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Sunday, 20 January 2013

MIDDLE-EARTH – MIRACLE OF CREATION

Release of ‘The Hobbit’ in cinemas coincided in time with our talks about Bible at Petrycy High School. Therefore we discussed Tolkien’s fantasy masterpiece – the unexpected journey and also the sequel trilogy – as a deep-levelled reference to the Book. Some people may consider this tale about wizards, dwarves and magic to be pagan but author negated that by himself:

The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like 'religion', to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.


The story

Although first Bilbo then Frodo happily live in idyllic, paradise-like Shire, in some point of their existence they both need to make a choice: either stay in their solid, stabile, peaceful place or leave for precarious, perilous, insecure adventure... Isn’t that an alternative we all face while growing up? Less or more voluntarily we have to quit our safe world of childhood and begin the never-ending travel to find ourselves again – to prove what we are, to test what we can become, to try what we can change around us. Life is quest, to live means to look for the meaning of life and once you found it, you fulfil the task, carry your burden until the end  – that’s what the nation of Israel taught us thanks to their linear concept of time.

 

Each of us has a share, everybody has a talent to use in this journey. Sometimes ‘bigger’ and more exposed, like Gandalf’s sorcery or Aragorn’s royalty; sometimes hidden as hobbits’ pure hearts. Finally it’s their ‘small hands which did great things’ by destroying fatal power of Sauron, comparable to David against Goliath or Moses against Pharaoh. So it’s us who decide whether to bury God’s gifts underground or risk using them interpersonally (inter-speci-fically in case of hobbits dealing with men, elves, trolls and so on). Not to risk at all is the biggest mistake – according to the Parable of the Talents – when you risk for a good cause, you can make mistakes too, but they all will be forgiven. Tolkien’s epic novel is full of confession, mercy and forgiveness acts, not only Boromir’s yet also Bilbo’s, Sam’s, Frodo’s... Beside we remember numerous moments when these last three characters together with Gandalf have mercy on Gollum and how this disgusting creature saves them all at the very end...

 

What a tale we have been in, Mr. Frodo, haven't we? reflects Samwise Gamgee on the slope of fiery cascading Mount Doom, caressing his friend’s four-fingered hand. ‘I wish I could hear it told! Yes, that is my wish too, living the life of which I am not ashamed or afraid to tell...

The symbolism

There is a wide multitude of various texts revealing themes, motifs, symbols in 'The Lord of the Rings' and its prequel. I just want to summarise few of them:

Ring of Power – gives you virtual freedom of being invisible but at the same time enslaves you, exactly as a sin does with human free will; it destroys relationships and ability to make independent choices
Smeagol and Deagol – Kain and Abel, offence of jealousy between brothers - every sibling knows that feeling...; ring is the tempter here
Sauron - tormenting, tyrannizing evil without any real form or shape; its eye opens into nothing
Saruman – fallen angel, serf of satan



Elves – angels, who are physically perfect, essentially immortal, unreachable beautiful, marvelous and mysterious
Hobbits – children, innocent and small yet living their own fabulous lives in Shire, which is an example of ideal, rural community
Aragorn and Arwen - models of liege lord and lady, sublime monarchs loved by their people
Gandalf – sign of Jesus Christ, as his return is similar to resurrection; but also acts as a pope in Middle Ages, when crowns the king
Battles and conflicts are images of the spiritual war - the struggle against evil we all fight every day
Undying Lands - afterlife, eternal happiness

Dear Readers, feel invited to search for other meanings connected with Bible and cultural traditions. Don't hesitate to share them with me, cause I find this topic very intriguing. Many thanks in anticipation!