Wednesday 14 March 2012

Who are the Leftists in Lord of the Rings?


Lord of the Rings is a profoundly reactionary work, which is one reason I love it so much, but there are Leftist, or proto-Leftist, characters and attitudes.

The most obvious (pointed out by Tom Shippey) is Saruman, who talks much like a modern bureaucrat/ public relations specialist.

But Denethor is perhaps another - he has abandoned the religion of his fathers and become a utilitarian who, when the prospects seem bleak, chooses assisted suicide and euthanasia of Faramir as a means of avoiding further suffering.

(Although, admittedly, burning yourself and your son to death is not what a modern Leftist would call an 'easy way out'.)

Any other suggestions (with explanations)?



CorkyAgain said...

Ted Sandyman - a typical scoffer. Reminds me of the village atheist.

As the miller's son, he is also associated with machinery and "progress." He approved when Lotho Sackville-Baggins tore down the old mill and replaced it with an ugly brick monstrosity.

Gyan said...

I would rather call Denethor's suicide Pagan in the sense of heroic self-annihilation.

JP said...

This may not have risen to your attention in the UK, but in the early 2000s when the LOTR movies came out, the Democrats were blathering that Bush was Sauron.

A classic statement of this:

I still see bumper stickers around here from the Bush era - "Frodo Failed: Sauron Has the Ring".

Bruce Charlton said...

@Corky - spot on!

@Gyan - Well, that is exactly what Denethor claims, but I think he was wrong. An heroic pagan leader would not have abandoned his subjects to the enemy before the battle was over.

@JP - these are presumably the same fools who say that LotR has a 'simple' morality of pure good and evil characters, when in fact there are virtually no characters who are either purely good or evil - perhaps (?) Tom Bombadil and Shelob (but of course pure evil is a logical impossibility).

An Sauron is off the mark. Modern politics is a wrangle between different versions of Saruman, as Tolkien made clear in his second edition preface.

Dominic said...

From which hand of Saruman is the ring cut? A quick perusal of film and book has not yet yielded the answer.

JP said...

I don't want to think of Gandalf as a Leftist, but his whole plan for destroying the Ring - to send a small group into enemy territory - smacks of the sort of utopian fecklessness and disregard for likely consequences characteristic of the modern Left.

B322 said...

My immediate thought was Saruman, because of his idea of building better soldiers for his cause using witchery, and starting with thugs as his raw materials. But I see he's already been mentioned.

Daniel said...

@JP — Literary blasphemy!

Leftist, utopian disregard for consequences always takes the form of the mass re-organization of society, with or without the consent of the people.

Gandalf's crazy scheme was a heroic one. Frodo himself chose to bear the ring. And Sam himself chose to accompany Frodo, even when all the others of the Fellowship were absent. It is a quest of the bravehearted. And besides, they choose to undertake the danger themselves. A Leftist always chooses to let someone else bear the brunt of the danger of his anti-reality schemes.

We must not confuse fighting against the odds with fighting against Reality. Gandalf, Frodo, and Sam do the former; Leftists do the latter.