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Old September 19, 2021, 01:30   #13
Nick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnonymousHero View Post
Would it be controversial to suggest that Tolkien might have had a very opposite-of-nuanced idea of evil? I don't think it's too much of stretch that his experiences and religiosity may have affected the writing. I'm no literary critic or anything, but the themes in the books seem very Original Sin-esque and all that.
He was a devout Catholic, and had a very strong belief in the concept of the Fall, and this definitely affected everything to do with his writing. So Morgoth is a pretty good equivalent to Lucifer. His ideas of evil when applied to humans in his works are pretty conventional for his background - everyone is capable of both evil and good, and so on. Boromir, for example, is tempted to do evil acts for what seem like good reasons to him, but then repents and is redeemed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnonymousHero View Post
EDIT: Think of any random orc. Could that orc redeem himself through being a good person?
This is where it gets tricky. Morgoth and Sauron are mostly regarded as an embodiment of evil (although both of them behave well at different times, and there is some hint that they had a chance of genuine repentance). Orcs were created by Morgoth (more or less - this was another thorny issue for Tolkien that he never really resolved), and so shared some of that embodied-evilness, which would imply the answer to your question is no. The description of the battle aftermath at the gate of Mordor after the ring was destroyed indicates the difference between how the humans behaved and how orcs and trolls did. But despite all that, you do get occasional flashes of "humanity" even from the orcs - in the conversation Sam overhears between Shagrat and Gorbag, for example.

My feeling is that Tolkien believed with his head that absolute evil exists, and translated that into his work, but faced with (real or written) sentient beings his feeling of faith in God and humanity softened the edges a bit.
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Last edited by Nick; September 19, 2021 at 02:54. Reason: Spelling
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