernatural power over them. They have no choice but to be loyal.
I think that through this, Tolkien seems to be suggesting that loyalty is a quality that all 'good' peoples should have and that ultimately it will triumph. Disloyalty and self-interest bring about distruction.
Parallels with Lucy's leadership. I don't know if we could quite line that up with Gandalf's leadership of the fellowship. The fellowship know what their mission is. The only doubt was argued at the Council. You could maybe draw a parallel with Elrond and Gandalf here.
Here's an interesting thought - what about Gollum? Sam and Frodo use him as their guide to Mordor even though they really don't want to trust him. Of course Gollum's motives are far from pure! But nevertheless, he does provide guidance to a point. The mission would never have succeeded without him.
Hope that helps.
Boromir cannot be overlooked in any discussion of loyalty. He tries to betray Frodo...
But that betrayal came as a result of his loyalty to Gondor.
But we seem to have gotten away from C.S, Lewis's book.
Of course, loyalty has to be reciprocated. Caranthir the Dark had Ulfang the Black under his service, and Ulfang betrayed him. Maedhros and Maglor had Bor the Easterling under their service, and Bor actually turned from serving Morgoth to being a faithful follower of the Noldor. I sometimes wonder if this is not meant to be a subtle reflection on the characters of the sonss of Feanor. Perhaps Maedhros and Maglor were kinder masters than Caranthir.
and one classic Tolkien example of loyalty would be Finrod's adherence to his Oath in spite of his knowledge that it would mean his death.
In many cases in Middle Earth, characters are rewarded for shifting loyalties from the dark side to the good side. Bor does this, as does Huan the hound, who eventually turns against Celegorm. And even later on in the Third Age, Faramir "betrays" his father by helping the hobbits instead of taking the Ring.
So certainly in Tolkien's world, loyalty is rewarded and portrayed as a good trait, but there are minor complications that make it a bit more complex than Lewis' world of loyalties.