Tag Archives: The Lord of the Rings

May the Force be with You in Middle-Earth

It’s Star Wars Day, and I figured I’d do something a little different by going into the similarities between Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. It’s kind of a running joke in my family that Star Wars is really just The Lord of the Rings in space, and here I shall prove it to the world. Some of these may seem fairly obvious; others may be completely bonkers, but all should be entertaining.

Luke Skywalker = Frodo Baggins

Frodo and Luke

 

Ordinary guy (but with famous relatives) living a pretty ordinary life suddenly finds himself in the middle of a plot that could destroy the world.

Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader = Bilbo Baggins

Darth Vader and Bilbo

First in the family to have epic adventures, is temporarily under the influence of the Dark Lord but fights off the influence and becomes one with the Force/sails to the Grey Havens.

Obi-Wan Kenobi = Gandalf

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Gandalf

The man responsible for seeing both generations off on their respective adventures–also dies and comes back in a more powerful form.

Emperor Palpatine = Sauron

Emperor Palpatine and Sauron

Do I really need to explain this one?

Han Solo = Aragorn

Han Solo and Aragorn

Ruffian who turns out to be a hero.

Princess Leia = Arwen

Princess Leia and Arwen

A princess who always has a plan and is not afraid to make sacrifices for the people closest to her no matter what the personal cost.

C-3PO and R2-D2 = Legolas and Gimli

C-3PO and R2-D2 and Legolas and Gimli

Best friends who are always bickering.

Lando Calrissian = Eomer

Lando Calrissian and Eomer

The friend who shows up in Part II and is crucial to helping win the battle in Part III.

Count Dooku = Saruman

Count Dooku and Saruman

Former good guy who turned traitor. Bonus points for both parts being played by Christopher Lee.

Yoda = Gollum

Yoda and Gollum

Odd-looking creature with a weird speech pattern who shows our hero the way to complete his quest.

I know, I know, I couldn’t find parallels for all of the LotR characters (which makes me sad because I would love to know who Eowyn and Sam are analogous to), but I think these are pretty accurate, nonetheless–and funny, too, which was the whole point behind this post.

Happy Star Wars Day!

 

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Good Friday and the Ring of Power

Today is Good Friday, the day on which Christ was crucified for our sins, and if you know anything about Tolkien, you probably know that it is also the anniversary of the day when Frodo and Sam made it to Mount Doom and destroyed the Ring. It was never a coincidence that Tolkien chose March 25 for this important date in Middle-Earth history (just as it was no coincidence that he chose December 25 as the date the Fellowship set out from Rivendell).

You see, there is a very old tradition that states that the original Good Friday took place on March 25. I’ve heard conflicting reports on whether or not that tradition is accurate, but the important point is that there is a good chance Tolkien had heard of it, him being Catholic and all. Making the day when the power of the Ring is forever broken the same day as when Christ broke the power of sin and death would have been an extremely powerful parallel for a story already rich with Catholic symbols and parallels (there’s a brief mention of Original Sin–“It was fitting that Isildur’s heir should labor to repair Isildur’s fault”–lembas means “life-bread” or “bread of life”, which is a common title for the Eucharist, etc.).

Of course, March 25 is also the Feast of the Annunciation, which is more commonly known, so it’s also possible that Tolkien chose that date for the Ring’s destruction to honor the Annunciation, in which case I have officially lost my mind. But even if I am wrong about why he used March 25, it is still a fascinating parallel to ponder.

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Tolkien Week: The Tales That Really Mattered

It seems hard to believe that Tolkien Week is over already–we need at least two weeks. Or maybe a celebration that’s held twice a year.

Either way, it seemed apropos to end Tolkien Week on a high note–a reminder of why, at its core, The Lord of the Rings is one of the Tales That Really Mattered.

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Tolkien Week is upon Us!

Yes, it’s one of the most wonderful times of the year again, a week-long celebration of all things Tolkien! Once more we set off down the road that leads to adventure, mayhem, and sacrifice and learn more about friendship, love, and what it truly means to be a hero.

Just beyond the far horizon
Lies a waiting world, unknown.
Like the dawn its beauty beckons
With a wonder all its own.

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Probably the Most Awesome Middle-Earth Thing I’ve Ever Learned

Remember back in October when I was pondering the importance of Men in Middle-Earth and wondered if the Incarnation was supposed to have happened since Middle-Earth was supposed to be an older version of our world? Well, I found my answer.

It was. It totally was going to happen.

In the tenth volume of The History of Middle-Earth, titled Morgoth’s Ring, there’s a section called “Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth”; it’s a conversation between the Elven king Finrod Fegalund and the human lore master Andreth on the differences between Elves and Men (mainly immortality vs. death). During the course of the conversation, Andreth mentioned a prophecy passed down among the humans that Eru (the Middle-Earth name for God) would enter Ea (one of their names for Earth) to save his Children. This was the first time Finrod had heard of this prophecy, and both he and Andreth were confused as to how Eru could enter Ea in the first place.

But did you see that part? Eru was going to enter Ea and save his children. The Incarnation was totally going to happen, folks. Of course, there are more questions now–was He still going to be human? (Probably yes, since Men were the first ones to learn about it.) Would the effects of the Redemption (however it would be achieved here) apply to Elves, Dwarves, and Hobbits, too, or only to Men? Are we going to shoehorn Ents in here, too? Is it possible that one of the tasks of the Blue Wizards, in addition to battling Sauron in the Eastern countries, was to prepare those countries for Eru’s coming? Could I overthink this any more?

As far as I know, Tolkien never got as far as actually writing the Incarnation into the rest of the Middle-Earth legendarium, but just the fact that it was slated to be in there is, in my completely unimportant nerdy Catholic fangirl opinion, pretty awesome.

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The LotR Sequel That Never Was

The other day I happened to be perusing the comments section of an article discussing the very scant facts about the Eastern countries of Middle-Earth when one particular comment caught my eye. Someone mentioned that Tolkien had begun writing a sequel to The Lord of the Rings but had abandoned the story when he felt it wasn’t going to be the same quality as LotR.

This was the first time I had ever heard anything about a Lord of the Rings sequel, which was itself a sequel to The Hobbit. So off to Google I went in search of more information for this abandoned Middle-Earth tale. It was titled The New Shadow and was set in Gondor during the reign of Aragorn and Arwen’s son Eldarion. After the defeat of Sauron and the extra battles Aragorn and Eomer fought to make sure all of the evil had been purged, Gondor was a peaceful and prosperous realm…but, as Gandalf cautioned in The Lord of the Rings, after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow always takes a new shape. This time it took the shape of a cult that worshiped Melkor and Sauron, the Dark Lords of old, along with Orcs, which no longer exist and are now considered creatures of legend.

The premise certainly sounds interesting, so why did Tolkien abandon it after just thirteen pages? The answer best comes from the man himself in one of his letters:

I did begin a story placed about 100 years after the Downfall, but it proved both sinister and depressing. Since we are dealing with Men it is inevitable that we should be concerned with the most regrettable feature of their nature: their quick satiety with good. So that the people of Gondor in times of peace, justice and prosperity, would become discontented and restless — while the dynasts descended from Aragorn would become just kings and governors — like Denethor or worse. I found that even so early there was an outcrop of revolutionary plots, about a centre of secret Satanistic religion; while Gondorian boys were playing at being Orcs and going around doing damage. I could have written a ‘thriller’ about the plot and its discovery and overthrow — but it would have been just that. Not worth doing.

It’s worth noting that The New Shadow did eventually see the light of day in The History of Middle-Earth, Volume 12: The Peoples of Middle-Earth. The people who have read it have agreed with Tolkien; it is much darker and more depressing than The Lord of the Rings, and it certainly would have provided a unique look at a Middle-Earth where Men were the most powerful people.

You can find some of this information at the Tolkien Gateway, and other info was just found by randomly searching. I certainly encourage you to see what you can learn about this abandoned sequel.

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The Importance of Men in “The Lord of the Rings”

Last week was Tolkien Week, and as I always do, I spent it reveling in all things Middle-Earth. Tolkien Week might not be a big, official holiday, but it’s still one of my favorite times of year.

Something interesting occurred to me, though, as I was reading The Lord of the Rings–why are Men so important? Think about; of the four free peoples (five if you feel like including the Ents), Men are kind of unimpressive. They’re not immortal like Elves; they’re more easily corrupted than Hobbits, and they’re not as strong or sturdy as Dwarves. But at the same time there is something important about their presence in Middle-Earth. In The Silmarillion this is obvious; Iluvatar (the Elves’ name for God) forms Men with a desire for travel, for seeing what lay beyond the borders of their land. They are also given–well, the closest I can describe it is free will; they can shape their own destiny beyond the influence of the Music of the Ainur. And, of course, Men die of old age. The Elves refer to this as the Gift of Iluvatar because they know the burdens of immortality.

In Middle-Earth itself, Men are shown to have the potential for either good or evil in themselves much more frequently than you see with Elves. And have you noticed than when it comes to a company of mixed races, it’s normally the Men that are chosen to be the leaders? Why is this? What is so important about Men?

My thoughts is that this leads back to free will. The way this was phrased in The Silmarillion itself was, “…they [Men] should have a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the Music of the Ainur, which is as fate to all things else…” Men have a certain degree of freedom denied to other races. This makes them extremely special in all of Middle-Earth.

Why the specialness? Well, the Catholic in me is jumping up and down, waving her arms and shouting, “Because of the Incarnation! Because God became Man!” This may be part of the reason–Tolkien was Catholic, so the importance of the Incarnation wasn’t lost on him. However, I can’t say for certain this is a reason because, despite the fact Middle-Earth is supposed to be an older version of our world, we don’t know when the Incarnation would have happened in the Middle-Earth timeline. What we do know, however, is that Iluvatar intended for Men to join in the Second Music of the Ainur at the end of the world.

So perhaps it’s not important precisely why Men are so important in Middle-Earth. Perhaps all that matter is that Iluvatar loves them and plans for them to join him one day. The Elves may not know what waits for them at the end of the world, but Men do.

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