Sui Angren Maeg Angren
Posted May 19, 2008
This is a continuum of the debate begun in my last post.
Dear Mr. Powers,
Let me say up front that I agree with you that 1: magic is evil, and 2: The Lord of the Rings is not an allegory, at least in a strict sense.
That being said I'm not sure I understand your choice of words with reference to "magic" and "allegory". You stated (as did I) that all forms of magic are completely and totally evil. I explained in my post that magic is merely a subset of the supernatural and falls under the "evil" category. I then explained the parallel between the two sources of said supernatural power found both in scripture and in Tolkien's universe.
I apologize for not stating my understanding of how the word "allegory" should be applied to Tolkien's universe. To summarize the definition found in the American Heritage Dictionary in relation to this context, an allegory is a representation of ideas or principles in a narrative form. Tolkien stated that he disliked the direct allegory writing style, like that you'll find in the works of his friend C. S. Lewis in The Chronicles of Narnia. However it is utterly impossible for any writer to not be influenced by his/her studies and research. For example, Tolkien came up with the idea for "Middle Earth" from Norse Mythology. The Norse "Vikings" believed in several worlds that crossed paths over the human-inhabited world "Midgard" which literally means "middle enclosure". Therefore, though Tolkien certainly did not write a literal allegory, he did use many parallels from other works both fictional and historical.
I am also rather confused by paragraph seven of your response. You said:
I know you probably think me ignorant in this allegory but even Tolkien chose to call the Istari Wizards (who cast multiple spells), if he had chosen to make them wise men sent from Eru then I would not have a such a big problem with this, but still as I have said before, Angels can only do the bidding of the LORD, ones who have disobeyed have been cast out.
You start of by using the word allegory in reference to Tolkien's work. I can only assume that since you firmly spoke against LOTR being an allegory that you are speaking of a parallel. You then say "even Tolkien chose to call the Istari Wizards (who cast multiple spells),...", even though I explained in my post that due to the many different languages Tolkien used, the word "wizard" (among others) was only used by unlearned characters such as most men and hobbits, or by more learned ones speaking to them. God speaks in various languages to us and uses terms we can better comprehend in order for us to learn more easily (eg. speaking in parables). Tolkien applied a similar principle with words like "wizard" and "magic". In The Silmarillion since he is writing as an Eldar (or "elvish") chronicler you hear almost no mention of wizards, necromancers, sorcerers, or magic unless it be in reference to "the enemy". Whereas in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings he uses them more frequently in reference to the Istari or the eldar.
In the same sentence you said "...if he had chosen to make them wise men sent from Eru...". First of all, it has been stated already (and you'll remember this from The Silmarillion) that the five Istari are in fact Maiar, in the form of old men. You also said that angels can only do the bidding of the Lord. Where did I dispute this? And also, from a Calvinistic standpoint, both good and evil angels ("demons") are bound to the will of God even as everything else in the universe is. Those angels who have been "cast out" are known as "demons" yet remain angels (scripture refers to the devil and his angels), so it's entirely plausible for (in a parallel sense) Saruman, and even Sauron (who was also a Maia at one time) to be turned to evil.
I greatly appreciate your willingness to discuss and seek out this matter and look forward to further communications with you.
Micah D. Ferrill