all that glitters is not gold

I’ve reached Isengard in my travels through Lord of the Rings, which is round about 2/3rds of the way through the book.
A couple of things I’ve been picking up along the way.

a) So far it has been a very masculine book. I mean it is a fantasy world which obviously doesn’t really exist but even so there isn’t much in the way of a female view. Or least a normal female point of view (whatever ‘normal’ would look like in a world with wizards, orcs and elves). Galadriel featured for a few chapters but she was a  powerful elven Queen. Then there was Goldberry who seems to be some type of strange spirit housewife. I know Eowyn plays a major part in the last 1/3rd of the book, then there is Arwen. But mostly it seems to be a very male dominated view of the world. So far the women seem to be there mainly to be wooed or be beautiful. Is it appealing to my inner John Eldridge when men are men and women are there to be saved from orcs?

b) There is no justification needed for chopped off an orcs head.
Orcs are inhuman evil and when you come across one it seems to be get them or else they’ll get you because they want to get you and do evil
Maybe with it being Remembrance Day and thoughts of World War I and II in my head I couldn’t help wondering where non-violence fitted into a world of orcs and evil? The angle that Tolkien seems to take is that orcs are beyond redemption and must be destroyed.  There are moments of mercy such as releasing the wild men who had fought against Aragorn and the rest in Helm’s Deep, but not for the orcs. But something about Gimli and Legolas having a playful competition of the number of orcs they have killed made me feel a little uneasy. Is it the idea of what would you do if Hitler came for your family? Would you stand back and let it happen or would you fight? Or is it the way that they are enjoying killing?

c) One of the main things I love about Lord of the RIngs is that whole theme of the weak humbling the powerful. No one in MIddle Earth had paid much attention to hobbits and their humble ways yet it will be the humble folk that save the day. The powerful forces of Sauron and Sauramon  have their eyes in the wrong place. Or the way the townsfolk of Bree eye Strider suspiciously and think him strange without really understanding what is going on underneath the hood.
Perhaps the most powerful lines so far in the book is when Gandulf talks about

‘All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost’

I love those words because although it is from a fictional book and might seem like a fictional sentiment in this world where the powerful seem to get what they want when they want it’s not what is really going on under the surface.


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