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View Full Version : Frodo Baggins: Hero or Villain



Glom
2003-Nov-03, 06:59 PM
Everyone's always saying that Frodo Baggins is the last hope for the survival of Middle Earth. But is he? Would Middle Earth really be so worse off if Sauron won?

Think of what Middle Earth looked like in the opening to Fellowship of the Ring. The Men had armour and helmets and well crafted swords and bows and arrows. They looked the perfect parts of Vikings. Now look at what they look like at the present. Pretty much the same. What we see here is a civilisation in stagnation. Only the Dwarfs seem to have any degree of advancement to them, and even they couldn't contemplate the idea of railings on the stairs.

Now look at Mordor. Baradur is the most impressive structure we've seen yet. The Black Gates were marvels of metallurgy and structural engineering. It is clear that Sauron is far more technologically advanced than Men or Elves. Even the caverns of Isengard were models of efficiency and productivity.

If Sauron won, what Gandalf called the second darkness could actually herald a rennaissance, where the expertise and knowledge of Sauron and his minions are spread across Middle Earth, spurring great advances in development. In a few years, we could see the development of the steam engine, the first inklings of rocketry. Those peasants of Edorus who clearly live in squalor, judging from their dirty faces and ragged clothes, could find themselves well fed, well clothed and in homes that would keep them warm.

semi-sentient
2003-Nov-03, 07:40 PM
I would say that, even though Sauron is more technologically advanced and definately a cool cat, the primitive lifestyle seems to be more fullfilling. They are free to do what they choose. They live for each other and have respect for life. They aren't restricted by a bunch of useless laws inspired by mythology (religion) which aim to take away personal freedom (Sauron would no doubt do away with pipeweed!). With the advancement of technology comes the corporate slavedrivers who will no doubt turn it into a modern day America. I'd say that Middle Earth would be far worse under those circumstances. But that's just me. 8-[

gethen
2003-Nov-03, 07:59 PM
From what I've read, Glom, you've hit on something very important about Tolkien's trilogy. He never intended to write about the corruption caused by power or to create a parallel with Christianity as some have suggested. His intent was to warn about the dangers of the machine age. Good-bye to the pastoral way of life, small farms, family industries. Hello to factories, pollution, and the virtual enslavement of workers.
So anyway, I didn't vote. Hard to like Sauron and his man-eating orcs, but it could get pretty boring in Middle Earth with no villains.

informant
2003-Nov-03, 08:11 PM
Frodo is Satan. :evil: All hail Sauron! =D>
:D

Ripper
2003-Nov-03, 08:37 PM
I know there is a tendency to look at the primative, pastoral life as a kind of lost golden age. The truth is that our ancestors toiled in the fields every day, were generally malnurished, and would not be able to make use of any personal freedoms if they had them, which they didn't.

One may note that Hobbits love sweets and tea, which are things that were not available until there was trade over much of the world, and then only to the wealthy.

Still, I do not think Sauron/ Sauruman have much to offer. I doubt they will devote much of their resources to improving life for the populace. In that way they are like the Soviets. A massive industry with very little devoted to consumer goods.

I try to ignore the Luddite/Druidic undertones of the story.

HenrikOlsen
2003-Nov-03, 10:53 PM
I try to ignore the Luddite/Druidic undertones of the story.
I can't remember seeing Druidic undertones in that story.
A priesthood leading ignorant peasants through superior knowledge, and incidentally burning a couple of them every year so the crops won't fail? Nope, doesn't ring any bells. :)

davegoldsmith
2003-Nov-03, 11:03 PM
If the only worry in you life was.......

" I really hope the crops do well this year, so i can sustain myself and my family "

would all the other material stuff be important?

money? career? pension? mortgage?

Aldebaran135
2003-Nov-03, 11:10 PM
Death to the Halflings! :evil: Long live the Eye! \:D/

Andromeda321
2003-Nov-03, 11:52 PM
One may note that Hobbits love sweets and tea, which are things that were not available until there was trade over much of the world, and then only to the wealthy.

Or maybe we could all just remember that LOTR is fantasy and, as such, not supposed to work like the real world. If it did it would be a lot more boring! If Tolkien wanted the world of the hobbits to be fine and dandy then it is. It's not like you have magic rings that determine the fate of Middle Earth in the real world anyway!
Or maybe I should just run away and hide now to make sure all you people don't come after me for saying that... 8-[

Jpax2003
2003-Nov-04, 12:03 AM
I have to say that this is very thought provoking. Glom makes some points that having Sauron helps keep you on your toes. However, I feel the need to correct you in one respect: The black gates were made by the Numenoreans (the people of Gondor) after the first battle (shown at the prologue of Fellowship) to keep a watch on Mordor.

I think Sauron should win, then we might get an intervention from Valinor. The Valar seem to have ignored middle-earth and it's fallen into a state of disrepair.

Without Sauron to unite the peoples of middel-earth, they'd all just fight with themselves anyways.

Jpax2003
2003-Nov-04, 12:14 AM
One may note that Hobbits love sweets and tea, which are things that were not available until there was trade over much of the world, and then only to the wealthy.

Or maybe we could all just remember that LOTR is fantasy and, as such, not supposed to work like the real world. If it did it would be a lot more boring! If Tolkien wanted the world of the hobbits to be fine and dandy then it is. It's not like you have magic rings that determine the fate of Middle Earth in the real world anyway!
Or maybe I should just run away and hide now to make sure all you people don't come after me for saying that... 8-[

Then again, we do have magic rings, such as the Let Freedom Ring. I think this ring will determine the fate of this world.

Tau
2003-Nov-04, 08:11 AM
For a long time, I've believed that the race of Engineers is the closest thing Earth has to Orcs.
My hypothesis just got stronger.

Tau
2003-Nov-04, 08:16 AM
Even the caverns of Isengard were models of efficiency and productivity.

What about "sustainable development"? At the rate Sauron's cronies burn up fuel, the planet would heat up pretty quickly. There is no chance of an environmental movement due to the totalitarian nature of politics in Sauron's realm. It lacks numerous other checks and balances as well. Eventually, it would die like the T-Rex. A society such as that easily specialises itself to non-existence.

xbck1
2003-Nov-04, 02:13 PM
I have to say that this is very thought provoking. Glom makes some points that having Sauron helps keep you on your toes. However, I feel the need to correct you in one respect: The black gates were made by the Numenoreans (the people of Gondor) after the first battle (shown at the prologue of Fellowship) to keep a watch on Mordor. I always thought that Numenoreans were from Numenor, hence the name. Wasn't Numenor supposed to be some sort of continent like Middle Eearth? Anyways...


What about "sustainable development"? At the rate Sauron's cronies burn up fuel, the planet would heat up pretty quickly. There is no chance of an environmental movement due to the totalitarian nature of politics in Sauron's realm. It lacks numerous other checks and balances as well. Eventually, it would die like the T-Rex. A society such as that easily specialises itself to non-existence. Right. If Sauron and his numerous orcs, trolls, goblins, and other baddies continued to advance (which I still find it had to believe that they could do considering that orcs are the smartest thing under his control, and they aren't that bright) at a constant rate, they would end up having to kill themselves just for food.

An interesting question is why the Valar (I got that right, I think. They're the godlike guys from somewhere else, right?) haven't taken more interest in Middle Earth. Maybe they got a progress report from Gandalf while he was naked on the mountain. Hmm.


Erg... I must read Tolkien again. Amazing what you'll forget in a few months.

gethen
2003-Nov-04, 02:20 PM
Gandalf did say that he was "sent back." So I guess the Valar were still interested.
Weren't the Numenoreans the first and superior race of men? I thought Numenor was just the name of their land. There were lots of places in Middle Earth where their ruined structures could still be seen.
Later the Numenoreans kind of degenerated, except for the royal family (Aragorn's folk) and the people of Minas Tirith.

jokergirl
2003-Nov-04, 03:01 PM
Dunno. That's one point I always get annoyed in when reading fantasy, even Tolkien, the good and the bad are always drawn in black and white. No orc ever shows something like pity for the prisoners, and they never even show comradeship, but rather betray their own people all the time. How can such an army ever work? No wonder the primitives always win. :P

It's just that it's hard to vote when you don't get to see both sides of the coin, so I refrain from voting.

;)

informant
2003-Nov-04, 03:39 PM
Bah, history is always written by the victors.
In reality, Sauron was a benevolent leader who wanted to use the ring to improve the living conditions of the local peasants, and the orcs were always kind to children and pets.
Frodo and the lot were in it for the gold. ;)

xbck1
2003-Nov-04, 08:03 PM
Actually, Bilbo was in it for the gold. But even then, reluctantly.

You'll notice in the Silmarillion and LOTR that the narrator is never named. Is it logical, then, to assume that the perspective was from an unnamed third party undiscussed in the books? Or is it just possible that they are insanely detailed works of fiction by some fairly recent scribe, and not historical writings at all?

Wait... :D Definitely kidding. I will never again be one of those dorks who memorizes every single line of a book or movie and then obsesses over it and talks about it constantly. I know people like that and they scare me. Heck, I used to be one. 8-[

Darkwing
2003-Nov-04, 09:52 PM
Gandalf did say that he was "sent back." So I guess the Valar were still interested.
Weren't the Numenoreans the first and superior race of men? I thought Numenor was just the name of their land. There were lots of places in Middle Earth where their ruined structures could still be seen.
Later the Numenoreans kind of degenerated, except for the royal family (Aragorn's folk) and the people of Minas Tirith.

The War of the Ring takes place at the end of the Third Age. In the First Age, the Elves fought a big war against Sauron's boss, Morgoth. Lots of the Men fought on the side of the Elves. At the end of the First Age, Beleriand (where the war was fought) sunk into the sea, leaving its inhabitants homeless. The Valar rewarded the Men for their aid during the war by raising a large island, Numenor, out of the sea, to be there new home. During the entire Second Age the Men lived there, but some of them got corrupted (long story--read the Akallabeth at the end of the Silmarillion). Anyway, Numenor sank back into the sea, killing most of the corrupted ones, while some of the good ones made it back to Middle-Earth safely. The leader of these good ones was Elendil, along with his sons Isildur and Anarion. They founded Gondor and Arnor, and still thought of themselves as "Numenoreans", although that name slowly turned into "Dunedain" ("Men of the West") Pretty much the nobility of Gondor and Arnor were Dunedain, while the commoners are for the most part natives of Middle Earth. Over time they interbred a bit (the "degeneration" mentioned above), while the royal line stayed pure Dunedain (which is why Aragorn is so long-lived)

Ilya
2003-Nov-04, 10:06 PM
Dunno. That's one point I always get annoyed in when reading fantasy, even Tolkien, the good and the bad are always drawn in black and white.

Which is the main reason I rarely read fantasy. OTOH, I really like "War of the Spider Queen" series (three books so far: "Dissolution", "Insurrection" and "Condemnation"). It has NO good guys - only evil and not-quite-as-evil, and sometimes it is hard to tell which is which.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0786929448/qid=1067983561/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_1/002-3884037-7960042?v=glance&n=507846


No orc ever shows something like pity for the prisoners, and they never even show comradeship, but rather betray their own people all the time. How can such an army ever work?

Read "Grunts" by Mary Gentle. A book written from the orc's point of view. Also hysterically funny. Is to the whole magic fantasy genre what "Bill the Galactic Hero" is to space opera.

Incidentally, "Grunts" also has no true good guys: few who appear are protagonists' enemies, are incredibly pompous and full of themselves, and ultimately prove corruptible.

Darkwing
2003-Nov-04, 10:15 PM
No orc ever shows something like pity for the prisoners, and they never even show comradeship, but rather betray their own people all the time. How can such an army ever work?

It's just a variation on a dominance hierarchy. Those at the top dominate all those below them. Those below are constantly trying to get higher up. Those in the middle are trying to get even higher while keeping down those below them. If social standing within the orc hierarchy is the most important goal, you're hardly going to go very far if you betray all the other orcs.

ocasey3
2003-Nov-05, 04:43 AM
IMO, I see how Tolkien describes that fine line between what is good and what is evil. It doesn't seem so black and white to me. Characters slip in and out of the two throughout all of the books. He seems to decribe how greed and lust for power can corrupt even the best of souls. Remember how Galadriel had to garner all her strength to overcome the strong pull of The Ring and its power. Frodo and Bilbo constantly had to fight its draw.
But even the very good spiral down into evil and yet the evil sometimes do have their moments of good (Gollum).

Sauron's supposedly superior technological society enslaved people and creatures, and more importantly, it drove out of Middle Earth, magic. Who needs technology that destroys when you have magic that creates?


I think its just plain wrong to think of Frodo as some sort of anti-hero. :evil:

But that is only my not so humble opinion. :wink:

snowcelt
2003-Nov-05, 05:11 AM
The poll seems to be a bit subjective. Why is the second choice saddled with the perjoritive term "primitive?"

Most people tend to see the world develop in a linear fashion, a world in which that what happens in the past must be less then what happens in the future: unless one is one of the Golden age---Lemuria types.

In the Western World's historical cycle there was a need for us to transend our Greco-Roman past which was saddled with myth and barbarity into a Tabula Rasa, a position where there were only a few bits of baggage from a past that was no longer relevent carried forward. Latter on, we could look at what happened in the good old days and take what we wanted.

I think Frodo and the troops were in such a time. They had to demonstrate their fortitude to be worthy successers to the new and Fourth Age.

informant
2003-Nov-06, 05:09 PM
Dunno. That's one point I always get annoyed in when reading fantasy, even Tolkien, the good and the bad are always drawn in black and white.

Which is the main reason I rarely read fantasy. OTOH, I really like "War of the Spider Queen" series (three books so far: "Dissolution", "Insurrection" and "Condemnation").
I can think of a few slightly humorous fantasy stories where at least the heroes aren't perfect. Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles come to mind. :)

Glom
2004-Jan-25, 10:59 PM
Are you sure the Numenoreans built the Black Gates? In that case, I have a beef with Jackson. The Black Gates we see were clearly not designed to keep people in Mordor, but to keep people out, as evidenced by the mechanism for controlling the gate being on the inside and the gates opening outwards.

milli360
2004-Jan-26, 12:39 AM
The Black Gates we see were clearly not designed to keep people in Mordor, but to keep people out, as evidenced by the mechanism for controlling the gate being on the inside and the gates opening outwards.
Maybe they were retrofitted. Engineers are good at that. :)

2004-Jan-26, 04:06 AM
As I recall, the Black Gate was originally designed to stem Sauron's forces--as was the Hidden Stair built by Men as a fortress to watch Sauron's movements. Both were taken over and corrupted for Sauron's use as Man fell into warring among themselves.

Lycus
2004-Jan-26, 06:50 AM
I'm pretty sure that the Numenoreans built the gate itself. But I believe Sauron later constructed many of the fortifications around it (the towers on either side, for instance). In Jackson's version, Sauron could also have constructed the troll-operated mechanism for opening the gate.

Yoshua
2004-Jan-26, 11:05 AM
Only the Dwarfs seem to have any degree of advancement to them, and even they couldn't contemplate the idea of railings on the stairs.

I've heard this comment before. I can only imagine it is one of three things: a comment made by someone who never read the books, a comment made by someone who has read the books but forgotten the passages relating to Moria, or a feeble attempt to ridicule the dwarves.

It's explained in the books why the stair is so narrow and lacking rails. It was made such so that you had to go up the stairs one at a time, this alone would hinder armies as they couldn't easily or quickly advance columns of soldiers. There was no railing so as to make it easier to knock off would be invaders into the chasm below.

If your gonna criticize them, at least pick on something that isn't explained.

Amadeus
2004-Jan-26, 12:58 PM
At first glance this seems like a choice between the order of the facists and the chaos of free will. Give me free will anyday.

Sauron was not the only one capable of high technology anyway. Look at the cities of Gondor. Ok so the Hobbits were a bit rural but thats just them. When your greatist desire is to have a drink and a full belly you dont need much technology!

nebularain
2004-Jan-26, 01:10 PM
Now look at Mordor. Baradur is the most impressive structure we've seen yet. The Black Gates were marvels of metallurgy and structural engineering. It is clear that Sauron is far more technologically advanced than Men or Elves. Even the caverns of Isengard were models of efficiency and productivity.
I hope you realize that Mordor was a wasteland, and that those he ruled became tortured slaves.


Gandalf did say that he was "sent back." So I guess the Valar were still interested.
Was it the Valar or Iluvatar who sent him back?

Glom
2004-Jan-26, 01:35 PM
Looking at Minas Tirith, men are clearly more impressive than I realised.

What really irked me was the way Saruman's magical device to bring down the wall at Helms Deep was something we more commonly referred to as a bomb. After three thousand years, no one has apparently discovered gun powder.

Glom
2004-Jan-26, 01:42 PM
If your gonna criticize them, at least pick on something that isn't explained.

Sorry about that. I was picking on Jackson's Middle Earth, which by all accounts (namely Roger Ebert's) is a bit different from Tolkein's.

Obviously, I made hasty judgements about particulars and in the end of the day maybe Sauron isn't all that advanced himself as he didn't think to hurl explosives at Minas Tirith.

Diamond
2004-Jan-26, 01:47 PM
You are all nerds.

Sincerely,

A fellow Tolkein nerd.

PS the movie necessarily simplified the motivations of lots of characters, leaving only one character with an ambiguous alignment (and no, I've never played D&D). The most successful transfer of the character from book to film? Gollum.

PPS The books were an extended experiment in storytelling and linguistics. As such, any treatment of them would be a pale reflection of the books BUT the movies are a triumph of cinema and Jackson should get Best Director Oscar at least.

gethen
2004-Jan-26, 01:58 PM
Apparently some folks (http://film.guardian.co.uk/awards/news/0,11450,1131270,00.html) agree with you.

Yoshua
2004-Jan-26, 02:23 PM
It's ok, and I can forgive people making fun of the movies. After the first one, it went all downhill as far as I am concerned. Even in the first one there's changes that didn't make alot of sense to me (mostly because alot were fairly minor, i.e. it was Gandalf's idea to enter Moria and Aragorn who objected).

Worst offense to me is probably Gimli. They warped a good character and turned him into one long running, stupid dwarf joke. I wanted Gimli, I got every single stupid Gencon dwarf tossing joke instead.

Anyways, Sauron is not a good choice for ruler of Middle Earth. If his plans were realized it would result in mass genocide and enslavement of any who survived. Think Hitler only worse.

nebularain
2004-Jan-26, 04:13 PM
Yoshua -

=D> =D> =D> =D> =D>


(And I am 100% with you on the warping of Gimli! That irked me to no end to.)

Darkwing
2004-Jan-26, 10:17 PM
Yoshua -

=D> =D> =D> =D> =D>


(And I am 100% with you on the warping of Gimli! That irked me to no end to.)

I agree that I didn't like Gimli being the butt of all the jokes. I could have handled the jokes better if they balanced it by making Gimli's heroics more visible, but they seemed to leave much of that out.

For a more detailed rant of mine against the film version of RotK, see my rant in this thread (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=10262&postdays=0&postorder=asc&sta rt=25).

Yet despite their flaws, I found them to be very good movies.

As for those who argue that Arwen should have had a bigger role--that's in the Appendix of RotK--Aragorn's and Arwen's love story was not central to the LotR, but it gets its fair treatment in the Appendix. Having Arwen take a major role (e.g., showing up at Helm's Deep like almost happened) would have totally ruined the movies in my opinion.

(edited to fix html)

Yoshua
2004-Jan-26, 11:32 PM
I personally think Arwen, and to a lesser extent Galadriel, steal way too much screen time. Arwen has an honorable mention in one paragraph in the books. She was just not a central character to the story at hand. Not every movie needs a romantic subplot.

Galadriel is a bit differant though. It's not that she didn't deserve screen time. It's just how they use it. They ommit alot of cool scenes with her, and use her as a sort of narrator for other stuff.

Really the only thing Peter Jackson did well was the battle scenes and the imagery for some of Middle Earth's locations. Though Helm's Deep isn't laid out correctly.

Charlie in Dayton
2004-Jan-27, 01:32 AM
hobbit (Louisiana definition) -- 'gator bait on the hoof.

El Furioso
2004-Feb-08, 10:55 PM
Tolkien was a Luddite. Keep that in mind when you think about the more machinery advanced Sauron and Saruman being portrayed as the enemies. Also, they wanted to destroy humanity. There would be no advancement of humanity because humanity would no longer exist. You know, because of machines (and monsters).

Glom
2004-Feb-08, 11:36 PM
Tolkien was a Luddite. Keep that in mind when you think about the more machinery advanced Sauron and Saruman being portrayed as the enemies. Also, they wanted to destroy humanity. There would be no advancement of humanity because humanity would no longer exist. You know, because of machines (and monsters).

That's true. :-$