A Hobbit Journey: Discovering the Enchantment of J. R. R. by Matthew Dickerson

By Matthew Dickerson

A professional at the Hobbit and The Lord of the earrings trilogy indicates how a Christian worldview and topics undergird Tolkien's vintage works

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Sample text

None of these examples alone suffices to show that torture is wrong in Tolkien’s world. Tolkien’s narration describes orcs and the servants of Sauron and Morgoth as eating and sleeping, for example; the fact that orcs do some activity does not, in and of itself, imply the wrongness of that activity. As noted above, orcs also use swords and weapons of war similar to those used by the heroes. Tolkien does not portray these activities (eating, sleeping, or using a sword in battle) as necessarily wrong.

The Ethics of the Wise While the servants of the enemy practice torture, at first glance it would appear that the wise of Middle-earth, despite both ample opportunities and pressing needs for information, choose not to torture prisoners. Even in The Hobbit when King Thranduil of Mirkwood imprisons Thorin and his company of dwarves—and one could make a case that he does so wrongfully, motivated by both pride and greed—it is never suggested that he tortures them in any way other than the imprisonment itself.

I may find means to persuade you” (II/ii). It is clear that Saruman is trying to gain information from Gandalf—information that Gandalf does indeed have about the whereabouts of the Ring. Exactly what means or devices Saruman intends to use to “persuade” Gandalf are left to readers’ imaginations—piercing cold and solitary confinement are only the first means—but the text makes it clear that Saruman is willing to inflict “trouble and pain” to get the information he wants. Later in the tale, the orc captors of Pippin and Merry also threaten torture.

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